Man charged with English teacher’s murder releases a book about his years on the run

Tatsuya Ishihashi, before (left) and after (right) capture.

The man charged with killing a young English conversation teacher in Japan in 2007 has released a book about the 31 months he spent avoiding capture. In March 2007, Lindsay Ann Hawker, a 22-year-old British teacher, met Tatsuya Ichihashi at a cafe for an English lesson. She’d expressed some misgivings about him to her friends, as he had followed her persistently — but she returned with him to his apartment (asking a taxi driver to wait downstairs). When she didn’t come to work the next day, police went to Ichihashi’s apartment to investigate. Almost unbelievably, Ichihashi was able to evade the multiple officers on the scene, where Hawker’s body was found in his bathtub, even though one policeman got close enough to grab his bag as he fled.

For the next two years and seven months, Ichihashi performed crude surgeries on his face, worked odd jobs in construction — and even visited Tokyo Disneyland — before being captured in November 2009. He describes these experiences in his book, Taiho Sareru Made: Kuhaku no Ninen Nanakagetsu no Kiroku (Until I Was Arrested: An Account of a Two-Year, Seven-Month Blank), released on Wednesday.

According to The Japan Times, Ichihashi, who will stand trial later this year, writes that he altered his nose by sewing it himself. He also cut his lips and removed distinctive moles from his face before he saved up enough money working construction jobs to afford plastic surgery. He also expresses remorse about Hawker’s death, writing, according to the Japan Times, “Having Lindsay come back to life as if nothing had happened — that was my only wish.” Ichihashi describes hiding out on a small island off Okinawa, where he survived on fruit, fish and occasionally snakes. And though he writes that he felt paranoia and avoided public cameras, he once visited Tokyo Disneyland.

According to Time magazine’s Web site, Ichihashi apologizes to Hawker’s family in the book and writes that he hopes to give the royalties to them, or, if they don’t accept, to use them for a good cause. According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, the Hawker family has released the following statement in response to the publication:

The Hawker family are disgusted that the man who has yet to stand trail for Lindsay’s murder has been allowed to write and publish a book. This has only served to cause the family more hurt and we want no association with it or him. All we have ever wanted is justice for Lindsay.

As someone who has been deeply affected by this case, I’m very interested in reading this book — but, at the same time, it also makes me feel a little sick to my stomach. Part of me wants to try to understand what Ichihashi is thinking, but there is another part that feels very uncomfortable extending this person a 238-page opportunity to explain himself…

About Beth Hillman

Beth Hillman taught English in Japan for four years. She's the co-founder and co-organizer of Joshikai San Francisco, a networking group for women with a connection to Japan.

Comments

  1. Tomo Hirai says

    This looks like the tale of a young and confused 22 year-old child that doesn’t quite know what common sociable etiquette is. He’s like a Lennie that had no George, a fool that doesn’t quite get his current predicament.

    His book, something a lot of people will probably not bother reading as much as O.J. Simpson’s book, will achieve some moderate ironic success, which will be enough to pay off his court fees and penalties in reparation to the grieving Hawker family.

    Hopefully, he’ll spend the rest of his life in jail, that’s all I could care for.

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