When Takahiro Ueyama was a boy he dreamed of becoming a police officer like his father. Rain or shine, even on holidays, he would remember his dad rushing out to help people when needed. Ueyama studied hard to achieve his goal and in 1989 he was finally able to be like his old man. It didn’t stop there either, up-and-coming Officer Ueyama continued to work hard and eventually outperformed his father in police work, earning an award in the process.

Takahiro Ueyama told all this to the Kobe District Court last month where he stood trial for extortion. By this time his crime had become widely publicized as it was carried out in order to pay off his mounting mobile phone game bills of 500,000 yen (US$5,000).

According to testimony at the trial, after spending two decades with the force, Ueyama began to feel disenchanted with how his line of work was changing over time. “I was an old-fashioned person who wasn’t able to adapt,” he said, “I thought about retiring.”

  February, 2013

He found a way to cope with his malaise through a game he discovered on the internet. Rage of Bahamut (Shingeki No Bahamuto), is a card-based role playing game where players can interact, compete and work together. The game also offers special cards and items which allow you to progress faster in the game in exchange for real money.

“It was fun playing a game where everyone was working towards a goal together,” testified Ueyama. Gradually he began purchasing in-game items until, before he knew it, he was spending tens of thousands of yen (hundreds of US dollars) a month.

  June, 2013

On 19 June, on a quiet road through the mountains of Tatsuno City, Hyogo Prefecture, Ueyama and his partner came across a “suspicious vehicle” parked on the side of the road. Following standard police questioning practices, Ueyama checked the driver’s license and took down her information. Finding nothing out of the ordinary, both police and the woman went on their way.

Afterwards, Ueyama was again confronted with a sizable phone bill having bought increasingly more expensive items for Rage of Bahamut. “I was feeling at my breaking point,” he testified. At a loss over how to pay this bill, he picked up the information of the woman he had pulled over earlier.

Suddenly he realized a way to get the money he needed. Ueyama got a piece of paper and began writing out a note which he would deliver to the woman threatening her for money. However, a pang of guilt stung the officer and he considered all he had worked to become. As Ueyama later described in court, he “chickened out and stopped.”

  July, 2013

A few weeks later during the public holiday of Marine Day, Ueyama’s game bills hadn’t gotten better. In fact his June bill alone had come in at 200,000 yen ($2,000). He told his girlfriend who he was living with at the time that he was just popping out to the station for a bit.

However, he drove right past the station and headed for the home of the woman whom he had pulled over the month before. He had a paper with him that read, “I have a recording of you talking to the police. Why don’t you buy it?” When he arrived he attached the note to the woman’s windshield and drove off.

Upon finding Ueyama’s half-hearted and somewhat ambiguous threat, the woman immediately went to the police. As they were investigating the incident, Ueyama – frustrated that the woman hadn’t responded – began working on a second note to give her. However, he wouldn’t be able to complete it as the first note had already been swiftly traced back to him leading to his arrest on 14 July.

  September, 2013

With the testimony completed, Judge Atsushi Tomita took the stand on 24 September to announce the fate of Takahiro Ueyama. The prosecution requested two and a half years in prison saying that he “exploited personal information that he had gotten from official police questioning in a despicable crime for his own gain.”

However, the defense asked for leniency saying that Ueyama had already been dismissed from the force. The judge agreed but said, “after considering that the motive was being unable to pay the high charges of a game, the defendant cannot be spared prison” and gave him a one and a half year sentence. The sentence is currently being appealed.

Even if the appeal is successful, Ueyama has already lost it all. You could blame the game for selling him an artificial sense of fulfillment or you could blame the current state of police work for making him lose that sense in the first place. Then again, maybe it was just Ueyama himself who lost perspective on his own life somewhere along the way.

Source: IT Media News (Japanese)
Image: RocketNews24
Video: YouTube – GamesAwesome