Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
On the night of February 20th I saw the television news story of the gutted shark carcass that was found in Tokyo’sYoyogi Park. Then I read about it in the February 21, 2011 story “Shark left in Yoyogi has cops fishing for motive.” Mr. Riki Tamayama, who represents an area sushi restaurant that may or may not have purchased the same shark from Tsukiji fish market on February 14 only to decide against using it as food and instead giving it to an unidentified local artist, was quoted saying, “All I can do now is to hope that the person who illegally dumped the shark will come out and confess that he did it.” I am left wondering, Why? What does it matter if any criminal - from an illegal fish dumper to a murderer - confesses his crime? What matters most is that the police gather sufficient evidence to convince a court of any charges that might result. I understand that Japanese culture considers confession the first step in rehabilitation, which might partially account for the high rate of confessions here, and the high rate of cases closed on the weight of a confession. But, really, people can say anything they want. Surely, what suspects say does not matter as much as what can be proven by evidence. People confess for many reasons. Sometimes their confessions are even true.
Maybe Mr. Tamayama’s hope is meant to deflect his own sense of guilt as a representative of the restaurant that introduced the carcass into the community in the first place first by purchasing it, then by giving it away with undue care. But in the report the connection between the restaurant and the fish was inconclusive leaving me to think that the craving for a confession from a perpetrator is a common underlying Japanese hunger almost independent of circumstances. Even though a confession is unnecessary people want it to help make better sense of the matter.