Japanese Doctor Gets 18 Years over Murder of ALS Patient

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Kyoto District Court

Kyoto (Jiji Press)—A Japanese district court on Tuesday sentenced 45-year-old doctor Yoshikazu Okubo to 18 years in prison for murdering an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patient at the request of the victim in 2019.

Hiroshi Kawakami, presiding judge at Kyoto District Court, rejected the defense’s plea of not guilty, saying that Okubo’s act was socially unacceptable. Prosecutors had sought a prison sentence of 23 years.

Admitting charges of commissioned murder, Okubo had said that he “did it to fulfill (the patient’s) wish.”

The judge, however, pointed out that the accused had administered a drug to the patient to kill her in only about 15 minutes, after receiving a reward of ¥1.3 million. “It’s hard to think (Okubo) really cared about the victim,” he said.

Kawakami also rejected the defense side’s claim that Okubo tried to realize the “peaceful death” chosen by the victim with terminal ALS and that accusing him was counter to the right to pursue happiness stipulated in the Constitution.

According to the ruling, Okubo conspired with former doctor Naoki Yamamoto, 46, in November 2019 to administer a drug to the ALS patient, 51, at her request and cause her death from acute drug poisoning at her home in the city of Kyoto, western Japan.

Okubo and Yamamoto also conspired to kill Yamamoto’s father, Yasushi, 77, in an apartment in Tokyo in March 2011.

Yamamoto, whose medical license has been revoked, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for murdering Yasushi and to two years and six months in prison for the murder of the ALS patient at her request. He has appealed against both rulings. On Wednesday, Osaka High Court will hand down a ruling to him on the Yasushi case.