Take the case in January 2006, when financial advisor Hideaki Noguchi was found dead in an Okinawa hotel with knife wounds. Noguchi was a close associate of Takafumi Horie, the brash founder of the Internet company Livedoor, which had just been the target of a nationally televised police raid and seen most of its multibillion-dollar value evaporate.
But despite being a central figure in a sensational criminal investigation and privy to Livedoor secrets, police declared Noguchi’s death a suicide. They did not ask for an autopsy, and the body was cremated.
Or take the suicide in April of Agriculture Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka, who was found hanged in his Tokyo apartment. Matsuoka was embroiled in a scandal involving the misappropriation of political funds that suggested a broad system of organized influence peddling. Even though Matsuoka’s troubles were destabilizing the government and his death occurred just hours before his scheduled appearance to answer questions before a parliamentary committee, no autopsy was conducted to ensure that he had not died from something other than hanging.
A day later, Shinichi Yamazaki, a businessman implicated in the same scandal, plunged to his death in a parking lot outside his Yokohama apartment. No autopsy was conducted in that case either.
"The police said it was suicide," says an incredulous Saikawa, "because he had left his shoes placed neatly together on the balcony."