He killed four people at the age of 19 and was hanged for his crime, but left a legacy for millions of disadvantaged children across the globe so that they could live a better life.
About 150 people gathered for a symposium in Tokyo, organised by a group of lawyers and supporters of Norio Nagayama, who asked in his will before his execution on August 1 1997, that the royalties of his publications that were written in the prison cell, be donated to disadvantaged children around the world so they would not follow his path to commit crimes due to poverty.
The group has raised nearly 20 million yen so far from the royalties and revenues from the annual symposium and charity concerts to achieve the wish.
At the symposium this year, Koji Yakushiji, a family court investigator who published a book on Nagayama, said, "The Nagayama case provides various hints to study juvenile delinquency."
Born to an extremely poor family, Nagayama was abandoned in a bleak house in a small town in Hokkaido by his mother during a tough winter in his childhood with his brothers and sisters.
Examining documents on Nagayama, Yakushiji said, "Under the misery, they struggled to find food while worrying if they could pay for school, but their teachers were not aware of the situation.
"Tough conditions surrounding children have not changed since the days (of Nagayama's childhood)," said Yakushiji, who is as old as Nagayama and has dealt with juvenile delinquents for the past 37 years. "Even now, many delinquent children are high school dropouts."
Another panelist was Yasuhiro Igaki, a former family court judge who examined a high profile murder case in 1997 in Kobe, in which a 14-year-old boy killed two children.
While sharing the view with Yakushiji that children even now face severe situations, with more than a few of them suffering abuse at their homes, Igaki said the current trend to seek tougher punishment, including the death penalty, brings about such abuse.
"The state thinks it can kill someone if he or she is not rehabilitated, and it is surprising. Such an idea is reflected in parents who abuse their children," Igaki said in an apparent reference to the parental abuse against Nagayama.
Nagayama wrote several novels during his time in prison, including the 1971 bestseller "Muchi no Namida (Tears of Ignorance)," and donated the royalties to the families of his victims.
He was initially sentenced to death by a lower court, but the Tokyo High Court commuted the ruling to life imprisonment in 1981, saying insufficient welfare policies should also be blamed.
But the Supreme Court ordered a retrial, which eventually led the high court to reverse its earlier decision and sentence Nagayama to death. His sentence was finalized in 1990.