Japanese news
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Japanese News:

Today, I will study an article published on NHK News Web about the Zama 座間市 murder case in which Shiraishi Takahiro 白石隆浩 killed 9 people.

In fact, I heard this report this morning, on the site NHK Radio News (report from the 24th November, 9:00 to 9:05). It appears that what the journalist said on the broadcast is the exact same contents than this article. I tried to understand as much as possible by only listening before reading the article.

Link to the article

I find this article easy to understand, even by only listening to it. It talks about the youngest victim of  Shiraishi Takahiro 白石隆浩, a high-school student of only 15. The article explains how the police could retrace her last known movements. We know that she bought a new tee-shirt, entered a station and probably changed to her newly bought black tee-shirt in the toilet while throwing her belongings (phone and IC card) away. It seems that she was told to do so by Shiraishi Takahiro to prevent the police from finding her living place.

Name and places

I always find that names and places are the most discouraging thing when reading an article in Japanese. I can’t pronounce them, which means, that even if I know the name because I read about it in the English Newspaper, I sometimes won’t be able to recognize it. Names and places are not words I want to memorize and I will certainly not put them on my Anki deck so it seems that the problem won’t solve itself. Maybe I should put some efforts to remember at least common family names and Japan prefectures…? I feel that knowing at least the kanji and pronunciation of the 都道府県 would make it easier to read or listen to the news.

  • 神奈川県座間市: かながわけん ざまし: Kanagawa prefecture, Zama city. This is where Shiraishi Takahiro lives and that’s why he is often referred to as the Zama serial killer.
  • 群馬県: ぐんまけん: Gunma prefecture. This is where lived the youngest victim, a 15-year-old high-school student.
  • 白石隆浩: しらいしたかひろ: Shiraishi Takahiro, still referred to as the “suspect” 容疑者 in our article.
  • 八王子市: はちおうじし: City of Hachioji. This is the city of one of Shiraishi’s victims.
  • 相模原市: さがみはらし: City of Sagami. This is a city near Zama city. This is where the high-school student bought the black tee-shirt.
  • 小田急電鉄の片瀬江ノ島駅:
    • 小田急電鉄: おだきゅうでんてつ: this is the name of a railway company, Odakyu Electric Railway.
    • 片瀬江ノ島駅: かたせえのしまえき: Katase-Enoshima Station. This is where the high-school student got off.

Some words worth remembering

Police related words

  • 捜査関係者: そうさかんけいしゃ: 捜査 means “criminal investigation” so the “persons related” to the investigation can be called, I think, the “investigators” in English.
  • 取材: しゅざい means “data collection” and is often used to describe the work of journalists gathering information.
  • 疑い: うたがい is a word that appears more than once in our article. Its first meaning is “doubt” but here it means “suspicion”.
  • 警視庁: けいしちょう is the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department
  • 容疑者: ようぎしゃ a suspect

Other words and expressions

  • to say that someone is missing, there is the expression 行方がわからない. The word 行方・ゆくえ means “sb’s whereabouts”.
  • 家を出た際の服装. The clothes (she was wearing) when she left home.
    • 際・さい is an N2 grammar that means “at the time…”, “when…”, “on the occasion…”. When I heard the report, I didn’t recognize it because I am used to hearing it combined with に: 際に.
    • I think that contrary to 出掛ける, the expression 家を出る means leaving home definitively, for example, when you turn 18 and go to university or when you get your own apartment. I guess that this meaning is implied here, that is, that the girl didn’t have the intention to come back. The article does not say anything about her intentions though, only that she certainly followed the instructions of Shiraishi.
  • 防犯カメラ・ぼうはんかめら: security camera. 防犯・ぼうはん means “prevention of crimes”

That’s it for this article, it was relatively easy to understand, I found. This whole affair is very shocking, I am not really following the progression of the investigation but when I see or hear some news about it like I did this morning, I try to understand what is said. Social issues are much easier to understand in Japanese than political ones.

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