At 3 a.m. on July 28, 2012, Toshihiko and Takako Takahara were jolted awake by the sound of their home phone ringing. It was the call every parent fears — a person on the other end of the line was calling to inform them that their 21-year-old son, Akira, was dead.

An autopsy showed Akira died of alcohol poisoning after a heavy drinking session with members of his University of Tokyo tennis club. He had been a bright, outgoing and athletic young man who had been accepted into the college of his dreams. By the time his parents got to the hospital, he had been dead for almost four hours.

"Our son was already cold when we arrived at the hospital," Toshihiko Takahara says. "His body was stiff because rigor mortis had already set in."