16-year police probe of Glico-Morinaga case to end

Japan Policy & Politics, Feb 14, 2000

OSAKA, Feb. 10 Kyodo Police said Thursday they will end their 16-year probe into a case involving intimidation and attempted murder by poisoned confectionery empty-handed, as the last relevant statute of limitations expires on Sunday.

At a news conference in Tokyo, Yuji Aiura, an official at the National Police Agency (NPA), effectively acknowledged "defeat" by the self-dubbed "Kaijin Nijuichimenso" (mystery man with 21 faces) who sent blackmail letters to confectioners Ezaki Glico Co., Morinaga and Co. and four other food makers, as well as the police and media.

This will be the first major criminal case designated critical by the NPA for an organized probe in two or more prefectures to go unresolved.

Aiura said he could not deny there was something wrong with the police investigation system and explained what steps the NPA had taken to beef up the probe.

The statute of limitations in four attempted murder cases in Tokyo and Nagoya that occurred shortly before Feb. 14, 1985, in which chocolate and other sweets containing toxic cyanic acid were found in department stores and elsewhere, will expire on Sunday, ending the police probe into a series of intimidatory acts in 1984-1985 against Glico, Morinaga, Fujiya Co., House Foods Corp., Marudai Food Co. and Surugaya Co.

Glico President Katsuhisa Ezaki, whose kidnapping in March 1984 is viewed as the start of the case, on Thursday expressed his regret at the unsuccessful end to the probe.

Ezaki, 58, speaking at a press conference in Osaka, reiterated his belief that the threats did not stem from grudges against him or his company and that neither he nor the company made any behind-the-scene deals with criminals.

During the probe into the so-called Glico-Morinaga case, which involved 28 crimes and caused panic among retailers, food companies and the public, the police mobilized a total of about 1.3 million investigators from Tokyo, Aichi, Shiga, Kyoto, and Hyogo prefectural police forces, according to the NPA.

The police questioned an estimated 125,000 people and received a total of 28,000 pieces of information, including those concerning the "fox-eyed man" -- a tag given to the suspect after an illustration of him was published -- and the "videotaped man" in a retail shop whose picture was made public.

The Glico-Morinaga case started on March 18, 1984, when Ezaki was abducted by three men from his home in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, and the kidnappers demanded a ransom of 1 billion yen and 100 kilograms in gold.

Three days later, Ezaki escaped from confinement, but the kidnapping was followed by intimidatory acts against Glico, Morinaga and the other food companies.

At a press conference soon after his escape, Ezaki said he had no idea who his kidnappers were.

The statute of limitations on the kidnapping expired in 1994.

Blackmail letters were also sent to the media, some of which were addressed "To foolish policemen," and labels such as "Danger:

Contains Toxic" were found on packets of sweets containing cyanic acid.

A total of 21 sweet products each containing enough cyanide to kill an adult were found in 20 locations including supermarkets in October 1984 and February 1985.

Five days after the Shiga Prefectural police chief committed suicide in August 1985, apparently because he felt guilty that his subordinates had failed to arrest the culprit, Kaijin Nijuichimenso announced he would conclude his acts, saying he had finished "tormenting food companies." The Glico-Morinaga case led to frequent occurrences of similar intimidatory acts against food companies and retailers. From the start of the case to the end of last year, 545 such cases occurred, 322 of which have been resolved.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Kyodo News International, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning


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