Statutes of limitations have passed for 19 criminal cases in a town in northeast Japan where evidence was partly or completely lost due to massive tsunami triggered by the 2011 earthquake, police sources said Friday.
Five years after the March 11, 2011 disasters destroyed large parts of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures in the northeast, the National Police Agency and local police are reviewing the manner in which evidence is stored and planning the relocation of police stations from coastal areas.
Many items and documents of evidence at the Minamisanriku Police Station in Miyagi were washed away by the tsunami including 940 pieces of evidence for the 19 cases for which the statutes of limitations had lapsed by October, according to the police and sources.
One of the sources said the tsunami “significantly affected investigations.”
The Miyagi Prefectural Police and sources said the 940 items included mobile phones and fingerprints that were to be used as evidence for theft, fraud and indecent assault cases that occurred between 2004 and 2008.
A similar problem surfaced for the Iwate Prefectural Police, where 17 pieces of evidence were washed away.
In the wake of the damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami, the National Police Agency ordered police forces across Japan on Nov. 30, 2011, to review their crisis management systems and called for police facilities to continue functioning even after an earthquake or tsunami.