SAITAMA (TR) – Last week, Saitama Prefectural Police arrested two men over the alleged rape of a woman in Saitama City.
Missing from reports from news channels was that one of the suspects, Yota Watanabe, 24, was arrested for the same crime in five cases in 2018.
“Until my lawyer comes, I’ve got nothing to say,” Watanabe was quoted by the Omiya Police Station upon his arrest on suspicion of coerced intercourse on November 20. He was later not prosecuted.
Given the non-prosecution and his most recent comment, Nikkan Gendai (Nov. 25) wonders if Watanabe might know how to work the system to his benefit.
The latest incident took place early on March 24, 2019. At around 2:00 a.m., Watanabe and Kazuki Koyama, also 24, took the woman, aged in her 20s, to a karaoke parlor near JR Omiya Station after calling out to her in the street.
Over the next three hours, they are alleged to have sexually assaulted her, according to evening tabloid Nikkan Gendai (Nov. 25).
But that’s not all. At around 5:40 a.m., Koyama forced the woman into a nearby internet cafe where he is alleged to have sexually assaulted her again.
A passerby saw the woman crying outside the station at around 7:00 a.m. “I was raped,” she reportedly said.
The suspects, both of no known occupation, are acquaintances. The arrest for Koyama, who lives in Chiba Prefecture, is his sixth.
Police first arrested Koyama when he was a student at Keio University in 2018. That September, he was alleged to have sexually assaulted another woman in a stairwell of a multi-tenant building in Yokohama City’s Nishi Ward.
Through December, police added four more cases. All told, he was accused of rape, indecent assault, theft and other crimes. Prosecutors in Yokohama did not prosecute him in January of 2019.
Meanwhile, Koyama lives in Tochigi Prefecture. He was arrested along with Koyama in one of those cases in 2018. For the latest case, he also denies the allegations.
A reporter covering the Ministry of Justice beat says that Watanabe’s smartphone included photographic evidence of at least one of the incidents from 2018.
“The reason for the non-prosecution was not revealed, but it is believed that out-of-court [settlements were] reached,” the source says. “Due to that, he seems to have gotten cocky.”
While at Keio, Watanabe was popular. He appeared in the “Mr. Keio SFC Contest” in 2016. The winners of the event are determined via online voting over a three-month period.
When he was first arrested, Watanabe was living in a 200-square-meter apartment inside a fancy building in the ritzy Azabu Juban area of Tokyo’s Minato Ward.
According to Gendai, the rent runs about 1 million yen a month. But that’s not surprising given the wealth of his family.
Watanabe’s grandfather moved to Tokyo about 60 years ago and founded a civil engineering group company with assets currently valued at around 10 billion yen.
Affiliated businesses are currently managed by relatives, including Watanabe’s father. Watanabe currently lives in an employee dormitory for a company run by his father in Ichikawa City, Chiba.
Online site Business Journal speaks with a classmate of Watanabe at Keio who says that at the time of his first arrests he was an executive at the company run by his grandfather.
“After tabloids and TV stations reported on Watanabe’s arrests, his grandfather was furious,” says the classmate. “When I heard he was unemployed in news, I thought maybe his parents booted him out of the house.”
Business Journal then contacted the Saitama Prefectural Police. A representative of the force said that Watanabe consistently kept silent about the accusations and only requested to see a lawyer. “About [Watanabe’s] past criminal record, we have no comment,” the representative said while adding that the investigation could continue regarding other potential crimes.
Gendai suggests that Watanabe’s persistent silence is a means to being freed yet again — which makes the tabloid wonder: If yes, how many more victims will there be?