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Japanese man charged after body parts found in cooler box

Takahiro Shiraishi was arrested on Tuesday after parts of a dismembered body were found in a picnic cooler in his apartment just outside Tokyo.

Takahiro Shiraishi covers his face with his hands as he is transported to the prosecutor's office from a police station in Tokyo on 1 November 2017. Picture: AFP.

TOKYO - A 27-year old Japanese man has been charged with “abandoning bodies” after police discovered body parts from eight women and one man in his apartment.

Takahiro Shiraishi was arrested on Tuesday after parts of a dismembered body were found in a picnic cooler in his apartment in Zama, a city just outside Tokyo.

According to the New York Times, news reports reveal that police also found a saw, ropes and an awl, apparently used to restrain and cut the bodies.

The body parts, which included severed heads, were found in cold-storage containers and tool boxes, some covered in cat litter.

Kyodo News reported that Shiraishi, who worked as a recruiter for an escort service based in the Tokyo red-light district of Kabukicho, had confessed to sexually assaulting some of the women before killing them.

He also reportedly wanted money and stole 500,000 yen, or about $4,400, from one of the victims.

The New York Times says according to news outlets he created Twitter accounts specifically to attract people with suicidal thoughts.

The authorities were initially led to Shiraishi’s apartment while searching for a missing 23-year-old Tokyo woman who had posted on Twitter that she was “looking for someone who will die with me”.

Her brother reported her missing late last month, and through her Twitter account found that she had been exchanging messages with Shiraishi.

The suspect told the police that he had sent a Twitter message to the woman saying, “Let’s die together,” Kyodo reported.

According to The Asahi Shimbun, the brother provided the police with Shiraishi’s Twitter handle, and investigators identified another woman who had been in touch with the suspect. She agreed to contact Shiraishi and to invite him to meet her at a train station while the police observed.

After the woman identified Shiraishi, the police followed him back to his apartment on Monday.

When they knocked on the door, he answered, and the police saw boxes inside. When they asked Shiraishi if he knew where the missing woman was, according to the Asahi report, he replied, “In that cooler.”

The New York Times says Japan has the third-highest suicide rate of the world’s richest countries, after South Korea and Hungary, and its government has prioritised suicide prevention, monitoring suicide-related message boards on the internet, among other measures.

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