From Feb 22, police began finding the dismembered portions of a 27-year-old woman residing in Mita City, Hyogo Prefecture. She had gone missing after leaving her workplace on Feb 15. Following a police search, she was seen on the security video entering an apartment together with what appeared to be a foreign national.
The apartment was being used as a minpaku (short-stay accommodations) in Osaka's Nishinari Ward -- home to a large flophouse district for day laborers and transients.
Shukan Jitsuwa (March 22) reports that police intercepted Yevgeniy Vasilievich Bayraktar -- a 26-year-old U.S. citizen claiming to be from New York -- on the street in neighboring Nara Prefecture. He was arrested on suspicion of illegal confinement, and more charges were added as, over the next several days, portions of his victim's body were found around Kansai.
"Bayraktar told police he had discarded the woman's head on the 24th in another Nishinari apartment, and the next day carried her undraped torso and arms to a wooded area in Shimamoto-machi in Osaka, and then her legs to Tateshina Ward in Kyoto," a police source tells the magazine. "The DNA in the body parts were all matched to the missing woman. The two had met via a smartphone application for introducing couples. He's believed to have brought her to his apartment in Nishinari where he killed her."
This particular "matching app" charges users to join its SNS, and which harnesses GPS operation to help couples in nearby locales to meet up.
"We know Bayraktar visited Japan at least three times in 2017," the source continues. "He also traveled to Hong Kong and other parts of Asia. On his latest trip, he arrived at Kansai International Airport on Jan 31 via a flight from Pusan, South Korea, and then surfaced on Feb 12 at the apartment in Nishinari.
"After that he brought several women to his room, apparently without incident. There's a strong possibility that when he entered Japan previously, he also attempted to seduce Japanese women."
The minpaku where Bayraktar stayed is just 50 minutes by Nankai railway line from Kansai International Airport, and only five minutes on foot from Shin-Imamiya station, close to the Airin district, where hundreds of day laborers and itinerant workers reside.
"Yes, we noticed foreigners have been coming and going from the apartment, but seldom paid much attention up to now," says a resident of the district. "But a couple of days before the story made the news, several people complained of a bad smell and some suggested the police be consulted."
Osaka currently faces a tight squeeze on its hotel accommodations and following the prefecture's designation as a zone specially targeted for economic development, the minpaku business underwent deregulation.
One volunteer in Nishinari tells the magazine that minpaku in this case is being applied to vacant apartments and single houses. "They've even converted some love hotels for minpaku use, so there's a lot of variety. In Nishinari, a lot of the simple lodgings previously used for day laborers have been patched up and renovated. Even then, overnight stays can be had for as little as 1,000 yen.
"The only way to find these kind of places is through their signs posted outside or via the internet. The rooms are terribly cramped and most can't be described as sanitary."
As the number of day laborers have tapered off, more facilities in Nishinari have been making efforts to attract foreign backpackers and other travelers on a shoestring. Many operate as "underground minpaku," not bothering to apply for a license under the basic law for accommodations.
Neither the apartment where Bayraktar stayed or the other one where the woman's head was found were properly registered with the authorities.
"Lots of shady operators have been taking advantage of the lax system by renting out spaces illegally," a local realtor tells the magazine. "If they cut corners on services -- who can the foreigners who can't speak the language take their complaints to?"
A joint home page operated by Osaka Prefecture and several cities close to Kansai Airport posts hot links to licensed minpaku and also warns travelers to avoid unregistered minpaku. But an employee of the prefecture says foreigners "tend to be less wary of the pitfalls."
The aforementioned volunteer voiced his concerns that due to lack of oversight, such facilities are rapidly becoming hotbeds for crime, including prostitution by Japanese women, dens for drug dealers and places for wanted felons flee from the authorities.© Japan Today