Japan Press Weekly
[Advanced search]
Past issues
Special issues
Fact Box
Feature Articles
Mail to editor
Mail magazine
HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 February 13 - 19  > Hatoyama is unqualified to be justice minister
> List of Past issues
Bookmark and Share
2008 February 13 - 19 [POLITICS]

Hatoyama is unqualified to be justice minister

February 16, 2008
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Justice Minister Hatoyama Kunio recently said that the so-called Shibushi incident, in which all 12 defendants charged with the violation of the Public Offices Election Law in Kagoshima Prefecture were acquitted in March 2007, should not be considered a false indictment.

The Shibushi incident was a complete frame-up fabricated by the police. The police inflicted great suffering on the victims by forcing them to confess through coercive questioning techniques in disregard of their human rights.

Prosecutors’ responsibilities were also called into question since they indicted victims solely relying on the forced confession as well as the police’s investigation results with no evidence.

However, Hatoyama made the remark in a meeting in which senior prosecutors across the country took part. It is absurd for the justice minister, who is responsible for checking abuses of power by law enforcement, to defend prosecutors instead of pursuing the responsibility of the prosecutors in the case by putting himself in the victims’ place.

His remark negating the false charge ruling is tantamount to declaring the former defendants guilty by overturning the final judgment of their innocence. It is utterly understandable that former defendants who have filed a lawsuit demanding state compensation for the false charge severely criticize Hatoyama for making such a remark.

At a press conference on February 15, Hatoyama said that he will apologize if his remark offended the victims but refused to answer reporters’ question whether he considers the Shibushi incident as a fabricated charge. He neither understands the problem nor has made any reflections on his comments.

Hatoyama has repeatedly made absurd remarks inappropriate in his role as justice minister. He called for the “automatic execution” of death row convicts without requiring the justice minister’s approval and in connection with a terrorist bombing in Bali, he said, “A friend of a friend of mine is a member of Al Qaeda.”

When these remarks prompted strong criticism against him, he gave only illogical explanations and retracted none of them. He has neither understanding of the significance of his remarks made in his capacity as justice minister nor a modicum of judiciousness needed for a politician.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura Nobutaka made clear that he has no intention to give Hatoyama a warning. However, it is unacceptable for the Fukuda Cabinet to allow Hatoyama not to reflect on his remarks.

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo at a press conference on February 14 said, “The justice minister bears responsibility for fair law enforcement. The fact that he repeatedly made remarks showing his lack of understanding of the legal order demonstrates that he is unqualified to be the justice minister.”

As long as Hatoyama stays in office, Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo’s responsibility for appointing him as the justice minister is also called into question.
> List of Past issues
  Copyright (c) Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. All right reserved