Murder of Shiori Ino

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Shiori Ino (猪野 詩織 Ino Shiori?, May 18, 1978 - October 26, 1999) was a 21-year-old Japanese female university student who was murdered on October 26, 1999. The murder exposed significant dereliction of duties in the Saitama Prefectural Police, brought about changes to legal treatment of stalking and is known as an example of media manipulation.

Murder[edit]

In January 1999, Shiori Ino met Kazuhito Komatsu (小松 和人 Komatsu Kazuhito?), a 26-year-old who operated a series of massage parlors with his brother Takeshi, a firefighter. Kazuhito claimed to be a 23-year-old entrepreneur who dealt in cars, real estate and precious metals. After 4 or 5 dates, Komatsu began presenting Ino with expensive gifts such as Louis Vuitton handbags and Gucci suits in public places, and screamed abuse at her when she refused them. He also began calling her at home, despite the fact that she had only given him her cell phone number. When she attempted to break off contact, he threatened her until she agreed to keep seeing him. On March 24, Ino confided in a friend that she was afraid for her life. On March 30, she wrote a will, and attempted again to break off the relationship. She relented after Komatsu threatened her family, including insinuations about physically harming her younger brother, a primary school student.

On June 14, Ino met Komatsu at a cafe and unequivocally stated her intention not to see him again. The same day, Komatsu, his brother Takeshi and their friend came to the Ino family home, and threatened both Shiori and her mother, presenting them with a series of lies about Ino being liable for fictional embezzlements that Kazuhito had committed. They threatened Shiori's father when he returned from work, who, unmoved, ordered them out of the house after telling them to take the gifts Kazuhito had forced on Shiori. The three retreated, specifically stating that they did not want the gifts back. Unbeknownst to them, Shiori had made an audio recording of the entire ordeal. She took it to the Saitama police the next day. Despite the outrage of one younger officer, the officers she met with told her she had no case. That day, the Ino family also received a call from someone calling himself "Tanaka" demanding the return of the gifts, following a series of about 20 silent calls. This daily barrage of silent calls continued until October 26.

On June 16, Shiori again went to the Saitama police, with her parents. They again refused to take action, and suggested that she was at fault for breaking up with a smitten suitor after accepting expensive gifts. They also went to a free legal clinic run by the Chamber of Commerce per suggestion of the police. After a 15-minute consultation, the lawyer dismissed their concerns, stating that "But she had a lot of things bought for her, right?" The following day, Shiori received a call from Komatsu demanding they get back together. She refused, and stated that she had been to the police. Komatsu reacted angrily before hanging up abruptly.

On June 21, Ino sent everything Komatsu had forced on her to his address by courier service. The following day, June 22, Komatsu's brother, Takeshi, approached 33-year-old Yoshifumi Kubota, a former manager of one of their massage parlors, with a 20 million yen murder-for-hire scheme at Komatsu's behest. Kubota agreed, and in turn recruited two acquaintances, Akira Kawakami and Yoshitaka Ito. Kazuhito departed for Okinawa on July 5 to build an alibi.

Over the next four months, the Ino family endured an escalating series of harassments and threats, including hundreds of posters and letters slandering Shiori and her father distributed throughout the neighborhood, and to the father's workplace. They repeatedly went to the police armed with the letters, photos of license plates and other evidence, without any action being taken. They pressed libel charges, only to be actively obstructed by senior precinct police officers who were worried that having unresolved open cases would hurt their standing.

In the meantime, Kubota, Kawakami and Ito, armed with Shiori's photo, watched the Ino family home and the local train station to plan the killing.

On October 26, 1999, Shiori Ino left her home on a bike, heading for Okegawa Station to attend afternoon classes at her college. Ito, watching from a nearby car, alerted Kawakami, who drove to the station and dropped off Kubota. Kubota walked up to Shiori as she got off her bike, and stabbed her once in the side. As she turned, he stabbed her again in the heart. Shiori Ino was pronounced dead at Ageo Central General Hospital.

Immediately following the murder, Saitama Prefectural Police began a campaign of disinformation, creating a portrait of the victim as a promiscuous flirt with a taste for expensive brand-name goods. The tabloids, then the mainstream press, quickly jumped on the bandwagon, manufacturing lurid stories about Shiori working as an escort. The Komatsu brothers the three accomplices were not arrested until a journalist, Kiyoshi Shimizu, investigated the case for himself.[1] His report, published in the magazine FOCUS, laid bare Shiori's long ordeal, and included a photograph of her stalker.

On December 19, 1999, the killer, Yoshifumi Kubota, was arrested. On December 20, 1999, Takeshi Komatsu, Akira Kawakami and Yoshitaka Ito were arrested. On January 16, 2000, eight other people were arrested for assisting with the harassment, and a warrant was issued for Kazuhito.

Kazuhito Komatsu evaded arrest and went to Sapporo, Hokkaidō, tracked by Kiyoshi Shimizu, the reporter. On January 27, 2000, his body was found in a lake in Teshikaga, Hokkaidō. His death was determined to be a suicide, with a note in his hotel luggage indicating that he had planned to kill himself soon after he had arranged Shiori's murder.

Aftermath[edit]

A legislative hearing was convened into the police handling of the Shiori Ino case, and the Saitama Police were criticized in the media for dereliction of duty.[2] The head of Saitama Police formally apologized to the Ino family. Following an investigation, 6 officers were disciplined and 3 senior police officers were fired.[3] The three were also indicted on a documents falsification charge over their refusal to process the charges brought by Shiori Ino during the harassment campaign. On September 7, 2000, Toshio Katagiri and Hirokazu Furuta were each sentenced to 1 year 6 months in prison and Tsuyoshi Honda was sentenced to 1 year 2 months in prison, but they were allowed to receive suspended sentences.

A stalker regulation law took effect in November 2000 as a result of Ino's murder.[4]

On December 22, 2000, Shiori Ino's family sued Saitama Police. On February 16, 2003, district court ruled that the Saitama Police would have to pay consolation money, but denied that police neglect had allowed the criminals to murder her. On appeal, on August 30, 2006, the Supreme Court upheld the original sentence.

In 2001, Kiyoshi Shimizu received the Editors' Choice Magazine Journalism Award and the National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan Reporting Award for his reporting. He would later receive the same awards again after getting an innocent man cleared of charges in the Ashikaga murder case.

The hit man, Kubota, was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Two other main criminals, Satoshi Kawakami and Yoshitaka Ito, were each sentenced to 15 years in prison. Takeshi was sentenced to life imprisonment, but he appealed. On September 5, 2006, the Supreme Court upheld his original sentence.

Media[edit]

In Japan, the crime has been dramatized for TV twice. One version, based on Kiyoshi Shimizu's writing, was aired on October 28, 2002. Another version, in which Rina Uchiyama played the role of Shiori, was aired on December 13, 2003.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Channel Surf (2002-10-27). "Romantics, reporter go far away, so close". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  2. ^ Motoi Arikawa (2006-05-16). "Crime reporting turns murky as cops clam up". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  3. ^ "3 Saitama police officers dismissed over falsification". CNET Networks. 2000-04-10. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  4. ^ "Stalker-killer's life term upheld". The Japan Times. December 21, 2005. Retrieved September 16, 2010. 

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