Did Junko Furuta’s killers ever get sentenced for their crimes?

The details of Junko Furuta’s case are not for the faint of heart. The trial results for her killers are not for anyone prone to moral outrage. Furuta was a young Japanese girl who was abducted, raped, tortured, and murdered by her classmates.

It’s truly despicable what the four teenage boys who abducted her revealed they were capable of. Junko Furuta did nothing wrong, but she suffered such heinous trauma. It was reasonably expected that she would receive justice for the crimes committed against her. Sadly, this was barely the case.

Junko Furuta’s horrible fate

Furuta was biking home from her part-time job one day when a random boy assaulted her. A classmate named Hiroshi Miyano happened to be across the street during this encounter. He genially offered to walk Furuta home after the assailant ran away.

What Furuta didn’t realize at the time was that the whole thing was staged. She didn’t realize Miyano still harbored ill feelings from when she had romantically rejected him. She had no way of knowing that he and his friends (Kamisaku Jo, Nobuharu Minato, and Yasushi Watanabe) had plans to abduct & rape her.

Forty-four days of torture

What was going to be a one day sexual assault turned into 44 days of hell for Furuta. After assaulting her in an abandoned warehouse, Miyano & his friends decided they were having too much fun to let her go. Plus, it would be easier to make sure she kept quiet about their crimes if they kept her in captivity.

They decided to hide Furuta in Minato’s basement and invite an unthinkable amount of  men to continue the assault. Furuta went through over 500 rapes during her 44 days of torture. She also endured other forms of physical, sexual, and emotional torture such as being starved and being hung & beaten like a punching bag.

Furuta’s misery finally ended after they set her on fire when she beat them at a game of Mahjong, even in her sorry state. When the boys realized she had died, they stuffed her body in an oil drum and filled it with cement. The body was later dumped in a park and it wasn’t found until months later.

The trial for the murder of Junko Furuta

The four boys might not have even been caught for Furuta’s murder if Miyano hadn’t accidentally let the incident slip while being questioned by police for another incident involving another girl. This was a fortunate accident for justice’s sake, but the boys still received very lenient sentences.

As the leader of the crime, Miyano was given the harshest sentence of the four. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Minato received a five to seven year sentence, Watanabe a five to nine year sentence, and Jo an eight year sentence.

Why the light sentences?

Do these numbers strike you as remarkably low for the terror, heartache, and turture the boys inflicted? They do to us too. The boys weren’t even charged with murder, but rather, “causing bodily injury resulting in death”.

The Japanese juvenile court system is largely geared toward rehabilitation of criminals rather than handing out harsh sentences. Restrictions on the number of years a juvenile is allowed to be charged with kept their sentences low. The boys’ original sentences were actually even lower than the ones stated. They were only increased upon appeal.

Where are the murderers now?

Despite what the justice system hoped, these boys didn’t turn out reformed. They have all been released from prison for Junko Furuta’s murder.  Three out of the four have been caught engaging in illegal activities since their release.

Hiroshi Miyano conspicuously reengaged in gang activities he was already involved in since childhood. He was arrested for fraud at one point, but then released without serving time.

Jo Kamisaku tracked down a guy who he thought to be involved with his girlfriend and threatened to kill him. Kamisaku abducted and then beat the victim for four hours. At the end of the beating he told the victim that he had killed before and would do it again. Kamisaku, formerly known as Jo Ogura, served seven years for this assault.

Shinji Minato’s continued crimes

Shinji Minato, formerly known as Nobuharu Minato, is also at it again with murderous activities. He was arrested for the attempted murder of a 32-year-old salaryman. The victim allegedly was in his car at a stoplight and saw Minato staring at him. The victim allegedly asked what Minato was looking at so Minato got angry and punched him.

The victim & his colleague then exited the car and an altercation ensued during which the victim was allegedly beaten with a baton. As the victim and his colleague reentered his car, Minato allegedly slashed the victim’s neck with a knife. It’s unclear what the results of his trial are.

Clearly, these men haven’t learned from their actions. Many wonder whether outcomes like this will lead to a change in standards of the Japanese juvenile justice system. One thing is for sure though, Junko Furuta suffered a grave injustice from both her attackers and the justice system.