A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Man Arrested in Tsukuba after Digging Hole in Floor to Get at Woman in Apartment Below


Another lurid episode in the history of crime in Tsukuba

Tsukuba is in the news again – and not for a scientific discovery – but for another bizzare criminal episode

By Avi Landau

If you`ve been planning on buying (or renting) an apartment or condominium (called MANSIONS, in Japan) you might be having second thoughts these days – if you`ve been watching the news. First there was the case of the “leaning condos of Yokohama” reported last month, in which a major construction company falsified records to cover up shoddy work – similar abuses have come to light in the subsequent investigation.

And then there was a story which was first reported on TV at the end of October (the 28th, to be exact) – and it has been making apartment dwellers, especially those who are female and live alone, very uneasy.

Apparently, Mr. Masahito Sato (aged 51), a company employee in Tsukuba, had spent ten days digging a hole in his bathroom floor, using a saw and other tools. Then, when he had created a big enough opening for him to fit through, he slipped dpwn into the apartment of the woman who lives below him – and waited in ambush for her to come back.

When she did, it was after midnight, but he proceeded to assault her restraining her with threats of using a stun gun that he had brought with him

After his victim put up strong resistance – injuring her hand in the process, Mr. Sato fled the apartment and was arrested a few hours later at a Tsukuba conveninece store. It turns out that he has known the victim for ten years – he is a regular customer of hers at the restaurant she works at. He had recently rented the apartment above hers without her knowledge – with the aim of getting at her. It is not known how he found her address, though I guess with scruples like his he had probably followed her.

Masahito Sato in custody at the Tsukuba Central Police Station

Masahito Sato in custody at the Tsukuba Central Police Station

While I would say that Japan is really quite a safe place, I would qualify that by saying that it is extremely safe for men. I have been in Tsukuba for a very long time, and practically every year since I have arrived I have heard one or two similar stories (sans the hole in the ceiling and the stun-gun). So don`t let the image of “safe Japan” lull you off your guard, ladies. Make sure to keep all windows and doors locked – and try to get an apartment which would be difficult to get into from the outside. You might also want to check up on who lives upstairs from you – and make sure he`s not the type who would suddenly drop in!

Let`s hope Mr. Sato is put safely behind bars for a long time.

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