If you want to get away with murder…

Interesting article in the LA Times stemming from the recent death of a sumo wrestler in Japan caused by beatings endured during training, including the use of an aluminum baseball bat. The police initially declared the cause as heart failure after a strenuous practice session. However the parents had an autopsy performed after the body was returned to them. The autopsy revealed the death was caused from traumatic shock due to the beatings.

Police discourage autopsies that might reveal a higher homicide rate in their jurisdiction, and pressure doctors to attribute unnatural deaths to health reasons, usually heart failure, the group alleges. Odds are, it says, that people are getting away with murder in Japan, a country that officially claims one of the lowest per capita homicide rates in the world.

“You can commit a perfect murder in Japan because the body is not likely to be examined,” says Hiromasa Saikawa, a former member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police security and intelligence division. He says senior police officers are “obsessed with statistics because that’s how you get promotions,” and strive to reduce the number of criminal cases as much as possible to keep their almost perfect solution rate.

“All the police care about is how they look to people; it’s all PR to show that their capabilities are high,” Saikawa says. “Without autopsies they can keep their percentage [of solved cases] high. It’s all about numbers.”

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