Cops took trip rather than probe stalker

Days later, two women were stabbed to death


Police officers from a Chiba Prefecture station postponed investigating a suspected case of assault and stalking and instead took a three-day pleasure trip to Hokkaido, shortly before the suspect allegedly killed two people, officials said Thursday.

Makoto Yamashita, 58, whose daughter was living in Chiba Prefecture, went to Narashino Police Station on Dec. 6 to file a complaint about a man he claimed had stalked and assaulted his daughter. He was asked to wait a week before submitting his request for an investigation.

Yamashita’s wife, Mitsuko, 56, and mother, Hisae, 77, were stabbed to death at their home in Saikai, Nagasaki Prefecture, on Dec. 16.

The suspect is Gota Tsutsui, 27, of Mie Prefecture, the man whom Yamashita wanted to target with the complaint. Tsutsui had sent emails to many friends of Yamashita’s daughter that he would retrieve her after murdering her family. The woman had left Chiba and moved in with her parents in Nagasaki Prefecture.

He has been arrested by Nagasaki police on suspicion of committing the murders.

The Chiba police had earlier said the officers postponed an investigation because they were busy looking into other cases.

The officers traveled to Hokkaido two days after seeing Yamashita, according to the latest findings by the Chiba police.

National Police Agency chief Yutaka Katagiri said Thursday the officers’ action demonstrated a lack of commitment and that he has ordered an investigation into their handling of the case.

14,000 stalking cases


Stalking accusations fell to 14,618 formal cases last year after peaking at 16,176 in 2010 but remained above 14,000 for the fourth year in a row, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

Of the total, police pressed charges in 205 cases under the 2000 antistalking law, while 786 cases resulted in suspects being accused of other violations, such as attempted murder, assault and trespassing, the agency said.

The NPA is urging police departments nationwide to take stronger measures against stalking after being faulted in the December slayings of the mother and grandmother of a stalking victim in Nagasaki Prefecture.

A breakdown shows that the alleged offenders and victims had been in relationships in 7,741, or 53.0 percent of the cases, and were friends or acquaintances in 1,588, or 10.9 percent.

People not directly related to the stalkers, such as family members of the targets, were victimized in 315 of the cases, or 2.2 percent.

The NPA said 85.5 percent of the offenders were men and 89.7 percent of the victims were women.

Meanwhile, domestic violence surged last year to 34,329 confirmed cases, the most since the spousal violence prevention law took force in 2001. Of the total, 2,496 cases ended up going to prosecutors.