Iwao Hakamada literally got a new lease on life when the Shizuoka District Court ordered his release from prison for a retrial of the same case – a quadruple murder – that put him behind bars in 1966 and sentenced to death in 1980. Now the former death-row inmate has taken the chance to visit his hometown – the city of Hamamatsu, in Japan’s Shizuoka Prefecture – 48 years after he last saw it as a free man.
Hakamada, now 78 years old, got up Tuesday morning, May 27, looking forward to finally going home to Hamamatsu in what surely would be an emotional homecoming for him. At 10:30 in the morning, Hakamada rode the Shinkansen bullet train for the first time in his life, accompanied by his elder sister Hideko, traveling from the JR Tokyo Station to Shizuoka. The former professional boxer said that he enjoyed the high-speed train ride, saying, “It feels comfortable.” The train ride gave him a great vantage point of Mount Fuji, as the route took him past the iconic mountain peak. The train arrived at Hamamatsu a little past noon time, and Hakamada was greeted by a group of supporters welcoming him back to the city. It is reported that through the retrial, Hakamada will be living in Hamamatsu with his sister.
After being released from incarceration, the former death-row inmate was hospitalized for psychological imbalance and reported bouts of dementia. This, according to his lawyers and doctors, was caused by the prolonged years of solitude behind bars. He had been receiving treatment in Tokyo before going to Hamamatsu, and it was reported that he will still be continuing on a treatment cycle in a hospital in his hometown.
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