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Woman’s body found in suitcase after spending month in Tokyo Station

AP, Kyodo, AFP-JIJI

A worker at Tokyo Station got an unpleasant shock after opening an abandoned suitcase that no one had claimed for a month — the decomposing body of an elderly woman inside.

The yellow suitcase had been left in an open coin locker near the station’s Marunouchi South Exit in late April, when it was picked up by an employee of the company that manages the lockers.

The body appeared to be that of a female aged between 70 and 90, police said.

Quoting the employee, police said the suitcase sat in a temporary storage area for unclaimed luggage in the station for over a month after being moved there from the locker in which it was initially found on the morning of April 26. The locker was not locked at the time.

On Sunday, after the deadline for claiming it had passed, the employee opened the unlocked suitcase and found the clothed corpse of a woman about 140 cm tall folded into the 70-cm-by-50-cm suitcase. The body, which was wrapped in a blanket, bore no significant external wounds, the police said.

“There was an abnormal odor when we opened the suitcase,” a spokesman for the locker company told reporters. “Then we saw hair.”

Nothing unusual, such as an odor, was observed about the suitcase, said Junichi Omoto, a spokesman for East Japan Railway Co.

“We were surprised and horrified,” he added.

The police said they had no leads on the woman’s identity but were investigating the cause of death and examining security camera footage for clues about who had left the suitcase.

The locker company employee said the suitcase was not in the locker on the morning of April 25 — the day before it was found — narrowing the timeline for its placement.

Tokyo Station is one of the busiest in Japan, handling around 150 million passengers a year, JR East said.

It is the terminus for a number of bullet train lines, and is a connection point for many suburban and subway routes.

“It surprises me that (a body was found) here,” said a woman from Kawasaki who had used that group of lockers.

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    No-one noticed the smell? A dead body reeks to high heaven, but no doubt people just ignored it.

    • ishyg

      Since it’s brought to the office, I guess the employees didn’t notice the smell? If it was left there in the lockers then people will notice and complain for sure.

      • Paul Johnny Lynn

        Trust me, if there’s something dead lying around you’ll notice the smell.

      • ishyg

        I haven’t experienced smelling dead people, but I do know how other mammals smell when dead, and it really reeks. I don’t really know how people didn’t notice it since the position of the locker is in a place frequented by people. Aeron might have a point there with the plastic suitcase, but a month’s worth of decomposition? It would definitely leak out. It’s a big mystery how they didn’t notice it. Must call Mythbusters to test it out.

      • Paul Johnny Lynn

        I’ve only smelt one dead human and he didn’t smell much different to any other reasonably sized dead animal. I’m going to bet people DID smell it, but just ignored it. Somewhat like when someone “cuts the cheese” on a packed morning train.

      • ishyg

        I’d put money on that bet too, had it not been a dead body stored in an office for over a month, unless said office is actually just a storage area. But yeah, a strong case of bureaucracy and social norms in Japan sways me to your opinion.

    • Aeron

      If it was one of those giant, hardened plastic suitcases that Japan is fond of, it might have been difficult for odor to escape. I feel bad for the person who finally opened it.

      • Paul Johnny Lynn

        Depending on the state of decomposition, I think it would still escape eventually.

  • awilco

    Sad. I wonder – is this evidence of an elder crime/murder or evidence of a family who cannot afford last rites?