'No signs of remorse'—Sonic creator faces prison sentence and over $1 million fine in ongoing trial

Yuji Naka presents Balan Wonderworld while dressed in a top hat and neckerchief.
(Image credit: Square Enix)

Prosecutors in the Tokyo District Court are pushing for a heavy punishment for Sonic and Balan Wonderworld creator Yuji Naka, Abema Times (via VGC) reports. They want to hit Naka with a 2.5 year sentence and a ¥2.5 million fine (around $18,000/£14,000), as well as a "supplementary penalty" of ¥170 million (around $1.2 million/£975,000). Prosecutors have lambasted the game designer for showing "no signs of remorse" over his actions.

The push by the prosecution comes only three months after Naka admitted guilt of insider trading on his first day in court in March this year. Naka was accused of using inside knowledge from his position at Square Enix to buy shares in ATeam and Aiming Inc before their partnerships with the publisher (on Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier and Dragon Quest Tact, respectively) were publicly announced. When the collaboration went public, Naka's shares are alleged to have shot up in value, netting the creator a reported profit of around $146,000.

Naka later tried to pin some of the blame on an administrative error, claiming that he only gained access to the info that enabled the insider trading—which he wasn't meant to see—because he was sent it by mistake. 

That's not much of a defence, since Naka didn't deny buying shares based on that information, but his legal team likely hoped that the insider trading being a product of circumstance rather than deep premeditation on Naka's part would garner a more lenient sentence. 

We'll find out if that worked when the court hands down its final sentence on July 7. In the meantime, Naka's defence is still refusing to give up the fight. The designer's lawyers are asking that the prosecution's desired prison time be turned into a suspended sentence—meaning Naka wouldn't actually have to go to prison unless he violated terms set down by the court—and that the eye-watering fines be reduced.

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that Naka had already been sentenced. This has now been amended.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.