Tatsuya Ichihashi in Custody!

According to breaking news airing on various TV channels right now, Lindsay Ann Hawker murder suspect1 Tatsuya Ichihashi has apparently been arrested after being found (or turning himself in) in Osaka's Suminoe-ku. This follows his mother's plea to do so on TV this morning (see previous entry).

Updates provided as they come in.

As a flood of Japanese articles come in, The Mainichi Daily News is the first English-language outlet with a full story here. Apparently Ichihashi was taken into custody while trying to board a ferry for Okinawa earlier today. Passage to Okinawa would've made Ichihashi's alleged plans to escape Japan much easier.

The man in custody still needs to be positively identified, but it seems as if the hunt for Tatsuya Ichihashi has finally come to an end...


The man has positively been identified as Ichihashi. You can follow the multitude of articles coming in on Google News here.

Most importantly, the family of Lindsay Hawker can finally begin to move on with their lives as justice takes its course.

Reward Update

The Mainichi Daily news is reporting that the 10-million yen (US$111,800) reward will be split between three people whose information led to the capture of Ichihashi: "the person who phoned police shortly before Ichihashi's arrest, saying that there was someone resembling the suspect at a ferry terminal in Osaka; the person at a construction company in Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture, where Ichihashi had been hiding, who filed a report; and the clinic in Nagoya which reported that it had performed cosmetic surgery on a person resembling Ichihashi." They deserve it.

Ichihashi is now in the custody of Gyotoku Police under interrogation. What's sure to be a lengthy legal process has begun...

1 Although Ichihashi is the prime suspect in Lindsay Hawker's murder, the official crime he is listed as being suspected of is "illegal disposal of a dead body," which is often the first charge in a murder case.

More Details About Ichihashi's Time in Osaka / More Words From Ichihashi's Mother

Following up on the major developments yesterday regarding Lindsay Ann Hawker murder suspect1 Tatsuya Ichihashi's 13-month employment stint in Osaka, new details have come to light about his time there.

Two English-language articles, in the The Mainichi Daily News and The Japan Times, provide basically all of the latest facts being reported in the Japanese language media.

On one of the televised reports, Ichihashi was said to have told his manager about a favourite haunt in Osaka's pleasure district -- one of the areas police are focusing searches on.

Regarding Ichihashi's plastic surgery sessions, the amount he spent at the Nagoya clinic for a second rhinoplasty procedure on October 24th totaled 470,000 yen (approximately US$5,200).

With all the concentration on the timeline since Ichihashi joined the Ibaraki City construction company in September of 2008, not much is yet known about Ichihashi's time on the run since the original date Lindsay's body was discovered on March 26, 2007.

One TV reports suggests that Ichihashi worked as a male prostitute in Tokyo's Shinjuku 2-chôme district, a theory which was first posited as early as June of 2007 (see July 31, 2007 entry). This article on Japan Probe summarizes the content of the TV segment.

More startlingly, Tatsuya Ichihashi's mother telephoned in a plea for her son to turn himself in on a popular current events show. The call was arranged by and aired on Fuji TV wide-show Jôhô Presenter - Toku da ne! (channel 8, weekdays mornings 8:00~9:55). Most of the content has been translated in this AFP syndicated article.

In an additional comment, his mother could not reconcile having fond memories of Tatsuya's diligent work habits while taking into consideration the feelings of Lindsay's parents, calling it "unforgivable."

If this audio turns up on Youtube or elsewhere online please leave a comment.

1 Although Ichihashi is the prime suspect in Lindsay Hawker's murder, the official crime he is listed as being suspected of is "illegal disposal of a dead body," which is often the first charge in a murder case.


Ichihashi Worked in Osaka For Over a Year / Mother Denies Aiding Fugitive Son

The news is once again filled with new developments in the search for Lindsay Ann Hawker murder suspect1 Tatsuya Ichihashi.

There is now irrefutable evidence that Ichihashi was working at a construction company in Ibaraki City, northern Osaka for just over a year according to a police investigation.

Ichihashi's fingerprints were lifted from his work dormitory sleeping quarters (the same type of room pictured at left) after his manager contacted police upon seeing the post-operative photo of Ichihashi released last Thursday. The final day Ichihashi reported for work was October 11 of this year.

Ichihashi was originally hired by the company in Nishinari-ku (Nishinari ward) in September of 2008 and then dispatched to Ibaraki to work. Ichihashi applied for the job under the false name Kôsuke Inoue, also apparently the name he used when registering at the clinics where he underwent various cosmetic procedures. At the company dormitory Ichihashi would wear a red hat pulled far down on his head in addition to eyeglasses, according to a former co-worker.

It's ironic and certainly disheartening that the second entry on this blog, dating back to April 10, 2007, related the theory that Ichihashi may have been hiding out in the flophouse district of Nishinari-ku. It's possible that Ichihashi remained in the district from March of 2007 until September of 2008, working as a day labourer until he got regular work. As mentioned in the footnotes of the 2007 entry:

Kamagasaki, one of Japan's largest districts of cheap lodging for day labourers and the homeless, is located in Osaka's Nishinari Ward... The area is also well-known as a place where people drop out of society for different reasons.

Among the media outlets covering the news, this evening's Super J-Channel (TV Asahi, channel 5 4:53~7:00pm) recounted the basic facts of the Lindsay Hawker case, followed by the latest developments and analysis of Ichihashi's movements over the past two months.

Upon leaving the construction company after having earned approximately one million yen in wages, Ichihashi traveled to Fukuoka City where he was spotted at an internet cafe and was turned away at a cosmetic surgery clinic there for not providing proper identification. Ichihashi then made his way to Nagoya on October 24 and successfully underwent a second rhinoplasty procedure (see November 5 entry).

On November 4th a man matching Ichihashi's description was sighted at a convenience store and internet cafe back in Fukuoka City, where police are now tracking down his whereabouts.

Notably, the TV report also related an emphatic statement from the mother of Ichihashi issued two days ago:

"I first heard about [Tatsuya's] surgery on the news... I am absolutely not sheltering him in any way. If I was contacted by my son I would bring him to the police. I've had no contact whatsoever with him since the first reports of the case."

As someone following this case from the beginning, I must admit, like many people I was suspicious of Ichihashi receiving some kind of financial assistance from his affluent parents. With his mother's latest comments (she only spoke for herself, not using "we") and the records of his income it appears that was not the case. Ichihashi seems to have "hidden in plain sight" and worked to pay for transportation, living expenses and successive alterations to his face. Alterations made to remove any trace of the characteristics highlighted on the original wanted poster.

As mentioned in the previous blog entry, the best way to stay on top of articles in English is through Google news. Here is a link with all articles mentioning Ichihashi in descending order of newness.

1 Although Ichihashi is the prime suspect in Lindsay Hawker's murder, the official crime he is listed as being suspected of is "illegal disposal of a dead body," which is often the first charge in a murder case.

Article Sources: Mainichi Shimbun, NTV 24 News, etc., November 9, 2009. Unfortunately there is no guarantee as to how long original Japanese language articles remain archived online for free.


Has Suspect Ichihashi Undergone Plastic Surgery?

Apologies for neglecting to update this blog for such a long period (a year and four months to be exact).

While riding the Yamanote line train yesterday I saw murder suspect1 Tatsuya Ichihashi's face flash up on the small TV screens installed in the train's interior. In the headline text accompanying the photo I noticed the word seikei (整形) -- plastic/cosmetic surgery.

The news media is now overflowing with articles reporting the possibility that Ichihashi has undergone face-changing procedures, both as recently as last month and at other times over the past two years.

The best way to stay on top of articles in English is through Google news. Here is a link with all articles mentioning Ichihashi in descending order of newness.

Please also see this article on Japan Probe, which features video of a TV news segment.

The investigation headquarters of the Gyotoku Police (Chiba prefecture) will apparently release pre-operative photos of Ichihashi acquired by a clinic in Nagoya, who only reported their suspicions that the patient might be Ichihashi three days after his rhinoplasty operation.

A joint statement issued by the parents and sisters of Lindsay Hawker sums up what many are asking:

“We have received no official confirmation of any of the reports despite attempts to do so. We would like to know who the surgeons were? Where Ichihashi, the only suspect, obtained the money for the operations, and who is hiding him? Which hospitals or clinics carried out the work and why would they operate on a man who is allegedly the most wanted man in Japan?"

If the patient was is fact Ichihashi then a follow-up interview with his affluent parents (his father is a doctor and mother a dentist) might be in order...

Update: It has now been confirmed in this article (Japanese only) on NTV's News 24 that the handwriting on the clinic forms filled out in both Fukuoka and Nagoya matches that of Ichihashi's.

Ichihashi was turned down for a procedure at a clinic in Fukuoka in mid-October on but underwent rhinoplasty surgery at a Nagoya clinic on October 24. Forms at both clinics contained the same false name and Osaka address in Ichihashi's handwriting.

Update 2: Below is the photo (on the right) of Ichihashi as seen before his latest surgical procedure on the 24th of October. As detailed in the press, the two moles on his left cheek were removed and the size of his lower lip reduced. He also seems to have had his brow altered. The bridge of his nose appears to have been accentuated, which is the same procedure he apparently had after this photo was taken. Gyotoku Police also used graphics software to digitally remove Ichihashi's facial hair (specified as hige, which can mean either moustache or beard, or both -- but it's likely he only wore a beard).

The total cost of his various operations is believed to be approximately 1.3 million yen (US$14,350).

1 Although Ichihashi is the prime suspect in Lindsay Hawker's murder, the official crime he is listed as being suspected of is "illegal disposal of a dead body," which is often the first charge in a murder case.