1959: Cho Pong-am, Presidential runner-up 1904: Heinrich, a Herero

1997: Norio Nagayama, spree killer and author

August 1st, 2009 Headsman

On this date in 1997, the wait was over for a writer who had spent his entire adult life awaiting the noose.

Norio Nagayama witnessed another (eventually executed) murderer’s Tokyo shooting spree in 1965, and three years later popped four people (two security guards and two cabbies) himself. The killing spree shocked Japan.

Only 19 at the time, which made him a juvenile by Japanese law, Nagayama was sentenced, unsentenced, re-sentenced. Twenty-eight years he spent from his arrest until his execution, not necessarily an atypical span for Japan.

It’s what Nagayama did with those years that makes him so remarkable: entering the criminal justice system from an impoverished background, Nagayama became a literary figure and a prominent public spokesman for social justice. He’s still commemorated years after his death.

Nagayama is credited with nine works, the first (Tears of Ignorance) about the poverty he blamed for his murders; the last (Hana) published posthumously from his manuscripts; he donated proceeds to victims’ families and poor children, especially in Peru. In fact, all these years dead, he’s still raising money for children.

Nagayama’s death was triggered, at last, by apprehension of a 14-year-old for a sensational crime barely a month prior to this date; in hanging Nagayama, the government aimed “to foster support for legislation that would ‘get tougher’ on juvenile offenders. Indeed, in 2000 Japan’s Juvenile Law was revised to make it easier to transfer minors to adult court.”

Nagayama was hanged in Tokyo with another murderer, Hideki Kanda; a husband-wife convict couple were executed the same day in Sapporo.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Artists,Capital Punishment,Children,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Famous,Hanged,Japan,Murder,Political Expedience

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