One might describe Yawatahama City as a quiet municipality dedicated to mikan farming and boasting the top harbor in all of Shikoku.
A gruesome development that unfolded this summer, however, is poised to shatter that tranquil image.
In taking a closer look, weekly tabloid Shukan Jitsuwa (Aug. 13) says that the case is actually far more dark than it already seems on the surface.
On July 14, police first arrested Wakabayashi for the abandonment of an infant inside her home.
“What triggered the arrest was a local citizen calling a city office to say that Wakabayashi has looked pregnant (previously) but she has never produced a baby,” a local news reporter for a national paper tells the magazine.
In late June, a number of government workers visited Wakabayashi’s home on multiple occasions to look into the matter. She told the officials each time that she was not pregnant, only “overweight.” However, during a visit by a nurse on July 6 she was visibly slimmer. At that time, she claimed to be suffering from a disease of the ovaries and taking medicine.
Eight days later, a search of a closet in her residence by police revealed the skeletal corpse of an infant tucked into a plastic bag. One week later, a search of the entire property resulted in the discovery of four more infant corpses wrapped in plastic sheets and hidden in a storage locker.
Wakabayashi, who lives in the residence with her father, younger brother and eldest son, has reportedly admitted to the allegations. “From around 2006, I have been giving birth and dumping the corpses of the babies,” the suspect told police.
Shukan Jistuwa speaks with local residents and acquaintances who describe Wakabayashi’s existence as one of loneliness (“a friendly greeting toward her was not reciprocated”) and irritability (“out walking she’d suddenly burst into anger”) amid persistent poverty.
The magazine suspects that Wakabayashi used an addiction to pachinko to mask such difficulties.
“Everyday, she’d hit the pachisuro” — or pachinko slot — “machines at a parlor near her residence,” says a parlor regular. “She’d stay from morning until evening. She has a reputation for being a regular. If someone came up to her while she was at a machine, she’d wave them off, basically saying, ‘I’m staying.’ She was what one calls a ‘pachinko professional.'”
When going out shopping, she’d be attired in frumpy outfits and no make-up; but that was not the case for pachinko.
“She wore boots and one-piece outfits that revealed her underwear,” continues the regular, “and while she played she made sure to flash some skin.”
And this was done for a good reason.
“She’d go through the parlor looking for male customers who had just hit it big and might be interested in some action,” says the regular. “Once she found such a guy she’d take him off the premises for about two hours. Then she’d return to once again engage in ‘pachinko prostitution.’ But I’ve heard that she mainly solicits customers via Internet sites.”
In the past, she worked at fuzoku (sex-related) parlors.
“Six years ago she was in the ‘delivery health’ industry,” says the pachinko regular in referring to call-girl services. “In 2013, she dressed in a mini-skirt while soliciting truck drivers in the area around the Yawatahama Ferry Terminal. She has never been able to have what one would consider a normal job.”
Her life in the world’s oldest profession began while in high school.
“She and I were in a group where we sought customers together,” says a former classmate who uses the phrase enjo kosai, or compensated dating, to describe the practice.
Up until this point, Wakabayashi had been living with her mother in public housing as her parents were separated. The death of her mother due to cancer later forced her and her brother to move into the current residence they share with their father.
“She seemed to be in trouble with money,” says a family friend. “For school expenses Emi-chan (Wakabayashi) received support from an acquaintance.”
Soon after graduation, when she was in her early 20s, she got married and gave birth to her son. She and her husband are currently separated.
The magazine says that Wakabayashi likely worked as a prostitute while in school to support her struggling family.
“She was highly skilled at giving blow-jobs; certainly, she seemed to have had plenty of practice,” says a customer from those days. “She didn’t require the use of a condom, and she didn’t care one way or another whether I finished inside her or not.”
Shukan Jitsuwa concludes that it is highly likely that the five infant bodies found in the residence were fathered by her customers.
Police are now conducting DNA tests on the corpses. The intention is to eventually apply murder charges to Wakabayashi. (K.N.)
Source: “Joren kyaku ga dokusen kokuhaku! Nyuji 5-ri kogoroshi kichikume no naka dashi tekunikku,” Shukan Jitsuwa (Aug. 13, pages 40-43)