"Japanese media love a good murder story"

The media in Japan love a murder story, even old ones. Kazuyoshi Miura, a Japanese man whose wife was killed in Los Angeles while visiting the city together in November of 1981 has recently been arrested in the US territory of Saipan and charged with the murder of his wife. For this crime he has already received a guilty verdict and a life sentence for in Japan, but the ruling was eventually overturned by the Japanese high court back in 1994, thus freeing Miura from all charges. Why he is being arrested now is still unclear but it is presumed that there is enough definitive evidence in order to both try and convict him in the States.

Given the incredibly low instance of homicide cases in Japan, when such a story makes it’s way to the headlines it is often presented as a national tragedy; a grim tale of a lost soul and a lost life. Such a representation is entirely natural in regards to such a tragic affair, however this case is gracing the front pages with a slightly different ambience. And why shouldn’t it? You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried. The events of the past week are like a wicked TV drama plot twist from a fifth season finale, rekindling the mysteries of an inconclusive closure to season one. Although a businessman, the press is fond of publishing photos of Miura in jazzier attire with shades, or in his orange jumpsuit, and is making much of the trail from Japan to LA to Saipan.

Beyond this, is Miura being tagged with a defector-like property? Are there other politics at play that are driving the media fenzy? It’s no secret that US-Japan relations are on somewhat shaky ground at the moment over the rape case involving a US marine and a 14-year old girl from Okinawa last week, adding fuel to a fire that has been fluctuating in intensity throughout the US’s history of military presence on the island. The US/foreign dimension to this case is perhaps the media’s way of finding a balance to the anti-US feelings provoked in Okinawa: placing a Japanese person who has committed crimes abroad under the spotlight. Miura, being an exile, is therefore fair game.

By Justin Potts

Anna Kitanaka is away

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