TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - A book by a Japanese man accused of killing a British English teacher in a 2007 crime that riveted Japan and how he evaded capture by police for years is selling well less than a month after publication.
Tatsuya Ichihashi is accused of killing Lindsay Ann Hawker in 2007, when she was found brutally murdered and buried in sand in a bathtub on the balcony of his apartment. He managed to escape arrest despite being interrogated by police about Hawker's disappearance, fleeing from them barefoot.
The gruesome nature of the crime, and his capture years later with an altered appearance, became a national sensation, but a book by a person accused of a serious crime is highly unusual in Japan, particularly if no remorse is expressed.
Despite having no pre-publication publicity, "Until I got Arrested: A Memoir of the Missing Two Years and Seven Months" has sold more than 100,000 copies since coming out on Jan 25, said publisher Gentosha.
"The book was published without warning, but we have been getting a lot of inquiries and the book has been selling pretty well," said Yoshikawa Nao, sales staff at the BOOK1st bookstore in Shibuya, an area of Tokyo popular with young people.
Ichihashi's arrest in 2009 ended a fugitive life spent, by his account, hiding in bathrooms, working as a day laborer, and even catching crabs, sea urchins and shrimp along the seashore on a remote southern Japanese island.
In the book's dedication, Ichihashi says he wants sales proceeds to go to either the Hawker family or charity.
But pop culture specialist and columnist Shunichi Karasawa says the account shows no other sign of remorse.
"His own persona and ego is the most important thing in the world, and he doesn't think much about adjusting to social norms, or to think that someone else has their life to live as well," Karasawa told Reuters Television.
While the book does not dwell on the actual murder or motive, Karasawa says it contains grotesque passages where Ichihashi describes how he mutilated his face to change his appearance.
Despite the book's strong sales, many Japanese were shocked it was published at all.
"I don't understand how he had the nerve to kill someone he liked and then write a book about it," said Yoshimi Nariai, a 54-year-old businessman.
"Similarly, I don't know why anyone would even want to think about buying his book. The world's really gone weird."
But a few admitted to being curious, although they said they were unlikely to actually buy the book.
Hawker moved to Japan in 2006 to become an English teacher and was allegedly approached by Ichihashi on her train ride home from work, when he asked her for private tutoring.
Ichihashi is on trial for her rape and murder, but the date of his first court appearance has yet to be set.