Stalker murder victim was 'so close to her dream'

ZUSHI, Kanagawa - A 33-year-old designer who was stabbed to death by a stalker last year was only a step away from realizing her dream of setting up her own company that would have planned and hosted handicraft workshops.

As Wednesday marked the first anniversary of Rie Miyoshi's death, her husband, 43, spoke to the media for the first time since the murder and revealed that Miyoshi was killed when she was just weeks away from realizing her dream.

Her husband also described an aspect of his own grief. "I was the closest person to her [when Miyoshi was killed], but I failed to save her. This is what I have to carry through my whole life," he said.

Miyoshi was fatally stabbed by the man, a former boyfriend, at her apartment in Zushi on Nov. 6, 2012. Police said that the man sent Miyoshi more than 1,000 e-mails in March and April that year, reportedly saying such things as: "We promised to marry. It's a breach of contract."

Sending a barrage of e-mails was not covered by the anti-stalking law in effect at the time. But with this case as a trigger, the law was revised to ban sending massive amounts of unwelcome e-mails.

Miyoshi and her husband married in 2008 and moved to Zushi in 2010. According to her husband, Miyoshi had been dreaming of establishing a company to plan and organize workshops from several years ago, and planned to start her firm in November or December last year.

On the morning of the day of the murder, Miyoshi posted a picture of her new business card on her Facebook page, with a comment saying: "[The card] turned out to look great, making me feel like I'm overreaching a little. I'm so happy."

And a day after the murder, a blue envelope was delivered to the house. In it was a letter Miyoshi sent to herself, written at an event in November 2011.

"Hi, I suppose you are loaded with work after receiving so many orders from clients, aren't you?"

The letter was filled with positive words, apparently reflecting her personality.

Various feelings including surprise and sorrow came and went while reading the letter, her husband said. He put the letter beside a Buddhist altar at home.

When Miyoshi received an e-mail containing an implied suicide threat from the former boyfriend, who was then 40 and killed himself after the murder, she reportedly informed the man's parents about the contents of the message.

"I think my wife wanted the man to reform and have a happy life. For me, I still can't think of words I would say to the man," her husband said.

"My wife did not only live under the threat of a stalker. She also enjoyed her life. I wanted people to know that," he added.

Special police team

Following a series of stalking or domestic violence cases, including the Zushi case, the Kanagawa prefectural police in July set up a project team comprising 65 officers from the community safety and criminal affairs sections. By establishing a squad in which officers from the two divisions work under a unified command, the special team aims to respond to cases more promptly.

Concerning the Zushi murder case, the community safety section handled stalking while the criminal affairs section was in charge of threats by e-mail. It has been suggested that poor cooperation between the two sections was part of the background against which the murder occurred.