This week’s news roundup is dominated by crime. We report on Wednesday’s murder in Shinjuku as Toshino Hirasawa is stabbed to death, allegedly by a man who previously stalked her. Two more people have been arrested in connection with the charred bodies of a Tokyo couple discovered in Nasu last month. And Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, plans to plead guilty to bank and tax fraud. In non-crime related news, Naoya Inoue successfully defends his super bantamweight title. Japan intends to add fin whales to its list of commercial whaling species. And parts of a rat are discovered in Chojuku bread.  

Suspect in Shinjuku Murder Previously Stalked His Victim  

In the early hours of Wednesday, Toshino Hirasawa, 25, was stabbed to death in the courtyard of her high-rise condominium in Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward. Police officers soon arrived at the scene and arrested Manabu Wakui, 51, who had two knives in his possession. The suspect reportedly told the police he wanted the victim to return the ¥10 million he’d given her to open her own bar. Investigative sources said he’d been waiting for Hirasawa since the previous night. Someone nearby heard a woman screaming for around five minutes and a man shouting, “I’m not a stalker.”  

Wakui first met Hirasawa at a bar she worked at around four years ago. In November 2021, she called the police as he was waiting for her when she returned home. A verbal warning and a ban from the bar didn’t stop him showing up. In May 2022, he was warned by the police again. This, though, didn’t deter him, and he was eventually arrested on suspicion of violating the anti-stalking law. The restraining order expired after a year, without extension. Many feel the law, which took effect in 2000 and was revised in 2021, doesn’t go far enough to protect victims. 

japanese police racial profiling

Two More Arrested Over Burned Corpses in Nasu

Two more men were arrested earlier this week in connection with the murder of restaurant operator Ryutaro Takarajima, 55, and his wife Sachiko, 56, taking the number of suspects in the case to six. On Monday, the police detained Seiha Sekine, 32, the common-law partner of the daughter of the Takarajimas. He was arrested on suspicion of damaging the corpses, though investigators believe he’s the mastermind behind the crime. Sekine managed at least three of the couple’s restaurants. According to a man who had business connections with the Takarajimas, he expressed his frustration at being an “errand boy” for them. 

On Tuesday, Ryo Maeda, 36, was arrested on the same charge as Sekine. An executive at a real estate firm, he was managing the empty home where the Takarajimas were allegedly assaulted. Police suspect that Maeda, an acquaintance of the couple, brought them to the building. Their charred bodies were then discovered on a riverbank in Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture, on April 16. According to sources, the other four suspects didn’t know the murdered pair. Ryoken Hirayama, 25, the first man to be apprehended, told the police he received more than ¥10 million to dispose of their bodies. 

Ippei Mizuhara shohei ohtani scam

Ippei Mizuhara to Plead Guilty to Bank and Tax Fraud  

Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, has agreed to plead guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return. The former is punishable by up to 30 years in jail, while the latter charge carries a sentence of up to three years in prison. As part of the deal, prosecutors will recommend a reduced sentence. In addition to his jail term, Mizuhara will also be asked to pay $16,975,010 as restitution to his victim. He allegedly plundered the baseball star’s accounts for years and sometimes pretended to be Ohtani to bank managers.  

The situation with his former interpreter doesn’t seem to be affecting Ohtani’s performances for the Dodgers. On Saturday, he smashed his eighth home run of the season in his side’s 11-2 win over the Atlanta Braves. He added two more the following night in a 5-1 victory over the same opposition. His fourth homer in three games came on Monday as the Dodgers defeated the Miami Marlins 6-3. By the end of the day, Ohtani led several MLB tables, including for batting average, slugging percentage and most homers. The Braves’ Marcell Ozuna regained the lead in home runs on Wednesday.

Naoya Inoue | Image by the Cabinet Secretariat, Cabinet Public Relations Office via Wikimedia

Naoya Inoue Successfully Defends His Super Bantamweight Title  

The last time the Tokyo Dome hosted a boxing event was back in 1990 when 42-1 underdog James “Buster” Douglas shocked the world by defeating Mike Tyson. Another major upset looked like it could be on the cards on Monday as Mexico’s Luis Nery floored home favorite Naoya Inoue in the first round. However, the man known as the “Monster” recovered from the first ever knock down of his career to quickly take control of the bout. He floored Nery in the second and fifth rounds before landing the decisive blow in the sixth for a technical knock-out victory.  

Inoue, 31, now has a record of 27-0 with 24 wins by KO. The undisputed super bantamweight champion, widely considered the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, is expected to face Australia’s Sam Goodman next. In other sports news, two-time Olympic figure skating medalist Shoma Uno announced that he’ll be retiring from competition. Japan won their second Asian U-23 title after defeating Uzbekistan 1-0 in Qatar. In Europe, Hidemasa Morita picked up his first overseas title as Sporting clinched the Portuguese Primeira Liga. Koki Machida scored the only goal as Union Saint-Gilloise won the Belgian Cup. Other Japanese scorers this week included Takumi Minamino (Monaco), Ayase Ueda (Feyenoord), Yuki Soma (Casa Pisa) and two from Kyogo Furuhashi (Celtic). 

Image by Leonardo Gonzalez via Shutterstock

Japan Plans to Add Fin Whales to List of Commercial Whaling Species  

Speaking at a regular press conference on Thursday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters that Japan intends to add large fin whales to its list of commercial whaling species. The government, he said, will continue to promote whaling, while taking necessary diplomatic steps. “Whales are an important food resource and should be sustainably utilized, based on scientific evidence. It’s also important to inherit traditional food cultures in Japan,” he added. According to Hayashi, the Fisheries Agency has been collecting opinions about hunting fin whales since Tuesday. It will continue to do so until early next month. 

Japan withdrew from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in July 2019 to resume commercial whaling within its exclusive economic zone. This is currently limited to three relatively minor species: minke, Bryde’s and sei whales. The Fisheries Agency stated that 294 of these whales were caught last year. Since 1987, the country had been engaged in what it described as “scientific research whaling.” This research, though, was widely seen as a cover for commercial hunts, which were banned by the IWC in 1988. Whale consumption peaked in Japan in 1962, however, it was soon replaced by other meats.


bread recalled japan

Rat Parts Discovered in Chojuku Bread 

Pasco Shikishima Corporation announced on Tuesday that it is recalling around 104,000 units of its Chojuku sliced bread after parts of at least one rat had contaminated the product. On Sunday morning, the company received an email from a customer in Gunma Prefecture who wrote: “There’s a foreign object in my bread. It could be a small animal.” The bread was recalled and examined. A black lump was found in it that turned out to be part of a rat’s body. Shikishima received a phone call with a similar complaint two days later, also from Gunma. 

Both customers said they noticed the contamination before eating the bread. The Nagoya company subsequently decided to recall more than 100,000 of its five-slice and six-slice Chojuku Yamagata products in 15 prefectures, including the Kanto and Tohoku regions. The best-before dates on the items are between Tuesday May 7 and Saturday May 11. They were produced on the same line at the company’s Pasco Tama Factory in Akishima city, West Tokyo. “We deeply regret this incident,” said Shikishima. “We will implement thorough measures to prevent it from recurring.” To date, nobody has become ill from eating the product.   

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