Asa Yoshiro

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Company head to hang for killing employees

Thursday, Oct. 12, 2006

KOFU, Yamanashi Pref. (Kyodo) A former president of a bankrupt construction company was sentenced to death Wednesday for killing three employees in Yamanashi Prefecture in 1997 and 2000.

Yoshihiro Asa, 57, head of now-defunct Asahi Kensetsu, was found guilty by the Kofu District Court of confining and strangling two employees at a campsite in May 2000 in conspiracy with other employees and a mob boss. The two victims were identified as Katsuyoshi Taga, 51, from Aichi Prefecture, and Daisaku Yokota, 50, from Fukuoka Prefecture.

He also fatally beat another employee with a wooden sword at the firm's office around March 1997.

Asa embezzled some 24 million yen in insurance money in 2003, manipulating a traffic accident involving another of his employees, the court said.

Among his conspirators, Hisato Goto, 50, was sentenced to nine years in 2004 for helping Asa "punish" the two employees at the campsite in Tsuru, Yamanashi Prefecture, after they were involved in a hit-and-run in a company car.

"There is no room for leniency. The crimes came from an angry impulse and were extremely selfish," presiding Judge Toshio Kawashima said, adding Asa had intended to punish the three employees, who were rebellious.


Death upheld for ex-construction firm president for killing employees

Monday 21st April, 2008

The Tokyo High Court upheld the death sentence Monday for a former president of a bankrupt construction company for killing three employees in Yamanashi Prefecture in 1997 and 2000. The court dismissed an appeal by Yoshihiro Asa, 58, who has pleaded not guilty. The defendant has admitted to assaulting one of the employees, but says he had nothing to do with his death or the deaths of the two other employees.

Asa was charged with confining and strangling two employees of his company at a campsite in Tsuru, Yamanashi Prefecture, in May 2000, in conspiracy with other employees and a gangster boss, and of beating another employee with a wooden sword at the firm’s office in around March 1997 and causing his death several days later. Police in October 2003 dug up the bodies of the three victims at the campsite.

Man's conviction for double murder on verge of collapse as witness reverses testimony

October 17, 2012(Mainichi Japan)

A vital witness in a double-murder case, who has reversed his testimony, claims in a letter sent to the Mainichi Shimbun, "I went along with the prosecutor against my will" when he gave his original testimony.

Former construction firm President Yoshihiro Asa, 63, was convicted of killing two men at a Yamanashi Prefecture camp ground in 2000 and sentenced to death. His conviction and sentence were upheld on first appeal, and hearings on his final appeal to the Supreme Court opened on Oct. 16. During the original trial, the 69-year-old camp ground manager -- now in prison for an unrelated offense -- testified that he had seen Asa at the scene of the crime. In his letter to the Mainichi, however, he claims Asa was never there.

The letter, sent out by Asa's defense team, has also been submitted to the Third Petty Bench of the Supreme Court, where the appeal is being heard.

The letter is dated June 10, 2012 and runs to five hand-written pages. It describes an alleged meeting with prosecutors from the Kofu District Public Prosecutors Office to go over his statements before his January 2005 appearance as a prosecution witness.

"When I told the prosecutor, 'Actually, I never met Mr. Asa on a bridge at the campground. I didn't even see him,' prosecutor X warned me sternly, 'I don't want you to say things like that at this point. Don't mention it or anything like it in the courtroom," the letter reads. "I was an ex-con so my position was weak ... and I went along with the prosecutor against my will.

"I have made myself an accomplice to legalized murder ... to the consignment to oblivion of an innocent man," the letter continues.

As there is no physical evidence connecting Asa to the killings, the 69-year-old's testimony along with that of an alleged accomplice -- who during the current appeals hearings has already recanted his original statements -- formed the foundation of the prosecution's case against Asa.

"The entire basis for Asa's conviction has been demolished," one of Asa's attorneys declared during the Oct. 16 Supreme Court hearing. The court will review the new statements by the two men submitted by the defense as well as one from another alleged accomplice resubmitted by prosecutors and decide which should be taken into evidence. It is very unusual for the Supreme Court to re-evaluate the facts of a case during an appeal.

The 69-year-old author of the letter also explained that he had towed the prosecutor's line up to this point at least in part because one of the murder victims had been a friend. During Asa's first appeal, his defense team had applied to the Tokyo High Court for the chance to question the former camp ground manager, but the court denied them permission.

The prosecutor in the original trial, now with the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office, has refused to respond to media interview requests.