True Crime Japan : Thieves, Rascals, Killers and Dope Heads: True Stories from a Japanese Courtroom
Overview - A middle-aged carpenter beats his 91-year old mother to death and goes to work the following day, leaving the body for his wife to find. An 82-year old woman is jailed for 10 months for stealing fried chicken. Like nearly all defendants in Japan, they both plead guilty. Read more...
More About True Crime Japan by Paul Murphy
A middle-aged carpenter beats his 91-year old mother to death and goes to work the following day, leaving the body for his wife to find. An 82-year old woman is jailed for 10 months for stealing fried chicken. Like nearly all defendants in Japan, they both plead guilty.
What happens between plea and sentencing is the subject of True Crime Japan. In this fascinating crime book journalist and longtime Japan resident Paul Murphy provides a glimpse of Japanese society through a year's worth of criminal court cases in Matsumoto, a city 140 miles to the west of Tokyo. The defendants in these cases range from ruthless mobsters to average citizens, often committing similar crimes in rather different ways, and for different reasons. Based on court hearings and interviews with the defendants, their families, neighbors and lawyers--Murphy explores not only the motives of offenders, but the culture of crime and punishment in Japan.
The resulting true crime book provides a lens through which to view this honor-shame based, conformist culture, and shows how, in its role within that culture, the court system reveals Japan to be, surprisingly to some, a land of true individuals.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
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Pimps, arsonists, mobsters with missing pinkies, elderly shoplifters, and other criminal characters figure into Irish journalist Murphy’s zany account of modern crime and punishment in Matsumoto, Japan. After settling in this metropolis, west of Tokyo, in 2013, Murphy became a regular at the Summary and District Courts, observing 119 cases over the course of a year. Drawn to the courthouse setting, Murphy presents these cases as anecdotes pertaining to “intriguing aspects of Japan” at large. He uses the trial of a mother and father who attempted to kill their daughter in an arsonous family suicide as a way to explore why Japan’s suicide rate is twice that of the U.S. Another chapter describes the recent spike in shoplifters over the age of 70, labeled by one criminologist as bosou rojin (“out-of-control old people”). The shift in criminal activity in the elderly is the topic of a national debate about whether this segment of society has become too isolated and needy. Murphy creates a winning mix of irreverent and earnest observations in this snapshot of the underworld in modern Japan. (Aug.)