In relatively violent-crime-free Japan, there was a shocking case this year where a woman in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture was stalked and murdered by an ex-boyfriend, who then killed himself. That’s tragic enough on its own, but new information has come to light that it may have been the police themselves who enabled the ex to track her down.
In June, 40-year-old Tokyo resident Eto Ozutsumi went to the apartment of 33-year-old Rie Miyoshi, a woman he had dated some years previously, and stabbed her to death before killing himself. This came after months of stalking, during which he repeatedly emailed her messages like “I am definitely going to kill you.”
According to the police, four years previously the woman had married another man and moved to Zushi. With a new address and married name, she hoped that Ozutsumi would not be able to find her.
He still had her email address, though, and continued to send her threatening mails. Last year, she went to the police and he was arrested on suspicion of criminal threatening. The arresting officer read out the warrant, which is required by law, but also included the name and part of the address of the person bringing the charges, giving Ozutsumi the name and general location of his ex.
He ended up receiving a suspended sentence and was released. Evidence suggests he soon began searching for Miyoshi’s exact location using internet message boards, posing as an old friend or someone searching for her husband. With her new name and part of the address as a starting point, it appears he was eventually successful.
Police are currently investigating whether it was in fact the reading of the arrest warrant that supplied the suspect with this information. A representative of the police station said, “Moving forward, there should be procedures that protect the anonymity of the plaintiff.”
Akiko Kobayakawa, the head of a victims’ rights NPO that Miyoshi consulted before her death, reported that Miyoshi was concerned about the fact that the police had given her married name to Ozutsumi. By giving out that information, the police made her feel very unsafe and made it possible for her stalker to find her, said Kobayakawa. “It’s terrible that this sort of thing can happen.”