Executions · Japan

Teenaged arsonist burned at the stake

March 29, 1683
Suzugamori execution grounds, near Edo (present-day Tokyo), Japan
Would-be arsonist Yaoya Oshichi is executed for attempting to light a fire hoping to see a man she had met during a previous fire

Oshichi, a 16-year-old-girl, met a temple page during a fire at the family temple the year before. Hoping to meet him again if another fire were to break out, she attempted to commit arson.

At the time, minors (15 and under) were exempt from the death penalty. The magistrate attempted to show her leniency by asking “you must be fifteen years old, are you not?” Oshichi, not understanding the magistrate’s intent, answered honestly that she was 16. The magistrate, not to be deterred, asked again “you must be fifteen years old, are you not?” to which Oshichi again replied her true age. The magistrate thus had no other option than hand her a death sentence, which was to be burned at the stake.

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