by Harada Masaharu, Poplar Books, August 2004 (1,500 yen)
Shibata Yukinori (Jesuit Social Center, Tokyo)
he youngest brother of Mr. Harada Masaharu was assassinated in 1983. The criminal, Mr. Hasegawa Toshihiko, was the employer of the transport company where the brother of Mr. Harada had been working. The criminal aimed at the insurance payment of the victim because of the debt contracted by him. The book gives an account of how Mr. Harada, who had desired the execution of Mr. Hasegawa, changed his heart in such a way that he asked to stop the execution, upon meeting with Mr. Hasegawa 10 years after the crime.
At the beginning, the incident was recorded as a traffic accident and Mr. Hasegawa was able to move freely in and out of Mr. Harada's home. Mr. Harada trusted Mr. Hasegawa so much that he even lent money to him.
But, a year later, the corpse of a victim that had been killed by Mr. Hasegawa was discovered and, as a result, the crime of the brother of Mr. Harada came to light. The incident changed the life of Mr. Harada. The hate for the criminal, the offensive reports of the mass media, the insufficiency of the system to support the families of crime victims and the lack of understanding at the work place produced such a psychological pressure on Mr. Harada that, every evening, got into bad drinking habits drawing his family into imminent disaster.
Since the beginning of the trial against Mr. Hasegawa, Mr. Harada continued for three years contacting Mr. Hasegawa each time the trial took place. Nevertheless he realized that if he were to continue those contacts, the hate he felt against Mr. Hasegawa will spoil his own life and from the time the sentence given by the High Court in 1987, till the beginning of the audit in the Supreme Court Mr. Harada decided to immerse himself in his work and interest for ancient history, forgetting all about the crime.
After a while, the opportunity to contact Mr. Hasegawa came again. In 1985, Mr. Hasegawa became a Christian under the influence of his lawyer Mr. Aoki and began sending letters apologizing for his crime, but Mr. Harada who was not psychologically ready to accept them, did not even try to open such letters.
A little later Mr. Harada recovered from his lavish life and once he felt psychologically at ease he reflected more and started to read the letters Mr. Hasegawa had sent him. Then, he answered the letters and a strange written communication started among them.
In 1993, ten years after the crime, just before the Supreme Court's last sentence was given, the supporters of Mr. Hasegawa, due to his explicit desire, visited the tomb of Mr. Harada's brother. This provided an occasion for Mr. Harada to establish direct contact with them.
In August 1993, Mr. Harada got the strength to visit Mr. Hasegawa in jail. Meeting directly with him, he received his apologies, but that did not mean he forgave him or showed any sympathy towards him. Nevertheless, when Mr. Hasegawa told him smiling, "Now I am always ready to die with joy", Mr. Harada answered spontaneously, "please, don't speak like that". It was not possible for him to forget his hate against Mr. Hasegawa, but he arrived at the conclusion that the fact of having Mr. Hasegawa's smiling face erased from this world was, by any means, a proper way to bring to end his crime.
Mr. Harada felt that the crime of his brother had thrown him all the way down to an abysm. The revenge against his enemy was pushing him further, with his own hands, to an abysm deeper than death. Capital punishment is nothing else than to send people to the abysm of death, using the legal system. But, after visiting Mr. Hasegawa, Mr. Harada did not desire him to be thrown into the abysm of death, but making efforts to climb up from the bottom of the cliff where he himself was lying he felt that he had found the way to recover from the painful crime.
In September 1993, the final death sentence was passed and visits were not allowed any more. Mr. Harada demanded several times the Minister of Justice to visit the prisoner and to stop his execution. After Mr. Hasegawa was executed at the end of December 2001, Mr. Harada continues incessantly a campaign demanding the support for the victims of crimes and for the freedom to meet with people with death sentences.
Sometimes, people ask me, Mr. Harada says: "Why is it that you call friendly those criminals that have killed very important relatives?" He answers, "the feeling of hating a criminal and to call him with despise are different matters. I feel envious when a person that knows the crime that Mr. Hasegawa committed is able to feel relieve by calling him dismissingly." "Please, do not put us, the relatives of the victims of crimes, into frames. Look into our realities, the real feelings we have, what our demands are. Please, listen to us." It is not a matter of empty desk theories, but a reflection on capital punishment through one's personal suffering and pain.

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