Now a year has passed since Lindsay Ann Hawker, an English Nova school teacher, was murdered in Japan.
On Monday, the Hawker family arrived in Japan to hold a press conference and bring attention once again to this case. The press conference was emotional, as the parents pleaded with “the honorable Japanese people” to help find their daughters murderer. The conference room was filled with British and Japanese media and they were all silent as the family spoke.
The father Bill Hawker, close to tears, asked for the Japanese media’s help in catching Tatsuya Ichihashi, their daughters suspected murderer: “I came back here to tell you, the Japanese press, to catch my daughter’s murderer. I rely on the press. I implore you to help me.”
The Japanese press mainly asked questions about the Hawker family’s plans for their time in Tokyo, whether the governmental bodies of both Japan and Britain were getting involved and whether the Hawkers have had contact with Ichihashi’s family. The British press asked what the Hawkers thought of the Japanese police force, who have been facing volumes of criticism recently for incompetency. However, Bill Hawker constantly repeated how he would never criticize Spt. Int. Oguma, the man leading the investigation case to find Lindsay, saying him and his team of detectives “have worked hard to try and capture Ichihashi and will not rest until it has come to a successful conclusion.”
However, as expected, the British press have ignored these comments, focusing instead on the obvious “Japanese police are failures” line that they prefer to preach. The Times states: “The family’s frustration has been heightened by the apparent way in which the police allowed Mr Ichihashi to slip through their fingers.” The BBC reports: “Lindsay Hawker’s family have expressed their frustration at the lack of progress in the police investigation.” However, there are currently 140 officers on this case right now, nearly double the amount that is usually placed on a case like this. Also, Ichihashi’s photo can be found on ‘Wanted’ posters around the city, unusual for a suspect who isn’t a serial killer. The police are now investigating the red-light districts of Tokyo that Ichihashi apparently frequented prior to the murder. The police are also looking into churches as they have found evidence that suggests that Ichihashi may have been involved in Christianity.
A British girl murdered in Japan brings all sorts of negative images to this country, as Bill Hawker says, “this case has brought shame to your country.” However, the BBC even goes so far as to report: “Paul Dingwell, a fellow teacher who knew Lindsay well, says the fact that this man has been able to disappear reflects badly on the Japanese. “They should feel some kind of guilt that this has happened in their country, to someone who came here to help,” he says.”
This case is a sensitive issue and I sympathize deeply with the bereaved Hawker family. However, the sad fact is, people are getting murdered every day in every country..While it is natural for the British press to pay more attention to a British citizen murdered in Japan than an ordinary Japanese person, the blurring of the character of the murderer and “the Japanese people” is a worrying slippage. The Japanese police, as much as they have failures, are aware of the political relations, race issues and most notably, the world’s media on their case,and have devoted much more time, people and money to this than they would if it were the same case involving a Japanese person. It is important for the media to stay clear of ‘Japan bashing’ and remain fair.
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