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Boogey(wo)man in Japanese closet

June 9, 2008
tags: ,

While driving home from Maine last night and listening to the radio, I heard about a man in Japan who discovered a homeless woman who had been living in his closet for a year. It sounded too crazy to be true, so I went straight to the source–the Japanese news media, glaring faults and all–and looked it up. Here’s a short article from the Yomiuri, one of the largest Japanese papers out there:

福岡県警粕屋署は28日、民家に無断で入ったとして、住所不定、無職堀川タツ子容疑者(58)を住居侵入容疑で現行犯逮捕した。押し入れの天袋にマットレスが置いてあり、同署は、堀川容疑者が隠れて寝泊まりしていた可能性があるとみて調べている。

発表によると、堀川容疑者は同日午後3時過ぎ、同県志免町志免の無職男性(57)宅に侵入した疑い。外出していた男性の携帯電話に家への侵入を知らせる警報が入り、男性から110番を受けた粕屋署員が男性宅を調べたところ、天袋に隠れている堀川容疑者を発見した。男性宅は平屋で、事件当時、玄関や窓の鍵はかかっていたが、室内に設置した防犯カメラの映像に部屋を歩き回る堀川容疑者が映っていた。男性宅では過去に複数回、物がなくなる被害が出ていたという。

It’s true! To paraphrase the article, an unemployed 58-year-old woman named Tatsuko Horikawa was arrested for entering a private home in Fukuoka (the major city on the southern island of Kyushu in Japan) without permission. She was found hiding in a storage space in the closet, where, according to authorities, she had smuggled a mattress and had been living for some time. The home belonged to an unemployed 57-year-old man, who had become suspicious of an intruder due to missing items, even though his front door and windows were locked. So he set up cameras in his home that broadcast pictures to his cell phone and showed the intruder moving around. He called the police and they found the woman curled up in a storage space in the top of his closet.

I wonder what else could have been in that man’s closet? If he was living in a traditional house in a traditional way, he should have opened his closet every day in order to take out his futon at night and put it away again in the morning, which is what that storage space in the closet is for. However, even if the dude wasn’t upholding the timeless traditional culture of his people (i.e., preserving precious space however possible) by keeping his bed in the closet, you’d think he’d look in there often enough to notice the presence of another human being.

I don’t know what’s more alarming: the boogeywoman, or the unemployed man who was savvy enough to purchase (without a paycheck, no less), install, and use high-tech gadgets and a sophisticated cell phone, and yet didn’t notice his uninvited roommate.

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