A man was found hanged in an apparent suicide in a police-box restroom in Mie Prefecture on March 20, police said.
The 43-year-old man had been dead for three or four days when he was discovered in the Iga police box, to which four police officers are assigned.
Online commenters were left wondering why the body remained undiscovered for such a long time and how the officers could go so long without needing to use the restroom.
Nobody saw man enter restroom
The police box, located in front of Aoyamacho Station, is run by the Nabari police in Iga. A rope was tied to a waist-high steel pipe, and the man was found collapsed on the floor with the rope around his neck, according to the police. Due to a lack of other external injuries, they are considering it a suicide.
The man had been missing since March 16, and his family filed a report with police on March 17. He had mailed them a letter that hinted at his intention to commit suicide, the police said.
There are several mysteries related to the incident. For example, how he entered the restroom, and why his body went undiscovered for so long.
The restroom, located to the right immediately inside the police box’s entryway, can be seen from the on-duty officer’s desk.
Additionally, the restroom door was locked from the outside when the body was found. Nevertheless, no officers saw the man enter the restroom.
To online forum users, the scenario impossibly strange and questions they raised included, “Wasn’t he murdered? I don’t understand why he went to trouble of committing suicide in a police box,” and “How is it possible for officers to work all day in a police box and never have to go to the restroom? How is possible they use the bathroom so rarely?”
As the man’s route into the restroom is unknown, some online commenters went so far as to say it could have been a supernatural phenomenon.
Man picked lock, relocked from inside?
According to the local police, this restroom has seen its share of trouble in the past.
The Aoyamacho Police Box has a total of four restrooms — two on both the first and second floors. The officers would not normally use the public restroom where the body was found.
The restroom, which had been made barrier-free and accessible for the handicapped, was designated for public use. However, since it been abused by people who needed a place to spend the night or drunks who needed somewhere to vomit, a lock was installed on the door’s exterior, and the police began requiring people to get permission to use the facilities.
Recently, the restroom was used infrequently and cleaning was rarely necessary. Officers occasionally checked to see if the door was locked.
However, the door’s lock is a very simple one, similar to ones used in ordinary households, and can easily be picked using a coin.
Police speculate the man may have unlocked the outside lock when officers were on patrol and relocked it from the inside. By locking it from the inside, the man also engaged the outside lock, which explained why such a long time elapsed before the body was found. As temperatures were low, there was no smell of decay to alert the officers, according to the police.
The officer who found the body was reportedly very surprised and said he would be careful not to let similar incidents take place in the future.
This is an abridged translation of a story that was first published on March 24 on J-CAST News, a Tokyo-based news site established in 2004.