VICTIM GAVE NAMES IN JULY

Aichi police regret failure to act on extortion report

Kyodo

Aichi Prefectural Police on Thursday apologized for failing to take prompt action after hearing in July from a 15-year-old boy who was allegedly extorted out of over 54 million yen by his classmates.

“We feel truly sorry” for failing to grasp the seriousness of the boy’s plight at that time and for allowing the situation to deteriorate, said Takeshi Nakashima, chief of Aichi Police Headquarters’ Community Safety division.

Nakashima, however, denied the mother’s claim that the Midori Police Station had learned the names of the boy’s tormentors in July and had failed to investigate.

Nakashima said police knew that the tormentors, two of whom were arrested earlier this month for the suspected extortion, had been “problematic” even before the boy’s complaint. He said the boys could not be confirmed as the perpetrators of the alleged extortion “because the (victim) boy refused to name them.”

The latest account from Aichi police contradicts the version of events presented earlier in the day by the boy’s lawyer and his 41-year-old mother.

According to the lawyer, Shoichi Onishi, the boy was interviewed alone by Midori police officers when he went there with his mother on July 1.

The boy told the investigators the names of three of his tormentors after telling police that he “loaned” the money to them, Onishi said.

One of the three was arrested on April 5 and another on Wednesday. A total of four former classmates of the boy have been arrested on suspicion of extortion, according to police.

The mother was later told by investigators that although police were informed of the names, they could not take action unless there were witnesses or someone was hurt, Onishi said.

On the same day, before reporting the extortion to police, the mother consulted with officials at the school about the problem.

But she was advised to take the case to police because they thought it was serious, the lawyer said. The next day, police told teachers at the school that they would not act on the case.

“Things would not have become this bad if police and the school had acted properly. I feel betrayed,” the lawyer quoted the mother as saying.

The alleged extortion began in June after the boys went on a school trip. The amounts the youths demanded escalated after July, sources close to the case said.

They said the classmates extorted large amounts of cash from the boy on 80 occasions, the sources said.

The cash was repeatedly supplied by the mother, some from the family’s savings and 30 million yen in insurance paid after the boy’s father died.

Police launched an investigation in March after the mother reported the total amount extorted. They apologized to the teachers for failing to act on the case in July when they were first informed, they said.

The suspect who was arrested Wednesday admitted his involvement in the extortion, saying the victim was an easy target, police said.

The victim and the perpetrators graduated from the school last month.