Lindsay Ann Hawker: does the Joji Obara/ Kim Sung Jong case provide pointers?
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The Lindsay Ann Hawker case will soon reach a conclusion and given the nature of Japanese law then clearly the outcome remains in doubt. If you focus on the reality of what happened to the Korean naturalized Japanese citizen, Kim Sung Jong who changed his name to Joji Obara, then the Hawker family must expect the worse.
The international media is rightly following the Lindsay Ann Hawker case and irrespective of why she invited Tatsuya Ichihashi into her home so quickly and then re-met him again and entered his home. The brutal reality, even if Tatsuya Ichihashi disputes the factors that led to her death, is that a young lady was raped and killed in a brutal way.
Lindsay Ann Hawker and Lucie Blackman were very different because while Lindsay Ann Hawker came to Japan in order to teach before returning to her studies; Lucie Blackman took a different route and desired to make money by using her sexuality. This does not imply anything negative but clearly one British lady had entered a dark and murky world whereas Lindsay Ann Hawker appears to be naïve and too kind-hearted for her own good.
Nobody deserves to die in such callous and brutal ways and for left behind family members and close friends; then they will be “shells” of their former selves. However, Lucie Blackman’s father does leave a sour-taste because he took blood-money from Joji Obara but obviously he loves all his children dearly.
Lindsay Ann Hawker and Lucie Blackman may have taken different routes but both were innocent victims of cold-bloodied individuals. Murder is murder, even if not deemed murder in Japan, but the sheer evil nature of Joji Obara is clearly part and parcel of this evil and brutal individual.
Tatsuya Ichibashi is not Joji Obara and according to him he claims that he never intended to kill Lindsay Ann Hawker. He does not deny raping Lindsay Ann Hawker and he made it clear that she died because of his actions. However, Tatsuya Ichibashi claims that events got out of control and he unintentionally killed Lindsay Ann Hawker.
Until the final verdict is given then he is entitled to a fair trial even if Lindsay Ann Hawker was not showed any compassion and died in such a brutal way. The rule of law must abide to a higher standard otherwise bloodletting and an “eye for an eye” will render many innocents to brutal punishments.
It must be stated that all nations have cases of miscarriages of justice and no legal system is perfect. However, the Joji Obara case does worry many individuals because how did this individual escape the countless number of rapes that he did and the killing of Carita Ridgway in 1992?
Joji Obara (Kim Sung Jong) had been raping women for over a decade and he had hundreds of personal videos of raping women. Indeed, the police stated that he may have raped up to 400 women but the figure could even be higher.
However, are we to believe that every female who was raped by Joji Obara did not seek justice for what this serial rapist did? Not only this, the death of Carita Ridgway took place in 1992.
Yet, despite everything Joji Obara was acquitted of the crime of Lucie Blackman’s rape and death.Judge Tsutomu Tochigi commented that “There is nothing to prove that [Obara] was involved in the rape and her death. The court cannot prove he was single-handedly involved in her death.”
Indeed, the fact that this brutal serial rapist had video tapes to confirm the twisted nature of Joji Obara; and the fact the body of Lucie Blackman was so close to the home of Joji Obara; all this counted for nothing.
Therefore, for many people it appears that a huge miscarriage of justice took place in the Lucie Blackman and Carita Ridgway case (not forgetting all the women who were raped).
Joji Obara was given a life sentence on April 24 because of multiple rape charges and one case of manslaughter. Therefore, if the Hawker family is expecting the death penalty for Tatsuya Ichibashi; then give the reality of what happened in the Joji Obara case it would seem most unlikely.
Tatsuya Ichibashi stated that “I didn’t mean to kill her, and I never thought it was OK for her to die. What I did cannot be forgiven, but I wanted the court to know these two things.”
“I’m the one who made her go through a horrifying, terrifying and painful experience and took her life, and I’m the one who ruined Lindsay and her family’s life and happiness. And I am not to be forgiven.”
It would appear that Tatsuya Ichibashi is remorseful and some may argue that it is in his interest to be. Given his comments about remorse and that her death was because of what he did – even if he claims that he killed her unintentionally – then the death penalty would appear severe given the nature of justice in Japan.