SAITAMA – The Saitama Prefectural Police chief told an internal gathering last month that a 2000 report in which the force admitted it improperly handled the case of a college coed who had been stalked and murdered was “inaccurate” in that the National Police Agency ordered him to accept blame, it was learned Tuesday.
Chief Tadayoshi Shigeta, 51, said in a police meeting on Feb. 13 — just before a district court awarded damages to the parents of Shiori Ino because of police negligence — that he had been ordered by the NPA to admit the force’s fault, according to minutes of the meeting.
Shigeta went on to say Ino’s parents “may appeal the ruling if they are unable to obtain a sufficient amount of compensation,” the minutes show.
Sadakazu Tanigaki, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, told reporters that Shigeta’s remarks were “inappropriate.” The chief himself issued a statement apologizing for his earlier statement.
On Feb. 26, the Saitama District Court ordered the Saitama Prefectural Government to pay 5.5 million yen in damages to the parents of Ino, who was murdered in 1999 after police ignored her complaints that she was being stalked and harassed by her ex-boyfriend and his brother and their associates.
The court declared Saitama police acted illegally by neglecting to respond properly to Ino’s complaint and then later trying to cover this up by tampering with official documents, although the court rejected the parents’ argument that their daughter was murdered as a result of police negligence. The parents sought 110 million yen in damages.
After the police negligence came to light following Ino’s slaying, the Saitama force released an investigation report in 2000 that said police acted inappropriately and failed to recognize the seriousness of Ino’s complaint.
However, in the Feb. 13 meeting between police officials and outside experts on police matters, Shigeta said, “I don’t want to say this out loud, but I had received a directive from the NPA at that time.”
Shigeta said the NPA was critical of an original Saitama police report that would not hold up in the face of severe public anger toward police.
“I was told that the police officers must be at fault and to write it that way,” Shigeta was quoted as saying. “I had to write (in the report) something that wasn’t accurate.”
During the same meeting, Shigeta went on to say, “I am afraid that the plaintiffs may appeal the ruling if they are unable to win much in terms of financial compensation,” the minutes show.
The victim’s mother, Kyoko, said she was appalled by such an “outrageous” statement. “That the top official would make such a statement in a formal meeting only shows that Saitama police have not changed a bit,” she said.
“When they compiled the 2000 report, Saitama police officials asked us to cooperate, and we cooperated so that no more people would suffer the way our daughter did,” Ino said, adding that she “felt betrayed” by Shigeta’s February remark.
“We filed the lawsuit so that we could learn the truth (about the police negligence), and it is unacceptable for (Shigeta) to suggest that we were doing it just for compensation money,” she added.
On Tuesday, Shigeta admitted that his statement was inappropriate and lacked consideration for Ino’s family. He confirmed that the 2000 report was “compiled on the basis of relevant and thorough investigations.”
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