Thursday, 19 October 2017

More Japanese crime

OK.  Here is another Japanese crime story - "Six Four" by Hideo Yokoyama - published in Japan in 2012, and in the UK in 2016.  This is more than a simple whodunit, giving as it does a picture of Japanese society and organisational structure.  The central character is Mikami, who is a former detective who has been transferred to the post of press director in a department that handles the police's relationship with the press.  The story is slow moving, especially at the beginning, and you wonder what the crime is going to be.  It mostly revolves around the mishandling by the police of an old kidnapping case which resulted in the child who was taken being killed and the perpetrator escaping.  The statute of limitations on the case is soon to pass, and one last effort appears to be taking place to solve it.
Mikami, whose own daughter has run away from home, is battling the press in order to control the release of information.  His relationship with the press breaks down and he is reviled by both the reporters and his superiors.  Then another kidnapping case happens, which appears at first to be a copycat of the old one.  Mikami, however, suspects there is a link between he two.
The picture given of the strict hierarchy of the police and its various departments, if true, is a scary and bewildering one to Westerners.  People lower down the hierarchy are regularly denigrated by their superiors, and have to adopt a servile attitude in return.  Internal feuding between departments is rife, and everyone is more concerned with power and progressing in the organisation to allow cases to be solved.  In addition the press seem to be a powerful force capable of cowing the police. No maverick loner detectives here as is common in Western crime (if not in real life in the West!).
Mikami does rise to the surface in the end, but the mire of a rampant press and organisational chaos in the police ranks still resists.  Read it, and get some insight into Japanese society.

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