A memorial service was held at a school in Machida, Tokyo, on Saturday, to offer prayers for the victims of a triple murder at a supermarket in Tokyo's Hachioji in 1995.
One of the victims, Megumi Yabuki, 17, was a student at the high school, and the service was attended by some of her former classmates and school officials.
The National Police Agency is offering a 6 million yen reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the murders of Yabuki, Hiromi Maeda, 16, and Noriko Inagaki, 47.
At around 9:15 p.m. on July 30, 1995, the three employees — all part-time workers at the Nampei Owada supermarket in Hachioji city — were shot and killed in the store's second floor office. Each had been bound with tape and killed with a single gunshot to the head.
Twenty-six years on, there has been no resolution to the case, although there are some theories.
Initial police reports described it as a failed robbery attempt, since none of the three employees knew the combination of the store's safe. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police said that fingerprints lifted off the tape used to bind the victims, believed to be that of the perpetrator, were found to match closely those of a Japanese male who died of natural causes in 2005.
Initially, those fingerprints were not considered complete enough to make a conclusive match that would be admissible as evidence. However, investigators, after extensive searches of print databases, believe that the prints correspond closely with a man who lived in the Tama district in west Tokyo.
Normally, the legal criteria for a fingerprint match are correspondence at 12 or more points, which is why the initial searches of data bases failed to narrow down a suspect. An 8-point match is still said to have an accuracy of about 100 million to one.
While the prints left behind on the tape could not provide a 12-point match, the man's prints were in the data base due to his having a prior criminal record. At the time of the killings, police found nothing to suggest the man had been in the area where the crimes took place.
At this point, police concede that the 8-point fingerprint match is not conclusive, and would be insufficient to be used as evidence in solving the case. Police said they are still trying to establish links between the dead suspect and the murder weapon, an illegal handgun believed to have been manufactured in the Philippines.
Police pursued an earlier lead in 2009, when a Japanese man on death row in China for drug trafficking made a statement that a Chinese man in Canada was involved in the Hachioji murders, as part of a gang of Japanese and Chinese who carried out a series of robberies in Japan in the 1990s. The Chinese man, Liang He, had been wanted in Japan for using a forged passport to leave the country in 2002. He obtained Canadian citizenship in 2006.
The National Police Agency first filed an extradition request with Canadian authorities in 2010 with the Ontario High Court. Liang filed an appeal that was rejected and he was extradited to Japan in 2013 where he was jailed for passport fraud. But he has refused to talk about the supermarket murders.
Police ask that anyone with any information about the case call 042-621-0110.© Japan Today