Mother Reports, “Hayato, There Is A Person In The Media Who’s On Our Side.”(13)
2023.08.03 10:28 Nanami Nakagawa
It was around 9:30 a.m. on April 21, 2017, that Saori Fukuura received a phone call from the police.
Her son Hayato hadn’t come home since she sent him off to school yesterday morning. Even after searching for clues, Saori couldn’t find him. After the police had left, Saori spent the night at home without being able to sleep at all.
“A child’s body dressed similar to your son’s was found.”
Saori collapsed on the spot.
Soon the police came to the house. She was taken to the local Oura police station and shown to the room where his body was kept. The face of the corpse is covered with a white cloth. A police officer turned over the cloth.
It was her son, Hayato.
Saori burst into tears. She doesn’t remember much about the rest of the day.
Daisuke, her husband, arrived at the Oura police station at 5:00 p.m. Saori called Daisuke, who was working away from home in Fukuoka Prefecture, after receiving a call from the police that morning. Daisuke left work early and took the train to finally get there.
He faced Hayato lying down. He thought he was in an accident or something, and his face and body were full of scars, but they weren’t. His expression was as calm as if he were sleeping.
The police officer said to Daisuke:
“The estimated time of death is around 11:00 p.m. on the 20th. We believe he died by hanging himself.”
For the first time, he learned that it was a suicide. There were traces of the rope around Hayato’s neck.
The tree where Hayato Fukuura died in a park in Nagasaki city. (March 22, 2023, photo by Nanami Nakagawa)
“Don’t let the media get wind of it”
After that, Saori and Daisuke were told by the police about the situation when the body was discovered.
Hayato died in a park about a 15-minute walk from his home. It’s a dead-end place in the back of a residential area.
If you go further into the park, you will come to a staircase leading to a hill. 91 steps. There is no playground equipment, weeds grow thick, and a few trees stand. Hayato wrapped a rope around the branch of the largest tree and hung himself.
Hayato died while carrying a shoulder bag. Inside the bag was a piece of copy paper with Hayato’s writing on it. I’ll quote a few of them.
To the first person who finds me
If you find me, when you call the police, please ask to turn off the siren if possible. I want you to avoid the media getting wind of it. I don’t want to bother people around me or my family. I want to be quiet. I want to pretend like nothing ever happened.
I want to go to a place where no one sees me.
Recording entrusted to reporter Ishikawa
Saori and Daisuke were able to understand Hayato’s feeling that he wanted to avoid being in the media. The media causes a fuss. There was even a sense of terror in the image of the victim’s home being invaded without regard to privacy.
However, as parents, they never want anyone to feel the same way as their child. While Kaisei Gakuen, a private high school, didn’t seem to have any motivation toward recurrence prevention, they had to rely on the media. Some media outlets’ reports were helpful, such as the Nishinippon Shimbun.
But something was still missing. There were times when they felt like they couldn’t trust the media. The reporters in charge changed from time to time, and whenever they saw their faces, they said, “Aren’t you going to a trial?,” “Please let me know as soon as you decide to sue them.” Although they believed the news agency should pursue Kaisei Gakuen, it only seemed like they wanted to dodge responsibility by covering the trial.
Then Yoichi Ishikawa, a reporter from Kyodo News, came along. In May 2019, Daisuke received a phone call.
Daisuke and Saori responded to Ishikawa’s interview, as they would to other reporters. After being interviewed several times, Kyodo News published a feature article written by Ishikawa in August 2019.
Nonetheless, only two member companies used Ishikawa’s article distributed by Kyodo News. There was no public response.
What made Ishikawa different from other reporters was that he continued to report, saying, “If things continue like this, I feel sorry for the bereaved family.”
Saori and Daisuke continued to take interviews from Ishikawa. Both of them worked. They visited the Nagasaki branch of Kyodo News on weekends. Generally, the interview was held once a week or once every two weeks from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.. Saori and Daisuke have opened their hearts to Ishikawa. They also started accepting interviews at home.
“This person can be trusted”
Saori and Daisuke confided to Ishikawa that they had recorded all of their interactions with the school and the prefecture.
One of the recordings is the voice when the prefecture confirms Kaisei Gakuen’s proposal to call Hayato’s death a “sudden death.” This is proof of the scoop that Ishikawa released in November 2020.
Saori occasionally talks about Ishikawa, such as when offering food to Hayato’s Buddhist altar.
“Hayato, there is a person in the media who’s on our side.”
Unfortunately, the wishes of the bereaved family did not reach Kyodo News. The examination committee is going to drive Ishikawa into a corner.
Hayato Fukuura in his childhood (Provided by the bereaved family)
To be continued.
(Originally published in Japanese on June 5, 2023. Translation by Mana Shibata.)Adults in the Student Suicide Case: All articles