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The Japanese Legal System – Junko Furuta Case

The murder of Junko Furuta was one of the most gruesome murder stories in history. The case is even known as “the girl who lived 44 days in hell!”

Do you know what happened to her? If not, then prepare yourself for a heart-wrenching and tragic story where the Japanese legal system failed to serve proper justice.

Before

Born in Misato, Saitama Prefecture, Japan on 18 January 1971, Furuta was a 16-year-old high-schooler who also had a part-time job. She was a bright student and never missed school. Her beauty attracted many teenagers and one of them was Hiroshi Miyano, who had a crush on her. However, Furuta did not hesitate to reject him. Little did she know, Miyano was a school bully and a gangster who was affiliated with the Yakuza, the most dangerous criminal organisation in Japan.

Crime

In November 1988, when Furuta was biking home from her part-time job, Miyano offered politely to walk her home which she accepted. Unaware of his evil intentions, Furuta was dragged to a warehouse where she was threatened and raped by Miyano. The latter called his friends and the four teenagers kidnapped Furuta and held her captive in a house owned by one of the assailants’ parents.

While in captivity, Furuta went through 40 days of hell (although this was incorrectly credited to be 44 days in the tribute song 44 Days by Mr Kitty.) She was gang-raped over 400 times by more than 100 men. She was also physically assaulted with iron barbells and golf clubs and was used as a punching bag. She was provided with a little amount of food and was even forced to eat cockroaches. At one point, when she tried to contact the police, the attackers caught her and as a result, they punished her by setting her limbs on fire. Consequently, Furuta had several severe burns, bruised muscles, damaged limbs, and developed urinary incontinence due to extreme torture.

Finally, her misery ended in January 1989 when the boys set her again on fire and as a result, she went into convulsive seizures and eventually succumbed to her death. Frightened of being charged with murder, the four teenagers rapped her lifeless body in blankets and put her in a drum and filled it with concrete.

After a few months, the location of her body came to light while Hiroshi Miyano and Jō Ogura were being interrogated for the gang-rape of a different 19-year-old woman, whom they had kidnapped in the week leading up to Junko Furuta’s death.

Aftermath

The most shocking aspect of this case is how Junko Furuta did not receive proper justice.

At the beginning of the prosecution phase, the boys’ names were concealed as they were regarded as juveniles during the time period of the crime. However, unable to accept the criminals’ rights to anonymity, the media disclosed their names to the public.

Furthermore, despite the tragic misery that Furuta experienced, the boys were given lenient sentences as according to the Japanese law standards, they were considered underage delinquents. For instance, Miyano received a 20-year sentence, while the three other boys were given 5, 9 and 8 years of prison sentences. Instead of being charged with murder, it was “committing only bodily injuries that resulted in death”. At that time, the Japanese community claimed that the prison sentences were too low for the horrible torture and terror they caused to the girl.

However, the four teenagers’ punishment was based on the Japanese juvenile system which believes highly in the rehabilitation of juvenile criminals rather than giving out severe sentences. The legal system’s main objective was to rehabilitate and support these teenagers so as they can reintegrate into Japanese society. The number of years of punishment was also given based on the Japanese law’s legal restrictions that allow only a specific number of years with which a juvenile can be charged.

Despite the absence of capital punishment in the country, juvenile law was subjected to much criticism. Given the severity of the case and the four teenagers’ inhuman acts, the Judiciary system should have at least changed its laws to give proper justice to Furuta.

Do you also think that the legal system failed to provide justice to Junko Furuta? Please share your opinions!

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