Tokyo Vice

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Authors: Jake Adelstein
official cause of death is loss of blood.
    “The victim appears to have been killed in the car, judging from the blood splatter. We are talking to his friends and employers to develop any leads. We have officially set up a special investigation headquarters; we’ll come up with a name for it later tonight.
    “That’s all we have for now. Questions?”
    Hands did not immediately go up. The general consensus seemed to be not to ask real questions at the official press conference but to lob the zingers at the police after the conference, at their homes, or on their way out the door. Still, people felt obligated to ask something.
    “According to your earlier reports, the wife found the body. How did she find it?”
    “She was searching the area with a friend when she saw the family car. The body was in it.” I myself took that as a broad hint.
    “When did the police receive notification that Machida was missing?”
    “Two days after he’d gone missing.”
    “Why did they wait so long?” It was an
Asahi
reporter, arching his eyebrows.
    The detective didn’t take the bait. “Well, how long are you supposed to wait? If you don’t get home tonight before two in the morning, is your wife going to file a report with us?”
    “My wife? Absolutely.”
    That got some laughs. The rest of the conference was benign, and the group dispersed.
    Eventually we headed back to Urawa and compared notes. When Yamamoto returned at around three in the morning from the police chief’s home, where he’d gone for information, he corroborated the the details we’d put together. The woman who had “helped” Mrs. Machida discover the body of her husband was the same Yoshiyama who had allegedly been having an affair with him. Naturally, the police considered her the main suspect.
    The next day was fruitless, spent polling the neighborhood. We were able to confirm that the police were interrogating Yoshiyama but she was refusing to break. On the morning of the next day, though, she confessed to her husband, who called the Saitama police, who made the arrest just in time for us to make the evening edition with the news.
    It went something like this:
    Yoshiyama was a part-time employee at the same company where Machida worked. The two had been having an affair since the spring of the previous year, and Machida was trying to break it off
.
    On the twelfth, after work, they met at a nearby park before going for a drive, which lasted three hours. Around nine P.M., Machida parked the car near their workplace, where the two of them argued. Yoshiyama then stabbed him in the chest with a mountain knife, killing him almost instantly. She claimed that Machida had wanted to end the relationship and his own life and she had just complied
.
    Yoshiyama was socially acquainted with Mrs. Machida, so she had volunteered to help Mrs. Machida search for her husband. The police had yet to find the weapon, but they did find a can of juice in the car with Yoshiyama’s fingerprints on it. In September 1994, she was sentenced to eight years of hard labor
.
    It was not a particularly exciting case, one I’m sure has long passed from the memory of the police and even the reporters who covered the story. I did get some brownie points for getting a lead on the killer so early in the game. Of course, it was more luck than skill, but I learned an important lesson: journalism is always about the results, not the effort.

Blackmail, a Budding Reporter’s Best Friend
    After a few months as a police beat reporter, I had become friends with several cops, but I still didn’t have a single, solitary scoop that I had dug up on my own.
    Getting scoops was difficult. It involved getting wind of a breaking story, finding the detective in the lower ranks who was working the story, gaining his trust and the information he had, then running it up the food chain in such a way that the people at the top didn’t know you were culling data from the bottom.
    You might spend hours

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