Wakabayashi Kazuyuki



Japan executes 2 inmates

19 Dec 2015

Japan on Friday carried out the first execution of an inmate sentenced to death in a lay judge trial following the country’s introduction of the judicial system in 2009, Justice Minister Mitsuhide Iwaki said.

Along with Sumitoshi Tsuda, 63, another death row inmate, Kazuyuki Wakabayashi, 39, was hanged in the first executions in Japan since June.

Tsuda was convicted of killing his landlord Akihito Shibata, 73, Shibata’s brother Yoshiaki, 71, as well as Yoshiaki’s wife Toshiko, 68, in May 2009 at an apartment building in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Wakabayashi was sentenced to death for killing Noriko Ueno, a 52-year-old office worker, and her 24-year-old daughter Yuki after breaking into their home in the town of Hirono, Iwate Prefecture, in July 2006. He later abandoned their bodies in nearby mountains and stole 20,000 yen in cash from the victims.

Anti-death penalty organization Amnesty International Japan protested over Friday’s executions and urged the Japanese government to abolish the death penalty.

The group also said sentencing a person to death is a grave decision for citizen judges and called for more information disclosure to the public regarding the capital punishment system.

Iwaki, who ordered executions for the first time since assuming the post in October, said at a press conference that he believes professional and lay judges handed down the death sentence to Tsuda “after careful deliberations.”

The minister also stressed that he signed the papers to order the executions, respecting the decision of the citizen judges. “I carried out my duties (as the justice minister) given the significant decision of the lay judges,” Iwaki said.

Iwaki condemned Tsuda and Wakabayashi, saying they “took irreplaceable lives for selfish purposes” and that the agony inflicted on the families of the victims will never be healed.

Iwaki declined to comment when asked why the two men were chosen for Friday’s hangings and about future executions.

The minister also said counseling for lay judges needs to be studied, after a citizen judge in Tsuda’s trial said ordinary people should not be involved in determining cases in which prosecutors could demand the death penalty.

The lay judge system was introduced to reflect citizens’ views in criminal court proceedings.

With the latest executions, the number of death row inmates in Japan stands at 126. According to the Supreme Court, 26 have been sentenced to death in lay judge trials and rulings for seven of them have been finalized.

During the lay judge trial, Tsuda apologized to the relatives of the victims, saying he would “expiate his crime with his own life.” While his defense counsel argued that Tsuda’s crime was not premeditated, the Yokohama District Court sentenced him to death in June 2011.

His defense counsel appealed the ruling to the Tokyo High Court, but the death sentence was finalized in July 2011 after Tsuda withdrew his appeal.

Wakabayashi was sentenced to death in April 2007. After the Sendai High Court upheld the lower court ruling, his sentence was finalized in January 2012 as the Supreme Court turned down his appeal.

With the latest hangings, the total number of executions under the second Shinzo Abe administration launched in December 2012 has risen to
岩手母娘殺害:死刑判決確定へ 最高裁が上告棄却

Iwate Mother/Daugther Double Murder
Death Penalty Confirmed

毎日新聞 2012116
(English Reportage of Earlier Decisions Below)




High court upholds death penalty for killer of two women

Wednesday 4th February 2009

The Sendai High Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling sentencing a 32-year-old man to death for killing two women in a robbery-murder case in Iwate Prefecture in 2006. In handing down the ruling on Kazuyuki Wakabayashi, Judge Hiroshi Shida said that the defendant’s decision to change his plea to not guilty at the appeals trial was ‘‘illogical and cannot be trusted.’’

Wakabayashi’s defense counsel had argued that a group to which the defendant belonged appears to have been involved in the murders and that Wakabayashi had ‘‘made false confessions during the investigation and the district court trial’’ as he was afraid that his family could be in danger. The group was involved in illegally dumping industrial waste, according to the defense counsel.

According to the Morioka District Court ruling in 2007, Wakabayashi, a house painter from the town of Gonohe, Aomori Prefecture, killed Noriko Ueno, a 52-year-old office worker, and her 24-year-old daughter Yuki after breaking into their home in the town of Hirono, Iwate Prefecture, on July 19, 2006. Wakabayashi abandoned their bodies in nearby mountains, and stole items and 20,000 yen in cash from the victims, according to the ruling.


Robbery-murder gets death penalty

MORIOKA, Iwate Pref. (Kyodo) The Morioka District Court sentenced a 30-year-old man to death Tuesday for killing two women in a robbery-murder case last July in the town of Hirono, Iwate Prefecture.

Presiding Judge Shinji Sugiyama said Kazuyuki Wakabayashi, a house painter from the town of Gonohe, Aomori Prefecture, deserved capital punishment as he "brutally killed two people who were not at all at fault."

Wakabayashi had pleaded guilty. His defense had argued for a life sentence, saying the murders were not premeditated: He had killed them because the victims saw his face.

He was convicted of breaking into the home of Noriko Ueno, a 52-year-old office worker, last July 19, killing her and her 24-year-old daughter Yuki, stealing about 20,000 yen in cash and about 80 items worth 45,000 yen, and abandoning their bodies in the mountains nearby.