Kofu, Jan 19 (NHK) - A Japanese court has sentenced a man to death on charges of murder and arson committed when he was 19 years old.
The man is the first person to be handed the death penalty for a crime committed at age 18 or 19 since the revised juvenile law took effect in 2022, when the age of adulthood was lowered.
The Kofu District Court in Yamanashi Prefecture on Thursday gave the sentence to Endo Yuki, who is now 21 years old.
Endo was prosecuted on charges of entering the home of a woman he had affection for, killing her parents, and setting the house on fire in October 2021. He was also accused of attacking the woman's sister.
The family lived in Kofu City. Endo had been taking an evening course at a high school in the city.
The focal point in the trial was whether the defendant was mentally competent and could be held responsible for his actions.
Prosecutors said he was fully competent and sought the death sentence. Defense lawyers argued that Endo had diminished mental capacity at the time of the crime, so capital punishment should be avoided.
In handing down the ruling, Presiding Judge Mikami Jun said it was an extremely malicious, cold-blooded crime with a strong intent to kill. He added that it was well-planned and the motive was self-centered and unreasonable. The judge noted that the defendant has not sincerely apologized to the bereaved family.
The judge said the death sentence cannot be avoided because of the gravity of the criminal responsibility and the low chance of rehabilitation, even by giving maximum consideration to the age of 19.
The defendant nodded twice when he heard the ruling.
Japan's juvenile law was revised in 2022 when the civil code was changed to lower the legal age of adulthood from 20 to 18.
Under the revised juvenile law, those aged 18 and 19 are still protected, but they are treated differently from those who are 17 or younger.
The revision allows media outlets to report the names and other information of defendants when they are prosecuted for acts committed at the age of 18 or 19.