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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.

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