CHIBA (TR) – A court here last week handed a 51-year-old man a 10-year prison term for assisting in the murder of an acquaintance in Futtsu City last year, reports NHK (Dec. 16).
At the Chiba District Court on December 16, presiding judge Kenji Koike ruled that Eiji Kaneko worked with two accomplices in the murder of 23-year-old Takuya Shishikura.
“But you were following instructions as opposed to being involved,” the judge said in handing down the 10-year term.
The prosecution had sought a 15-year term.
Early on January 27, 2019, Kaneko and the other defendants — Yasuo Shishikura and Yusuke Sanaka — used unspecified means to cause Takuya, then 23, to fall into the water at Hamakanaya Port.
They then alerted authorities, saying that Takuya had fallen in the water accidentally. He was found at the bottom of the ocean about 40 meters from the pier at around 2:10 p.m. that day. He was later confirmed dead at the scene, police said previously.
The night before the incident, the defendants forced Takuya to drink large quantities of alcohol. They drove him to the port inside a vehicle the next morning. Kaneko was behind the wheel.
Takuya was a painter living in Chiba City’s Wakaba Ward. Yasuo is the head of a construction firm that employed Takuya. Yasuo adopted him in 2018.
In 2015, a life insurance policy valued at 50 million yen was taken out in the name of Takuya. The beneficiary was his mother. However, the name on the policy was changed to that of Yasuo in November 2018.
According to police, the crime was plotted in advance. An examination of the mobile telephones of Yasuo and Sanaka revealed what are believed to be discussions about the alleged crime via the smartphone application Line.
One message dating back to last summer suggests “killing Takuya for the insurance payout.” In another written after the crime, one of them wrote, “I had a dream about killing Takuya.” Another message said, “It’s been two months.”
Judge Koike described Kaneko’s role as “indispensable.” “But you were not threatened by the other two [defendants],” he added. “You had the ability to refrain from carrying out the murder.”
The trials of the other two defendants have yet to begin.