Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Police, media get their suspect

November 12, 2009

Japan’s police can finally tear down the wanted posters for Tetsuya Ichihashi, after two-and-a-half years spent chasing down the 30-year-old suspected in the death of Briton Lindsay Hawker, whose body was found buried in a bath filled with sand.


Ichihashi is in custody, but Japan’s media are far from finished with the case, which has dominated news reports and daytime chat shows since police discovered recently he had changed his appearance with plastic surgery.

Video footage showed shouting police struggling through crowds of photographers to put Ichihashi on a train to Tokyo from Osaka, where he had been spotted waiting for a ferry to the southern island of Okinawa.

Media had already been hunting down details of Ichihashi’s life on the run, during which he concealed himself so effectively that many had speculated he must be dead. A TV Asahi news programme showed the tiny dormitory room where he had lived for 14 months while working as a building labourer, interviewing a colleague who noted that he focused on saving money and spent all his free time holed up in his room, we may well find out soon.

TV reporters chased down Ichihashi’s parents, who denied that they had provided any form of support for their son since Hawker, an English teacher, was found dead in the bathtub on his balcony.

It remains unclear how Ichihashi funded the remainder of his time on the run, including the extensive plastic surgery that rendered him unrecognisable for a while. But with the Japanese media’s reputation for tracking down clues, sometimes before the police, we will likely find out soon.

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