Ichihashi’s very dubious version of events

The latest news on the Lindsey Ann Hawker murder case: alleged perpetrator Tatsuya Ichihashi has confessed. Unfortunately, his story sounds bogus and calculated to avoid a death sentence:

According to the indictment, Ichihashi assaulted Hawker at his apartment in Ichikawa between March 25 and 26, 2007, tied her wrists with adhesive tape and raped her before strangling her to death. Sources close to the investigation said Ichihashi had remained silent over the incident ever since his arrest in Osaka on Nov. 10 this year.

Meanwhile, an attorney for Ichihashi said he started explaining about the events leading up to Hawker’s death after he was first charged with murder on Dec. 2.

“Because she yelled, I strangled her from behind, and she became motionless. After that, I gave her CPR. I didn’t mean to kill her,” Ichihashi was quoted as telling his attorney.

Hawker was alive until dawn on March 26, Ichihashi was quoted as telling his lawyer. The pair reportedly spent some time listening to a Martin Luther King speech via the Internet.

Investigative sources said DNA from body fluid found on Hawker’s body matched that of Ichihashi’s, and that in addition to heavy beating to her face and body, her neck was broken.

The case is slated to be put on a lay judge trial.

I really wish I could know why Ichihashi made her listen to Martin Luther King…

33 thoughts on “Ichihashi’s very dubious version of events”

  1. What makes you think he made her listen to MLK? She was the teacher and probably used it as a teaching tool.

    Of course I’m happy that Ishihashi has been captured. But I’m still not sure if I’m happy or upset about the international media coverage this case has garnered. It reinforces the media criticism that reporters/readers only care about murder when the victim is white, blonde, and young.

  2. While both of those cases were sources of massive cultural generalizations, I’m pretty sure that most Brits/Americans are aware that creepy perverted guys sometimes rape and kill women. Most in Japan, I assume, were pretty surprised to discover that there is a place where you can get sauced, blow away a 15 year old with a .44 magnum on your front lawn, and walk.

  3. Posted this before but it got eaten.

    Apparently they are making a movie out of the “novel” Lost Girls and Love Hotels. The plot is something along the lines of “Canadian girl gets stuck in Japan teaching English, falls in with the Yakuza, has lots of sex, and puts herself in danger by looking for missing white hostess.” Or something. A tad exploitative, methinks, and sure to reinforce certain stereotypes. I wonder what the reaction in Japan will be.

    Anyway, you can read the first pages on Amazon. It reminded me of being in a gaijin bar listening to spoiled eikaiwa kyoushi bitching about their lives in Japan.

  4. Of course he is trying to avoid the death penalty –
    and he probably won’t get it – as usually you have
    to kill more than one person.

    The fact that they were listening to Martin Luther King
    says a lot about his character. He may have actually
    been a human rights champion masquerding as a
    rapist / murderer / fugitive.

  5. I was thinking.Had this incindent occured after January 2008,they would probably had been listening to Barack Obama speeches.Imagine how would talk show hosts in America react….

  6. “Subliminal Messages in Martin Luther King’s speech made me do it”

    This is the kind of thing that you can say and win in a U.S court
    if you have an expensive enough lawyer

    (like the famous Judas Priest case)

  7. Sure. Lovely scat-pun there…

    My point in bringing up the Hattori case (which admittedly, I wasn’t here for, so I am by no means comparing these two cases from an equal perspective) is that the country of the murder victim seems to make the murder into something representative of how “those people in that country” behave, regardless of the race. Would this get less coverage if Hawker were not white? Who knows.

  8. I don’t want to mention names, but when I was studying in Kyoto in 2003 or so, the girlfriend (Japanese) of a classmate was actually stalked and murdered in her Osaka apartment by a complete stranger, who was also Japanese. The incident did make the papers, but only as a minor article. I think it is safe to say that had either party been a foreigner, or a Japanese citizen of a different ethnicity, with all other details the same, it would probably have turned into a similar episode of nauseatingly Orientalist tabloid journalism.

  9. Not necessarily Roy — cases like that happen every year or so. It was only the bizarre details of the Blackman case that softened up the media to this type of story, followed by the Hawker case, that turned this into international (actually, British and BBC) headline news.

  10. “country of the murder victim seems to make the murder into something representative of how “those people in that country” behave”

    True, but I still think that the difference here is wide. The pro gun lobby in the US is both large and actively claiming that their assertions are “a part of American culture”. While I’m no fan of national generalizations, the Japanese media were basically handed a American home grown cultural generalization A lot of the Japanese coverage of that case was also focused on the anti-gun movement in the US so there was some variety. I don’t think that there are many people in Japan arguing that stalking and raping white women is a part of Japanese culture.

    A better comparison would be with cases of Japanese women who are raped/and or murdered abroad. We don’t hear much in the Japanese press, but it is not an infrequent happening.

  11. The Lucie Blackman case made news for a number of reasons. Firstly, she was a Westerner. If white girls always made the news then more people would know the name of Anastasia Shelepanova, a 22 year old Russian girl stabbed to death in a Kobe hostess club in 2006.

    The Blackman murder also made the news because police initially seemed content to treat it as a missing persons case until her family got support from the UK government. When police finally apprehended Obara, they discovered that he had raped and probably caused the death of a number of foreign hostesses, including Australian Carita Ridgway, from as long ago as 1992. Medical authorities at the time accepted Obara’s story that Ridgway had suffered a serious bout of food poisoning.

    Ironically, it was only because Ridway’s brain had been kept for medical research that it was still available to test for the drugs which Obara used, something which could not be done with Blackman’s corpse because it was too badly decayed when finally discovered. The lack of such evidence in the Blackman case is the major reason why the first trial judge did not convict Obara for her murder.

    Revelations in this case led to speculation that the police were not especially diligent in following up crimes against foreign girls if it seemed that they were working illegally in mizu shobai businesses. This is something the Thai and Phillipine communities had long thought and gained support when it came to light that Hiroshi Nozaki had not been charged with the murder of Elda Longakit Yoneda in 1999 and so was free to murder another Filipina in 2008. In Shelepanova’s case, her murderer was quickly identified and apprehended so the story didn’t gain any momentum outside the Russian media.

    Hawker’s case is different and the Guardian review of Clare Campbell’s book by novelist Susanna Jones (linked by M-Bone above) makes that point forcefully. Hawker went missing after meeting Ichihashi on a Saturday and her room-mates reported this to Nova on Monday which is when the police became involved. They took this seriously enough to send a number of officers to Ichihashi’s apartment but blundered by letting him escape which, unfortunately, seemed to reinforce the poor image of the police which had featured in the Blackman case.

    They western asymmetry works both ways. Over the last few years, there have actually been a number of rapes and murders of Japanese nationals in the Philippines and Indonesia. They do get some coverage in the Japanese media but it is frequently easier to get information from the local press in both those countries. Perhaps Japanese reporters treat these stories carefully because they suspect some yakuza involvement but the rape and murder of Japanese citizens in America, Western Europe, Australia or New Zealand usually gets far more coverage in Japan.

    In this respect, it will be interesting to see how the recent case of Hiromi Shimada, found bound and stabbed to death in an apartment near Kuta beach in Bali, plays out. Shimada, 41, appears to have been living on money from her parents which might mean they are reasonably well-off, if not necessarily rich. Her case has come up only three months after the body of Rika Sano was found on Kuta beach itself. Police have arrested a suspect in that case.

  12. Does anyone else remember the episode of Law and Order where a Japanese woman was killed by muggers while visiting New York with her husband, and he managed to make it into a big media frenzy back in Japan? Naturally being Law and Order it turned out that he had actually hired hitmen to kill her for some reason and it was all an elaborate frame-job, but the portrayal of Japanese media frenzy over an overseas murder on an American TV show was still pretty interesting.

  13. I remember that episode – Law and Order (I’d like to see a Japanese version, so much of Japanese crime drama is 密室 crap) is frequently very good but I think they have a bad track record with “Asians” in general. Some of this (or last) season is interestingly ideological – they tired the “terror memo” lawyer and used an anti-terror law to try a bunch of vigilantes. Of course, they’ve also gone overboard in the other direction – an Afghan diplomat slits his wife’s throat in the embassy over an honor thing, etc.

  14. Just from Roy’s description, that Law and Order episode seems like a clear riff on the Kazuyoshi Miura case which did indeed set off heavy media coverage in Japan. Initially, it was all about violence in America and why Miura and his wife had been targeted. The LAPD also believed it had been a street crime gone wrong but a Japanese-American officer thought the story sounded fishy and Japanese police also started an investigation.

    The incident took place in 1981, Miura was first convicted in Japan in 1994 but then acquitted on appeal. The weeklies had begun to raise suspicions around 1984 and Miura’s battles with the Japanese media are one reason why you now usually see a suspect’s hands blurred when they are in handcuffs.

    He was controversially arrested by the US when he visited Saipan last year and committed suicide in prison after extradition to California.

  15. “Perhaps Japanese reporters treat these stories carefully because they suspect some yakuza involvement but the rape and murder of Japanese citizens in America, Western Europe, Australia or New Zealand usually gets far more coverage in Japan.”

    Yakuza involvement is correct in case of the Phillippines.But Indonesia has another factor.Bali is known for Japanese OL having local boy friends,which is the reverse situation of what we have in the Phillippines.There are many Balinese-Japanese couples living in Kuta and Ubud.When I went Bali in ’95,I hired a driver and a guide(both in early 20’s)and had Japanese girl friend who fly over to visit them in every three or four months.So J-women being killed in Bali isn’t “exotic”enough anymore.

  16. I interpreted for an interview with Issei Sagawa this year .
    LA director Kirby Dick is making a film about cannibalism.
    He wasn’t freaky at all . . and says he would like to eat another
    woman if given the chance, or even better, be killed and eaten
    by one himself.

  17. Yes of course! I had completely forgotten about the Miura case, but this is definitely the inspiration for that particular episode of Law and Order.

  18. That sounds pretty freaky to me. It’s a bit terrifying how rational and non-insane he seems to be about the whole murder/cannibalism incident. I believe him when he says he would do it again, and I’m a bit surprised he hasn’t.

  19. Well he seems to make the case that he was intrinsically programmed to
    want to eat someone and had reveries about it from a young age,
    and once he had killed her and started to eat her it all felt wrong
    and the whole image melted away like a mirage. He doesn’t seem evil –
    it was like he was possessed by something.
    either that or he is enough of a sociopath and in enough denial and with
    a bit enough ego to claim to be something other than a murderer and cannibal.

    I think he is clearly insane but in a very uncommon way.
    almost autistic in his lack of ability to peceive what he has done as
    being “wrong”.

  20. Sounds like psychopathy to me. He’s entirely in control of his actions and just doesn’t care, as opposed to a schizophrenic or someone with another type of disorder who really can be said to have lost control due to a brain disorder.

  21. that sounds a bit judgmental.
    He was sent back to Japan by the French authorities
    and then not deemd a threat to the public.

  22. is it less bad to murder and eat a superfluos person such as a prostitute ?

    If he had eaten, for example, a Fannie Mae employee he would certainly
    have got rougher treatment

  23. IIRC, the French authorities returned him to Japan with the expectation that he would remain in a mental hospital or prison indefinitely. In fact, it appears that he was never deemed to not be a threat, but only that his case was grossly mismanaged.

    So as not to cause outrage by simply turning him loose at the airport, Sagawa was first taken to Matsuzawa hospital. There, voluntarily, he submitted to being placed in a private wing of the institution and examined by doctors. No one made him feel welcome. A phalanx of mental health professionals each found him to be sane, stating that sexual perversion alone had led to the murder – in other words, they thought Issei Sagawa was evil. The man, they unanimously agreed, belonged in prison.

    Following an attempt to gain pertinent paper work from Judge Bruguiéres, which was refused, the Japanese legal system could not pursue Sagawa. He walked free on 12 August 1986, having been contained for just five years.


  24. certainly an abnomoly. He should clearly have been locked up a long time for his crime. A miscarriage of justice, and we all know there are many of these.
    When the steaks are high though, these must be avoided.

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