Japan - Miyazawa family of 4 murdered, Setagaya, Tokyo, 30 Dec 2000 #3

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I would agree about the car. Plus, I wonder if the parents would be concerned about potential AFB liability in case if a teenager drives a car in overpopulated Tokyo and hits someone local.
Besides, residents have to obtain a SOFA driver’s license, which involves passing a driving test that covers both US military and Japanese traffic regulations. Having a vehicle comes with a cost (fuel, maintenance, parking fees, the shaken inspection process, etc). Comprehensive insurance coverage is also mandatory. But on top of it, just driving in Japan can be confusing for some due to differences in traffic laws, road signs, and driving on the left side of the road.
 
Do you think these are the leaves found from the killer’s pocket?
I would not know if the leaves found in the killer's pocket were from that specific area. Only a forensic botanist can determine if the leaves are native to the area (like they did in the Allison Baden-Clay murder investigation), and I'm sure the TMPD has conducted that analysis.

A couple of points to consider: based on my readings (though it may reflect my own bias), Zelkova trees don't grow everywhere like weeds—they are found in certain locations across Tokyo. The particular alley at the university, which is not far from Setagaya city centre, is interesting to note, even though we don't have forensic results. Also, the TMPD considered that the killer might have been a student, even if it wasn't a definitive conclusion. Just sharing some info without drawing inferences.

PS If you're interested in whether Zelkova trees grow on Yokota Air Base, I'm not sure about that. However, it shouldn't be difficult to find out through the Yokota public relations people.
 
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Unless he didn't want to stand out in US clothes? I looked at his outfit - it didn't attract much attention.
So much so that he went to a remote region to wash his clothes in hard water.
Did he plan to stain his clothes and leave them behind to confuse the police?

Interestingly, regarding sizes, some items were purchased possibly between 1998-1999, and some in 2000, fairly close to the date of the crime... All size L. The typical assignment period at Yokota is 2 years. If he arrived around the age of 13 and was 15-16 in 2000, it appears he wasn't growing. Another mystery.
 
And here we come up to the point of not knowing anything about the family.
We really, really don't know anything about them.

Multiply our typical "de mortius, nil nisi bonum" approach with Japanese respect of privacy, plus their concern about the relatives' feelings...maybe there was nothing known about the family. But supposedly there was... would we, or the whole world, be made aware?
Probably, not.
Maybe there was something to investigate, but LE ran into dead ends.

But sometimes I wonder if the murderer either got very angry with one of the adults for perceived "ruining someone's life" or thought that the Miyazawas could report someone's slight and ruining a person's life/family/career.

This is something I always consider in every case on Websleuths. Due to the well-founded rules about being respectful of victims, there are many things we can't (and shouldn't) speculate about.

But we never truly know who the victims were. We only know what the family, acquaintances and LE tell us.

I'm deliberately exaggerating when I say this, but for all we know Mikio might have been a hitman for the Yakuza. If something like that were true, it would no longer be a surprise that he and his family were the victims of a "hit" themselves.

I don't believe Mikio was anything remotely like that... but would we know if he had been?
 
Interestingly, regarding sizes, some items were purchased possibly between 1998-1999, and some in 2000, fairly close to the date of the crime... All size L. The typical assignment period at Yokota is 2 years. If he arrived around the age of 13 and was 15-16 in 2000, it appears he wasn't growing. Another mystery.
Source for that? I linked Yokota HS yearbooks a few pages back, and it also has elementary and middle school books too.
If you take a look at them many of the kids were there through elementary school to the end of high school, spanning a decade or more. You see the same faces and names through the years.

And the official age range we’ve been given by the TMPD is 15-24. Why does he have to be 15? Seniors graduate at 18, and some families even stay beyond the years their kids graduate. Why couldn’t he be 18 or older?
 
I would agree about the car. Plus, I wonder if the parents would be concerned about potential AFB liability in case if a teenager drives a car in overpopulated Tokyo and hits someone local. To add to it, Tokyo subway system is great.

There is a chance that someone could take a car, drive to the closest subway, leave it there for the night and then drive back from the subway. But I suspect that all leaves/returns were registered. It is a foreign military base, I guess the concerns around such institutions are only too obvious, and all leaves/returns, especially at night, would be duly registered.
I can't see what the original point is.

At any rate, if the killer is willing to slaughter four human beings, would risking his parents anger for taking the car off-base give him pause?

I don't know for sure he took a car. Only that it's a possibility that is rarely discussed and would explain his exit after the murders without being seen in Tokyo's most populous ward on a weekend night / early morning.
 
Adding to all the excellent discussion points here, I would also draw attention to the killers appetite. He eats a Japanese home style meal, and then after the meals, drinks cold barley tea instead of cola or beer.

Those choices are the killer’s innate choices, and that would indicate someone Japanese or a foreigner decently assimilated into the Japanese culture.
RSBM: So what you've eaten that day is an 'innate' indication of who you are? I drink barley tea and eat Japanese food while I'm in Japan. I'm not a huge drinker. I'm 40 and European. But the contents of my stomach would tell you I'm Japanese?
Re : entry and exit being regulated at Yokota. I think @FacelessPodcast has mentioned plenty of kids going in and out of that AFB, so I dunno what the regulations are or how they are enforced.
There is obviously security. As I've said many times here, I've spoken to people who lived on base and came and went as they pleased due to the seniority of their parents etc.
I do find it a bit sus though, that potentially underage USA kids are driving around unsupervised in those cars. Is that feasible, would nobody catch them or authorities simply ignore that? If its the latter, it would seem American kids have more freedom in Japan than Japanese kids.

MOO
The issue about USAF members from American in Japan having more freedom; see my earlier points about COVID. You are free to find it suss. But I have spoken to people who were at Yokota, in that age bracket, driving around.
 
I believe Yokota offers Japanese courses and many students take it? Also, as insular as Japan can be, you can absolutely buy things speaking only a handful of phrases (especially in Tokyo)--there might be a challenge, but it's definitely possible (still grateful to the people who were gracious with me the first time I was in Japan, when I didn't know very much!). And ofc there's substantial reason to think a military kid on base would have a lot more language skills.

Plus, if the killer is Korean-American, there's a good chance he speaks at least a reasonable level of Korean. The languages actually have a lot of similarities in terms of syntax--more than they do with English, and occasional similar vocabulary. Not enough to be mutually intelligible, but enough to where someone who grew up knowing Korean would probably have an easier time learning Japanese than someone who only grew up knowing English.

Along those lines, for the clothing -- when I lived in Asia I'd buy and wear what was local because it's easier, even when at some points living in more western bubbles (international schools). It's also not like the clothes found, although Japanese or Korean brands, are different articles of clothing than you'd find in the US (it wasn't, like, a yukata). The shirt could easily have been worn by any American. I don't personally think it's far fetched to think someone would have bought the shirt at a local shop and worn it. But just my musings from my own experiences!
All good points Lily!
It would make total sense for the schools on the base to offer language classes. The pages of the kids going off base and their trips looked like a blast at that age, I’m sure they could put their language skills to use to buy some clothing or interact with people.

And just on your point about Asian clothing brands in your wardrobe, I also pretty much switched immediately after moving here because the quality and range was much better than what I was used to back home. To this day I still wear mostly Japanese branded clothing. But that’s just my anecdote too.
 
Do you think these are the leaves found from the killer’s pocket?
Again, I can't see OP but if this refers to zelkova leaves, it's worth pointing out that zelkova leaves are not mentioned on the TMPD website that I can see.

They are also found throughout Setagaya. That there are traces of bird droppings on them isn't hugely surprising.
 
This is something I always consider in every case on Websleuths. Due to the well-founded rules about being respectful of victims, there are many things we can't (and shouldn't) speculate about.

But we never truly know who the victims were. We only know what the family, acquaintances and LE tell us.

I'm deliberately exaggerating when I say this, but for all we know Mikio might have been a hitman for the Yakuza. If something like that were true, it would no longer be a surprise that he and his family were the victims of a "hit" themselves.

I don't believe Mikio was anything remotely like that... but would we know if he had been?
If Mikio were a hitman or wrapped up in some sort of criminal enterprise, would 280,000+ TMPD personnel be unable to uncover any trace of it across 24 years?
 
All good points Lily!
It would make total sense for the schools on the base to offer language classes. The pages of the kids going off base and their trips looked like a blast at that age, I’m sure they could put their language skills to use to buy some clothing or interact with people.

And just on your point about Asian clothing brands in your wardrobe, I also pretty much switched immediately after moving here because the quality and range was much better than what I was used to back home. To this day I still wear mostly Japanese branded clothing. But that’s just my anecdote too.
Absolutely agree. Moreover, I know people from that base who learned Japanese. They were getting Japanese classes from day 1. Also, wearing clothing brands due to 'patriotism'; maybe a handful of people would be that intense. (Not that we know what the killer wore on his bottom half except for shoes). But there are 12,000 on Yokota. They're all going to wear American brands because freedom?

The first time in Japan, I went to Uniqlo and bought clothes. I ate locally. My clothing and waste wouldn't tell you where I was from.

Last point on the clothing; his sizes might not have accurately fit him. This is something I can tell you the TMPD have considered. And it makes sense. I might buy an XL hoodie if I want it to be roomy. Conversely, I might have to buy the M windbreaker from the shop at the station because I'm in a rush and that's the only size they had.
 
If Mikio were a hitman or wrapped up in some sort of criminal enterprise, would 280,000+ TMPD personnel be unable to uncover any trace of it across 24 years?

It's not so much whether they could uncover it... it's a question of whether they would/could or even would dare to do anything about it.

We strongly suspect they would be able to uncover a link to an American culprit. But we also believe there are reasons they wouldn't want to move forward with that line of investigation.

Politics and even corruption are real factors in a lot of investigations. On the Wiki page there is mention of an investigator who had been involved with the Miyazawa murders, who was later found to have falsified fingerprints in many cases.

In any event, I wasn't suggesting Mikio was actually a hitman. I was just using it as a deliberately extreme example of not really knowing who the Miyazawas were.
 
Source for that? I linked Yokota HS yearbooks a few pages back, and it also has elementary and middle school books too.
If you take a look at them many of the kids were there through elementary school to the end of high school, spanning a decade or more. You see the same faces and names through the years.

And the official age range we’ve been given by the TMPD is 15-24. Why does he have to be 15? Seniors graduate at 18, and some families even stay beyond the years their kids graduate. Why couldn’t he be 18 or older?
The information regarding sizes, prices, sales, and in some cases purchases is all detailed in the previous thread, and there are links provided in the first thread as well as police information about the clothing.

Regarding age, this topic has also been discussed earlier, with some suggesting he could have been young enough (15-16) not to be registered in the fingerprints database due to possibly coming from South Korea early on. This intersects with the purchase of sneakers, which would have required travelling to South Korea and potentially providing fingerprints. Personally, I have no definitive idea about the killer's age, but I intuitively lean towards him being over 20. I don't associate him with the base or ongoing studies around 2000, although in theory, I consider all possibilities without ruling anything out. I'm simply weighing different factors.
 
The information regarding sizes, prices, sales, and in some cases purchases is all detailed in the previous thread, and there are links provided in the first thread as well as police information about the clothing.

Regarding age, this topic has also been discussed earlier, with some suggesting he could have been young enough (15-16) not to be registered in the fingerprints database due to possibly coming from South Korea early on. This intersects with the purchase of sneakers, which would have required travelling to South Korea and potentially providing fingerprints. Personally, I have no definitive idea about the killer's age, but I intuitively lean towards him being over 20. I don't associate him with the base or ongoing studies around 2000, although in theory, I consider all possibilities without ruling anything out. I'm simply weighing different factors.
Apologies I meant about the killer being constrained to a 2 year assignment when the yearbook sources clearly show many kids being there multiple years, spanning into a decade. Which would mean their families and parents were there longer too.

I don’t think the killer was as young as 15 but I also don’t think he was only around for as little as 2 years either.
 
It's not so much whether they could uncover it... it's a question of whether they would/could or even would dare to do anything about it.

We strongly suspect they would be able to uncover a link to an American culprit.
But we also believe there are reasons they wouldn't want to move forward with that line of investigation.

Politics and even corruption are real factors in a lot of investigations. On the Wiki page there is mention of an investigator who had been involved with the Miyazawa murders, who was later found to have falsified fingerprints in many cases.

In any event, I wasn't suggesting Mikio was actually a hitman. I was just using it as a deliberately extreme example of not really knowing who the Miyazawas were.
Yes, I get you. I think that if Mikio’s life had entered into criminality, the TMPD would have investigated that intensely. Were it to yield any leads or suspects, they would be open about that. JMO.
 
Apologies I meant about the killer being constrained to a 2 year assignment when the yearbook sources clearly show many kids being there multiple years, spanning into a decade. Which would mean their families and parents were there longer too.

I don’t think the killer was as young as 15 but I also don’t think he was only around for as little as 2 years either.
I personally know people who were at Yokota for more than two years, yes.

And the TMPD give an age span of almost a decade, it’s pretty broad. But when they say he was a student, I just don’t see what solid reasons there are for doubting that. Not that you are.
 
I’ve never heard anything about the slippers. Is the idea that the killer brought the slippers with him? He wore his own shoes throughout the attack and afterwards.


This is an archived version of a Sankei MSN article from December 29 2011. The idea is that the killer had been in the Miyazawa home previously, and wore the slippers on that previous occasion:

DNA believed to belong to the culprit was found in slippers at Miyazawa's house...On the day of the incident, it was confirmed from footprints that the culprit walked around the room with shoes on, and the Metropolitan Police Department's Seijo Police Station Investigation Headquarters said that the culprit had known Mr. Miyazawa before the incident, and when he visited Mr. Miyazawa's house, he was wearing slippers.
 

This is an archived version of a Sankei MSN article from December 29 2011. The idea is that the killer had been in the Miyazawa home previously, and wore the slippers on that previous occasion:

DNA believed to belong to the culprit was found in slippers at Miyazawa's house...On the day of the incident, it was confirmed from footprints that the culprit walked around the room with shoes on, and the Metropolitan Police Department's Seijo Police Station Investigation Headquarters said that the culprit had known Mr. Miyazawa before the incident, and when he visited Mr. Miyazawa's house, he was wearing slippers.
Thanks for the link. Here are my problems with this idea:

1) how do they determine his DNA being in those slippers in the past versus on the night of the murders?

2) is he just walking around Tokyo wearing slippers if he’s wearing them when visiting the Miyazawa house?

3) Having spent many, many hours interviewing the Chief of Seijo PD, why would he lie to me about the killer knowing / having been to Mikio’s house before? Clearly, this visitor would be the number one suspect. Yet they don’t talk about him. It’s a 13-year-old article so maybe it’s just going on a misunderstanding or rumour or previous thinking. But when they said they had no concrete suspects, it seemed very genuine.
 

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