JAPAN: Gentle Felon

In Japan, some thugs run to a gentlemanly stripe. One such is Matsukichi Tsumaki, 47, a sekkyo goto (preaching bandit), who last week stepped from Akita prison in northern Honshu, a free man.

Matsukichi, a slender fellow with a long, egg-shaped face and large, gentle eyes, gravely told of the life that led him to crime. "I am," he said, "the child of my mother by some former connection of hers. I did not go too much to school." When he was 18, Matsukichi stole his boss's sandals and then some money. For this, he spent his first eight...

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