In June 2009, this column mentioned a TBS news report about the DNA testing method that resulted in the 1992 conviction of Toshikazu Sugaya for the 1990 murder of 4-year-old Mami Matsuda in Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture. Sugaya was sentenced to an indefinite prison term but was released last year after his lawyers finally convinced a court to accept new evidence that showed the DNA testing at the time was faulty, and that new tests prove that Sugaya couldn't be the murderer. In that column I commended the thoroughness of the TBS Special but with a reservation: Since the lawyers had known about the faulty DNA for years, why didn't TBS broadcast a report sooner?

One TV journalist has been conveying his own reservations about the Sugaya conviction since 1996, when he started investigating the disappearance of another 4-year-old girl in the city of Ota, Gunma Prefecture. Nihon TV reporter Kiyoshi Shimizu noticed similarities not only to the Matsuda murder but also to three other unsolved disappearances that happened in either Ota or Ashikaga, which are neighbor cities.

Shimizu has been following the Ashikaga case assiduously ever since, and NTV airs his occasional reports as part of network news and wide shows. The latest was broadcast a week ago on the late night program "NNN Document." In it, Shimizu wondered why, with all the available leads, the police aren't now looking for the real murderer of Mami Matsuda.