Man arrested at cash handover spot in Ezaki Glico extortion attempt reminiscent of ’80s case

Kyodo

The Osaka Prefectural Police arrested a man Sunday in connection with a recent series of threats made to major confectionery maker Ezaki Glico in a case reminiscent of the unresolved threats against — and kidnapping of — the firm’s then president, Katushisa Ezaki, in the 1980s.

Police arrested the man on charges of attempted extortion after he appeared near Tokyo Disney Resort in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, to receive ¥50 million that he had allegedly demanded from the firm.

The Metropolitan Police Department, along with Osaka police, turned up disguised as Glico representatives and arrested the man on the spot, police said.

The man has remained silent and thus his name and address have not been established, but he looks like he is in his 40s, the police said, noting that the case appears to have little connection to the ’80s threats against Glico and another major confectioner, Morinaga & Co.

The perpetrator of the latest case sent six threatening letters between Oct. 29 and Sunday to the Glico office in Minato Ward, Tokyo, the police said.

They added that he identified himself as “The Mystery Man No. 28.” The letters were all addressed to Ezaki. The perpetrator of the 1980s attacks against Glico had identified oneself as “The Mystery Man with 21 Faces.”

According to police, the letters in the latest case were typewritten and read: “It has taken some 30 years since the last incident. I have run out of money so I’d like to request some more.”

When the suspect was arrested near Tokyo Disney Resort on Sunday afternoon, he was wearing a black coat and had a communications radio. The letters had demanded that Glico employees bring money there with a radio to communicate.

Police spotted the man talking on a radio and captured him, according to investigators.

The perpetrator also demanded that Glico bring cash to Tokyo Station on Nov. 23, the police said. Investigators showed up at the station as stipulated, but nobody showed up, they added.

Police are now trying to identify their suspect by examining the mobile phone they seized.
Ezaki Glico released a statement Sunday night saying the company is relieved by the man’s arrest.

“We have cooperated with the police wholeheartedly,” the firm said in the statement. “We are relieved that a suspect has been arrested. We would like to keep providing safe products to our customers.”

The statue of limitations has expired on the 1980s extortion case, which also involved distribution of threatening letters to the company as well as to media organizations.

In the case, the perpetrator poisoned the firm’s products with potassium cyanide and placed them at various retailers, making it one of the highest-profile crimes in the nation’s postwar history.