It’s been a long, weird ride for Yusuke Katayama. The former IT worker made national headlines this week when he announced he was changing his plea from “not guilty” to “guilty” on all charges including obstruction of business.

The charges against Katayama stem back to a string of threatening online messages that sparked a convoluted investigation full of eccentricities, with the criminal at one point using everything from a Final Fantasy language to a stray cat with key evidence strapped to its neck to taunt the authorities.

Wrongful arrests

It all began in September 2012 when several bomb and murder threats were posted on Japan’s 2channel message board website. The National Police Agency (NPA) apprehended four men after tracing the posts back to their computers.

However, the men were soon cleared of the charges after it became clear that a virus labelled iesys.exe had been used to remotely take control of their computers. The NPA released the men and issued a full public apology.

Around this time, the hacker and true poster of the messages released a statement. In it he claimed that he had always wanted to set up and embarrass the NPA, saying that he had been wronged by them in the past. However, later that year the same individual released a message alongside a photo of a figure from popular anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica standing in the middle of a LAN cable tied in the shape of a noose, claiming that he had failed and was going to commit suicide.

Great cat chase

Soon after New Year’s Day 2013, the unidentified hacker appeared to have gotten a second wind and began releasing riddle-like messages to police and the media. One of the riddles involved the fictional language of Al-Bhed from the video game Final Fantasy X.

In one instance, the perpetrator attached a memory card with information about the iesys.exe virus to a cat’s collar. After netizens deduced the cat’s location based on photographs shared online, a small band of police and civilians – including our own reporter Kuzo – headed to the island of Enoshima off the Fujisawa coast in search of the feline of interest.

After locating the cat, authorities came into possession of the memory card and, along with surveillance footage of a man attaching the color to a cat, were eventually led to Yusuke Katayama.

Adventures on Bail

All throughout his arrest and preliminary trials, the now 32-year-old Katayama flatly denied any involvement in this series of bizarre incidents. In March this year, the court granted him bail after he paid 10,000,000 yen (US$99,000). While on bail, he made numerous online appearances professing his innocence.

Then on 16 May, an anonymous email was sent to news organizations from someone claiming to be “the true criminal.” However, that same day an investigator who was trailing Katayama followed him to a dry river bed and witnessed him burying a mobile phone. After retrieving the phone, the authorities found that the “true criminal” email sent earlier that day came from it.

When Katayama learned of this discovery, he disappeared. Authorities suspected that he may have jumped bail but in the evening he sent word to his lawyers, “I am the true criminal.” He also said that he spend the day walking around the mountains contemplating suicide and tried to jump in front of a train but could not bring himself to do it.

Soon after, the court repealed his bail and he was returned to a Tokyo jail. Katayama’s lawyers issued apologies and statements to the press on his behalf, saying that in light of the authorities discovering his phone their client had decided it was best to come clean. This way the trial could resume and come to a close quickly, and Katayama’s mother “could soon get back her normal life.”

Katayama’s trial is set to resume on 22 May and is expected to end soon thereafter. We will report when the verdict is handed down because frankly I’m dying to know what kind of time he’s looking at for this buffet of public disturbances and wild goose chases.

Source: NHK 1, 2, 3, 4, Huffington Post Japan
Video: YouTube – syu5656