The death of 18-year-old Tokyo high school student and budding actress Saaya Suzuki by a suspected stalker this week seems to show just how much the Japanese police still need to learn and improve to help victims of stalkers. Clearly a pre-meditated act, the police’s inability to offer Suzuki sufficient protection even after the victim had approached the police and filed her complaints is now being brought into question. Interviews with law-enforcement sources and school officials now seem to suggest that the police did not act with sufficient urgency, even though from history and evidence, stalking cases can often escalate into fatal crimes.
Charles Thomas Ikenaga, the 21-year-old man who was arrested and has admitted to murdering the victim, told investigators he met the young actress through Facebook about two years ago. The two had been dating until around fall last year, and Ikenaga had admittedly held a grudge against Suzuki over their breakup, constantly pressuring and harassing her for them to get back together. Around June, she had blocked his number on her mobile phone after receiving a message where Ikenaga threatened to kill her.
Suzuki had then told her homeroom teacher last Friday that she had seen Ikenaga hanging around her house. The teacher sought help from Suginami Police Station near the school, but was told the case may be better handled by Mitaka Police Station since Suzuki lived in Mitaka City. Furthermore, it was around 5:00 p.m. and the officer told the teacher that consultation hours would soon end, saying the police could not deal with non-urgent issues on weekends.
On Monday, after Suzuki complained of the stalking problem again, the teachers at her school recommended that she immediately go to the police. Suzuki went to the Mitaka Police Station with her parents Tuesday morning. It was on her way home from school that day when she was attacked and killed, suffering stab wounds to her neck and abdomen. Ikenaga apparently hid inside the victim’s house, entering her home through an unlocked window and waiting for her.