Innocent Japanese jailed for 30 years, thanks himself for living in prison

An innocent Japanese man ended up in prison for about 30 years.

He was arrested for robbery and murder only to be found not guilty in a retrial, 75-year-old Shoji Sakurai, who appeared in a recently completed documentary, says, “I’m glad I went to prison.”


The innocent Japanese man who was imprisoned for nearly 3 decades

Sakurai was arrested after the “Fukawa Incident” of 1967, which landed him in prison for 29 years along with another man who also turned out to be innocent. Upon its completion, the Mainichi Shimbun found Sakurai to ask about her “happiness”.


The Fukawa incident takes place in 1967. At the time, a man was murdered in the Fukawa district of Tone city in Ibaraki Prefecture, and two people, including Sakurai, who were arrested in connection with another incident, received new arrest warrants. for robbery and murder. Investigators obtained “confessions” from them but protested their innocence during the trial.

In 1978, their life sentences were ended by the Supreme Court. They were provisionally released in 1996 and found not guilty in a retrial in 2011 with a finalized decision.

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The Innocent Japanese and His Prison Life

The documentary about Sakurai’s life records what it’s like for someone trying to deal with false accusations and his pursuit of musical pursuits, and traces his steps from the not guilty verdict in the retrial to September 2021, when the Tokyo Supreme Court’s decision recognizing the illegality of the original investigation was terminated. in a national compensation process.


In a lecture scene where Sakurai calls for the prevention of false accusations, he says, “I was glad I was in prison.” Sakurai was arrested at age 20, and even long after he was released on parole from prison at age 49, he was branded a “murderer”. So how can he say he was “happy”? This reporter visited him in September to ask what he meant.

In 1970, the Tsuchiura branch of the Mito District Court sentenced Sakurai to life imprisonment. But he decided: “We only have one chance in life. Although I lack freedom, I will do my best to find happiness in everything in front of me.” He began working in prison and music club activities in earnest, and remembers realizing, “No matter how irrational your circumstances are, you can still find joy and happiness.”

During his 29 years behind bars, both of Sakurai’s parents passed away. “I’ve lost a lot of things,” he declared. But sharing his inner thoughts now, he says, “Even though difficult things have happened, I’m glad I got through them. The days in prison, when I lived with all my effort, became seeds for my happiness.”


In September 2019, Sakurai found out he had terminal rectal cancer and was told he had one year to live. But still he continues to give lectures across the country with vigor. His 70-year-old wife, who supports him, smiled at me with a soft expression and said, “People who saw the film say it cheered them up and gave them courage. I hope it inspires them to think about making the most of every day.”

Source: Mainichi.JP

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