On June 16 before dawn, the home of company employee Katsunori Kawamata, 42, in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki, was set on fire. Kawamata, who suffered minor injuries, managed to escape with his 15-year-old daughter, but his wife, Junko, 40, was reported missing. Six days later, Ibaraki police found her body in a nearby river.
Police stated that no external injuries were found on the body, and investigators are looking into the possibility of suicide as well as murder. Additionally, a 23-year-old male employee of a marine product company where the deceased housewife worked is under police investigation. The man, identified as “A,” has already surrendered himself to police and confessed to the arson, but denied any involvement in the death of Junko Kawamata.
According to police, "A" had called the company on the day of the arson to say that he was “taking a vacation to be with her.” Upon hearing the news of the fire, the company supervisor went to "A's" apartment to find him lying on the floor with charred hair and burns. He admitted that he had set the Kawamata home on fire and the supervisor took him to the police. “A” has been hospitalized, under police watch, for severe burns all over his body. It will be more than two weeks until he can be taken into police custody.
Many suspect that “A” was referring to Junko Kawamata when he called the office, located in the wholesale fish market in Mito, to take the day off. While “A” had joined the company in 2007, Kawamata, although a part-timer, had 15 years of work experience. Kawamata gave him much professional guidance, but the two apparently became more intimate over time. They were frequently seen together during break time at the office as well as near Kawamata’s home. Their affinity was a well-known fact among those who worked at the market.
But at some point, the relationship seems to have turned into a twisted affair. Since May, Kawamata had gone to the local police station on three occasions to seek advice on physical abuse by “A,” and officially filed a claim four days before the arson. More was uncovered about “A,” who was known by his peers as a quiet, introverted man. He had a previous arrest record from November 2006 for assaulting a 15-year-old female high school student whom he met on the Internet.
Those who know “A” describe him as subdued but well-mannered. Despite the low profile, “A” was a recognized sprinter in junior high and admitted to a prestigious senior high school on recommendation where he excelled as a track team member. However, he failed in the college entrance examination, and subsequently quit the university to which he was finally admitted. He stalked the high school student and was arrested shortly after.
For a broken man with few friends, Kawamata may have been one person who treated him with kindness. On the other hand, neighbors of Junko Kawamata denied she was the type of person who would have an extramarital relationship. As one said, “Her older daughter is attending a private university in Tokyo, and she was doing all she could to send money and pay for the tuition. After her work at the market, she had another job at the post office. Her husband, a busy company employee, also took very good care of his mother-in-law who lives in the area… They were a close family.”
At this time, it remains unclear what really transpired between the married woman and the young man 17 years her junior. The family of the deceased can only bereave without any knowledge of the truth.© Japan Today