Threats sent from 9 prefectures to disturb police probe into comic series case
A 36-year-old man sent about 400 threatening letters to bookstores and other shops that were selling the popular comic series "Kuroko no Basuke" (The Basketball which Kuroko Plays) and related goods, through a total of 16 post offices in nine prefectures, in a move police suspect was aimed at disrupting their investigations.
Fingerprints were not detected on the letters, investigative sources said. The Metropolitan Police Department will look into the possibility that Hirofumi Watanabe, a resident of the city of Osaka arrested on suspicion of forcible obstruction of business on Dec. 15, tried to avoid police search operations by covering his tracks and confusing investigators. Tokyo police searched Watanabe's home and seized six cardboard boxes of his belongings.
According to investigative sources, police analyzed about 400 threatening letters Watanabe submitted on a voluntary basis and found that the letters bore the postmarks of 16 post offices in nine prefectures -- Osaka, Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, Shizuoka, Aichi, Ishikawa, Hyogo and Fukuoka. Many of the threats had been sent by letter cards, which are cheaper than standard-size mail. No fingerprints were detected on the letters, including about 20 threatening letters found in Watanabe's backpack at the time of his arrest. Police also seized envelopes and other things that Watanabe had apparently obtained in preparation to send threatening letters, investigative sources said.
On Oct. 2012, Watanabe posted messages, which were apparently meant to claim responsibility for sending a blackmail letter to Sophia University in Tokyo, on an online message board from an Internet cafe in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture. Other online messages were posted through overseas servers which make it difficult to identify the senders of the messages.
According to a resident of the apartment complex where Watanabe lived, the suspect moved into the condominium about one year ago. But the threatening letters sent to media organizations, including the Mainichi Shimbun, said that he had lived in Chiba City around the time when he was acquainted with Tadatoshi Fujimaki, the 31-year-old author of the popular comic series. He also wrote in the letters that he had lived in Saitama when he sent his first threatening letter to Sophia University, and that he was "currently" living in housing rented under his relative's name in the Tama area of western Tokyo.
Watanabe had also identified himself as two different perpetrators -- one who speaks standard Japanese and the other with a Kansai accent -- in what could be an attempt to make people believe that there was more than one perpetrator involved in the case.
Tokyo police referred Watanabe to the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office on the morning of Dec. 17.
December 17, 2013(Mainichi Japan)