Hawkers frustrated with Japanese police / Ichihashi suicide rumor

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    The 2nd anniversary of Lindsay Ann Hawker‘s death has passed, and a few new stories about the murder case have appeared over the last week:

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    Lindsay’s sister still seems optimistic about keeping the manhunt in the news:

    If it was a murder that had taken place in this country we’ve been told that resources would have been scaled down much sooner and it would have perhaps taken more of a back seat than it has done in Japan.

    Because Japan’s got such a low crime rate and because it was such a horrific crime it’s remained in the public conscience and it’s remained a serious case. So we’re still positive that there’s going to be a positive outcome.

    But the family doesn’t seem so positive when they speak about the way Japanese police have been carrying out the investigation. Richard Lloyd Perry of the Times has reported that the Hawkers think the police decision to great large cutouts of Ichihashi is a frustrating “gimmick” meant to make them feel the police are doing something:

    “It was really quite upsetting because it seems that they are no closer to finding him now than when he slipped through their fingers two years ago. We would have respected them more if they’d said honestly to us, ‘We’re doing all we can, but we’re struggling’, instead of trying to appease us with cardboard cut-outs.”

    Meanwhile, a British Newspaper has printed a rumor about Ichihashi’s father committing suicide:

    Police refused to confirm or deny that Masayoshi Ichihashi, a wealthy doctor and the father of Tatsuya Ichihashi, 29, had killed himself last September.

    Japan’s strict privacy laws make it difficult to confirm that he had committed suicide.

    However, the death was reported to The Daily Telegraph by a local journalist.

    Miss Hawker’s father, Bill, said he was “shocked” but added he “wished it had been his son instead”.

    And finally, in his latest Japan Times column, Debito claimed that the police seeking Ichihashi on the charge of “abandonment of a corpse” instead of murder is evidence of discrimination against foreigners in Japan:

    Now triangulate that with the case of Lindsay Ann Hawker, who was allegedly murdered by Tatsuya Ichihashi in 2007. The evidence here is damning too: video evidence of her accompanying him to his apartment building, her beaten and strangled body found in a tub of sand on his apartment balcony, and his fleeing barefoot when police visited to investigate. He’s still at large today. You can see his mug shot on police posters with five other suspects wanted for “murder” (satsujin). That is, except for Ichihashi. He’s just accused of “abandonment of a corpse,” again.

    Apparently it is not rare for Japanese police to seek fugitives on lesser charges they can definitely get a conviction for, with the expectation that they can later ask for more serious charges once the criminal is in custody and under interrogation. Given the level of international and domestic media attention that has fallen upon this case, it’s unlikely that Ichihashi wouldn’t be charged with murder should he be captured alive. Readers have pointed out that the police are in fact naming Ichihashi as a suspected murderer.

    [hat tip to Ken Y-N and Big in Japan (via Japan Soc)]

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