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Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013

EDITORIAL

What's up with Toyama's police?

The Toyama prefectural police on Dec. 22 arrested a 54-year-old assistant police inspector, Mr. Takeshi Kano, on suspicion of murdering an elderly couple who had been his friends for more than 30 years, and of setting their residence afire in April 2010. He allegedly confessed to these heinous crimes.

Mr. Kano's actions in the wake of the crime were strange. Eight days after the couple were killed, he said in a Kyodo News interview that many people had resented Fukuda and described how the rooms in the couple's residence were arranged. In mid-September 2010, he tried to kill himself at home with sleeping pills. Yet despite his bizarre behavior, and even though Toyama prefectural police investigators questioned him twice — in late April and in May in 2010 — as a witness because of his long association with the couple, it took two years and eight months for the police to arrest him.

The Toyama prefectural police first must thoroughly investigate the crime and the subsequent probe, then examine whether an internal organizational culture exists that is soft on criminal investigations that focus on police officers. One crime or ethical lapse after another among police officers is happening across the nation. Clearly action must be taken to clean up the police ranks. The National Police Agency and the headquarters of each prefectural police should strengthen the education and discipline of police officers to prevent the recurrence of such offenses.

Saburo Fukuda, 79, a money lender, and his wife Nobuko, 75, were found dead after their residence on the second floor of a building at Oizumi in Toyama City was burned April 20, 2010. Toyama prefectural police arrested Mr. Kano on Dec. 22 in connection with the murder and arson. He allegedly confessed that he strangled the couple with cords and started a fire after spreading kerosene in the residence. He allegedly explained that he wanted to erase evidence. Earlier, on Oct. 31, he had been arrested on suspicion of leaking information from an investigation into a stimulant drug case to an acquaintance.

Mr. Kano was found to have debts of about ¥2 million. Although Fukuda was a money lender, the police officer's name was not found in his record of borrowers. The Toyama prefectural police do not rule out the possibility that he borrowed money from Fukuda off the books. They must determine the motive behind the crimes.

As the Toyama Police's investigation into the Fukuda murders have greatly weakened public trust, it must rectify the problems within its organization with a sense of crisis.



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