Tatsuma Hirao is seen leaving a police station in Hiroshima Monday, following his capture after three weeks on the run. Photo: KYODO
crime

Prison escapee caught in Hiroshima after 3 weeks on run

31 Comments

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Utter waste of police manpower and unjustifiable amount of inconvenience to the public to hunt down and capture a non-violent harmless criminal. He would have undoubtedly been picked up eventually in a traffic stop or from a witness' tip like this without exerting all of this effort.

19 ( +21 / -2 )

Utter waste of police manpower and unjustifiable amount of inconvenience to the public to hunt down and capture a non-violent harmless criminal. He would have undoubtedly been picked up eventually in a traffic stop or from a witness' tip like this without exerting all of this effort.

I agree, and he probably would've been caught sooner, too.

I have to admit, part of me was kind of rooting for the guy!

11 ( +12 / -1 )

He kept nearly 7,000 coppers busy for a few weeks.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Three weeks? He did well. He's kept his hair in perfect condition and his skin is flawless. I bet his fingernails look as if he's stepped out of the manicurist's.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The fool should have stuck with his open prison sentence and will now be returned to the general pop for a longer time too.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I was wrong. According to NHK news this evening 15,000 police were used in the search for him. If only they utilised all these resources when a child molester or rapist or elderly abuser is reported. What a waste of manpower, resources and money. Whoever ordered this type of search is incompetent. The funny thing was, locals told the police the checkpoints were pointless as he could swim to safety, but the police didn't listen. Their triumphant statments about catching him ring hollow when their wasteful search did diddly squat, a member of the public in Hiroshima spotted him.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Over 15,000 cops working to catch a low security prisoner for nearly a month who was eventually identified by an Internet cafe worker no where near where they were searching? Que the theme from ‘The Simpsons’.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Apparently he was carrying 20,000 in cash when they caught him. He has said that he ran because he was tired of having to deal with the people in there.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

He didn't try too hard to disguise his appearance. Glad no one was harmed in the apprehension of this nonviolent offender.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The tiny island had been flooded with police officers, as the police mobilized a total of 15,500 personnel -- almost rivaling the island's population -- to hunt for Hirao.

What a complete joke! 5 dedicated officers could've done that job in perhaps less time and wasted less tax payers money. 15,500 "officers" couldn't find ONE petty thief in 3 WEEKS on a small island! Someone should take responsibility for this absolute blunder and overuse of wasted force.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The translation in the last line of 人間関係 (ningen kankei) 'becoming disgusted with a relationship' is not terribly good, and it surely was not any kind of single 'relationship' that he had with anyone. It is a catch-all expression. I translated it at 7:05 above yesterday as 'tired of having to deal with the people there.' He was fed up with the way people were behaving towards each other and to himself.

On the other hand they were reporting in the news today that in February he had been severely reprimanded by a guard over some petty business about a zabuton cushion and the casual way he was wearing his work overalls and helmet.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Maybe he deliberately showed his face to the island camera on 24 April before making his swim to the mainland. The guy is not stupid, not in the narrow sense. Overall though, he has really shot himself in the foot. No open prison for him this time.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

He was in the lowest level security prison (apartments) in Japan with no wall or fence. The prisoners worked with ordinary folks by day and essentially returned to be locked up at night. Far more dangerous bods can be found downtown in my little city with a skinful any night of the week. His crime was on a par with shoplifting.

My wife said she read that, he was very close to his sister and there was some family problem or the like. Apparently he was denied contact so he went AWOL even though his sentence was not so long to go.

The classic for me in all of this is when the police refused to believe he had escaped from the island and maintained there overbearing search for 3 weeks. When the idea was presented to the police by journalists in the early days, that maybe he swam to the mainland the answer was to the effect, "No the water is too cold".

Just gotta love that, coz you couldn't possibly love the millions upon millions wasted on the "chase".

1 ( +2 / -1 )

 If law enforcement does not care about prison break, the society will crumble. A gun-free society like Japan will be no more. 

You can still care about a prison break without sending 15000 police officers to search for someone who isn't there. It just makes the police look stupid. Just do the calculation of who much this would have cost in salary alone.

A small team would have tracked him down in the end without the massive waste of police resources.

And the occasional prisoner 'escaping' from an open prison will not cause the breakdown of society.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Some of you are missing the point. There are two ways to keep prisoners from escaping:

1) Walls, guards etc

2) Fear/mental conditioning

2 will be the more effective method, as it conditions prisoners into not letting themselves escape. It's like when there is a prison break, and some inmates stay at the prison. They could leave, but they choose not to.

By putting the crazy resources into this chase, it tells every other inmate (and person in the country) that if/when an inmate escapes, the police will put all the resources they can into getting the person back. There is no escape. What other prisoner is going to try to escape now? They have seen that this guy probably did better than most would, and still only lasted three weeks. Is that three weeks of "freedom" worth having to live on the run, only to be taken back in and spending more time in jail? Fewer prisoners will entertain that idea now than they would before this guy made a run for it.

This in turn will result in lower costs of imprisonment in the future, as prisoners will look at escaping as an exercise in futility. So while the costs were high to recover this one prisoner, it was an investment in the future, and will likely pay itself back multiple times in the future. Unfortunately, this ROI will not be tangible, because you cannot count the number of times a prisoner didn't escape. But that doesn't make it any less real.

Unfortunately, that also won't satisfy those who are unable to look at an issue beyond the numbers in front of their face, who are freaking out about the use of police resources to capture this guy.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I think its worth every penny or yen to search for any escapee, why? if you don't crack down on them or any other criminal you get a lawless society, just like the UK, they government have got rid of lots of police men and woman to save money, which it has, but the flip side is we have had a surge in petty crimes, like shop lifting braking in to cars, vans stealing of workmanship tools, the polices answer is just claim off your insurance, but insurance is going through the roof and costs are spiralling upwards, and criminals know this, so they just commit more crimes because the chance of being caught is very low to zero, and if you are caught, the courts can't cope with the increase, so yes it has cost the tax payer money, but society is better off in the long run.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hair perfect, of course! his history with barbershops got him where he is now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

the narrowest point between them is only about 200 meters

I've never thought it was that far, but judging these things can be difficult. The image at the link below shows the gap. (I have fond memories of that ferry.)

http://ryojimatsuzaki.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/shimanami_kaidou_2.jpg

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Saw his picture on the news yesterday, looks like he lost some weight and grew a little goatee. Always figured he would end up getting tired of running, and if it wasn't for the guy at the internet cafe, would have eventually turned himself in at the end.

The cops pride was seriously butt hurt in this case, and I for one would love to have someone take responsibility for this abuse of tax payers money.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is a really interesting case and an excellent example of the Japanese police's attempt to present a infallible image to the public at any cost.

Just after noon yesterday (12.10) I saw a brief news message flashed up on TV (NTV channel 4) that Tatsuma Hirao had turned himself in at a police station in Hiroshima. He had NOT been recaptured by officers after receiving a tip. A short while afterwards there came the 'official' news that he had been dramatically caught after a short chase and there was the issue of a rather unclear photograph of someone being wrestled to the ground. There are perhaps two possible conclusions to draw from this. Either the original news item, when it was first reported, was inaccurate and later corrected or the police took it upon themselves to concoct a story and recover a bit of their self respect. As for Hirao himself - he might well have been told that it would be easier for him in the long run to go along with the police version of events.

Which version of the story you choose to believe is entirely up to you. Taking into account the police's previous incompetent manhunt I rather fear that the second story rings more true.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Mark901,

Why limit yourself to two versions? A third possibility is that you misunderstood/misread the news flash. A fourth is that you are deliberately trying to spread fake news. A fifth is that you don’t know the difference. There may be more.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Mark901,

So it’s okay to cast aspersions on the men and women of the police force but if the table is slightly turned, suddenly there a a concern for politeness?

I also saw news flashes at the same time but on different TV channels and media on my smart phone. The first ones said a man thought to Hirao had been taken into custody on a street in Hiroshima. A short time later there were others that said his identity had been confirmed through physical characteristics (fingerprints, burn scars). Maybe the one you saw was a mistake made in haste. You could easily call the broadcaster and inquire.

I didn’t accuse you of spreading fake news. I mentioned it as one possible version that was just as valid as your versions. I don’t need to provide you with evidence that the police are not lying. They can defend themselves. And if you have any evidence that they are lying you should bring in to the public’s attention in a meaningful way, which would not be a comment here. There are plenty of media outlets that have done investigative reporting on police and would be interested in this.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well done that shop employee! I hope they get employee of the month, now this guy has been caught, I am sure the courts won't send him back to an open air prison as he can't be trusted, so off to a big prison with big walls, with a bit of extra time added.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Over all, it was a good ending. Nobody was hurt except for minor thefts. Best of all, he was finally caught, showing how difficult to be free even you escape from a prison.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Why limit yourself to two versions? A third possibility is that you misunderstood/misread the news flash. A fourth is that you are deliberately trying to spread fake news. A fifth is that you don’t know the difference. There may be more.

You make some good points Educator60, however:

The newsflash was witnessed and understood by three members of the same family - two of whom are

Japanese. There was absolutely no misunderstanding.

I am not and never have been in the habit of spreading fake news. I am simply relating what I saw. Please

can you provide everyone with more evidence that the police version of the story is true before making such

a serious personal accusation.

I may be completely wrong in my view of what might have happened but I think that it's important for

people to decide for themselves.

A little bit of politeness is important even if you strongly disagree with someone else's views.
-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I knew he would get tired of running!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I do t think —- I don’t think

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Browny1, “...police refused to believe he had escaped from the island and maintained there overbearing search for 3 weeks. When the idea was presented to the police by journalists in the early days, that maybe he swam to the mainland the answer was to the effect, "No the water is too cold".”

You condem the police as if Hirao left the island right away, but he was indeed still on the island for more than two of those three weeks.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Utter waste of police manpower and unjustifiable amount of inconvenience to the public to hunt down and capture a non-violent harmless criminal...

Prison break is a serious crime even reasons for being in prison may not. If law enforcement does not care about prison break, the society will crumble. A gun-free society like Japan will be no more. It will not sell well to Japanese public to let prison breaker go loose. They will rather suffer inconvenience to let police do whatever necessary to capture the escapee. It was not police force but the criminal who created inconvenience and must bear the blame.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Ah so,

“to search for someone who isn't there.”

But he was actually there two-thirds of the time they were searching.

I do t think prison breaks should be taken lightly. Someone who would escape from what’s one of the very best places a prisoner could be in would be a loose cannon. And the longer they would be on the run, the more desperate they might get due to hunger, stress etc. That kind of stress could very well lead a formerly non-violent offender to do something violent.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Utter waste of police manpower and unjustifiable amount of inconvenience to the public to hunt down and capture a non-violent harmless criminal

What an oxymoron we have here. Harmless criminal? The sheer fact that he's a criminal and was sent to an open prison makes him not so harmless if you ask me.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

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