Death of Chinese graduate student in Japan triggers online outcry
 
Photo of Jiang Ge from Sina Weibo
 
The death of a Chinese graduate student in Japan has triggered an outcry in the country’s online community after the mother of the dead launched a signature campaign calling for death penalty of the murderer who is now in custody in Japan.
 
Jiang Ge, 24, from Qingdao, Shandong Province, was found dead with multiple stab wounds in the corridor of her apartment in Tokyo on November 3 last year. In December, the Japanese police confirmed Jiang was killed by the ex-boyfriend of her roommate, Liu Xin, after the confirmation of a DNA match, the Beijing Youth Daily reported then. 
 
Liu moved into Jiang’s apartment last September after breaking up with Chen Shifeng, 25, who was also studying in Japan at that time. 
 
Chen allegedly went to Jiang’s apartment to look for Liu on the afternoon of November 2. The three quarreled, and then left the house. Later at night, Liu and Jiang went back to the apartment and Chen followed them to the apartment. Jiang Qiulian, the mother of Jiang, claimed that Liu went into the apartment first, leaving Jiang alone with Chen outside the door.
 
Liu said in an interview with The Paper that she was changing her pants at the time of the stabbing and only when she heard a sudden loud cry, did she realize something was happening. She told the media that she didn’t hear anything before that, and if she did, she would know who it was. 
 
In a September report, The Paper cited Japanese media as saying that a lady in her 50s living there said “she heard a woman screaming for some time and then some sobbing of both a man and woman”. 
 
 
Chen Shifeng will stand trial in Tokyo in December. Photo: The Paper 
 
Jiang’s mother has blamed Liu for “closing the door” and “blocking the road for Jiang to escape”, but Liu claimed that she didn’t lock the door and didn’t know it was Chen outside the door. 
 
On May 21, Jiang Qiulian published an article on WeChat, blaming Liu for the death of Jiang and exposed Liu and her family’s personal information on the Internet after “no comfort and explanation” on her daughter’s death from Liu’s family, Jiang wrote in the article.
 
“Only because Liu didn’t kill my daughter with her own hands, will the law not punish Liu? And only because the law cannot punish Liu, can her parents be so arrogant and unreasonable?” she wrote.
 
The issue drew a nationwide discussion over the weekend, one year after the incident happened, after a series of video interviews of Jiang and Liu were released on Sina Weibo, China’s largest social media platform. The interview was conducted by the Beijing News in August, and it was reportedly the first face-to-face meeting between Jiang and Liu 294 days after Jiang Ge’s death. 
 
“I don’t want to deny my responsibility in this case, after all it had something to do with me. They (Jiang and Chen) didn’t know much about each other … If I knew it was Chen (outside the door), I would have gone outside no matter what, but I really wasn’t brave enough to,” Liu said in the interview. 
 
 
Screenshot of the interview by Beijing News. Jiang Qiulian (left) and Liu Xin met for the first time in August, 294 days after the death of Jiang Ge.
 
Several hashtags have been created on Weibo regarding Jiang’s death and her mother’s efforts to seek justice. The hashtag “Chinese female student was killed in Japan” has been viewed for over 56 million times and the one of “Jiang Ge’s mother went to Japan to collect signatures” for over 47 million times as of Wednesday morning. 
 
While the public is calling for punishment to the murderer, Liu is also being blamed for not protecting her friend while she herself was being protected and for showing no comfort to Jiang’s family after Jiang’s death.
 
“Liu Xin is an accomplice. If Jiang was not there, she would never be able to live like she does now,” one said on Weibo.
 
“Jiang provided you timely help, but in return, you tried to escape from admitting your fault. As a human being you should at least have some conscience, otherwise you would be punished too,” said another.  
 
“Liu was really hateful. Her best friend died because of her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, but she didn’t say anything in the first place. People who were not involved in the case are getting angry, not to mention the mother of the dead,” another commented. 
 
Wang Zhian, a renowned Chinese investigative journalist who interviewed Jang and Liu, wrote on his weibo page on Tuesday that the reason their team put their focus on Jiang and Liu is because “it is simply a normal criminal case regarding Chen’s crime, but the story between Liu and Jiang is more worth knowing, as it concerns timidity of human nature, boundary of responsibility and forgiveness, as well as suffering and redemption.”
 
On November 4, Jiang Qiulian went to Japan and started collecting signatures for a petition for death penalty to Chen. An online petition to collect signatures is set to end on November 30, according to her micro-blog.
 
According to Jiang’s Japanese lawyer, while it would be unlikely that Chen will be given death penalty under Japanese law, he could be sentenced with 15 to 20 years in jail, depending on whether it was a premeditated murder. Chen has claimed that he didn’t mean to kill Jiang and the weapon was not his. 
 
The case will be publicly heard on December 11 in Tokyo, according to Chinese media.

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