A man has committed suicide after police tried to pressure him into confessing to groping a drunk woman even after she withdrew her accusation, completely ignoring the beating the man received at the hands of the woman’s companions.
The incident began one night with a common enough occurrence – a 25-year-old man, an employee of Japan’s space agency JAXA, was accused by a drunk student of touching her abdomen on the platform at Shinjuku station.
Her two friends proceeded to attack him, pushing him down a flight of stairs and beating him. After this police arrived and promptly took him into custody as a suspected chikan, ignoring his pleas of innocence and his accusations of assault.
The man was finally released by police at 5:45AM the next morning, after signing a written promise to return for more grilling later.
Rather than heading home, he headed to Waseda station, familiar to him from his university commutes. At 6:40AM, he threw himself under an oncoming train. Services were delayed for 40 minutes, affecting some 24,000 people.
His mother was distraught at this course of events, regarding it as a grotesque miscarriage of justice:
“Police dropped the charges against him as he is dead. But my son would never have done such a thing in the first place.
His friends and teachers from university and his co-workers at JAXA all tearfully denied that he was capable of such a thing.
The police never even questioned his accusers, and they never told him the court had dropped charges.
In fact, the man had been wearing a recorder he used in his English studies, and much of his questioning and pleas of innocence were recorded, including him asking police “will my life be ruined by false charges like the people on the news?”
Even more damning were the circumstances surrounding his questioning, which was recorded completely and subsequently made public by the mother in her campaign for redress:
“The victim’s confirming all of this.”
“They’re saying you are the one who assaulted them.”
“Today is about the chikan case. If you want to bring charges for assault, do it yourself.”
As if this were not enough, the accuser is said to have actually withdrawn the charges, saying “I may have been mistaken,” but police did not tell him and instead continued trying to pressure him into confessing.
Technically he was not even arrested, instead having just been taken in for questioning.
The mother is said to be looking to bring a case against the police, but reports no lawyers are willing to take up the case, saying it is too difficult to sue the police.
Many claim Japan’s extremely high conviction rate is in significant part due to police interrogation techniques bordering on torture, resulting in confessions of questionable legitimacy.
Add to this fact chikan charges are more often than not based solely on testimony from victims in packed carriages, and it seems apparent a miscarriage of justice is underway on a grand scale on the nation’s trains, with often tragic consequences for those falsely accused.