A Japanese court sentenced a former top bureaucrat to six years in prison on Monday for killing his socially reclusive son in Tokyo earlier this year amid fear of violence.
The Tokyo District Court found that Hideaki Kumazawa, 76, a former vice minister for agriculture, forestry and fisheries, stabbed his 44-year-old son Eiichiro in the neck and chest multiple times on June 1, causing his death from massive blood loss.
While acknowledging that the son's violence at home was behind the murder, Presiding Judge Tomoyuki Nakayama said in handing down the ruling that the defendant had "the strong intention to kill," as there were more than 30 wounds found on his son's body.
(Tokyo District Court)
In a hearing, Kumazawa, who also served as Japan's ambassador to the Czech Republic after retiring from the forerunner to the farm ministry in 2002, said his son had threatened to kill him on the day of the incident and explained he "went to get a kitchen knife as a reflex and stabbed him multiple times in the heat of an argument."
But the court refuted his claims based on the crime scene, concluding that the attack was mostly unilateral.
The judge also criticized Kumazawa's actions as "short-sighted" for not considering other ways to resolve the situation, including consulting with his son's doctor or police.
At the same time, the court took into account the long-standing efforts of the defendant in building a stable relationship with his son while maintaining an appropriate distance.
It concluded that although the crime did not fall into the same category of seriousness as similar cases, the defendant still could not be given a suspended sentence.
Prosecutors had sought an eight-year term, while the defense team had pleaded extenuating circumstances, saying Kumazawa had long supported his eldest son, who had a developmental disorder, and committed murder in self-defense after his son threatened to kill him.
Kumazawa sent 955 messages to his eldest son on Twitter over a period of around a year and half, reminding him to take out the garbage and live a healthy life.
He paid for all his son's living expenses, visiting his home every month to clean up after him. In an attempt to spark new interests for his son, who was unable to find a job, he suggested exhibiting items at a large-scale market for self-published comics, more commonly known as comiket, and even attended as a vendor himself.
In Friday's hearing, Kumazawa admitted to the charge, saying, "I think it is my duty to pay for the crime and pray that my son can spend a peaceful time in the afterlife."
Kumazawa joined the agriculture ministry in 1967 and became vice minister in 2001. He stepped down the following year amid criticism of the ministry's handling of a mad cow disease outbreak.
He went on to serve as Japan's ambassador to the Czech Republic from 2005 to 2008.
The case has drawn much public attention due to the large number of social recluses, known as "hikikomori," aged 40 to 64 in Japan, with the government estimating there to be 613,000 across the country.