The Man Under the Toilet - ILLUMINATION - Medium

Emmalina Alessandrya 5-6 minutes 3/30/2022

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The Fukushima Toilet Mystery

A photo of an old hut in the winter

Photo by Fabian Mardi on Unsplash

[February 28, 1989 | Fukushima Prefacture]

In a small village of Miyakoji, located in the outskirts of Japan, primary school teacher Yumi Tanaka had just returned to her teacher’s housing after a long weekend. Her Tuesday on February 28 began like any other day. She headed over to Dulu Village Elementary School to start her day, and by 5 PM, she was gonna call it a day after a quick toilet break.

Something caught her eye. Down the urinal opening, there was a … black shoe in it.

A photo illustrating the man’s position in the pipe

A photo illustrating the man’s position in the pipe. Photo source from daydaynews.

Back in 1989, it was common for Japan to use squat toilets that are directly connected to an individual small sewer tank with a U-shaped pipe. Yumi bravely decided to check the sewer tank out the outside.

It was clearly a pair of bare human feet.

She screamed. Her colleagues came running, but the man in the pipe did not budge. When the police arrived, they tried pulling him out to no avail as the opening of the outer pipe was only about 36 cm, and the man was stuck. One thing was certain the man was no longer alive. Authorities later called for the firemen, that got an excavator and crane to dig out the pipe and cut it open.

Curled up with his leg folded, the man was naked on his upper half, but he had a neatly-folded coat pressed to his chest. He was facing the inner urinal opening, and only one side of the shoe was found on the scene, near his head.

The forensic had to clean the man twice, washing off the feces and foul smell. The forensics concluded the cause of death to be hypothermia as it was freezing cold in the dead of winter. There were no signs of forced trauma on the body and any indication that he was fighting off any assailant from being pushed into the pipe. Just a few scratches on his elbow and legs. He was believed to be dead since the 26th.

Naoyuki Kanno

The man was quickly identified as Naoyuki Kanno. 26-year-old Naoyuki worked in a nuclear power maintenance company, and he’s an active community member of the village youth club. Young and bright Naoyuki often helped out villagers in need.

Naoyuki was last seen on February 24th, 4 days before being found dead. He left his house after letting his father know that he will be going out for a little while. Even though he did not return home that night, it did not alarm his parents as Naoyuki was an adult who often went out. But when they were unable to contact their son for 3 days, they searched for him and found Naoyuki’s car in a farmhouse parking lot. The car still had its keys in it, but Naoyuki was nowhere to be seen until the next day, when Yumi found his body.

How and why did he end up there?

Theory 1: Peeping Tom

As authorities could not find any definitive evidence of any foul play, they concluded his death as accidental death by hyperthermia and presumed Naoyuki as a pervert. He crawled into the pipe to peep at female private parts. While it’s unsure how close Naoyuki and Yumi were, they definitely knew each other.

Some reported that Yumi was cheating on her partner with Naoyuki, while some reported that Naoyuki was a close friend of Yumi’s partner. Naoyuki even helped Yumi track down the man who had been harassing her.

If Naoyuki did indeed have ill intentions, wouldn’t he first stalk Yumi and realize that she was not home for that 4 days? Naoyuki is no fool. He’s an employed man with a high position in the company. Did he not consider the possibilities of getting stuck in such tight spaces?

He left his car keys in his car, indicating he intended to return to his car quickly. The missing shoe was found a few hundred meters from his car. Is it possible he walk barefooted or, rather, one side barefooted through thick snow?

There wasn’t any evidence that reflected Naoyuki having such perverted tendencies, and his father reported that Naoyuki did not act anything out of the ordinary.

Theory 2: Murdered for political affairs

It was close to the general election of Dulu Village. The current and opposition had different opinions on expanding Fukushima nuclear power plant into Dulu Village. The opposition believed that it would benefit the village economically, but the current village head was concerned about the health effects on the villagers.

Naoyuki, the director of the sales department at the nuclear power maintenance company, once investigated the Fukushima nuclear power plant along with another colleague. Just a month before Naoyuki’s death, his colleague committed suicide. Rumors have been that the two may have angered someone associated with the general election.

Over 4,000 Dulu villagers requested a reinvestigation of the case, but it never happened. The case will remain a mystery and will never be open again as it passed Japan’s limitation statute.

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