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  • “Foreign crime” in reverse: The Miura Kazuyoshi Case

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on February 26th, 2008

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    Hi Blog. A lot of people have brought this to my attention, and it’s of interest to Debito.org for reasons quite convoluted.

    We usually hear about the crimes NJ commit in Japan. Very rarely about crimes committed by Japanese abroad, when we are the foreigners. Even more interesting is where a murder is committed and blamed on “foreign crime” overseas, namely the Americans and their society allegedly riddled with random crime.

    Then we have the case of Miura Kazuyoshi. As you can see by the details below, we had a person convicted of killing his wife in a lower Japanese court unusually vindicated by a higher court. Then the guy gets arrested in US territory (which avoids double jeopardy) for the same crime nearly 25 years later. Wouldn’t it be yet another black eye for the Japanese judiciary if the US convicts him instead? We won’t know for a little while (but it will take definitely less time than the Japanese judiciary; hey, it took Miura four years for his High Court verdict, and Asahara has been on trial for more than a decade now…), but it should be interesting.

    As an aside, crooked Dietmember Suzuki Muneo just got put away yet again today after his case was on appeal for close to four years too (in the interim he forms his own party and gets reelected; Hokkaido no haji!). About time. Still, he didn’t kill anybody. Couldn’t blame his corruption on foreigners, I guess.

    Is Miura the Japanese O.J. Simpson or what? Instead of using the race card, he uses the “foreign crime” card… Debito in Sapporo

    //////////////////////////////////////////////
    Japan interviews arrested businessman
    By THOMAS WATKINS, Associated Press Writer
    Sun Feb 24, 5:58 PM ET
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080224/ap_on_re_us/businessman_s_wife_19;_ylt=AgwOdRE1FDr6pXh63kG7nMQE1vAI
    Courtesy Chad Edwards, Tony Kehoe, and Erich Meatleg

    LOS ANGELES – Japanese officials on Sunday interviewed a businessman from their country who was arrested in a U.S. territory on suspicion of killing his wife a quarter-century ago in a Los Angeles parking lot.

    Kazuyoshi Miura was apprehended by U.S. authorities late Friday as he tried to pass through immigration control at Saipan’s airport to take a flight home, said Toshihide Kawasaki, a Foreign Ministry official in charge of Japanese citizens overseas. Japanese consular officials later talked to him at a Saipan detention center.

    “He seemed in good health, and was receiving a fair treatment,” said Kenji Yoshida, one of the two Japanese consuls in Saipan.

    “We talked about an hour, but not so much about his past crimes,” Yoshida said. “Naturally, he expressed hopes to see his family, and was very anxious to know what may happen to him.”

    Miura, 60, had already been convicted in Japan in 1994 of the murder of his wife, Kazumi Miura, but that verdict was overturned by the country’s high courts 10 years ago. The 1981 shooting caused an international uproar, in part because he blamed the attack on robbers, reinforcing Japanese perceptions of America as violent.

    “Why now?” Japan’s Mainichi newspaper asked in a headline. “His turbulent life entered a new phase.”

    The LAPD said Miura was awaiting extradition, and details on the arrest were not made available.

    “I think U.S. investigators have all along believed that they can make the case with the evidence they had already collected,” Tsutomu Sakaguchi, a Tokyo Metropolitan Police investigator at the time of the shooting, told TV Asahi in an interview Sunday. “If they have a new evidence, that could be a decisive step.”

    Miura’s attorney, Junichiro Hironaka, has said the latest arrest is astonishing.

    Miura, a clothing importer, and his 28-year-old wife were visiting Los Angeles on Nov. 18, 1981, when they were shot in a downtown parking lot. She was shot in the head, went into a coma and died the following year in Japan.

    Her mother said Sunday that she never gave up hope that the case would be resolved.

    “I burned incense for my daughter and prayed at a family Buddhist altar, telling her that Americans will put an end to the case, so let’s hold onto our hopes and wait,” Yasuko Sasaki told Japan’s public broadcaster NHK.

    Miura reportedly collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from life insurance policies he had taken out on his wife. In addition, an actress who claimed to be Miura’s lover told a newspaper that Miura had hired her to kill his wife in their hotel room on a trip to Los Angeles three months before the shootings.

    Miura was arrested in Japan in 1985 on suspicion of assaulting his wife in the hotel incident. He was convicted of attempted murder and while serving a six-year sentence was charged under Japanese law in 1988 with his wife’s murder.

    Miura was convicted of that charge in 1994 and sentenced to life in prison. Four years later, a Japanese court overturned the sentence.
    ___

    Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.
    ENDS

    25 Responses to ““Foreign crime” in reverse: The Miura Kazuyoshi Case”

    1. Jib Halyard Says:

      at least there can be no objections to his arrest on the grounds of double jeaopardy.
      Miura’s trial in the US will be the first REAL hearing of this case by a legitimate justice system.

    2. Ke5in Says:

      This, right above letters from Mr Idubor …

      Gems from this article …!

      “He seemed in good health, and was receiving a fair treatment,”
      Like he should expect being a foreigner in the US and like he wouldn’t be in Japan if he was a foreigner :rolleyes:

      “We talked about an hour, but not so much about his past crimes,”
      What were they talking about then? and how is this relevant to this situation? I’m beginning to wonder about this reporter …

      “If they have a new evidence, that could be a decisive step.”
      From this and from the preceding statement, you can draw the conclusion that the Japanese police did sub-standard evidence gathering, he was convicted in Japan on inadequate evidence (proved by the overturn of the decision) and that Japanese police had ceased to investigate the crime …!

      they were shot
      Seems I was right to worry about this reporter …

      Miura reportedly collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from life insurance policies he had taken out on his wife
      Thrown in for sensationalism and intrigue … no surprise there.

      Seems to me that he more than likely did it for whatever reason (no motive given in the article) but being prosecuted in Japan, he was lucky enough to be able to use the system that enjoys raising it’s middle finger to the US and outside world and so, he got off scot free.

      Here’s hoping for justice!

    3. debito Says:

      FEEDBACK FROM JENS. DEBITO

      It’s good that you bring this up, because I actually wanted to ask a couple of questions about the case, which I don’t know very much about.

      The first is, does anybody know why he was charged in Japan in the first place? This comes close to the issue of “extraterritoriality.” Normally, courts do not try cases that did not take place within their jurisdiction. I’m thinking maybe it’s because Miura took out insurance policies on his wife, and maybe the Japanese prosecutors argued that the incident had been planned in Japan, and hence could be tried here?

      Incidentally, I didn’t read the whole editorial, but the Asahi this morning had an editorial that seemed to be criticizing the US for prosecuting the case in the first place. I personally think it’s a waste of US money and don’t know why they bothered, but if anything it seems that the case ought have been prosecuted there in the first place.

      The second question is about the Japanese police. Debito, you wrote that it would be a black eye for the Japanese justice system if Miura is convicted in the US. I was wondering, though, is it not possible that the Japanese prosecutors, out of anger that their case was overthrown by the court, gave evidence to the LA prosecutors to get Miura arrested and convicted? Jens
      ENDS

    4. TJJ Says:

      “they were shot”

      Were they really both shot? Or just the wife?

    5. DR Says:

      Without any sense of schadenfreude here, I’m praying that the MoJ in Japan learns a few things in this Miura case. Having a lawyer present, along with an interpreter while questioning. Having both audio/video taping which help ascertain facts and follow procedureal processes. Unlike Japan. Having the truth of the matter the ultimate goal, not the reputation of such-and-such a police officer or department. Unlike Japan.
      Having either a grand jury or a 12 member jury hear and judge the case on merit. Unlike Japan. Having (relatively) universally applied statutes and standards of evidence apply, instead of a “case by case” trial by (soon to be) lay judges. Unlike Japan.

      The guy is innocent until proven guilty, and I’m prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. Now, I’d like that same benefit of the doubt given to non-Japanese in Japan. Or should I just go back to whatever it was I was smoking?

    6. HO Says:

      JENS: “The first is, does anybody know why he was charged in Japan in the first place? This comes close to the issue of “extraterritoriality.” Normally, courts do not try cases that did not take place within their jurisdiction.”

      He was tried in Japan because, (1) he is a Japanese citizen (Penal Code 3), (2) the victim was a Japanese citizen (Penal Code 4), (3) he was arrested in Japan, and (4) US prosecutors did not ask for extradition.

      “Miura, 60, had already been convicted in Japan in 1994 of the murder of his wife, Kazumi Miura, but that verdict was overturned by the country’s high courts 10 years ago.”

      I think the sentence above is odd. Indeed he was once convicted. But after his appeal, the conviction was overturned and the high court declared him not guilty in its judgment, which was maintained by the Supreme Court of Japan following a further appeal by the prosecutor. So, his name was cleared.
      The question is, is it OK to say “he had already been convicted” even after his name was cleared?

      Jib: “at least there can be no objections to his arrest on the grounds of double jeaopardy.”

      All the Japanese media are objecting, or at least questioning, the arrest by LAPD on the ground of double jeopardy. Japanese are surprised to find how easily such Constitutional protection like Prohibition of Double Jeopardy can be bent by the police in the US, where they thought human rights are strictly protected.

      Jib: “Miura’s trial in the US will be the first REAL hearing of this case by a legitimate justice system.”
      We all know what happened to all the death row inmates in Illinois. There are not a few false convictions in the US, which is the very reason that double jeopardy is prohibited in the US as well as in Japan.

      –Is it really “double jeopardy” if it goes through a different country’s judicial system?

    7. Willie Says:

      Jib,

      The process in the US may normally be better, but I doubt that the outcomes are. A huge problem nowadays is that almost everyone has to plea bargain to avoid 100-year sentences. My bet is that a higher percentage of innocent people are rotting away in American prisons than Japanese ones. This isn’t meant to defend the medieval criminal justice system here. And here’s hoping, along with DR, that the MoJ learns a bit from observing.

    8. HO Says:

      Thank you, Debito.
      No, technically speaking, this is not a double jeopardy case. But I think the “spirit” of prohibition of double jeopardy is compromised in this case.

      Does anyone remember the case in which a Japanese exchange student was shot dead in the US by a shooter on a Halloween night, when the student asked him the way to a party site? The shooter was tried in the US and found not guilty due to self-defense. What would US citizens say if the Japanese government arrests the shooter saying, “this is not double jeopardy”?
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoshihiro_Hattori

    9. Martin Says:

      I read the “Instant Checkpoint 1&2″ and was wondering if cops have the right to stop me and search my bag or simply body search me ? A Taiwanese friend of mine was stopped in Shibuya and had his bag searched. The only thing they found was a book on Brecht “Verfremddungseffekt” theory and a 1983 Reader’s Digest (in Latin) with Boy George dressed in pink on the cover…

    10. HO Says:

      TJJ: “Were they really both shot? Or just the wife?”
      Both Mr. Miura and his wife were shot by an unknown gunman. Mr. Miura was shot in his leg, seriously wounded and hospitalized.

      The charges against Mr. Miura in Japan were conspiracy of murder. The question was, how can you prove the conspiracy if the identity of the gunman is unknown?

      The Japanese media are expecting “new evidence” by LAPD, which they assume the identity of the gunman.

    11. Turner Says:

      Actually, if he were to be convicted in the US, it might not embarrass the Japanese judicial system, but rather provide backing to the false belief that the conviction rate exists for a reason… “He escaped Japanese law? Well, even the US thinks he’s guilty.”

    12. InJM Says:

      I’m interested if this story is making any splashs on US tv. I can hardly watch the news without hearing about this guy.

    13. TJJ Says:

      “Does anyone remember the case in which a Japanese exchange student was shot dead in the US by a shooter on a Halloween night, when the student asked him the way to a party site? The shooter was tried in the US and found not guilty due to self-defense. What would US citizens say if the Japanese government arrests the shooter saying, “this is not double jeopardy”?”

      Ho,

      Yes I remember that story. I would be very pleased if Japan arrested and tried him.

    14. Jeff Says:

      HO-san,

      “Does anyone remember the case in which a Japanese exchange student was shot dead in the US by a shooter on a Halloween night, when the student asked him the way to a party site? The shooter was tried in the US and found not guilty due to self-defense. What would US citizens say if the Japanese government arrests the shooter saying, “this is not double jeopardy”?”

      That was a very unfortunate and saddening case, but I do not see how it is relevant or comparable to the Miura case we are now seeing in the news. The “Hattori” case was tried in the country where it occurred, having occurred between nationals of two different countries, and Mr. Hattori was breaking the law by trespassing as the incident occurred. If Japan arrests the American in this case, then Japan should arrest every foreigner who commits a crime against a Japanese national in a foreign country under Japanese law. Or even better every American who owns a gun and then visits Japan should be arrested because guns are not legal in Japan except under special circumstances. It doesn’t make sense. Miura’s case was tried in Japan because he and his wife were Japanese citizens. If only one of them was a Japanese citizen the case would have never been tried in Japan. One could almost make a case for the fact that because Japan opted to try this case in Japan it left the door open for California at any later point in time to try the case again. Maybe Mr. Miura’s complaints should be against the Japanese prosecutors?

      Getting to my point. the spirit of double jeopardy is debatable, but the American and Japanese legal systems are fundamentally different because they are based on two different constitutions and are interpreted based on different cultural assumptions. Therefore, I believe that double jeopardy can only be double jeopardy under the same set of laws. To back up my conclusion, the state of California passed a law (California legislators, however, passed a law in 2004 that allows someone tried in another country to stand trial here for the same crime.Japan Times 2008.2.27) to include cases like this. I apologize for not being able to give a direct reference to this law. So to restate Mr. Arudou’s comment, Is it really double jeopardy under two different legal systems?

    15. TJJ Says:

      Jeff

      You mean he was trespassing like the mormons do when they come a knocking? Or maybe like Fedex does?

    16. HO Says:

      Jeff, I compared what US and Japanese laws say about their application outside their boundary.

      US Law
      USC TITLE 18 – CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
      Sec. 1119. Foreign murder of United States nationals
      (b) Offense. – A person who, being a national of the United States, kills or attempts to kill a national of the United States while such national is outside the United States but within the jurisdiction of another country shall be punished as provided under sections 1111, 1112, and 1113.
      (c) Limitations on Prosecution. – (one sentence omitted) No prosecution shall be approved if prosecution has been previously undertaken by a foreign country for the same conduct.

      Japanese Law
      Penal Code
      Article 3
      This Code shall apply to any Japanese national who commits one of the following crimes outside the territory of Japan:
      (vi) The crime proscribed under Article 199 (Homicide) and attempt thereof;

      Article3-2
      This Code shall apply to any non-Japanese national who commits one of the following crimes against a Japanese national outside the territory of Japan.
      (ii) The crime proscribed under Articles 199 (Homicide) and attempt thereof;

      So, the Japanese law claims the right to punish a murderer who commits a murder outside of its territory if either the actor or the victim is a Japanese national, while the US law claims the same if both the actor and the victim are US nationals.

      Is it true that if a Japanese kills a US citizen in Japan, such act is unpunishable by the US government?

      US and Japan have indeed different sets of laws. So, is it OK to prosecute the shooter in Hattori case if he comes to Japan? I do not think that way.

    17. Willie Says:

      Jeff,

      Perhaps this is a case of the Japanese looking at the spirit of a law or regulation, and the US looking at things legalistically. Prosecutors in the US now prosecute people who beat the rap through the dubious method of charging them with a somewhat related offense. In the Miura case, the US has talked about human rights for a long time, and even justifies wars over a leader’s crimes against that country’s human rights, yet double jeopardy is not truly followed at home.

      Ke5hin,

      I wish I had your confidence in justice being served. The whole case seems most dubious-from first trying him in Japan, to the conviction being overturned, to this. Something doesn’t pass the smell test. Does Miura have some connection to yakuza or intelligence-agency affiliated groups?

    18. yuki Says:

      Actually, according to the japan times. California passed a legislation in 2004 allowing them to arrest and trial individuals who were arrested in another country. So technically, everything that they are doing is definitely legal and carries no penalities.

    19. Jeff Says:

      TJJ, Yes the Mormons are technically trespassing. Fedex is not because the package they are delivering is addressed to the residence and… It’s covered by US federal communications law.

      HO-san and Willie-san,

      First, I am not a legal professional. If, US federal law (sec. 1119) prohibits double jeopardy as it has been described here, then how can CA state law approve it? Obviously there is a conflict here. As you have stated above it would seem that this would be a case of double jeopardy. My previous argument was simply a product of my own thinking. If my conclusion was incorrect I am willing to admit it, but I am still not convinced that is was incorrect. It is possible that it is not appropriate to compare non-murder and murder cases when considering double jeopardy. Murder is probably for the most part legally defined uniformly, while my previously mentioned gun owernship is not. It is my mistake for comparing those two “crimes”.

      In addition, I still believe that your comparison of the “Hattori” case is not applicable to the “Miura” case. I also would like to make a statement of record, that I do not defend the US legal system and do not believe that it is infallible. It has many issues that require resolution. I will agree with you in the case of murder, where the legal assumptions of what murder is are very similar, like this case, it is most likely a case of double jeopardy. So I will leave this conversation being humbled, but ask one question, if new evidence is introduced is it or should it be considered double jeopardy. And if it is not, then Mr. Miura should be set free with an apology.

    20. datura Says:

      Well, actually, I remember a very infamous case of Japanese abroad commiting atrocious crime. Namely Issei Sagawa.

      Maybe it’s a bit too old for you kids to know about, but Issei murdered and ate a fellow student in France, was deported back to Japan and through a legal loophole basically got off scott free. He then turned his wickedness into a lucrative position as a macabre tv talent, writing books on the subject as well as doing commentary any time some psycho went and ate people.

      Bluntly put, props to the US for actually following up on the Miura case because the Japanese defintion of justice could use a few spankings.

      –I remember him. I’ve always been intrigued by that case. Thanks for bringing it up. Debito in Okinawa

    21. HO Says:

      Jeff, I am sorry. It seems my quote turned out to be misleading, which I did not intended. Subsection (c) of 1119 applies only to subsection (b) of 1119, which is about murders that take place outside the US. Murders in the US are handled by section 1111, in which there is no subsection similar to subsection (c) of 1119.

    22. HO Says:

      According to evening edition of Asahi Shinbun on March 1, 2008, California Penal Code sec. 656 and sec. 793, prohibited the prosecution by the State of California of a person who had been tried in another country, until September, 2004. Then they changed the law to allow double jeopardy.
      This raises the question of retroactive application of law in Miura case.
      BILL NUMBER: AB 1432 CHAPTERED 09/14/04
      CHAPTER 511 FILED WITH SECRETARY OF STATE SEPTEMBER 14, 2004
      http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate?WAISdocID=61816212017+432+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve

    23. HO Says:

      Sorry. The above link does not seem to work.
      http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/statute.html
      chapter number 511, year 2004.

    24. eponymous Says:

      HO said:

      “…prohibited the prosecution by the State of California of a person who had been tried in another country, until September, 2004. Then they changed the law to allow double jeopardy.
      This raises the question of retroactive application of law in Miura case.”

      It’s rather disingenious of you to say that they changed the law to allow double jeopardy. They did not (of course, I suppose your definition of double jeopardy is far from the legal one). Double jeopardy is still prohibited. They changed the law to reflect the very real limits of a given country’s jurisdiction.

      I would also suggest that, given certain conditions, the law cannot be said to “retroactively” apply to the Miura case. If the case were being investigated as a murder in the U.S., and the law before the revision made no mention of automatically closing open cases once prosecuted abroad, then they are simply applying a new law that allows them to prosecute in an already open case. There is no statute of limitations on murder in the U.S., so whenever they get him he can be charged and tried.

    25. Bill Says:

      What ever happened to Japanese cannibal Issei Sagawa? Apparently, he hangs out in Roppongi.

      I just stumbled on this Australian documentary (2005, Journeyman Pictures) where they actually interview the monster and spend some time with him.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?hl=en&v=aAzLVOMuJMI

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