Due to the "low likelihood of rehabilitation," Japan sentences a specific minor to death for the first time. How should this be evaluated? What implications does this have for juvenile crime in our country?
According to reports from NHK and Asahi Shimbun, a 21-year-old man in Japan has been sentenced to death for killing the parents of his unrequited love interest and setting fire to their home two years ago. This marks the first case of a death sentence in Japan for a person aged 18-19 since the enactment of Japan’s “Minor Law” that designates them as specific minors. In 2021, when he was 19 years old and still in high school, Yuuki Endo broke into the home of his unrequited love, a female student, in the early morning hours. He killed the girl’s parents, and attempted to harm her 14-year-old sister. Endo then set the house on fire, completely destroying it. The two girls managed to escape by jumping from the second floor. On January 18, 2024, the Kofu District Court in Japan sentenced Endo to death, stating, “This is a crime based on extreme malice and intent to kill, with selfish and irrational motives… even when taking into account his age, his criminal responsibility is significant, and the possibility of rehabilitation is very low.” Defense lawyers stated that they would consult with the defendant before deciding whether to appeal.Due to Japan lowering the legal adult age from 20 to 18, and the revision of Japan’s “Minor Law,” individuals aged 18-19 are now classified as “specific minors.” The case will be sent to a family court, where decisions will be made based on the defendant’s upbringing and family environment. If the prosecutor chooses to indict, the criminal trial will be conducted in a manner similar to adult cases. Japanese 19-year-old sentenced to death for killing parents of unrequited love： “Very low possibility of rehabilitation.”
The Peculiarities of Japan’s Age of Majority Standards
Japan’s standards for the age of majority have always been somewhat peculiar, lacking significant reference value.
Initially, the age of majority in Japan was set at 20, and it was only in recent years that this was changed to 18.
However, when Japan’s age of majority was 20, laws related to age were as follows:
- The Labor Standards Act stipulated 18 as the minimum age for late-night work.
- The age for sexual protection was set at 18.
- Access to certain websites and the purchase of certain items were restricted to individuals aged 18 and over.
- The age of majority for the Imperial Family was set at 18.
- The prohibition of alcohol and tobacco consumption for minors was enforced at the age of 20.
Interestingly, in Japan at that time, an 18-year-old could work late at night, was not considered a child in sexual matters, and could freely book hotel rooms for intimate encounters. For instance, you could earn money by pole dancing in a nightclub late at night, but you were not allowed to buy cigarettes or alcohol due to age restrictions.
Given this context, the question arises whether a 19-year-old committing a serious crime should be given the leniency typically afforded to minors…
Personally, I am not in favor of offering such leniency.
Honestly, looking at this photo, Old Hu can’t help but question it…
I hope the same judgment can be applied to this:
How to view the case of a 9th-grade male student in Nantong, Jiangsu, who died due to school bullying?
Export Luo Sheng to Japan for some guidance.
Criminal Responsibility Age for Minors in China Lowered Under Amendment
At this age, with such a plot, breaking into a house, causing two deaths and one injury, and even setting the place on fire, attempting to destroy evidence, the use of firearms in China is already clear. Is there a need to be so entangled?
On the other hand, in the domestic context, regarding the criminal responsibility age for minors, the 13th National People’s Congress Standing Committee passed the 11th Amendment to the Criminal Law on December 26, 2020, which again conditionally lowers the criminal responsibility age for juveniles.
Amend Article 17 of the Criminal Law to: “Criminals who have reached the age of sixteen shall bear criminal responsibility.
Criminals who have reached the age of fourteen but have not yet reached the age of sixteen, and commit intentional homicide, intentional injury causing serious injury or death, rape, robbery, drug trafficking, arson, explosion, or the crime of releasing dangerous substances, shall bear criminal responsibility.
Criminals who have reached the age of twelve but have not yet reached the age of fourteen, and commit intentional homicide or intentional injury crimes, causing death or causing serious disabilities by particularly cruel means, with extremely heinous circumstances, and approved for prosecution by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, shall bear criminal responsibility.
For those under the age of eighteen who are subject to criminal responsibility as stipulated in the preceding three paragraphs, they shall be given lighter or mitigated punishment.
Compared to the severity of penalties, the certainty of punishment is more deterrent.
Conservation: There’s nothing much to learn.
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I remember that Luo Xiang and some others advocated for the abolition of the death penalty. They also claimed that developed countries do not have the death penalty.
Age Definition and Rehabilitation Possibility: Key Points in Death Penalty Debate
The first issue in similar cases is the definition of the age of minors, and the second is the so-called “very low possibility of rehabilitation.”
In one sentence, the legal system has set a precedent. In the public’s perception, there are cases where minors lack malleability and social norm education is ineffective.
Yes, what comes to mind is that the individual committed heinous crimes and cannot be rehabilitated.
What I want to emphasize is that the legal conclusion is that education and guidance are ineffective, which raises an important issue in the debate over abolishing the death penalty: the cost of rehabilitation.
The logic followed by the law in this case is that the state authority believes the cost of rehabilitating this individual is limitless. Here, limitless does not mean how much money is invested but rather that the budget for rehabilitation until the point of reform is considered endless, even until death, without cessation of education and guidance.
The decision made by the state authority is that it’s too expensive and not worth it.
This is the perspective of supporters of the death penalty in three words: not worth it.
As for the age, it is not actually important. What matters is at what age the state is authorized to make such a determination.
I’ve already criticized the Japanese government thoroughly in my posture, but when I checked, it turns out that Japan’s age of majority is 20 years old, and now it has been lowered to 18 years old. What a useless reference.
Clickbait is disgusting.
Questioning the Selective Reporting
Why don’t you publish the full report? In China, anyone over 18 is considered an adult, and they are subject to punishment according to the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China. Are you trying to learn from Japan and create special regulations for certain minors?
According to Japanese media reports, a 21-year-old man in Japan was sentenced to death for killing his unrequited love’s parents and setting fire two years ago. This marks the first death sentence handed down since Japan’s “Juvenile Law” categorized 18-19-year-olds as specific minors.
Minors As per Articles 17 and 18 of the Civil Code of the People’s Republic of China, a natural person under the age of 18 is considered a minor. An adult is a person with full capacity for civil conduct who can independently engage in civil legal acts. Minors aged sixteen and above, who rely mainly on their own labor income for their livelihood, are regarded as persons with full capacity for civil conduct.
According to the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China:
Article 17: A person who has reached the age of sixteen shall bear criminal responsibility.
A person who has reached the age of fourteen but not the age of sixteen, who commits intentional homicide, intentional injury causing serious injury or death to another person, rape, robbery, drug trafficking, arson, explosion, or the crime of endangering public safety by dangerous means shall bear criminal responsibility.
A person who has reached the age of twelve but not the age of fourteen, who commits intentional homicide or intentional injury, causing death or serious injury to another person by exceptionally cruel means, and whose circumstances are particularly vile, shall bear criminal responsibility. For those under the age of eighteen who are subject to criminal liability as stipulated in the preceding three paragraphs, they shall be given a lenient or mitigated punishment.
For those under the age of sixteen who are not subject to criminal punishment, their parents or other guardians shall be ordered to discipline them; when necessary, they shall be subject to special correctional education in accordance with the law.
The First Juvenile Sentenced to Death in Japan
The world is ultimately dominated by evildoers∼ Seven or eight years later, when I am released from prison, you should organize a grand party to welcome me.
Around 4 p.m. on April 14, 1999, the perpetrator, pretending to be an acquaintance of Motozumi Yayoi, lured her to open the door.
While attempting to commit a crime, Motozumi Yayoi resisted, but was overpowered by the perpetrator and ultimately strangled to death.
Afterward, the perpetrator sexually assaulted Motozumi Yayoi, who had already lost her breath.
At this point, the perpetrator noticed that the young child in the house had been crying incessantly, fearing exposure, so he heartlessly killed the baby by throwing them down.
After committing all these crimes, the perpetrator concealed the bodies of the mother and daughter in a storage cabinet and left.
This suspect, who had just turned 18, is Takayuki Fukuda.
Despite Fukuda confessing to all his crimes, Motozumi Yayoi remained uneasy.
But no matter how vehemently Motozumi Yayoi condemned Fukuda’s crimes, the court’s judges maintained a high-handed demeanor.
In the end, the court sentenced Fukuda to life imprisonment, and since Fukuda is still a minor, his life sentence does not mean he will spend his whole life behind bars.
In fact, Japan, as the world’s first country to abolish the death penalty, has a long history in this regard.
As far back as 1,400 years ago, Emperor Saga of Japan ordered the abolition of the death penalty.
Later, Japan’s death penalty was reinstated and then abolished again with the advent of a new era.
Since the end of World War II, the number of criminals sentenced to death in Japan has not exceeded 50, and even Takeshi Yamashiro, who assassinated former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on July 8, 2022, had difficulty receiving the death penalty.
Under Japanese law, the crime of intentional homicide is judged based on the circumstances, usually resulting in life imprisonment or more than five years of fixed-term imprisonment.
In some cases, such as underage offenders, they may receive less than five years of fixed-term imprisonment, and first-time offenders may also receive reductions in their sentences.
For a criminal like Takayuki Fukuda, who is both a minor and a first-time offender, receiving a life sentence is not surprising.
Justice prevailed over darkness.
However, Fukuda did not anticipate that he would ultimately pay the price for his reckless actions.
Finally, in 2008, the Supreme Court of Japan began a retrial of Fukuda.
This time, Motozumi Yayoi and Prosecutor Yoshida faced a formidable opponent: 21 defense lawyers.
These defense lawyers, driven by their own “human rights,” defended the demon without a shred of conscience.
They used this terrifying murder case as a stepping stone to enhance their reputations, without considering that their clients were demons who killed an 11-month-old girl.
But no matter how these people defended Fukuda with a clear conscience, the evidence in the hands of Motozumi Yayoi and Prosecutor Yoshida was enough to prove that if Fukuda left prison, he would continue to commit even more terrible acts.
The court ultimately sentenced Fukuda to death, and after that, the 21 lawyers who defended him faced the condemnation of the Japanese people, with almost none of them able to continue in the legal profession.
In 2010, the film “Why Do You Fight Despair?” directed by a Japanese director was released, portraying Motozumi Yayoi’s ordeal to the public through film.
In the movie, Daigetsu Takayuki (i.e., Takayuki Fukuda) was finally executed in 2012, leaving the audience satisfied.
But in reality, in 2022, 14 years after Fukuda was sentenced to death, he still lives comfortably in prison.
From this perspective, Motozumi Yayoi and Prosecutor Yoshida’s efforts over the past decade have been in vain, as Japan’s judicial system has not undergone any changes because of them.
The grieving continue to weep at night, while the perpetrators of violence continue to live comfortably in prison.
Previous scientific studies have found that if a person is identified as having antisocial personality traits at around the age of 4, there are almost no effective interventions to reverse this. In other words, this person is almost destined to become a criminal.
It is best to apprehend and rehabilitate these individuals before they commit serious crimes (although the effectiveness may be limited).
If someone commits extremely serious crimes, the death penalty is a reasonable punishment.
Minors cannot be sentenced to death, but what if they are involved in drug trafficking exceeding 1 ton?