Captured: Kazuko Fukuda, Japan’s Most Infamous Fugitive, Weeps Tears of Relief upon Arrest | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Captured: Kazuko Fukuda, Japan’s Most Infamous Fugitive, Weeps Tears of Relief upon Arrest

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Satoshi Kirishima, a suspect who lived on the run for 49 years. In his final days, he gave his own name and ……

Satoshi Kirishima, 70, who was wanted for his involvement in a series of corporate bombings in the 1970s, has been on the run for 49 years and died in a hospital in Kanagawa Prefecture, where he was hospitalized. He had ended his life as a fugitive under a false name and stated that he wanted to die under the name “Satoshi Kirishima” in his final days.

A search for “fugitive” and “report” brings up the name of former inmate Kazuko Fukuda, the most famous fugitive in Japanese history, known as “the woman with seven faces. She was the first in Japan to have a bounty placed on her head, was arrested 21 days before the statute of limitations expired, and was the subject of a TV drama.

On July 29, 1997, I was on my way to Nagoya on the Shinkansen bullet train to cover the twin long-lived “Kin-san and Gin-san” who were very popular at the time. Just before arriving at Nagoya Station, I received the news that “Kazuko Fukuda had been arrested,” and I, who was covering the case, hurried to Fukui.

I had covered Kazuko Fukuda for about 10 years. I interviewed her at the snack shop in Kanazawa where she worked, the Japanese sweets store where she became a common-law wife, and her own son. I interviewed her own son and others.

In the same month of the statute of limitations, “Nice Day” (Fuji TV), on which I was appearing at the time, used almost all of its airtime to broadcast “Kazuko Fukuda: Special program just before the statute of limitations for fugitive criminals,” which was the first time a bounty was introduced in Japan.

And in the program

“I know you are looking forward to …… me getting caught. I won’t make such a screw-up. I’ll hang up, I don’t want to be traced. Watch out, watch out …….”

Fukuda’s voice was repeatedly broadcast.

When I received the news of the arrest, I intuitively assumed that it was a report from a viewer of the program. Although I was unable to confirm this, subsequent news reports indicated that the caller had reported the incident.

“It sounded just like the voice on the wide-screen TV show,” the caller said.

I have no doubt that the exposure on the program led to the report.

After arriving in Fukui, we went directly to the “Oden Restaurant” where the arrest took place. All the news stations had gathered there, and we were the first team from the key stations in Tokyo to arrive.

Soon after, the stations joined forces to interview the informant.

Later, the caller gave an independent interview.

I said, “How did you become convinced that he was a fugitive?”

The caller said, “I had a gut feeling when I heard his voice on the TV report.”

Me, “Wasn’t the fugitive criminal alerted to your arrest?”

Caller: “I didn’t get the impression that he was a fugitive criminal at all. He was bright, sang well, and lived a normal life. Before I became suspicious of him, he told me, “People around me sometimes say I look like Kazuko Fukuda. At the time, I dismissed it, but now I think about it: ……”

I asked, “How often do you come to the store?”

The caller said, “She used to come once or twice a year, but the frequency has increased this year. Even after I became suspicious, I still came here normally. ……”

The day after his arrest, Fukuda was escorted by bullet train and overland to the Matsuyama Police Station in Ehime Prefecture, where the investigation headquarters is located. The concourse at the station leading to that Shinkansen was a chaotic mess of police officers, station staff, and the press, with screams and shouts of abuse flying about.

The stations chased after them frantically to get a good position and capture Fukuda’s facial expressions.

Fukuda was held on both sides by a female police officer, with a towel over her head, making it impossible to hear her expression. I weaved my way through the crowd, and just after she entered the station, I stuck to the side of the policewoman and asked her a question.

I did not get an answer, but I heard Fukuda’s “crying” voice in the crowded crowd, where all kinds of sounds were intersecting.

And her little shoulders were shaking. She was clearly crying.

Were they tears of apology to the victim?
Tears of regret for her arrest?
Were they tears of regret for her freedom?

Or were they tears of relief at being released from her life as a fugitive? ……

What are you thinking now? And what do you want to say?”

I continued to ask her questions, but she never opened her mouth.

Later that day, I entered a room at a business hotel that Fukui had used as a hideout and photographed her. In that inorganic, bleak room, Fukuda may have been thinking about “ending her life as a fugitive.

Fukuda, who repeatedly had plastic surgery and changed his alias over and over again, had spent his life as a fugitive, moving from place to place across the country without ever staying in one place. He was born and raised in a miserable environment and experienced the impermanence of the world, but after 15 years on the run, he must have had more intuition than most people for the dangers in his surroundings and environment. In fact, he was wary of being traced and recorded even when making phone calls.

I believe that Fukuda could not have been unaware of the caller’s words and actions. The arrest at the oden shop may have been staged by her.

It has been 15 years since she murdered the victim, had her husband carry the victim’s household goods, and ordered him to dispose of the body. It may have been staged to get herself caught, as she was tired of her life as a fugitive involving many people.

Like the suspect Kirishima, she may have chosen to meet her end as “Kazuko Fukuda.

Fukuda, who was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment, died of subarachnoid hemorrhage at a hospital in Wakayama City on March 10, 2005, at the age of 57.

After 14 years and 344 days on the run, Fukuda was arrested 21 days before the statute of limitations expired, making Kazuko Fukuda the “most famous” fugitive criminal in Japan. The tears she shed on the Shinkansen platform in Fukui must have been “tears of relief. ……

  • Text Mitsutoshi Abe, local political journalist and former TV reporter

    As a TV reporter, he has worked on "Time 3," "Ohayo! Nice Day," "Tokudane! (Fuji Television Network) and eight other programs. (Fuji TV). She covered a total of 1,500 incidents and accidents, including the Aum Shinrikyo case and the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. After managing an advertising agency, he served two terms as a ward assemblyman for eight years. Later, he became the first public secretary of a member of the House of Representatives. Currently, he continues to report and write about various administrative and social issues from his unique perspective.

  • PHOTO Shinji Hasuo

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