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Friday, June 15, 2018

The Walking Dead - Japan Style

So… a man in Chiba-ken goes missing.

A body is found unconscious in the Edo river in Tokyo. He’s alive… but dies later in the hospital.

The family of the missing man identifies the drowned body as that of their loved one.

Body is cremated - everyone mourns.

Then the missing man shows up alive in Chiba-ken, arriving at his home - alive and well.

What a farce by all parties involved.

The police farce: 

No DNA test was was done comparing the missing man with that of the deceased. How long does a DNA test take nowadays? Not that long. A day?

Since the body found in the Edo River was alive… there was NO bloating or environmental damage to make identifying the body difficult.

So… how does the family of the missing man confirm that “There’s no mistake” - that this was their missing husband/family?

Also… what a farce by the media in Japan.

I found this article in Japan Today (thanks Vinnie)… and since it was on-line, once has all the room in the world to write the story.The Internet's not going to become full... at least I don't think that's possible.

Not ONCE does the story wonder just WHERE the heck the missing man had been for a whole year!

Was he kidnapped?

Did he suffer a mental breakdown?

Did he just want to get away from his wife?

Did he he suffer amnesia for a year?

Has he disappeared at anytime previous?

There’s not even a mention of whether or not the missing man had looked disheveled, was wearing the same or different clothes, or if he was well-fed and well-looked after. 

Okay… at no time does the article actually name the missing man or his family. NOR does it even mention which police were involved in the original missing person/dead case.

Why not?

Who is being protected and why?

The police? The family of the missing man who disappeared for a year and then came back?And who was the dead guy, and what does his family think about their man being cremated in someone else's family plot? Have they mourned him for a year? Had they held out hope he was still alive?

There's so many elements to this story's plot, and very few of them are answered let alone looked at.

If you knew any of these two missing men, wouldn't you want the answers?

Newspapers are supposed to tell its readers stories... to keep the reader informed. To educate.

I was taught that every news story story should answer the 5Ws +1H… who, what, where, when, why, and how.

Either that’s half-assed journalism in not finding these things out and not presenting them, or it’s an embarrassing turn of events and the media is protecting them… because the media needs the police if it is to do any sort of future police beat reporting.

Here’s the story with a bit more detail as presented by the Japan Today article:

Missing man is in his 40s.

He went missing from his home in Matsudo City, Chiba-ken.

Family filed a missing person report immediately last year in 2017. What month or day?

Later on June 27, 2017 (last year), an unconscious but still alive man is pulled from the river. He has no ID on him. He later dies in the hospital. How long after does he die? I have to assume he never regained consciousness… but nothing in the article states if he did or didn’t. He may have regained consciousness but never spoke or communicated. HOW did he die? What injuries did he suffer in the water that contributed to his death? Was he dumped? Did he slip and fall? Did he try and kill himself?

Family of missing man was called in by the police to identify the dead BODY.

They confirmed it was their kin.

Police then changed the man’s status from “Missing” to “Dead”.

Family is handed the deceased’s body. Body is cremated. I assume in a family plot. I assume they paid for the services, too... and since suicide was never mentioned, was insurance paid out? If it was, do they have to give it back? All of it? I'm sure some was spent.

On June 6, 2018, the original missing family man returns home. Alive and well.

The wife calls the police (which police?) to tell them her husband that she had thought dead, and had identified, was alive.

The wife had placed the missing person’s report. She had identified the drowned man’s body as being that of her husband.

Police now begin a new investigation, as they have to figure out just who that drowned guy was. He had been cremated. Had anyone taken a DNA test on him?

Also, I would assume - though it was never mentioned - that the police (which police?) are investigating the now alive missing/dead man had been for a year. 

The police (which police?) have figured out that that the man in the river was a part of another missing person case from Tokyo… a man in his 30s. Granted… quantifying people’s ages can be tricky.

This family of the missing 30-year-old Tokyo man had filed a missing person’s report SHORTLY after the police had mistaken his body for a man in his 40s. How shortly?

Why don’t we have actual ages for these people? Or actual police department’s involved? Or names of the deceased? Or the names of the missing person and family?

The police (which police?) say that if a body is identified by family, further investigation, DNA testing or even fingerprint matching is not done or necessary. I get that. It’s a waste of resources considering the body was identified by family.

So… who’s fault is it anyway?

  • The missing man for going missing, if it was on purpose: Kidnapping or self-imposed to get away from his wife and family.

If he suffered a mental breakdown, I don't consider that his fault. He simply wasn't in control. People need to understand that about those who suffer from mental health issues.   

  • The missing man’s wife for not being able to identify her husband correctly. The deceased was alive when pulled from the Edo River. His body had NOT undergone any radical alterations to his skin or body when he died. DID the drowned/deceased man in his 30s REALLY look like her husband in his 40s? Was he wearing clothing that was similar?Is there photographic evidence of the two men alive that shows them looking alike?
Okay, I get that the deceased didn’t have ID on him. Still… the wife should have been able to correctly identify if that drowned/deceased man was her husband.

I suspect she expected it to be her husband so that in her head that was all she saw - her husband.
  • The police… if a body is brought into a hospital - should there be an attempt to identify the body? Fingerprinting, X-Ray of teeth? I didn’t say DNA test… because that’s afterwards.

Still… the timing of things must have been close enough that when the police (which police? The one in Chiba-ken, or the one in Tokyo?!) discovered a drowned person, they assumed it must be the missing man and contacted the family. Sure… the height, weight and features must have been similar… I’m sure they compared a family photo with the deceased body in front of them and thought this is the same guy.

Hell… the wife did.

Still… there should have been more of an independent attempt by the police to try and confirm deceased identity before making families come on down to try and correctly identify it. 

Police representatives (of which department?) claim they are interested in using the case as a teaching moment to prevent this sort of thing from happening again.

For get learning lessons? How about the police do a better job of identifying people before dragging families in?

How about the media in Japan actually try and ask the right questions and present the reader with the best story possible?

It’s not a Japan thing. It’s a global thing - at least as far as the shoddy media reporting goes.

Perhaps I was taught better as a newspaper journalist (and student in Humber College’s journalism program in Toronto). Perhaps I knew I had to do it while a reporter at the Toronto Star newspaper.

But whatever the heck is going on with journalists - especially on-line journalists - is deplorable in many instances.

As a reader… if any news article you read can not identify and answer the 5Ws+1H, then that article is a failure.

Write in, and tell them that.

Maybe it's an honest mistake. 

Look… sometimes information isn’t available to the journalist. I get it. But make sure you state as much to avoid looking like a rank amateur.

Why the hell do you think I write as much as I can on any given topic… to present as much information as I humanly can. I’ll even note where I am guessing, editorializing, or simply don’t know something. I don’t think I look stupid doing so, and I’d much rather you have the most correct information available at that time. 

That’s sort of the news, and that was my two yen’s worth.

Andrew Joseph

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