Rakushō no Goku #5

Juuni Kokuki — 十二国記
(The Twelve Kingdoms)

Rakushō no Goku — 落照の獄
(A jail of the declining Light)

By Ono Fuyumi — 小野不由美

Translated by o6asan

chapter1 chapter2 chapter3 chapter4 chapter5 chapter6 chapter7 chapter8


   Enga(淵雅) burst into the trial made all of them bring down somehow, so it tentatively ended on the day. From the next day, they had trials at Shiho-fu(司法府) almost daily, but their discussions added another layer of confusion.
   Before they know, Sotsuyu(率由), Shishi(司刺), insisted on the death penalty, and Jokyu(如翕), Tenkei(典刑), insisted on imprisonment. From the beginning, Sotsuyu(率由) felt compassion for victims’ family because of meeting them at the opportunity of Sanshi(三剌). But this never showed that Sotsuyu(率由) wanted to do the death penalty. Sotsuyu(率由) stood on nothing but insisting on the death penalty according to the starting situation. To the contrary, Jokyu(如翕) dared to deny the death penalty. They played such a kind of roles each other. Eiko(瑛庚) knew very much they were seriously in two minds.
   Eiko(瑛庚) himself wondered why all of the three so much hesitated about this. As Eiko(瑛庚) listened to them in silence, he was compelled to wonder Jokyu(如翕) had no chance as far as their discussion.
   In a situation, Sotsuyu(率由) insisted on the death penalty because of people’s uneasiness.
   “People are anxiety. The public peace is disturbed. To correct the disturbed country, I think we need the punishment to stop a punishment.”
   To stop a punishment by the punishment(以刑止刑). — Meaning, saying to impose a severe punishment on one of criminals prevents other crimes. On the other hand, Jokyu(如翕) appealed to them for the severe punishment had no power to deter crimes, using many examples from their and other countries.
   But, Sotsuyu(率由) contradicted.
   “To use the death penalty can’t make security deterioration. Of course, we cannot deter crimes by the death penalty, but we need it for innocent people. The criminal like Shudatsu(狩獺) is certainly executed, which makes people stop worrying. A person murdered someone is executed. — Effect of intimidation, it is necessary for people’s peace.”
   “I know people expect the peace. I also know they have a fear due to the disturbed world. To begin with, the country is disturbed and the popular mind gets wild, so, the number of crimes is increasing. — I hate having to say, but, our country is lurching. The lurch of the country is not corrected by punishments. instead, it will have innumerable harmful effects without doing any good at all. To revive the death penalty now is to permit the lurched country to overuse the death penalty.”
   “To obstruct that is our responsibility. We, Shiho(司法), exist for peoples’ peace and for protecting them. We use the death penalty to ease and calm people, and we stop overusing it for the peoples’ safe. — What shall we do if we aren’t?”
   This silenced Jokyu(如翕). Actually, Eiko(瑛庚) and others, all of them, were apprehensive that the death penalty might be overused by reviving it, but it was also their duty to stop overusing. Shiho(司法)’s duty is not only using punishments.
   And other times, Jokyu(如翕) made a stand with the possibility of a mistake.
   “We might have a misjudgment.”
   Jokyu(如翕) said with disgust.
   “You can say that mistakes we make never happen? Unfortunately, we might judge an innocent person as a guilty person. Later, when we find out it was false accusation, there is no way to undo if the person had been executed. We must have an opportunity to correct.”
   “Well — I want to ask you a question. If it’s imprisonment, is the mistake acceptable? How about penal servitude? What does happen to the person that was judged for a false crime, was forced to perform hard labor, and spent some periods of his life? Is there any way to undo? Different from us, people are not immortal.”
   Jokyu(如翕) kept silent.
   “People have a life of only 60 years. Whether a year or three years, they are very precious a year or three years in their very short lives. They cannot get their lost time back. We cannot make good their suffering and we cannot make amends for suffering of their family who carry a stigma of a criminal’s family. To begin with, we should never have a misjudgment.”
   “Nevertheless we are not gods, so, we are stuck in a misjudgment. Easy to say about the ideal, hard to do. It’s arrogant we think we can achieve goal through our efforts.”
   But, Sotsuyu(率由) made a strong stand.
   “At least about Shudatsu(狩獺), it’s not a misjudgment. He confessed his guilt, and about 5 cases, we have reliable eyewitnesses who saw him commit murders. If you say we shouldn’t have use the death penalty because we could lead to a misjudgment, we can execute Shudatsu(狩獺) whose guilt is never a mistake. Am I wrong?”
   Jokyu(如翕) drew his brows together.
   “We don’t discuss Shudatsu(狩獺)’s cases now. The death penalty itself we –”
   “They are the same. An execution is not allowed due to the potential of the misjudgment, then, it can be permitted if there are no mistakes. The death penalty exists in Laws of God(天綱), so the problem is not its right or wrong but about each individual case.”
   As Eiko(瑛庚) listened to them and noded at himself. Jokyu(如翕) had no chance again. Though the death penalty is a problem of right or wrong, the misjudgment is definitely wrong. To begin with, talking about both as a same level problem is impossible.
   Another time, Sotsuyu(率由) informed the heart of victims’ family and took sides with the death penalty.
   “How strong the suffering of people is! One of whose family was taken away because of the monster for no reason.”
   “I know their suffering. But to execute Shudatsu(狩獺) does not take victims’ lives back. It also does not make good their suffering whose family was taken away unreasonablely.”
   “Of course not. We can never change what happened. We also cannot sweep the cases happened clean, even if having the majesty of the king of gods(天帝). But for this reason, people need relief if it is very small fraction. Their suffering of family lost we can never take from their minds, but their having steep in suspicions against the gods, why the gods permit the existence of the monsters like Shudatsu(狩獺)?, we can remove it from their minds. And that exactly eases them of pain. — Conversely, what we do not execute Shudatsu(狩獺) is what we leave them as it is, though knowing there is a way to remove their suffering. In that case, can we talk about moral principle to our people?”
   ‘But,’ Jokyu(如翕) objected.
   “The punishments don’t exist to revenge on behalf of victims’ family.”
   “For what do you think it exists? For indoctrinating wrongdoers? But Shudatsu(狩獺) already served in prison three times. Two of three is Second-degree murder(闘殺) and the last one is First-degree murder(賊殺). If they had executed him according to the law when he had sentenced to the third imprisonment at Kin-shu(均州), 23 victims wouldn’t have lost their lives.”
   The principle is the punishments exist for indoctrinating wrongdoers has no powers of conviction because Shudatsu(狩獺) hadn’t reformed indeed. Jokyu(如翕) advocated that using ways of indoctrination is wrong and they needed to talk to about more effective system for indoctrinating except reviving the death penalty. But when he was asked what system is more effective and how they know the effects, he had no words for it. The reality of 23 new victims was too heavy. It happened because Shudatsu(狩獺) was not executed and set free.
   And other time, Jokyu(如翕) tried to resist it by insisting on a life sentence.
   “If you say repeat offenders are problems, don’t permit releases, I think. Even now, a criminal repeats serious crimes serves virtually a life prison time until his Soboku(沮墨) fading. We punish all criminals who deserve the death penalty by a life sentence. How is this?”
   “Do you say we feed criminals like Shudatsu(狩獺) until their death in prisons? You mean we pay their food cost by people’s tax. If the number of criminals like Shudatsu(狩獺) increasing, the food cost increasing unlimitedly. We need the reason, if people pay such cost, why they keep alive, which makes people understand.”
   Jokyu(如翕) was at a loss for a word momentarily but talked back instantly.
   “How is the possibility of the misjudgment? We always have the possibility of the misjudgment, so we have to leave the chance of the remediation. We require people to shoulder guaranteeing their own right. The misjudgment is the misjudgment, so people don’t know they fall victim to it in any given moment.”
   “Well? Can we always remediate it, unless we execute prisoners? I’d like to ask you this, what will prompt us to want to correct our misjudgment?”
   “At the time — a prisoner himself appeals ……”
   “O.K. If Shudatsu(狩獺) appeals the misjudgment, we will accept it and have a re-trial, right? At that time, will your statement be changed?”
   “At the re-trial, we need another Tenkei(典刑), of course.”
   “New Tenkei(典刑), new statement? In a criminal trial, can we tolerate the judgment is easily changed by each Tenkei(典刑)?”
   Jokyu(如翕) couldn’t answer it. — As a matter of course, Jokyu(如翕) works trials confidently. It’s impossible Jokyu(如翕) could easily changed his judgment because a prisoner himself appealed it was a misjudgment, and it’s a big problem if he could so. New Tenkei(典刑), new statement, which is a sound argument on the surface, but which means Tenkei(典刑)’s judgment is non-objective. To do such a thing is hardly possible for them at all.
   “Not to execute for the remediation is kind words, but it is worthless if no actual remediation. For the remediation we listen to prisoners’ appeals carefully, and each time we have re-trials, which works up Shiho(司法)’s burden and pins us down. On the other hand, the chance of the remediation for the misjudgment is inevitably decreasing if making provision for re-trials to reduce the burden on officials. — No, to begin with, misjudgments are supposedly impermissible things. A life imprisonment which has a chance of the remediation blindfolds us and it maybe makes our judgment a half-hearted job. If we are afraid of misjudgments, we use the death penalty and we should decide not to make misjudgment.”
   Jokyu(如翕) went silence.
   Eiko(瑛庚) shook his head once. He thought Jokyu(如翕) had no chance again. — He felt strange about it.
   Eiko(瑛庚) had lived in the world where the ruler(王) disused the death penalty all his life. It’s natural that they disuse the death penalty, and a matter of course punishments are to give wrongdoers an indoctrination. Even when people requested to execute because Shudatsu(狩獺), he believed it was natural to dis use Taiheki(大辟). The problem was its conclusion makes people understand or not, he thought.
   But, when they discussed the rights and wrongs of the death penalty seriously, he felt that stopping the death penalty wasn’t reasonable. Until this moment, it was rather strange what he had no doubt about stopping the death penalty. Instead, he asked himself that he would accept the revival of the death penalty at this moment, but he also felt something wrong against it. In his mind, he heard his voice to whisper ‘it shouldn’t’.
   Eiko(瑛庚) was at a complete loss, and asked Sotsuyu(率由).
   “Well, — What dou you think about this, Sotsuyu(率由)?”
   He dared not call his title but his name. Sotsuyu(率由) blinked hesitantly and lowered his eyes.
   “In fact, I have doubts, sir. About Shudatsu(狩獺), I think it should surprise no one that we will execute him. But I cannot help feeling whether it’s wrong.”
   Sotsuyu(率由) said and smiled wryly.
   “Honestly, I hoped Tenkei(典刑) would argue me down that I was wrong.”
   Jokyu(如翕) sighed in an bewildered way.
   “I tried to find a way out of the difficulty, but I couldn’t. I — still consider that the death penalty is wrong though I cannot talk down Shishi(司刺).”
   “First, I am deeply concerned about the revival of the death penalty leading to abuse of it.”
   Sotsuyu(率由) said.
   “But now, while I advocate the use of the death penalty, I begin to feel something unreasonable. I quickly said ‘our responsibility’ without deep thinking though, if we, Shiho(司法), fear to abuse, we do a simple matter of stopping it. — We should do, shuldn’t we? It’s O.K. for other officials to fear, but I wonder it’s strange for us to fear, I mean, none other than me, one of judicial officers.”
   Eiko(瑛庚) nodded and thought he had a point.
   Jokyu(如翕) let out a breath.
   “Actually, the more we talk about the death penalty, the more I think it’s neither taught nor learnt, we revenge our dead with the death penalty. It’s natural victims’ family thinks so, the others who have no relationship with them insist the same thing. This is fundamental justice – or rather, it is a reflex beyond the theory, I think.”
   “…… reflex?”
   Jokyu(如翕) nodded yes.
   “What they request to the death penalty is beyond the theory, on the other hand, what we stop the death penalty is just a theory. I feel it to play around the theory. Lacking realistic feeling. I can’t say it’s anything but the death penalty is cruel. As most of five punishments(五刑) have been cruel and they have been avoided, the death penalty should be avoided.”
   The original five punishments(五刑) were tattooing the face or forehead(黥), cutting off of the nose(劓), amputation of one or both feet(刖), castration(宮), and the death penalty(大辟). They were punishments for the felony like murder, but there were almost no countries still had enforcement of all. To avoid them was a trend because they were too cruel and they were an outrage on human rights. At Ryu(柳), the word five punishments(五刑) only remained in the meaning of equivalent of old five punishments.
   Sotsuyu(率由) nodded his head.
   “Cutting nose, cutting feet– if we say they are cruel, the death penalty is cruelest. At least, in a country ruled by law, we shouldn’t use it, in my opinion.”
   Exactly, Eiko(瑛庚) thought but he harbored ill feeling, too.
   He knew Shudatsu(狩獺) had been using the cruel violence on innocent people at all the time.

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