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Father’s real estate empire forms backdrop for ‘deranged’ Shibuya gumshoe

Friday Feb. 27
Friday Feb. 27
On the afternoon of February 7, Tokyo Metropolitan Police responded to call about a man who had barricaded himself inside his 14th-floor apartment in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward.

In footage broadcast on a number of television stations, Hiroshige Ito, dressed in a hooded jacket, was seen brandishing what turned out to be a toy gun and tossing a number of items, including a bag of golf clubs, down from the apartment’s balcony.

About eight ours later, officers arrested Ito, a 47-year-old former head of Shibuya branch of the GK Investigation, on charges of interfering with the duties of a public servant.

According to Friday (Feb. 27), the antics of Ito are yet another example of a son chasing a dream against the wishes of his well-heeled father — who in this case is Ryozo Ito, the founder of the Barbizon real estate empire.

Barbizon manages more than 100 buildings nationwide. The cafe Blue Point, which is located inside the company’s 17th building, opened in Shiroganedai, Tokyo three decades ago. It quickly became a popular destination for Japan’s entertainment industry.

“From the time it opened, (entertainer) Masaaki Sakai and (actor) Masaki Kanda were regulars,” a real estate insider tells Shukan Jitsuwa (Mar. 5). “It flourished as the go-to spot for celebrities. (Actor) Kenji Haga used it as a pick-up spot.”

Hiroshige Ito is the oldest of three sons. After graduating in 1994 from Tokai University, where he studied politics and economics, he joined his father’s company.

“From when he was in elementary school, he was a big fan of the television drama ‘Tantei Monogatari’ (Detective Story) which starred Yusaku Matsuda,” says an acquaintance. “He yearned to start up such a business on his own.”

Hiroshige Ito
Hiroshige Ito
Ito went on to do just that, and, starting in 1996, he appeared regularly over a two-year period on TV Asahi under the name “Japan Detective.” His catch phrase was: “This is a declaration of a full special investigation, I want to meet with you!”

It was during this time that Ito got married, the ceremony for which was attended by a number of celebrities, including Sakai.

Ryozo Ito had initially opposed his son’s decision to become an independent private detective. But the pair eventually reconciled their differences, and the younger Ito served as the representative director of Barbizon between 1996 and 2000.

The relationship became strained after the publication of the book “Pursuer” in which Ito revealed some inside information on how his father does business. The senior Ito subsequently took back control of the company.

“At that time, Barbizon was being hit with a number of credit problems,” says the aforementioned acquaintance. “This was the father’s limit as far as dealing with his oldest son.”

In 2004, Ito trained for six months under Jimmy Sakota, the former chief investigator in the narcotics unit of the U.S. federal prosecutor’s offices in Los Angeles. Four years later, he completely estranged himself from Barbizon.

Ryozo Ito’s second son now manages the company. In the fall of last year, the senior Ito was hospitalized due to being stricken with cancer. The third son takes care of him.

Police rappelling into Ito's apartment
Police rappelling into Ito’s apartment
For Hiroshige, his most recent work involved searching for runaways at GK Investigation.

What then lead to his outburst in Shibuya, which an acquaintance who had called authorities that day described as “deranged?”

Friday thinks it could be that he finally snapped.

At around 8:45 p.m., a special tactical unit of the Tokyo police rappelled down the side of the building and entered Ito’s unit. Four toy guns were found inside.

“His second brother now acts as a wall (between him and the rest of the family), and he’s on the outside,” says the acquaintance, “In the process of untangling himself from managing the company, he built up a large amount of stress.”

Source: “Shibuya tatekomori-moto tantei shacho no ‘hito ni ienai nayami,'” Friday (Feb. 27, pages 84-85)