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Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011

Probe of '95 shooting of top cop faulty

Kyodo News

Tokyo police have issued a report admitting they failed to resolve the 1995 shooting of the National Police Agency chief due to a shoddy early investigation and slow response to substantiating allegations.

The report was released Friday, nearly a year after the expiration of the statute of limitations for the shooting that left then NPA chief Takaji Kunimatsu seriously wounded and was blamed by police on Aum Shinrikyo.

"The cause of our failure to find the perpetrators comes down to our lack of investigative ability," said Shigenobu Fukumoto, a senior official in the Metropolitan Police Department's Public Security Bureau. "We will reflect on it and work to improve our investigative ability."

The police interviewed both former and current investigators to look into how they responded to the shooting, interrogated suspects, tried to substantiate allegations and examined forensic evidence. The report concludes that the police focused too much on one area near the crime scene where they obtained eyewitness accounts regarding a person who had allegedly fled,and failed to pursue accounts by other witnesses.

After the shooting, a police officer who was a member of Aum admitted involvement in the attack, but he was not indicted.

The report said the police "caused a delay in substantiating (the police officer's allegations) by putting priority on maintaining investigative secrets" and that such a delay presented large obstacles to appraising his account.

The shooting, which occurred in front of Kunimatsu's home in Tokyo on March 30, 1995, came after police raided the cult's headquarters that March 22, two days after Aum members carried out the deadly sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.



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