Execs accused of exporting bioweapon device to receive compensation

Originally published in Japan Today

Executives of a Japanese company indicted last year over illegal export of items capable of producing biological weapons will be compensated after the case against them was dropped, their lawyer said Thursday.

The Tokyo District Court awarded Tuesday a total of 11.3 million yen to Masaaki Okawara, 72, president of Yokohama-based machinery maker Ohkawara Kakohki Co, Junji Shimada, 68, one of its former directors, as well as the family of former adviser Shizuo Aishima, who died after being released on bail in November last year.

In March last year, police arrested the three on suspicion of illegally exporting spray dryers capable of producing biological agents. The detention of Okawara and Shimada continued until they were released on bail in February this year.

On July 30, four days before the first hearing of the two men, the prosecutors withdrew their indictment, saying that "doubts have arisen as to whether they are guilty of a crime." The indictment for Aishima had been rescinded due to his death.

"The relevant records suggest there would have been enough reason to acquit the accused if the case continued," Presiding Judge Kiichi Hiraide said, according to the lawyer Tsuyoshi Takada.

The three parties will receive 12,500 yen each for every day spent in custody in accordance with Japan's criminal compensation law. Okawara and Shimada spent 332 days in custody, while Aishima was detained for 240 days.

Separately, Okawara, Shimada and the family of Aishima filed a damages suit against the Tokyo metropolitan government and the state in September, seeking compensation for the alleged unlawful investigation by the police in the capital and prosecutors.

"The court decision to grant compensation is significant as it means they were declared innocent publicly. We will claim and prove violations of duty of care by investigative agencies in a separate damages suit," Takada said.

Our Current Sponsors