Sad but true: while responding to an emergency call about a break-in last Thursday, police in Akita Prefecture mistook the victim for the perpetrator and held him down upon arrival, giving the perpetrator the opportunity to stab the victim to death. 55-year old Hirotaka Tsuya was probably sleeping in his home at 4am when Katsuo Sugawara, a 66-year old unemployed man, broke into his home.
I think it’s awful that Sugawara continued to attack Tsuya even after the cops arrived. The article doesn’t clarify, but it seems more vengeance-driven rather than a random robbery.
A new government survey found that over 230,000 people registered as alive and over 100 are actually missing, i.e. probably dead and not reported as such. This could be because of a lax reporting system or because the relatives want to continue to collect their pensions. Last month, a 111 year old man made headlines when he was found decayed and dead for over 32 years. So weird!
It seems that some people in Japan perceive old people as treasure troves for free cash: I don’t know if this is still common, but I remember when we often heard about young people who would call up random seniors, pretend to be their long-lost son or daughter, and trick them into sending them huge amounts of cash.
A note to sneaky caretakers of old people: our population is aging. Our economy is faltering. Please don’t take precious government money or scam your old relatives, it’s bad for your karma.
Last Friday, a well-known criminal lawyer named Toshiro Igari was found dead in a hotel room in Manila. The police are writing it off as a suicide, but as Tokyo Vice author Jake Adelstein points out, it’s hard to cut both your wrists.
Jake wrote a touching account of his last interaction with Igari, who was a good friend of his, on his Twitter feed. I hope he doesn’t mind that I took the liberty of pasting it here.
I wanted to say something about Igari Toshiro, my lawyer and friend. I have read every book he’s written about organized crime and as an ex-prosecutor he knows his stuff. He was always a delight to speak with. At a time in 2008, when I was under police protection and wondering if I was going to get snuffed or one of my friends would he met me. Later, I heard he met up with a Goto-gumi exec. and warned him “If anything happens to Jake, I’ll make sure the prosecutors come for you.” He had clout because he was an ex-prosecutor. The worst of the yakuza feared him and I admired him. This year Goto Tadamasa published his memoirs. If you understand how yakuza work, it had the equivalent of a “fatwa” written about me. 跳ね返り催促。Because the lines in the book had a notation that he was laughing when he said it, the police couldn’t arrest him for making a threat. I wrote Igari-san asking him what to do. I got a reply within hours. He came back to Japan from Brazil on Sunday August 8th, and went directly from the airport to his office to meet me. I was honored. On that evening, I sat down with him and two other lawyers. He took my case and said he would first write to the publishers of Goto’s book.Igari said, “The publisher’s edited the interviews, they have a responsibility for the words they chose. They printed slander and threats.”He was excited about taking a vacation in Manila. He wasn’t depressed. He said we’d talk more when he got back.His last words to me were: 「この件は勇気と金もかかりますよ。ただ働きできない（笑）。しかし、この本は許さない。出版社も言葉の危険を承知しているはずだ。後藤は本当に嘘つきだ。ヤクザにしてもクズです。伊丹監督の攻撃を命令したのが事実。さあ戦いましょう」. Rough translation: “It’ll take courage & money to handle your case. Goto is a liar & his book and publisher are unforgivable. Lets’s fight.” He was smiling and laughing when I left his office. I don’t believe he killed himself. Igari先生 was a mentor. Hard-working, funny, courageous, honorable, with a thirst for justice. He always remembered kindnesses and repaid them.
A 37-year old Tochigi man named Yuichi Fukuda was arrested for stealing a 4th grade girl’s bicycle saddle. Upon searching his home, the cops found 80 girls’ bicycle saddles and other random girly paraphernalia that he had stolen. He admits that he stole these items to fulfill his needs. Yuck.
An anime DJ was pooping in the Yodobashi Camera store in Akihabara but only realized there was no toilet paper after the fact. So he did what any savvy geek would do — he sent an urgent tweet asking for someone to bring him some. It worked!
I was reading the rest of this guy’s tweets, too, they’re all in Japanese but really funny. Follow!
Lake District National Park in the UK is doing something no other tourist destination has done before — it’s exclusively taxing Japanese tourists 5GBP a head for visiting. The park is famous as the place where Beatrix Potter lived and hence where Peter Rabbit takes place, and about 35,000 Japanese tourists go there every year. This is likely the first time that one nationality has been singled out to pay a fee when it’s free for everyone else.
The money is going to be used for conservation projects in the park, which is nice, but it still seems a bit messed up to target one group of tourists over others. The officials who created the tax say it’s optional, but it’s an opt-out tax that is only presented to Japanese visitors — local visitors or those from other countries are not presented with the sheet of paper that asks for the “donation.”
Reuters Germany did a short video report about a woman who quit her day job as a PR person to become a cheerleader. I don’t understand German, so it isn’t clear to me whether cheering on the side of the street is her actual profession, or if she’s just doing that for fun or for the Reuters show.
The Independent has a story today about a woman named Kanae Kijima, age 34, who is suspected of killing at least four and conning a dozen men whom she met on the Internet. Many of them were older; she wooed them first with her benign cooking blog and later by acting the part of the perfect subservient housewife. Then she would take their money, lace their food with sedatives, and make it look like suicide. A quote from the article:
in a country where women traditionally play a backseat role, the “Black Widow” case has delivered a devastating blow to male confidence. Bloggers say Kijima has ruined their faith in dating and marriage sites, making them fearful of anonymous encounters with potential online partners.
A 24-year old pet store manager in Nagasaki named Akira Honda was arrested for stealing a penguin from a zoo to pay off his debts. The bird he snatched was a Humboldt Penguin; they’re South American birds that grow to about 27 inches tall and 130lbs heavy. They’re not on the endangered species list yet, but there are only about 12,000 left in the wild, according to the Telegraph.
A 26-year old Nara woman named Mami Yoshida is suspected of having starved her own child, allegedly because he looked like his father, whom she is still married to. Apparently, the couple was having marital problems — to vent her frustrations, the wife started starving her son and neglecting medical care in January. The child was found, grossly malnourished and in a diaper, on Wednesday. At the age of five, he was just 85 cm tall and weighed 6.2 kg. The husband was also arrested; he admitted that he did nothing to protect his son.
The Yoshidas have a 3-year old daughter, too. As far as anyone knows on record, they took pretty good care of her, making sure she went to daycare and ate food.
This is just sad. Hearing stories like this makes me wish there were certain tests you have to pass to become a parent, as well as regular upkeep check ups. Kinda like what’s required for vision care, or to get and maintain a driver’s license.
This sounds like the beginning of a really bad mystery novel. 1,300 tubes of bull semen have disappeared and one man who worked at the beef promotion committee responsible for said tubes was found hanged in an apparent suicide. There’s a one-page news story on Mainichi about this, but it really doesn’t say much else.
A 61-year old Shiga man was arrested yesterday for calling 110 (the Japanese equivalent of 911) over 12,000 times in a span of nine months. It’s not clear why he did this or what he claimed to be calling for, but he was ultimately charged with obstruction of duty. Apparently, the police had someone go to his house four times to personally request that he stop, but the prank calling continued. What a pain in the butt.
A 64-year old woman in Chiba was stabbed to death after warning her neighbor, 70-year old Kiichi Hayashi, against feeding stray cats. Hayashi is being held for murder; this is the humble defense he offered the police:
This past weekend, a 29-year old man named Yoshifumi Takabe burned down the large two-story house in Kobe that he shared with his mom. It was a suspected suicide & murder attempt based on the fact that his mother had thrown away his collection of Gundam figurines. At least that’s what he told police when he was arrested on Sunday.
A 23-year old woman named Mizuha Nagasue was arrested this week for leaving her baby to die in an Internet cafe in Shibuya. Nagasue was unemployed and homeless and had no idea what to do with her baby after she gave birth. At least that was the reason she gave police for the abandonment, which happened on Wednesday.
A 43-year old dad and his two sons, 20 and 17, are about to see their day in court for stealing 323 rice cookers, 70 electric screwdrivers, 56 electric drills, and 39 TVs from hardware and electronic superstores in and around Saitama Prefecture, just outside Tokyo, since July of 2008. They pawned most of their stolen goods and used the money for food, rent, and gambling.
Sad story about a family that felt helpless at the hands of a violent father and ended up as killers. A 57-year old Hiroshima man was killed last Thursday by his wife and children. The mom, who was being violently abused at home, conspired with her 18-year old son and 15-year old daughter to catch their dad offguard and strangle him to death.
A couple of weeks earlier, cops responding to a call came to the house and shook their fingers at the dad, warning him that domestic violence is bad. Then they told the mom that they couldn’t help her unless she filed an official police report. For whatever reason, she never filed the report and took justice into her own hands. The three weren’t charged with murder because the autopsy came back ambiguous.
When questioned, the daughter said: “I feared that my entire family would be killed.” The family also has two smaller kids, who were asleep when the dad died.
Some construction workers doing repairs in the basement of the Imperial Hotel found a bottle of Chanel No. 5 that they believe belonged to Marilyn Monroe. Apparnetly it was hidden in a faded cotton pillowcase in the VIP suite where Monroe and Joe DiMaggio had stayed in 1954, a couple weeks after they got married. The pillowcase was inside an old chest that supposedly held lots of items left behind by celebrities, like handkerchiefs with Frank Lloyd Wright’s initials on it (he designed the hotel), Charlie Chaplin’s walking stick, and Douglas MacArthur’s pipe. In-teresting! I wonder whose idea it was to keep them all in a hidden chest, and why it was buried under construction until now.
A 22-year old slightly crazy woman was arrested for posting a message on 2channel that threatened to blow up an office building belonging to Nippon Telephone and Telgraph’s staffing agency if she wasn’t hired for a job. Satomi Hachisu had gone there on February 12 to interview and take a test for a part-time position. Later that night, she started a thread on 2ch that read:
“If Satomi Hachi(dot), who came for an interview today isn’t hired, then the NTT Solco building will be blown up.”
Hachiya has been unemployed for over a year now; she was getting desperate, I guess. Of course, NTT was able to track down where the listing was posted from—hello, lady, this is NTT, the telephone company! She was promptly locked up, and of course, not hired.