Teacher’s Murder At Hands of Former Student Called Work-Related Death

January 20, 2010

In March 2006, a teacher in Yamanashi Prefecture was murdered by a student who had graduated from the school 24 years prior. Fifty-nine year old Yuji Iwama was found dead of multiple stab wounds. The perpetrator’s name was not released because he was determined to be mentally ill.

The man who suffered from persecution complex and paranoia felt that he was wrongly disciplined the day before his graduation in 1982. He held the grudge all those years and chose to act on them by going to Iwama’s home armed with a survival knife.

The story has come into the news recently because the death has been designated as a “death in the line of duty” instead of a murder. Iwama’s widow Tsunemi wants justice, and wants her husband’s murder recognized as just that, a murder. (thanks to “LB” in comment section for the correction. the struck-through sentence above should read as below)

The death was at first ruled unrelated to work, but the victim’s widow, Tsunemi, successfully appealed to have it ruled a work related catastrophe (“komusaigai” in Japanese).

This is the kind of news that really fascinates me about Japan. Here’s the story told a different way:

Teacher yells at student. Student who may have had some problems before, and underlying persecution complex issues feels even more persecuted. 24 years later he kills the teacher in his home. Mental problems mean no jail time for the student, now aged 42 or so. Being stabbed to death at home by a former student you haven’t seen in 24 years is an “on the job hazard”.

So if you are a college student reading this at home, considering the JET Programme, maybe you should think about this. If some kid from Japan stalks you back to your home country 20 years after you’ve left Japan, hunts you down at home, and kills you, the Ministry of Education can just shrug it’s shoulders and say, “Hey, you knew the dangers when you signed on amigo.”


1 Dave January 20, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this one. If this was anywhere else you’d think it was a hoax story. But this is Japan…

2 jay@newzjapan January 21, 2010 at 2:31 am

I think we definitely cry for this one… I think that the widow is getting screwed out of a lot of insurance money. You almost have to wonder if someone at one office went to college with someone at another office and they figure they’ll save each other a couple of million yen at the expense of the old grieving widow…

too cynical?

3 LB January 21, 2010 at 9:08 am

Actually, you’ve got it a bit backwards. The widow wanted her husband’s death declared “work related” as she is eligible for more insurance benefits. If someone’s death is work related their widow/widower and underage children (if any) get all kinds of insurance and pension benefits, especially if a case like this where the husband is a government employee. The wife is the one who filed the lawsuit that led to this (to her) favorable decision. Story here:

4 jay@newzjapan January 21, 2010 at 11:52 am

Thank you very much for the correction LB!

The sentence above that reads:

“Iwama’s widow Tsunemi wants justice, and wants her husband’s murder recognized as just that, a murder.”

is incorrect.

The widow wanted the death to be declared “komusaigai” and finally prevailed.

I’ll make the proper corrections above, thank you very much!