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Hostess murdered in Osaka stalker case

Kyodo

Police in Osaka are investigating and are likely to arrest a 57-year-old man on suspicion of stalking and murdering a bar hostess early Friday morning.

According to the police, the man has more or less admitted to his involvement in the killing.

Yumi Imura, 38, was found on a street in Osaka’s Hirano Ward at around 2 a.m. Friday with a knife sticking out of her belly. Several knife wounds were found on her body and neck.

The part-time bar hostess had told the local Matsubara police station a few months earlier that she was being stalked by a male patron of the bar she worked at. In response, the police warned the man on several occasions, they said.

Regarding their failure to protect the women despite her earlier requests for help, the police said they saw no problems in their handling of the case.

Public concerns over stalking-murder cases flared following the high-profile slaying of an 18-year-old schoolgirl in the city of Mitaka, Tokyo, last October. The tragedy prompted the National Police Agency to instruct police stations nationwide to take harder measures against alleged stalkers.

Last year alone, about 20,000 stalker-related complaints were reported nationwide.

According to the Osaka Prefectural Police, Imura acquainted herself with the man in August, when he visited her bar as a customer for the first time.

However, due apparently to some trouble that arose between the two, Imura’s employer told him by the end of February that he was not welcome anymore and denied him entry.

Imura filed her complaint with the Matsubara police at the beginning of March, saying she had been perplexed by a deluge of phone calls and email messages from the man. She received 33 messages within just two days, some containing threats to kill her.

In response, the Matsubara police first ordered him by phone to stop the behavior. But after learning he didn’t heed their warning, they had him visit the police station and handed him a formal warning in writing.

“I, too, don’t want to be involved with that woman any more,” police quoted him as saying at that point.

On April 2, Imura contacted the police and reported his harassment had stopped, prompting them to downgrade the severity of her case. The Matsubara police were just about to follow up on Imura on Friday — a month after their last conversation with her — when the slaying took place.

One witness, a male resident in the neighborhood, said he heard a woman scream outside shortly past 2 a.m. Thursday. Another resident said she saw a woman bleeding heavily from her belly, lying in a roadside shrubbery.