Hiroshima murder suspect had poor life, broken home in Peru

Jose Manuel Torres Yake, a 33-year-old Peruvian of Japanese descent arrested in the murder of a 7-year-old girl in Hiroshima in November, first came to Japan under an assumed name in April 2004.

When he was arrested Nov. 30, his name was released to the media as Juan Carlos Pizarro Yagi — the name stated in his passport — and his age was given as 30, but Peruvian authorities later confirmed his true identity based on fingerprints supplied by Japanese police.

All Peruvians have to register their fingerprints when they turn 18.

Torres Yake hails from Guadalupe, a town of 35,000 near the Pacific Ocean about 600 km north of Lima that has several families of Japanese ancestry.

There is no industry to speak of in the town, and after leaving school, young people tend to go to neighboring cities, including Trujillo and Chiclayo, in search of work or for further education.

According to his birth registration, Torres Yake was born in 1972 and is the youngest of four children, the others being a brother and two sisters.

His family was poor. His father tried to make a living by selling drinks from a stall. His maternal grandfather is thought to have immigrated from Nakagusuku, Okinawa.

His older brother was reportedly a good student, but Torres Yake did not perform well at elementary school, failing exams and falling two years behind his classmates, a former teacher said.

Around that time, too, he was separated from his father, as his parents divorced and the children stayed with their mother. But later, after dropping out of junior high school, he sometimes helped his father or found jobs on construction sites.

When Torres Yake was in his early 20s, he left his hometown, reportedly defying an order to appear before a court, and ended up in Lima, where he met his wife. He now has an 8-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter.

His wife said he had wanted to go to Japan, where all his siblings were already living, to earn money so they could buy a house, but that as long as the court order against him was effective, he faced detention if he tried to leave Peru.

He therefore illegally changed his resident registration in October 2002 to Juan Carlos Pizarro Yagi, allegedly paying $4,000 to do so.

Eighteen months later, in April 2004, he entered Japan under that name and went to the city of Suzuka, Mie Prefecture, to live with one of his sisters and her husband, and began to engage in packaging work with his brother-in-law.

About a month later, he moved to Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, where his older brother was living, but returned to Suzuka after two months, this time to live with his oldest sister’s family.

In summer 2004, he found work at an automobile-related plant as a transporter but was fired about six months later. One of his supervisors said: “His attitude at work was very bad. He even threw his work gloves at us.”

Last January, he moved to an apartment in Hiroshima that his sister found for him, but failed to get a steady job. According to a 31-year-old Peruvian acquaintance of his, he fell behind on his rent.

Then in July, he found work at an auto-related plant in Kaita, east of Hiroshima.

But again his attitude was poor, and he was absent one or two days a week. A former coworker, who wished to remain anonymous, said Torres Yake was not popular with his Peruvian colleagues, and he allegedly only spoke to female employees.

Some company workers, apparently unnerved by his behavior, reported about him to the Kaita Police Station, but an officer dismissed their complaint, saying “He is not causing any incidents.”

Due to his repeated absence from work, Torres Yake was again fired and he moved to an apartment in Hiroshima’s Aki Ward, where a cousin of his was living.

At noon on Nov. 22, Airi Kinoshita, 7, passed by the stone wall in front of his apartment where he often sat.

“I felt my daughter might look like this if she carried a satchel on her back,” police quoted him as saying.

Investigators say he effectively confessed to killing Kinoshita, quoting him as saying he had a sort of mental blackout at the time and does not remember what happened.