A Tokyo court on 11 October sentenced Yoshihiro Kumamotoa, 33, to 14 years in prison for the kidnapping and murder of freelance journalist Satoru Someya in 2003.
The court found Kumamotoa guilty of kidnapping Someya in an apartment building in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo on 6 September 2003 and of stabbing him to death on a boat in Tokyo bay the next morning. Two other men were accomplices in the crimes.
Kumamotoa pleaded guilty to the abduction but denied intending to kill Someya, who had been covering the Chinese criminal underworld in Japan at the time of his death.
Freelance journalist murdered in Tokyo
Reporters Without Borders expressed shock today at the murder of Japanese freelance journalist Satoru Someya, whose body was found in Tokyo Bay on 12 September, apparently the victim of gangsters he had been investigating.
It called on Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi to see that every effort was made to find and punish the killers and to ensure that organised crime did not interfere with investigative journalism and obstruct press freedom.
Someya’s hands were bound and his body wrapped in chains. He had been stabbed eight times in the back and had head injuries. Police linked the 38-year-old journalist’s death to his investigation of Chinese criminals at Tokyo’s Kabukicho red-light district.
Journalists are very rarely murdered in Japan. A reporter for the daily Asahi Shimbun, Tomohiro Kojiri, was killed on 3 May 1987 at the paper’s offices in Nishinomiya, near Kobe. His attacker has never been found, though a far-right group claimed responsibility for the killing.