|The story below is originally published on Mainichi Daily News by Mainichi Shinbun (http://mdn.mainichi.jp).|
|They admitted inventing its kinky features, or rather deliberately mistranslating them from the original gossip magazine.|
|In fact, this is far from the general Japanese' behavior or sense of worth.|
Cowardly cops look on as gangsters pummel student to death 2005,1,4
Yomiuri Weekly 1/9-16 By Ryann Connell
Kuniaki Uranaka was a bookish postgraduate student with a sense of righteousness that enabled him to fearlessly take on even the toughest yakuza.
Unfortunately for Uranaka, even the finest vanguard of the Hyogo Prefectural Police couldn't collectively muster the same cojones as he had shown, according to Yomiuri Weekly (1/9-16), which the Kobe District Court confirmed last month when it ruled his death had been the result of law enforcers' mikoroshi, a delightful Japanese word meaning "to stand idly by while another dies."
Uranaka died on March 3, 2002, after he and a 34-year-old male friend became embroiled in a bitter brawl with a yakuza gang boss following a long running spat over a car parking space.
Uranaka and his friend had initially held the upper hand until carloads of the yakuza's cronies arrived on the scene and started pummeling into them.
Uranaka had repeatedly run from the brawl to seek help from officers in his local police box, only to find that they were all napping. When he returned to the scene of the fight, mobsters swarmed over him, beat him senseless and shoved him, unconscious, into one of their cars.
Alerted by local residents, a force of 18 police officers arrived on the scene.
Uranaka's friend saw the policemen as saviors, and jumped into what he assumed was the safety of a police patrol car.
Gangsters grabbed the patrol car door and tried to forcibly open it, while officers did nothing to stop them.
One of the yakuza told the ranking police officer that the gangsters would later go to a police box and explain what had happened, then asked if, for the meantime, the law enforcers would mind leaving the scene.
Incredibly, police complied with the request, departing the scene with the battered Uranaka still being held in one of the gangster's vehicles.
"It was bizarre," a man who witnessed the police withdrawal tells Weekly Yomiuri.
"The cops just stood there doing nothing while they were surrounded by a group of yakuza."
Uranaka's bloodied friend told the officers who drove off in the patrol car where he had sought sanctuary that he believed the 27-year-old postgrad student was still in the gangsters' hands.
None of the officers even asked the gangsters about Uranaka.
Soon after the incident, Hyogo Prefectural Police admitted its handling of the case had been a shambles and offered Uranaka's bereaved relatives a formal apology.
Several gangsters involved in the case, including the gang boss who started the ball rolling, have been convicted, with jail terms handed out ranging from 10 to 20 years.
But police remorse over the case apparently lasted only until Uranaka's mother took them and the gangsters to the Kobe District Court in a civil case, accusing them of causing her son's wrongful death.
"We thought it was merely a little fight," Yomiuri Weekly quotes a police lawyer saying during the case.
"We didn't notice Uranaka. We though he'd got away."
A recording of one of the impassioned pleas for help Uranaka had made in his visits to the police box convinced judges otherwise.
"It was clear he faced the danger of being dragged away and beaten, with death easily a foreseeable outcome," the weekly quotes Presiding Judge Yasuyuki Muraoka saying as he awarded the case in favor of Uranaka's grieving, 61-year-old mother.
Uranaka's mother, who spoke of a studious, kind boy with whom she had lived alone, was pleased with the outcome.
"I didn't want the case to be written off as simply a brawl between a bunch of drunks," she tells Yomiuri Weekly.
"If the police had done their job properly, my son would never have died."
January 4, 2005