Taking zero tolerance to extremes, a judge in Kobe sentenced a man to 22 months in prison on Tuesday – all for the theft of around 800 yen’s (4 pound) worth of goods, and a pathetically paltry 2 yen (tuppence ha’penny) from a shrine offertory box.
This harsh punishment is all the more shocking as unemployed Seiji Kondo took from June to October in 2005 to bag his 800 yen convenience store cache; some batteries and a few sundry items making up his pitiful plunder. Yet despite his lawyer’s pleas, the presiding judge was having none of it, the money stolen from the shrine costing the 27-year-old dearly: “Even 2 yen is part of the monetary offerings of shrine visitors. We cannot take what he did lightly despite the amount of money.”
The judge could perhaps also have gone on about how the Japanese justice system is successfully keeping undesirables like Kondo-san off the streets, yet considering that if the petty thief had raped somebody he’d potentially only serve an extra 2 months behind bars, it’s probably best he didn’t.