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Book Recommendations for Japanese Books


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13階段 by 高野和明
空&鷹
tsubasa_en11 wrote in japanesebookrec
Okay, where should I start talking about this awesome, marvellously riveting piece of work? For someone who loves to read any works involving criminal setting, this really hits me in the spot. 13階段 exposed me to the Japanese justice system, particularly over the capital punishment, leaving me strong impact that I had to ponder over what justice really means and if the system really does justice to the victims.

I'll put the synopsis of it here too, in case anyone is interested to pick up this book:

A criminal on death row who lost his memory on the moment of crime. In order to vindicate the criminal, Nangou, a prison officer, paired up with Mikami, a young man with previous conviction for murder, to investigate the case. However, the only clue the criminal could provide was nothing but "stairs" that he managed to call to mind. The limited time until the execution, could the two of them save this innocent man?

I love the way the author described the feelings and thoughts of both leads on the capital punishment and who should be considered as a vicious criminal beyond salvation. The last chapter exposing the truth of murder of Mikami also got me completely rivetted and I had to finish it in one shot. Granted, for readers with clear minds, the novel doesn't have much twists as it appears to have. Being distracted by my own thinking on justice system, though, I was surprised to find how the story unfolds. What I can tell is, after reading this, I'm so gonna be a fan of 高野和明 and if any of you guys have read his other works before, do recommend please!

As usual, I'll leave some sentences from the book that touched me as well as to show its difficulty (and to intrigue some :D).

『この国では、凶悪犯罪の被害者になった途端、社会全体が加害者にかわるんです。そして、どれだけ被害者をいじめても、誰も謝罪もしないし責任も取りません。結局、遺族としましては、全ての非を犯人に求めるしかないんです。』

『死刑囚が罪を悔い改めたからと言っても、それは死刑判決を受けたからこその結果ではないのか。つまり応報刑思想に支えられた死刑判決によって、目的刑思想の目標である悔悟の情を引き出したという皮肉な現象なのではないのか。』

『この女性は、家族を皆殺しにされながら、被告人への死刑を望んでいない。明日の処刑は、誰のために行われるのか。被害者の遺族の意志に反し、犯罪者に絶対応報を科すことは、さらに犯罪被害者を傷つける行為ではないのか。』

『肉体の傷だけに傷害罪が適用されて、壊されてしまった人の心は放っておかれるのです。法律は正しいのですか。本当に平等なのですか。地位のある人もない人も、頭のいい人も良くない人も、金のある人もない人も、悪い人間は犯した罪に見合うように、正しく裁かれているのですか。』


This book was published in 2001 and was the debut work of 高野和明. Back then I was just a beginner in Japanese language and I didn't even know of this book. I did however watch its movie adaptation in 2003 starring 反町隆史 though. Even before reading this book, the movie left an impressive impact on me and it's now still on my bookshelf as one of my favourite movies. As such, I was surprised to find this book in 2012 when I was at Kinokuniya. It's highly recommended from me if you like to read criminal works with serious food for thought. Granted, though, this book was published in 2001 and the justice system might have changed since then; however, I believe the core and argument in this book would not age ever. :)

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