Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday Morning's News

The Asahi Shimbun is reporting that the sailor in the Yokosuka taxi driver murder case is claiming that he was in a drinking establishment on the Dobuita at the time of the murder last Thursday. The paper cites, as a source, "a person with ties to the investigation being carried out by the Navy Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS)."

Possibly unsurprisingly, no other paper is reporting this revelation.

Perhaps it is because the Dobuita is the main bar zone just outside the Yokosuka U.S. Naval base.

If I were a Navy sailor who has gone AWOL, I think the last place I would be hiding out is in a bar in the rowdiest district of town, next to the base. It would tend to be crawling with MPs (and I do not mean "Members of Parliament").

But then, I am the cynical one.

Then again, it was not until this morning that I realized what it was that was bothering me so about the case.

Imagine if you will that you are a 61 year-old Japanese taxi cab driver, in Shinagawa on a Thursday night at 8 p.m. You have been driving a cab in Tokyo for thirty years, so you have seen pretty much everything, twice.

You pick up a really dark-skinned, 22 year old male who asks you to take him to Yokosuka.

What do you do at this point? Do you drive 45 kilometers south with a passenger whom you know is paid, at Japanese rates, what are less than poverty wages? Or because you are in Shinagawa and it is 8 p.m. do you drive over to Shinagawa Station, turn around and say, "Here. Take Train Here. Yokosuka. Very Fast. Cheap." and if the passenger refuses to get out, you go over the Kōban and tell the policeman, "I have a nutcase of a U.S. serviceman in my cab demanding to be taken to Yokosuka. Can you help me get him out of my cab?"

I think it is the latter.


Anonymous said...

Or, unlikely, but possible, do you say, "Maybe this guy just got paid and that's one hell of a fare"? (Just playing Devil's Advocate here.)
While it's looking less and less likely that this AWOL sailor was the killer, a prosecutor might put forth the idea that violence was threatened from the start, or at least that fear played a role. (Of course, were that the case, how would the credit card wind up in the cab?)

If the guy in question was in Dobuita, has any explanation for the presence of his credit card come up?

Anonymous said...

What I have heard is that he had reported the card stolen several weeks prior to the incident.

Anonymous said...

The thing about credit cards is that you don't actually need money to use them. At least not in the short term.

If I was a cab driver and somebody asked me to take them from Shinagawa to Yokosuka, I'd jump at the chance. The fact that the fare could've flashed a credit card might have even assuaged fears about payment problems. After all, would a Japanese cab driver - employed by a firm that clearly advertises its willingness to take credit cards - doubt the fact that the soldier had 200 bucks on his Visa?

This doesn't mean our friend in uniform is guilty, of course. Merely that there are plausible explanations that would coincide with a guilty verdict.