Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Japan Crime Blotter...

You probably didn't read about any of this in US papers or see it on CNN:

Shigenobu remains defiant in the face of a long sentence...

Fusako Shigenobu simply smiled as the Tokyo District Court sentenced her to 20 years in prison Thursday for her activities with the Japanese Red Army, which was behind a number of terrorist attacks in the 1970s.

After reading aloud the main section of the ruling, presiding Judge Hironobu Murakami asked Shigenobu, who spent half her life in the Middle East as leader of the international terrorist group, "You understand the ruling, don't you?"

She nodded, but smiled to the gallery as if wanting to appear victorious. After the rest of the sentence was read aloud, she repeated to the gallery, "I'll continue to fight!"

After her sentencing, Shigenobu issued a statement through her lawyers, saying, "It was an unjust ruling that did not examine the facts as they are and only accommodated the wishes of those in power."

Shigenobu joined an extreme leftist group as a student at Meiji University.

In the 1970s, when the Japanese Red Army was formed and repeatedly committed terrorist acts, Shigenobu had members undergo military training at its base in Lebanon to increase the power of the group.

During her first hearing in April 2001, Shigenobu declared that the Japanese Red Army was dissolved and apologized to the victims of the terrorist acts.

Cult leader responsible for Sarin Gas Attack to learn fate

Japan's High Court is expected to rule soon on the fate of Shoko Asahara, the leader of the Aum Supreme Truth cult that carried out the attack which killed 12 people and injured thousands more.

In Tokyo, Shane McLeod reports.

SHANE MCLEOD: It was a calculated, deadly attack.

On the morning of the 20th of March 1995, at five locations on three of the subway lines below Tokyo, members of the Aum Supreme Truth cult released the nerve agent, sarin gas.

(sound of Japanese people panicking)

Twelve people died and thousands more were overcome by deadly gas, causing injuries for some that continue to this day.

At the time, the Aum cult boasted 10,000 members across Japan, led by a charismatic blind guru, Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto.

In 2004 Asahara was found guilty as the mastermind of that attack and other incidents that claimed a total of 27 lives.

(sound of Japanese lawyers)

His lawyers lodged an appeal against the sentence, but have since claimed they can’t proceed, because they haven't been able to communicate with their client.

They say that Asahara is mentally ill and may be suffering from a brain condition.

They say he's incontinent, wears nappies, and requires a wheelchair to move around.

But a report from a psychiatrist appointed by the court has disputed that assessment. It found that while Asahara is not well, he does respond to the directions of guards at the detention centre in which he's been held for 10 years. And it found that he's mentally fit to stand trial.

Livedoor's new boss arrested

Prosecutors on Wednesday arrested Livedoor Representative Director Fumito Kumagai in connection with the alleged accounting fraud in which his former colleagues are embroiled, putting the firm one step closer to being delisted.

They also served fresh warrants on former Livedoor Co. President Takafumi Horie and three other ex-executives on suspicion of falsifying the company's financial figures for the business year through September 2004.

The new warrants allow Tokyo prosecutors to continue to hold for further questioning Horie and the other three, who have been in custody since Jan. 23 for alleged securities law violations.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange will begin procedures to delist Livedoor if the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission files a fresh criminal complaint with prosecutors against the firm over alleged accounting fraud or if the state presses charges, TSE officials said Wednesday.

Prosecutors believe the five inflated Livedoor earnings for the year through September 2004 by more than 5 billion yen.

Livedoor is suspected of claiming a pretax profit of 1.4 billion yen through fictitious sales to two companies that it was in the process of taking over, although it actually incurred a pretax loss for the year.

Kochi police abused funds, audit finds...

KOCHI (Kyodo) The Kochi Prefectural Police misspent 35 percent of its budget for investigations over the five-year period starting in fiscal 2000, a prefectural audit panel said Wednesday.

The panel checked the 13,800 outlays worth 51.4 million yen at the prefectural force and at Kochi Police Station, of which 18 million yen was found to have been spent inappropriately, it said in a report submitted to Gov. Daijiro Hashimoto and the prefectural assembly.

Police previously denied that money was spent inappropriately.

Of the 51.4 million yen, about 780,000 yen, or 1.5 percent, in 85 cases was found to have been fictitious payments made as supervisors had apparently instructed subordinates to falsify receipts.

Some 690,000 yen, or 1.3 percent, in 115 cases was considered inappropriate spending, where the handwriting on receipts closely resembled that of investigators' payment vouchers, 16.45 million yen, or 32 percent of the budget in 3,178 cases, was deemed to be suspicious, with paid informants' names blacked out on documents in some cases, and receipts not attached to accounting documents.

In other news, Taiwan's pissing off China again, Japan is pissing off Korea again, and as of this morning, Japan still hadn't medalled in the Olympics...

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