Hanzai News for March 29, 2018
In this week’s Japan crime news roundup:
- Gold Smuggling
- Upskirt Photos
- Larcenous LEOs
- Elder Abuse
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# Hanzai News for March 29, 2018
Before we get started, I would like to thank each and every one of you for listening and helping the podcast steadily grow. Your support is sincerely appreciated.
Hanzai News Round-up for the week ending March 29th, 2018
If you live and drive in Japan, the National Police Agency would like to remind you that the new school year will be starting soon and there will be a lot of fresh first-grade children out there walking to school and crossing the streets. Let’s remember that in addition to being excited about starting school, those kids also have little to no experience with crossing streets on their own. Police have been busy analyzing data from the last 5 years and have learned that first grade kids get killed going to and from school at a rate 8 times higher than do 6th graders, with a full 4/10ths of the fatal accidents occuring at marked crosswalks.
Kids get run over more than you might think. In the last 5 years there were 18, 841 injuries and deaths among elementary school kids crossing the street.
A couple of sobering statistics for motorists:
1. 60% of those were from kids crossing at places other than designated crosswalks….but that still left over 7,300 happening *at* crosswalks.
2. While there were about a thousand cases of kids dashing into the street or not waiting for the crosswalk signal, in over 80% of cases the children were found to have done nothing wrong. On the other hand, in only 6 cases was it found that the driver of the car had done nothing wrong.
An editorial note: In case you didn’t know it, Japan maintains in Chiba Prefecture a prison which houses nothing but people sentenced on traffic charges.
Hyogo Prefectural Police have nabbed a con artist thanks to the quick thinking of a 55 year old man who alerted them after receiving a telephone call from a young man claiming to be an employee of the Ministry of Finance. The 21 year old called the home thinking he was speaking to the 55 year old resident’s deceased father, telling the man that his personal information had been leaked and that he would come to the intended victim’s home to collect his cash card and bank book.
Thinking it odd that someone would be calling his dead father, the resident pretended to be his father on the phone and after hanging up alerted the police, who were more than happy to come out and arrest the scam artist when he showed up later on.
A 42 year old Osaka man found himself the unexpected guest of the Kyoto Police on the 21st. He is said to have threatened the driver of a Kyoto taxi on that day, telling the 46 year old cabby, “If you get out of this cab, you’re going to die”. The taxi company called 110, Japan’s police emergency number after 5 o’clock that afternoon saying a customer was acting strangely. The passenger is being held on charges of holding the driver captive for nearly 20 minutes at a convenience store parking lot in Kyoto.
The cab was spotted traveling on the Meishin Expressway by a highway patrol unit of the Osaka Police, with Kyoto officers later joining the pursuit of the cab which continued along the expressway despite being ordered to stop. The passenger was apprehended when the taxi was finally stopped at a convenience store 15km away.
In the Yokohama District Court on the 22nd a sentence of death was handed down in the case of 25 year old Imai Hayato for the murder of three residents of a nursing home in Kawasaki City in November and December of 2014. The residents, ranging in age between 86 and 96 years old, were thrown off the verandas of their rooms.
In his trial, Imai proclaimed his innocence, despite having confessed to police earlier that he had killed the three victims. He claimed that he was pressured by investigators and told them what he thought they wanted to hear. His defense argued that he had been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum and thus had diminished responsibility for the deaths if indeed it was he who had committed the murders, also pointing out there was a complete lack of corroborating evidence against his client.
The prosecution built its case entirely on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of 20 workers at the facility and family members of the victims. There were both audio and video recordings of Imai’s police interrogation, which were played in court during the trial. The prosecutor pointed out that the recordings showed no signs of pressure from investigators and drew attention to the fact that Imai himself was volunteering details of the killings. The prosecution in its closing arguments requested the death penalty.
The death penalty in Japan is carried out by short drop hanging, with the date of execution being at the discretion of the Minister of Justice, once appeals are exhausted and the sentence confirmed.
It wouldn’t be a Hanzai News Roundup without at least one story of gold smugglers. Last week the Customs officials at Hakodate’s Chitose Airport arrested 3 Taiwanese women smuggling gold in their bras. This week they have confiscated a further 8kg of gold valued at 36 million yen from 2 Taiwanese men, who had the the precious metal snugly tucked into their underwear and hidden inside their shoes. They are charged with evading paying 2.9 million yen in tax.
March 21st was the vernal equinox and a national holiday in Japan. A man from Ichihara City, Chiba Prefecture took his wife out for a drive that afternoon and had the misfortune of running his car up onto a sidewalk and striking a telephone pole. A passer-by who witnessed the accident called the police and reported the accident.
Responding officers placed the driver under arrest for unlawful disposition of a corpse when they discovered the wife’s dead body in the car. The man admitted he had placed her corpse in his car himsself. Police are investigating to determine if foul play was involved. The woman’s body was found face up in the back seat of the car and appeared to have been deceased for several days. THere were no apparent external injuries discovered.
Just before midnight the evening of the 20th, Police in Kazo City, Saitama Prefecture spotted a car running a red light and ordered the vehicle to stop. The driver of the car took off rapidly and managed to elude the police, who lost sight of the vehicle. The escape from the law quickly came to an end only 1.2km away when the driver hit a tree and overturned.
Riding in the car were 4 youths ranging in age between 15 and 20, with the car being driven by a 16 year old youth from Chiba City who has no driver’s license. The four suffered no injuries more serious than a few busted ribs.
Another story involving a Kyoto taxicab driver. a 44 year old driver who is charged with sexually assaulting a severely inebriated 21 year old female passenger the evening of February 25. The employee of Kyoto’s MK Taxi is said to have taken the young woman to a hotel between 10:45 p.m. and half past midnight, claiming that going to the hot sheets hotel for sex was her idea and he was just doing what she wanted.
If you’ve had any thoughts that we might make it through a week without any stories of misbehaving cops, you were mistaken. Police have stepped up to the plate and delivered the goods yet again.
A 33 year old senior patrolman with the Osaka Police has been punished with a 10% reduction in pay for 6 months after it was learned he was an enthusiastic street photographer, with a preference for taking upskirt shots of women’s panties. He was caught in the act in February and has since confessed to having done it about 70 times since the summer of 2016.
He has resigned from the police force and is now awaiting word on what the public prosecutors want to do with him.
A 33 year old man from Chiba Prefecture has set what is believed to be a motorcycle speed record for Japan, accelerating his British Daytona 675SE to a very impressive maximum speed of 279km/h, as recorded on the camera mounted to the bike. For better or worse, officials are only crediting the man with 239km/h, which is still a new motorcycle speed record in Japan.
The man carefully chose his course for the run, selecting an area guarded from crosswinds and which gave the 670cc Triumph an extra boost by being a long downhill stretch.
The run took place at about 3:50 a.m. on May 24th of 2017 and didn’t receive official certification until recently as the rider made the record setting run for the sole purpose of boosting his YouTube subscribers enough that he could monetize the channel. A person viewing the video of the record setting run brought it to the attention of people who could provide official certification of the run and they, though identifying the bike by the speedometer in the video and using the make of the bike to lead them to other videos, managed to locate the man and provide him the certification….in the form of a speeding ticket for 159km/h over the 80km/h speed limit.
At the very least, his license will be revoked for two years and he will be facing a hefty fine for pulling the stunt in the Aqua Line Tunnel running beneath Tokyo Bay between Chiba Prefecture and Tokyo.
A senior patrolman in Oita Prefecture has been fired from the force and referred to prosecutors in relation to several acts of misconduct. One thing the man in his 30s found himself in trouble for was making the speeding ticket of a fellow police officer magically disappear last year. Another was taking home with him several hundred CD-R and DVD discs containing adult videos. The discs contained illicitly shot adult videos and were to have been detroyed when they were no longer needed as evidence. The officer said he would take care of destroying them and instead removed them to his home.
He was also found to enjoy the same photographic hobby as his Osaka counterpart mentioned a couple of stories earlier; he was found to have used his cell phone to take upskirt photos of at 3 women and admits to having done it dozens of other times as well. The married officer was also found to have been engaged in an affair from January of 2017 until March of 2018.
A 51 year old man in Osaka has an ususual hobby. He walks up behind women on the street, grabs them around their thighs, and presses his face into their buttocks. He has had lots of practice doing it and the police have had lots of practice arresting him for doing it. This makes the 4th time he has been arrested for the same thing since November of 2017.
In an update to an earlier news report, the Public Prosecutor in Kobe who was taking pictures of women using the restroom at his workplace has been fined 500,000 yen and fired from his position.
In a country where the conviction rate hovers so near 100% it isn’t worth the bother of googling the actual numbers, it is a matter worthy of making the news when a court hands down a verdict of NOT guilty. That was what happened in the case of a 33 year old woman in Kobe who was on trial for having in her bag a syringe containing traces of methamphetamine. The judge ruled there was reasonable doubt the syringe had been placed there by the woman’s ex-husband, who was still on good enough terms with her that he came over to her house once or twice a week to shoot up. The man has admitted that he put the syringe in a bag in the home and forgotten about it. The prosecutor had sought a sentence of two and a half years for the defendant.
After years of devotedly taking care of the needs of his 79 year old wife who suffered from debilitating rheumatism and renal insufficiency, an 80 year old Nagoya man acceded to his wife’s request that he kill her. He was sentenced to 2 and 1/2 years in prison, suspended for 4 years when he was found guilty on the 23rd of strangling his spouse.
Police in Fukuoka Prefecture have referred to prosecutors two female caregivers in their 50s in connection with the accidental drowning death of a 96 year old woman at a nursing home. The charges of professional negligence resulting in death arise from the October 2016 drowning of the woman who had been left alone and unattended by the two while they performed other tasks, despite rules in place specifying that 2 staff members handle patients who require the level of care that was required by the victim.
One caregiver was helping bathe other patients and the remaining caregiver left the victim unattended in the bathtub while she performed some tasks in the dressing room.
THe hard-working crew at the trash recycling center in Sapporo City got an unexpected hand from a member of the public at about half past 6 on the afternoon of the 23rd. Unfortunately, the arm it was attached to only went up to the left elbow. Police have begun an investigation and the dismembered forearm was autopsied on the 26th.
After the discovery of the severed arm was reported in the news, police received several calls from people who said they had seen it lying in the road but who hadn’t realized it was a human arm. One of the calls was from a person who claimed to have picked it up and placed it in the trash.
Four police officers in Mie Prefecture have been arrested on charges of battery….theft. As in “stealing AA and AAA dry cell batteries”.
Between the four of them, they separately stole a grand total of 4,400 battiers from the police department. The four are reported to have used the batteries in electronic games and to power their children’s toys, and then selling the remainder to what in Japan is known as a “recycle shop” for amounts ranging between 1,000 and 20,000 yen.
One was disciplined with a 10% pay cut for one month and the other three were docked the same amount for three months. The prosecutor gets the next whack at them.
The batteries, purchased by the police department in bulk, are in boxes of 200 batteries each. Two of the policement are said to have helped themselves to 2000 batteries each while the other two each took one box of 200. The total value of the stolen batteries is 83,000 yen.
The four worked in different sections and their thefts were each independent and not connected to each other.
As an editorial note, I must say that this story came as no surprise to me. About 15 or so years ago I read a behind-the-scenes whistleblower book written by a former Japanese police officer who said it was standard practice in his department for ranking officers in supervisory positions to steal batteries in bulk and resale them, leaving the patrolmen in the police boxes to buy the batteries for their flashlights and other battery-powered tools of the trade out of their own pockets.
In a bizarre armed robbery in Niiza City, Saitama Prefecture on the evening of the 22nd, a 27 year old woman about to unlock her door upon returning home was suddenly approached by a knife-wielding man who demanded she give him her keys. The woman resisted the attacker, who siezed her by the hair and threw her to the ground. The man got one key away from the victim and fled the scene. The woman sustained slight injuries to her left hand.
In an update to a story from a few weeks ago in which a policeman abused the police computer system to gain information about money and valuables which had been turned in at various police stations and then claimed them as his own, it has been learned that in addition to the previously reported instance in which he claimed 280,000 yen from the Machida Police Station, he also claimed 140,000 yen from the Shinjuku Police Station last October 25th. On February 26th, the same day he successfully duped Machida cops out of the 280,000 he also attempted to claim 235,000 yen at the Musashino Police Station, claiming his grandfather had lost it. He failed in this as Musashino officers weren’t satisfied with his description of the wallet.
Coming to us from Yamaguchi Prefecture is our second story this week of a man taking his wife for a drive. A relative who went to visit the couple at their apartment the morning of the 21st reported them missing to police in Yamaguchi and the pair were located by alert officers of the Shimane Prefectural Police in Masuda City later that same afternoon. The 66 year old wife was reclining in the passenger seat, dead from having been strangled to death by her 69 year old husband with a cord at their home.
A 45 year old Tokyo man has been arrested by police in beautiful Gunma prefecture on suspicion of kidnapping a 13 year old first year junior high school girl he met via a social media app. Telling the girl via the app that he had prepared an apartment, clothing, shoes, and all necessities for her the man picked her up in his car in Takasaki City and set off with her. The girl was rescued 20 minutes later at a convenience store in neighboring Annaka City.
Officials of the Taiyo Bank in Miyazaki have announced they plan soon to file charges of embezzlement against a 64 year old part time worker, a former full-time employee of the bank. The man is said to have taken 2.85 million yen in cash from the bank. The man’s family has already made restitution and depositors were not affected.
The 3 month old infant daughter of a police officer in Kumagaya City, Saitama Prefecture, was rushed to the hospital by ambulance crews the afternoon of the 22nd after her 25 year old father reported that the child seemed to be hyperventilating. The baby was found to have internal bleeding in her eyes and her brain. Investigators larned that the officer, at home alone with his daughter on his day off, had become exasperated by the child’s crying and had shaken her vigorously, perhaps about 10 times.
The officer was initially placed under arrest on charges of causing bodily injury, but the charges were later changed to manslaughter after the child died of her injuries on the night of the 25th.
A workplace prank by a plumber at a jobsite in Hamada City, Shimane Prefecture went horribly wrong the afternoon of the 22nd, resulting in the 54 year old victim of the prank being transported to the hospital by ambulance. The prankster, a 28 year old man, was arrested for blowing air up the rectum of the unfortunate victim with an air compressor. Reportedly, the air was applied through the victim’s trousers and resulting in damage to the man’s rectum. I can’t resist it either, so join me in saying the punchline to the classic joke: “Rectum? Damned near killed him!”
A taxi driver in Osaka has been arrested in connection with a hit and run accident which took place about 3 a.m. on the 24th. The victim was a 38 year old man who was tossed through the air and who suffered a broken hip and other injuries. Detectives tracked the 66 year old cabbie down through security camera footage and were able to confirm damage on the taxi consistent with having struck someone. Witnesses in the area reported to police that the victim had been sitting in the middle of the road. The taxi driver maintains that the victim was already down in the road and that he stopped without striking the victim with his cab.
Our next story isn’t exactly crime-related, but I’m going to include it anyway.
A teacher of junior high aged children at a special needs school in the north of Tochigi Prefecture made it into the news for actions he took in June of last year regarding a student whose classroom farting had apparently reached the point he considered it a problem. The teacher made the student write a note promising to fart only in the toilet during break periods. The note was then posted in the classroom for all to see. The student was to be punished for infractions of the promise by being made to run 10 laps of the school’s cycling course. Reportedly the student was never actually made to run laps.
School officials admitted the inappropriateness of attempting to place limits on the natural bodily function refered to by Mark Twain as “the fundamental sigh” and said the teacher had gone too far.
Once more hogging space in the weekly crime roundup, we have yet another misbehaving officer of the law. A 56 year old police inspector in Osaka has been arrested on shoplifing charges. The inspector went to a home center on his day off and soon after entering the store grabbed three refill packs of shampoo valued at 2,200 yen and walked out of the store with them. He was nabbed by store employees, who held him until some police officers who *didn’t* have the day off could be summoned to take him into custody. Police Internal Affairs investigators have said his motive was just his unwillingness to spend his money on the shampoo. He had several 10,000 yen bills in his wallet at the time of the theft.
In Amagasaki CIty, Hyogo Prefecture the evening of the 24th a 43 year old man was arrested for interfering with an officer conducting his duties after he dragged the 34 year old officer about 3m with his mini-bike. The senior patrolman sustained scratches on his right leg. The officer had initially responded to the scene after a passerby contacted police telling them of a drunken man who had fallen off his mini-bike. When the officer tried to stop the man, who had regained his feet and righted the vehicle, the man took off again, dragging the cop 3 meters before falling over again.
The drunk man denies the charges, saying he was at home during the time of the incident.
If there were a competition for the most creative way to try to rob a convenience store, the culprit in this next story would stand a strong chance of winning. at 11 o’clock in the morning on the 25th, a 28 year old woman walked into a convenience store in Eniwa City, Hokkaido, and approached a female clerk who was busy stocking shelves. The would-be bandit threw an arm around the clerk’s neck and then pointed a spray bottle of disinfectant at the clerk and ordered, “Give me the money!”.
The clerk slipped out of the head lock and ran away without injury. THe perpetrator was arrested at the scene.
Two supermarket chains in Gifu Prefecture received warnings from police recently. In an attempt to encourage recycling, the chains were giving “eco points” to customers who brought in empty aluminum cans, with customers receiving points according to the number of cans they brought to the store’s collection areas. The points could be used for shopping at the chains’ locations.
The chains’ activities apparently ran afoul of the law of unintended consequences, being warned last November and December that they might be in violation of the Gifu Prefectural ordinance regarding the buying and selling of scrap metal. The ordinance was enacted in 2013 to combat a rash of thefts in the prefecture in which thieves were stealing the metal covers off of roadside drainage trenches and even the metal fittings off the end of fire hoses and selling them to scrap metal dealers.
It appears that Osaka Police didn’t do a very good job searching for a man in his 80s who went missing in June of 2013 and for whom a missing person report had been filed. While they are still awaiting positive identification, it is believed the bones found on the 25th in a planter box in the man’s own back yard are most likely those of the missing man. The man’s wife, also in her 80s, continued to live at the home until she passed away in September of 2017. The bones, which were not even covered over with dirt, were found in the planter box by gardening workers hired by surviving relatives to cut the grass and take care of the neglected greenery at the Osaka residence, which has stood empty since the wife’s passing.
Prosecutors are charging a 25 year old Wakayama Prefecture man with causing bodily injury to a 96 year old woman at 1:20 a.m. on January 9th of this year. The man was working the overnight shift as a caregiver at a nursing home and because frustrated by the incessant yelling of the woman, who suffers from severe dementia. He responded by throwing scalding hot water onto her, burning the area around her mouth and resulting in injuries that will take 50 days to heal. The burns were discovered later that morning by a different worker who had come in for the day shift.
In an update to a story in an earlier report, we have word that the Wakayama Prefecture husband and wife pair who murdered her father and disposed of his body in the mountains have been sentenced to 16 and 13 years respectively.
Imagine the surprise of a 19 year old female college student who emerged from the stall in the lady’s restroom of the Yutaka Driving School in Aichi’s Toyohashi City only to find a 32 year old man there waiting for her with his arms spread wide. He was holding a length of duck tape and intended to restrain her with it and rob her. The young lady escaped the restroom without injury. The man qas quickly placed under arrest by police who were in the area in response to an earlier report from another woman of a suspicious man.
FInishing up this week’s report with another toilet-related story, worker’s dismantling for disposal an old porta-potty on the morning of the 26th reported to police in Narita City, Chiba Prefecture that they had discovered a dead body in the toilet. The body was dressed and wearing shoes but in places the flesh had rotted away, revealing the bones. Police are attempting to establish the identity of the body.
That’s all the news we have time for this week. I have enough unused stories left over to easily fill up another 15 or 20 minutes. I might start tweeting those out through the course of the week, I think, so if you’re interested you might consider following the podcast on Twitter @hanzaipodcast. As always, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Thanks very much for listening and I’ll talk to you again soon.