Girl slain after alerting police about stalker

Cops only called accused to issue warning but got no response


A high school student and budding actress was stabbed to death Tuesday evening in front of her home in the Tokyo suburb of Mitaka and a man she told authorities earlier in the day had been stalking her was later arrested and confessed.

The police opened an investigation into whether they responded properly.

Saaya Suzuki, 18, had gone to the police with her parents Tuesday morning to say she was being stalked by the suspect, who was later identified as Charles Thomas Ikenaga, 21. The police subsequently tried three times to call Ikenaga on his cellphone to issue a warning, but he didn’t answer.

Suzuki had earlier told her teachers that Ikenaga had threatened to kill her. When they went to a police station Friday in Suginami Ward, they were told Mitaka police should handle the case.

Suzuki was confirmed dead at a hospital after sustaining several stab wounds to her neck and abdomen, the police said.

Ikenaga, who was arrested after fleeing the scene, reportedly confessed to the attack and was quoted as saying he obtained a knife beforehand and discarded it while fleeing the scene.

The police also believe Ikenaga dumped a bag and a bloodstained jacket that were found near an apartment building about 500 meters from the crime scene.

“I waited for her near her home with the intent to kill her,” Ikenaga was quoted by the police as saying.

Witnesses had reportedly told the Metropolitan Police Department that they saw Ikenaga wearing what appeared to be a purple turban. About 90 minutes after launching a manhunt, police apprehended him on a street in Mitaka about 600 meters away from the site. They said he was wearing bloodstained pants.

Suzuki had appeared in a movie and was pursuing a career in show business while continuing to attend school.

According to the police, Ikenaga told investigators that he met Suzuki after making contact through Facebook.

Suzuki is believed to have been attacked when she came home shortly before 5 p.m.

Her school principal told reporters that Suzuki had reported to her teachers last Friday and Monday that she was “scared” because Ikenaga was stalking her and hanging around her house.

Suzuki said Ikenaga had threatened to kill her, according to the principal.

A teacher at her school sought help about the stalking case from a nearby police station last week, and the case was referred to the Mitaka Police Station since that was where Suzuki lived.

The principal expressed sadness over Suzuki’s death, saying she was a “cheerful student who loved English.”

“If someone threatens to kill you, you cannot predict when you will be attacked,” stressed Kyoko Hasegawa, a lawyer from Hyogo Prefecture who helps female victims of violence. “A high school student is not capable of protecting herself.

“We won’t be able to prevent these incidents unless the police take prompt action anytime someone reports (being threatened),” Hasegawa said. “Police should question the alleged stalker or provide temporary protection for the victim and victim’s family.”

An official from an entertainment agency that had previously managed Suzuki said they discovered her when she was in the fifth grade. She began her entertainment career while in elementary school, took acting lessons after school and appeared in a film a few years ago.

  • The problem here of course is that the police in all countries are unaccountable bureaucrats demoralised by their own low wage and marginalisation. Yes, bureaucrats are underpaid and ineffectual…not because of low wages, but because of the ‘life-negating’ culture. If the police were not a vertically-integrated monopoly, and if they competed in the private sector, like private security services, these people would have a greater prospect of getting a settlement, and that settlement would be paid by the private contractor/owner who failed to implement an effective business plan; and not by a disempowered taxpayer. Instead vested interests will consign themselves pensively to the culture of victims, where they instead look to govt to ‘solve problems’, when they are the ‘political’ expression of a bigger problem in ethics (Why am I responsible?), epistemology (how can I know?) and metaphysics (what is truth?).

    • Professor Chill

      Crazy person wants to talk about Ayn Rand and politics while a person lies dead. Way to miss the point.

      • Robert_in_Japan

        Yep, he definitely needs a serious vacation as the only problem here is that there is no policy of walking potential victims home, which would have prevented this problem! The above point makes no sense at all! Competing cops on competing salaries paid by………wow!

      • Jeffrey

        The other issue that seems to be unanswered here is where were the parents? If the girl had seen and been in contact with this guy on more than one occasion, why didn’t they take his picture or call the police immediately when he was seen? Why didn’t her father take a 9-iron to the guy?

        Maybe this has all been answered elsewhere, but in this typically fact and information free Japanese newspaper reporting, none of the who, what, where, etc. questions get asked let alone answered.

      • Immigrant700

        Isn’t he just trying to explain “why” such things like this happen so as to prevent any further cases of the same nature? I don’t think he missed a point. After all what kind of discussion you’d like to have? Lament a dead person and cry how outrageous the crime even though that by itself won’t solve anything?

      • Appeal to emotion. Exactly what is your ‘logical’ argument? In fact in some respect, her parents and the girl herself need to shoulder some blame for sanctioning an ineffective govt (I assume they are voters), and for squandering a life. Of course, I don’t know the detail, and they might argue on balance of risks, it was not reasonable to move, or that they had a choice, but ultimately they live with the consequences. Of course its sad that people die. The solution is to ask why. While they grieve, we should not lamenting human nature, we should be solving the problem, otherwise it will happen again.

      • Ian

        You are a libertarian fundamentalist fanatic, hiding behind intellectualism. Your utopian privatized society is hubris. You expect the fire to extinguish your burning home, for example, but denigrate public services. Those public service (imperfect as they are) are the results of centuries of societal evolution. Insurance companies once dominated the fire extinguishing industry (i.e. fire departments). No fires would be extinguished by such companies unless a plague with the name of the insurance company was affixed on the building in question. As a result, fires were not extinguished by competing insurance companies; they would simply let the building burn or first negotiate a price with the owner.

        We have since evolved our fire departments to be public emergency services. If you got mugged on a street you would then be motivated to contact the police ( especially if you were assaulted, as well as feeling violated/cheated), wouldn’t you? If the police were private companies, they would only act on your behalf if you paid them, which would be difficult if all your wealth was stolen. The mugger would then be left to robbed/assault more people because it would not be the private police’s business. You need empathy training. Being assaulted/victimized would knock some sense into you, wouldn’t it? Your blaming of Saaya Suzuki because she participates in society (votes, as you wrote) is selfish and naive of you.

      • Ian, you should not be so confident to think you know anything because you are unable to articulate an argument, only smear. Fanatic about being right? Utopian because you can’t understand? I denigrate public service because I don’t sanction the provisions of benefits on the basis of extortion. Your argument is ‘straw’. The question is – why are they imperfect? And that goes for the private sector as well. Well, if you consider ‘ineffectual or rhetorical participation in extortion-based representative discourse ‘evolution’, I assume, you hatched from a shell. For someone who ‘laments private participation’ you are sure making an uninformed ‘public’ (eh?) opinion….or did you consult a committee? Actually I did not condemn her; I’m merely arguing that she is a victim of avoidable consequences; resulting from many actors.

      • Mike Wyckoff

        “In fact in some respect, her parents and the girl herself need to shoulder some blame for sanctioning an ineffective govt (I assume they are voters), and for squandering a life.”

        I tend to agree with most of your posts but under no circumstances should the victim (in this case 18 years old) shoulder the blame. Poor parents, poor girl.
        Society yes, is to blame, but not the victims. Go ahead and get semantic that as a part of society they are “partly” responsible, but the only one responsible for a murder is the murderer (and maybe HIS parents)

      • I’m not condemning her. I explicitly said I’m not. The reason being that I don’t know the full, even much, of the context in which she lived. But by the same token, their respective minds are to solve problems. If they don’t solve a problem, do I blame the police, who also function in a context, their descendants? I simply say they are all responsible for their lives, in the vain hope that people will think, and take responsibility. Rand unfortunately did engage in such moral condemnation. That’s why I say the parents & girl need to shoulder ‘some blame’. I don’t know how much.

    • Jeffrey

      I don’t know about the Japanese pay scale, but metropolitan police forces in the states are pretty well-paid with good benefits and the option for relatively early retirement.

      Otherwise, the rest of what you say is complete crap.

  • Vasu Seshadri

    Condolences to the family. This is a madman gone crazy with a troubled life. Do not blame the authorities for it is easy to blame others. She was a budding star who had so much to live for and this is a troubled world.

    • Chad Cash

      Except it’s entirely their fault. they could have done something, things like this will continue to happen until someone takes an incentive to do something.

    • Someone died, so there is blame to lie somewhere. The issue is not whether its easy or not, its where it fair-and-squarely lies.

      • I really don’t like the focus of my argument to be on blame. The issue is really that people want to do good, but ultimately are betrayed by their incapacity to know how. Evil? I just think that is righteous ‘misplaced’ responsibility.

  • EQ

    So, did I get this right? The girl called the Police for protection and what do they do? They ask her where she is and immediately dispatch an officer from the nearest Koban to come to her help? No….They attempt to call the stalker and leave a warning message on his cell phone!!! The Police in this country are absolutely CLUELESS and INEPT!!! Time to fire some people and put someone who really cares about protecting people.

    • Jeffrey

      Police the world over operate within their cultural norms. However, the Japanese police seem to be exceptionally lazy and, like too many Japanese, averse to getting involved in anything they deem messy. Big chunks of operational standards need to change (harassing foreigners vs. taking physical threats seriously). I doubt firing anyone would do any good without retraining and a wholesale change in policing philosophy.

    • Mike Wyckoff

      Its the LAWS that are the problem:

      I personally know 3 cops and they have taught me a lot.
      The real problem according to them lies with the law and the way that Japanese police are allowed to enforce it. A phone call to the police about criminal activity is not, by present laws, justification to confront or arrest people.

      Did you know; in order for the police to act, they need physical evidence that there is a crime in progress, or that a crime has taken place.

      ie: If you are speeding, and get pulled over, they NEED that piece of paper that comes out of the radar equipment in order to issue you a ticket, and if that paper blows away in the wind, they have to ask for your permission to give you a ticket and need your voluntary confession. If they fail to prove then and there that you have been speeding, they can’t do anything. Legally speaking, their hands are tied.

  • Christine Amber Ruff

    That’s just like Tokyo police! This is even by my house, oh but they are quick to card me for my residence card and felt really student when they found out I attended Waseda University. They are all about bugging people about bike registration or checking if bikes or stolen, or as I said hassling foreigners, but when it comes down to serious crime and things that need to be addressed, they do nothing and crime continues to get swept under the rug. DESPICABLE!

  • Sasori

    Another stellar example of complete and utter inaction. Even police in Japan are, upon receiving information of a death threat, incapable of comprehending the concept of actually acting on information. And the parents too. Who, in their right mind, would allow their teenage daughter to go out and about as usual under re-occurring death threats, let alone stalking. Where was the father in all this? The girl should’ve been under lockdown until the perp was dealt with.
    As a father, I will do whatever it takes to protect ALL of my family and if someone comes to me with such a problem; it’s now my problem and I’ll do something about it. Period.

  • Selchuk Driss

    If this is true, that would be sad, but it happens all the time. Still, no reason to kill anybody. Now he will spend the rest of his life in jail. Was that worth it?

  • LordElfa

    Just call it what it is, Japan’s Police forces are a joke. They are culturally biased, understaffed and easily bought off.