• Kyodo


An arrest warrant has been issued for the president of a failed construction firm in Aichi Prefecture who allegedly set up a fatal traffic accident last week for a man he arranged to have identified as himself in a scam to collect life insurance money.

Police said Kiyoshi Hasegawa, 53, was falsely identified as the victim by his 51-year-old wife following the June 15 “accident,” but investigators discovered Thursday the body was that of Kazumi Ito, a 52-year-old unemployed man from Kanie, Aichi Prefecture.

Police searched Hasegawa’s residence in Kanie, which is also his small company’s office, on suspicion of murder. The firm deals with iron construction materials.

Police are continuing to search for Hasegawa, who was covered by a life insurance policy that would have paid out several tens of millions of yen in the event of his death, they said.

Hasegawa’s company, established in 1986, went bankrupt in early June, related sources said.

A wake and a funeral, purportedly for Hasegawa, were held Thursday and Friday last week and the body of Ito was cremated, they said.

According to investigators, the incident occurred at around 2 a.m. in the town of Yatomi, also in Aichi Prefecture, when a truck in which the victim was sitting in the passenger’s seat slammed into a parked vehicle, killing the man.

A 14-year-old boy who was also in the truck told police that Hasegawa was driving and had made Ito drink large amounts of alcohol before intentionally running into the parked vehicle to kill the man, police sources said.

The boy, a third-year junior high school student and a brother of one of Hasegawa’s five employees, reported the crash to police and initially identified the deceased as Hasegawa, saying a foreign man driving the truck had fled after the accident, they said.

After making inconsistent statements, the boy admitted the man killed in the accident was not Hasegawa but someone else, police said.

Investigators have also learned that Hasegawa called the boy on his mobile phone at 2:50 a.m. on June 15, about 50 minutes after the accident.

The phone conversation was short and its content has not been learned, they said.

Police sources said no autopsy was conducted on the body because Hasegawa’s wife identified it as that of her husband. Police were also initially searching for a foreign man on suspicion of abandoning someone he injured or killed in a traffic accident.

Investigators, however, discovered from photos taken of the accident victim that the dead man was actually Ito and further questioned the boy after suspecting that Hasegawa may have been driving the truck, the sources said.