Ichihashi book details life on run

Suspect in Hawker slaying recounts 31-month flight from justice, calls work 'act of contrition'

by Alex Martin

Accused killer Tatsuya Ichihashi has written a book that will be released Wednesday detailing his 31 months on the run after fleeing police who went to his Chiba apartment in 2007 to inquire about missing Briton Lindsay Ann Hawker.

The book, “Taiho Sarerumade — Kuuhaku no Ninen Nanakagetsu no Kiroku” (“Before I Was Arrested — Records of the Blank Two Years and Seven Months”), published by Gentosha Inc., traces Ichihashi’s life as a fugitive, including hiding on a remote island in Okinawa, and how he tried to disfigure himself to evade capture.

A press release from Gentosha said Ichihashi notes in the introduction that he wrote the book “as part of an act of contrition for the crime,” and said he plans to hand over any royalties to Hawker’s family.

The body of the 22-year-old English teacher was found stuffed in a sand-filled bathtub on the balcony of Ichihashi’s Chiba apartment after he fled the scene barefoot.

According to media reports, a representative of the Hawker family said they are “disgusted” and “hurt” that Ichihashi wrote and published the book prior to his trial, which is expected to take place later this year, and said they want “nothing more than justice” for their murdered daughter.

In a written comment distributed to the media, Ichihashi’s lawyers said the publication isn’t intended to be “directly related” to the criminal trial. They said they will not comment further. Ichihashi is expected to face a lay judge trial.

Yasushi Sugano, who heads the defense team, couldn’t be reached for a comment.

The editor in charge of the book said she contacted Ichihashi’s lawyer last June to offer to publish the fugitive’s story, whereupon she received a positive response. At present there are no plans for an English translation, she told The Japan Times.

Although Ichihashi writes in detail about his flight from justice, he offers no motive for the slaying, she said.

Gentosha’s press release indicates the 240-page book, including nine chapters and an epilogue, “details where and how the suspect lived, and what he was thinking,” including the time he spent as a construction worker in Osaka, Hyogo and Okinawa, as well as how he survived by hunting and gathering food on Ohajima, a tiny island off Kumejima in Okinawa.

The illustration on the cover as well as those inside the book were drawn by Ichihashi, the publisher said.

The book reveals how Ichihashi sewed his nose using needles and thread and sliced off part of his lower lip with scissors in an effort to change his appearance, prior to undergoing cosmetic surgery in clinics in Osaka and Nagoya.

Ichihashi was apparently obsessed with the idea that Hawker “may come back to life,” prompting him to make a religious pilgrimage to Shikoku, the press release said.

Hawker was found dead in March 2007 on the balcony of Ichihashi’s apartment in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, by police who came to question him after she was reported missing by her roommates and the Nova language school where she worked. Her roommates said Ichihashi had been stalking her and had even come to her apartment.

Ichihashi has admitted he covered Hawker’s mouth with adhesive tape and tied her hands and feet when he assaulted her after inviting her to his apartment.

Hawker’s parents visited Japan several times to pressure the police and to raise public awareness of the case in hopes it would aid in finding her killer, who had a ¥10 million reward on his head.

Ichihashi was caught in November 2009 at an Osaka ferry terminal waiting to board a boat for Okinawa.