The confession of Toshiyuki Kosugi, who was arrested Wednesday for his alleged involvement in the 1995 shooting of National Police Agency chief Takaji Kunimatsu, finally helped police make a breakthrough in its probe into an attack that was cloaked in mystery for more than nine years, though its link with Aum Supreme Truth was suspected immediately.
Kunimatsu suffered serious wounds in the attack.
It was spring 1996 when Kosugi, who was a police officer at the Metropolitan Police Department, told police he shot Kunimatsu.
But there was not enough evidence to prove Kosugi was the perpetrator of the shooting. It took police about eight years to establish a case on Kosugi, who allegedly staked out the scene of the shooting.
Kosugi, who belonged to the MPD’s Motofuji Police Station in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, was assigned to Tsukiji Police Station, where a special investigation squad was established following the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.
The MPD learned that Kosugi was an Aum follower when they analyzed floppy disks confiscated from another Aum follower’s car.
MPD officers questioned Kosugi and removed him from the special investigation squad.
The MPD decided not to dismiss him, instead reassigning him to a driver’s license examination center in Koto Ward.
But a senior Aum member confessed to the MPD that Kosugi had leaked information regarding police investigations to the follower. The MPD questioned Kosugi him and in May 1996 he said he shot Kunimatsu.
Kosugi’s confession was detailed. He was quoted by the police as saying, “I was spotted by a man near the scene of the shooting.” Most of his statement was corroborated, but the police were unable to find the weapon used in the attack–a revolver Kosugi said he had tossed into the Kandagawa river though officers combed the riverbed for 54 days after Kosugi made his confession.
Because the MPD did not report Kosugi’s confession to the NPA until late October that year, the head of the MPD’s Public Security Department was fired for dereliction of duty, and then MPD Superintendent General Yukihiko Inoue was forced to resign later December to take responsibility for the case.
In January 1997, the MPD decided not to establish a case on Kosugi in connection with the attack on Kunimatsu, but instead sent papers to the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office concerning Kosugi’s alleged divulgence of confidential police information to the senior cult member.
However, the prosecutors suspended the indictment on his alleged violation of the Local Civil Service Law. They also terminated investigations into the 1995 shooting in June 1997, saying it was extremely doubtful that Kosugi shot Kunimatsu.
Believing there was still a possibility that Kosugi might have been involved in the shooting, the MPD continued to question him and reviewed documents and other items of evidence collected during its nine years of investigation.
As a result, the MPD confirmed that Kosugi’s previous confession and witness accounts were consistent and concluded that he conducted a preliminary inspection at the crime scene.
The MPD also reinterviewed residents of the condominium where Kunimatsu resided who saw the assailant. The MPD then began to suspect that Satoru Hashimoto, a former senior Aum member, shot the NPA chief.
Asked about the breakthrough in the case, a senior MPD official said, “This was the last chance to uncover this unprecedented incident, in which a top police officer was shot.”
But there are still some mysteries over the incident. Police discovered North Korean badges and South Korean coins at the scene.
Kunimatsu wants case closed
Kunimatsu, meanwhile, told The Yomiuri Shimbun on Wednesday that he had high expectations that further police investigation would solve the incident once and for all.
“It’s difficult to make comments simply because the perpetrators have been arrested,” Kunimatsu said. “I have to think about my position (as the former NPA chief). It’s too early to say anything about the case.”