Victim's kin starts anti-stalking group

Victim's kin starts anti-stalking group

Experts specialising in stalking-related issues will establish a study council to discuss ways to assist victims of stalking-related crimes and measures to prevent such crimes.

The Saturday launch of the council was unveiled at a press conference held in Tokyo on Tuesday by a brother of Rie Miyoshi, a 33-year-old designer who was stabbed to death by her former boyfriend at her apartment in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture, in 2012.

The brother, 43, who is a faculty member of a university and researcher on crime prevention in local communities, called on the formation of the study council.

The council is jointly headed by the brother and Prof. Tadashi Moriyama at Takushoku University, an expert on criminal policy and criminology.

The council will hold six meetings by next October, with the hope of serving as a catalyst for deeper discussions on stalking-related problems.

The council will invite the participation of officials from nonprofit organisations that provide counseling for victims of stalking-related crimes or that give counseling to offenders to prevent recidivism. It will also study the possibility of holding a public symposium on the related issues.

At the press conference, the brother said, "My sister fell into a gap among various organisations, such as between the community safety and the criminal investigation divisions of the police, and between the police and the probation office.

"We want to work out ways to encourage relevant organisations to cooperate with each other. I would like to discuss the issue level-headedly as a researcher, rather than as a bereaved family member," he said.

Moriyama said that while measures to support victims are given importance in Japan, there has been little progress made in professionally analysing offenders' criminal acts and inhibiting such behaviours.

He then added that in Australia, for instance, such efforts as psychiatrists assessing the degree of danger of offenders have already started.

"We need to discuss, from a broad perspective, ways to deal with offenders who tend to escalate their acts of stalking, the limitations of the methods and other issues," Moriyama said.

In the 2012 stalking-murder case in Zushi, the perpetrator sent Miyoshi, then living with her husband, more than 1,000 e-mails in March and April that year. The Kanagawa prefectural police arrested the man on suspicion of intimidating her.

Miyoshi had asked police not to tell the man her address or her married name. But police investigators read out the victim's married name and other personal information in front of the stalker, helping the man find the victim. After the murder, the man, 40, killed himself.

With this case as a catalyst, the anti-stalking law was revised to ban the sending of massive amounts of unwelcome e-mails.

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