144: The Monster With 21 Faces
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We're talking about the japanese mystery of the monster with twenty one faces which sounds as terrifying as it was back in the seventies and eighties so it all starts with ezaki glico. And i apologize if i mess his name or any of the japanese names in here. He was the ceo of glee co. It's a giant food company established in one thousand nine hundred and based out of osaka japan. Glee comex a ton of steph curry baby formula dental supplements for example. Today though it's best known for candy and it's the exact type of japanese candy or thinking of really cool like brightly colored innovative design fund packaging. In fact it's most popular item. Be probably 'paki very fun very delicious. But 'paki was not the same back in the eighties nineties because it could have killed you so around nine pm. On march eighteenth nineteen eighty-four the president of co and the grandson of the company cats ezaki came home from work and took a bath. He had been president around two years at the time and was either bathing with his children or having a bath children close by hopefully the ladder. His kids were yukiko. Who is four years old and it's suru. Who was eleven years old little. Did he know masked men broke into the condo. Next door her seventy year old mother yoshie lived. They tied her up with cut telephone wire and trash the place taking only the key to his occupies house from her soon as occupants strange sounds another part of the house as soon as the sounds registered to armed hooded men burst into the bathroom and ezaki and his kids were panicked as akis wife maceio and his other daughter marie cocco who was seven at the time were already tied up in the living room and the assailants cut the house phone lines and took ezaki and his kids into the main room. Apparently makiko offered them. Money begged them to let her go and her kids and they responded be quiet. Money is relevant and that will be a theme of this case. The two men took his ocoee who was completely naked at the time having just left the bath out of his home to an abandoned warehouse. The police were notified the next day and search for some signs to whereas ocoee was not too long after the search began. A ransom note was found in a nearby phone booth demanding a billion yen about four point. Three million dollars in nineteen eighty four and two hundred and twenty pounds of gold bullion which is about one point three million dollars at the time. Some sources say that a call from the phone booth went to the glico company others say. It was a ladder altogether. It was the largest ransom. Demand ever made in japanese history. Detectives were just starting to chase down the leads when after two days in captivity is emerged from the warehouse and seemed like kind of okay. Unfortunately is hockey wasn't super useful in figuring out who took him or what happened. He said he had a bag placed over his head for pretty much the entire time and had been given some clothing by his doctors. They fed him juice and crackers and told his ocoee his eight year. Old daughter had also been kidnapped which was not true. Eventually sake was able to loosen his bindings and kick down a door. He ran down the street barefoot to freedom while he believed they had been carrying toy. Guns the only thing ezaki was really able to provide to the police by way of information identifying the warehouse which is close to the river couldn't tell the police who kidnapped him again or why so as oculus fine. His family is safe but we are just getting started on april tenth. Nineteen eighty-four less than a month after zakim abduction. A bunch of cars in the parking lot mysteriously catch on. Fire a couple of weeks after that. There's a second fire. Company property damaging the building itself and then less than one week after that on april sixteenth nineteen eighty-four plastic container full of hydrochloric. Acid was found inside a glee co company building. A different one from the fire but same city that is oculus held captive. There was something else besides hydrochloric acid found in the container. There was also a letter. it was addressed to glee. Cohen demanded a one time payment to end the harassment. At around the same time a similar letter was sent to the media. It said to the stupid police. Are you idiots. If he were pros you would catch us. Because you guys have such a high handicap. We're gonna give you some hints so it's already like so cinematic at this point this cat and mouse game that nobody asked for and we're not even sure why it's happening. The letter went on to include the following hints that the getaway vehicle and the abduction of his ocoee was gray and that the abductors had purchased food from a well-known supermarket chain. They further taunted. The police by speculating. Should we kidnapped the head of the local police. The note was signed kajen. mental inspired by popular series of japanese detective novels. It translated a couple of different ways in a couple of different languages as the mystery man with twenty one faces. The phantom twenty one faces or the monster with twenty one faces in may of nineteen eighty four. More letters arrived. Not only glee go the candy company where they were attempting to extort millions of millions of dollars but to police to press letters abounded they all shared the same sarcastic tone and signed the monster with twenty one faces in all of these letters. The monster with twenty one faces began to make allusions to them having laced glico products with potassium cyanide. A toxic substance that you've probably heard about if properly administered could kill people especially kids. I think we've done a couple episodes on the lethality. If that's a word how cyanide can kill you or at the very very least make you deal. As a result glucose forced to pull all of its products off store shelves. Roughly twenty million worth of products ironically. This amount was more than three times. The original ransom demand for the company president cuts he says ezaki safe return. Cleo's reputation obviously took a huge hit it stock price plummeted. It laid off a thousand employees but at the end of the day. None of the products were laced with poison. They were just threats. The closest thing to products being tampered with was security camera capturing man wearing a yummy muri giants baseball cap and business suit putting what looked like tainted glico candy on the shelves and the footage was only looked at after someone noticed glico candy which at the time had been recalled and was not being sold. The footage was to the media but the man was never identified so caused a commotion but couldn't help contribute to the solving of the case in june another fire occurred on glico property and someone claiming to be part of the monster with twenty one faces contacted co telling them that a payment of one point three million would end the harassment for good. Of course they were even more letters. One letter red deer dumb police officers. Don't tell a lie. All crimes begin with ally as we say in japan. Don't you know that. They referred to investigators poor stupid cops and in one letter even teased police for failing to intercept a phone. Call with glee co administrators. You thought you could fool us. Dressed up in your nice businessman's blue suit acting like salarymen. Those shifty eyes give you away the letters constantly. Blame the police for not catching the monster with twenty one faces and kept sharing details of the crimes details that no one else would know but the perpetrators another letter sent to the police said. Why don't you keep to yourself. You seem to be at a loss so why not let us help you. We'll give you a clue. We entered the factory by the front gate. The typewriter used is pan writer. The plastic container used was a piece of street garbage monster with twenty one faces. So now at this point we're just signing it monster with one hundred phases. We've got the name we've got this whole persona behind these letters and june twenty-sixth nineteen eighty-four the monster with twenty one faces kind of chilled out. They sent a letter to the press which was addressed to our fans throughout japan. In this letter the mysterious group announced that they were going to take it easy. Gli coat moving forward. The president ugly co has already gone around with his head hanging down long enough. We would like to forgive him. They then wrote that. They had quote become bored with this affair. And we're heading to europe to escape the muggy japanese summer japan has gotten terribly hot and humid so when our work is done we want to go to europe. Geneva paris london. We'll be in one of those places. Let's bring 'paki the travelers friend delicious glee co products them to see you in january of next year which obviously for a country that was in panic about being poisoned for company. Just at odds with this amorphous villain shocked everybody. So we're gonna take a break. Have a little snack and get back to it later. Hey listeners we talk about some dark stuff on the podcast and hey we live in a frigging dog world which is now why more than ever. I'm all about taking care of myself. 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Oh shit the research that goes into the podcast is remarkable. I salute the present on this also. The wide range of subject matters astonishly good. I've listened to eight of these. Podcasts learned so much from. Unfortunately i'm not a fan of the chatting in the middle with the reviews or discuss who is kind of contributing to by doing know. Yeah i haven't that's okay. I appreciate it. It lends no value to the podcast and his irritated. Be immensely nights. Listen with a lot of talk. And no substance mostly about why the presenters continue the banter part of the show defending turn that point as it was so annoying. That's me that's me done with the podcast. They want to be a way to relax and learn. It's a shame that it could be so much more enjoyable with the right format for me. Personally i love. We still get five stars though so it was really really complimentary. I have you ever watched a television show. Before because there's commercials what literally watch or see or maybe they're just less annoying. I look for free. And i think everyone because there's so much free content. They're like well it's free and it's not perfect to my ears. I'm offended and your opinion is valid. Insure it's not wrong. No what about if. There's one person that enjoys it so they can't listen to it because you can get so easy to fast forward. I've done it. I know i do literally all the time. Sometimes i listen. Sometimes i don't yeah. We're all in the same exactly exactly and i'm holding back. Let's be honest. i can talk about a lot more. Oh you don't know the way things used to be way different. That was from listening in uk from great britain. Thanks but thank you for viewing it amazing. I love this. It makes you feel like you're talking to someone casually and it's funny you learn something new or one visit somewhere where something odd happens with recommend to anyone who likes comedy and haunted places. Really miss rebecca's dating stories as it doesn't deserve the. Hey well well well. Another great britain from cherry blossom. You know there's one for you. What do you guys want. I'm confused more dating stories. List dating stories. Some of the middle love. I listen to this podcast at work. So good ashlin. Joe eighty-six from the us. And a. i love it. And i know some people very shut this off. But there's more there's more content. I guess with the question. Let's get back to the content to the year. Nineteen eighty four. It is june we are in japan. The monster with twenty one faces has stopped harassing candy company. And that's true. They sent that letter saying that. They weren't going to vacation in europe for the summer. I don't know if that happened personally. No sources said confirmed that yes or no but they did stop harassing co but they did not stop harassing as a whole instead. They turn their attention to other giant food corporations. The rival candy company morinaga house foods corporation and marutei ham. I hope him saying that right mood. I got it. I on the same day that they offered the peace treaty to geico. They agreed to stop harassing meru. Die if they paid a ransom of fifty million yen. Approximately two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. If they agreed to those terms they would be provided with detailed instructions and how to deliver the money. Two days later on. A train headed from osaka. Kyoto on the money drop day. June twenty eighth nineteen eighty-four. Police investigator disguised himself as an employee. A ham. He hopped on the train to kyoto where he was to be on lookout for while he was looking for a white flag hanging outside the train. As soon as he saw the flag he was supposed to toss the bag of money. He was carrying outside. Were picked up by a member of the monster with twenty one faces on the train. The officer noticed a suspicious looking man. He described this. Man is being physically large kind. Brawny i guess. Short hair glasses and quote is like those of a fox and this sky was staring at him. The officer was staring right back at him and they were having a real train. Staredown the signal for the money. The white flag never have so. The officer rode the train all the way to kyoto and prepared to take the next train back to osaka. He noticed the man was taking the same train. Back to asaka the fox eyed man as a suspicious guy would later be known became kind of the public face of the monster with twenty one faces even though he was just a guy he was never confirmed to be connected to the crime. Ring or anything. Just a weirdo on a train. But then the monster with twenty. One faces hit up glucose rival candy company morinaga. Same type of letters written in the same type. Same sarcasm. the only difference was that these letters seem to become more threatening one letter containing thirty grams of sodium cyanide demanded a ransom payment of four hundred thousand dollars in october of nineteen eighty-four. A letter was sent to japanese media. Addressing the moms of the nation it said to moms throat japan in autumn when appetites are strong sweet and really delicious when you think sweets no matter what you say it's morinaga. We've added some special flavor. The flavor of potassium cyanide is a little bit bitter. It won't cause tooth. Decay suburban suites for your kids. We've attached to notice on these bitter suites that they contain poison. We've put twenty boxes in stores from chicago to tokyo really mocking tone. But they're kind of solidifying the fact that while with the other candy company glico. It was threats. This it feels more real. Police began to search stores and cities all across japan. And this time they actually found more than a dozen tainted products more naga choco balls and angel pies dosed with sodium cyanide. At least six items had a lethal dose inside during the extensive search which involves tens of thousands of police officers. It was discovered that the latest items had been given obvious typewritten labels which read danger contains poisoning. You'll die if you eat this. The monster with twenty one faces. So they're doing these things but they're labeling it really clearly it's like a game or a joke they clearly don't want to kill people that's not the aim and they certainly don't want money that's also not the aim of this organization. It's to keep people in perpetual fear it's to use japan's resources to try to find them and try to protect the public but the fact that like they have a note on the things that are poison is so game like to me more letters of to that of course this time. They hinted at the lace packages not being labeled which would make identifying them almost impossible. Of course everyone. In japan was completely fucked up about this and the company's products were pulled immediately from the shelves saving glencoe. Morinaga had a huge blow to sales stocks. Went down they let go of roughly four hundred fifty employees which is the status part. Because it's like so out of their control months later. In february of nineteen eighty five. Police would find several more laced morinaga products and osaka tokyo kyoto. He'll go an it. In member of nineteen eighty-four the monster with twenty one faces decided to go after the house. Food corporation a company known for its current tofu. Products one of the first letter to them had a packet of poison. Curry and a note that read we are the culprits involved in the glee. Co and morinaga incidents. If you do not want to become another glee co and morinaga put out the cash. If you don't respond we'll poison your products simplisafe. Civilised really getting right to it. House foods decided not to play the same game as glee co and more naga. They were going to pay the ransom of one hundred million yen. Approximately four hundred thousand dollars at this point time. They didn't want to mess with it. November fourteenth nineteen eighty-four house food reps were given the directions to drop the money at a location in a trash can marked by a white cloth but then the monster with twenty one faces called it off the white cloth which was supposed to be draped over the canister was laying on the ground indicating that the deal was off. Interestingly enough the fox eyed man was spotted by the police close to the house foods. Drop off location along with the suspicious station wagon within estimated to be in his forties. The van was found later abandoned in an adjacent town. In december nineteen eighty-four. The monster with twenty one faces chilled out house foods and went for fiji japanese retail and restaurant chain in january. The police publicly released a sketch of the fox side. Man who had now been encountered near two of the supposed drop off. Locations in february. More letters came for virginia and again for morinaga but also me g. and lottie valentine's day was approaching. Might as well hit more candy companies again really popular. Really giant can't companies hope. I'm saying their name right. I was familiar with them because they sell them here in little tokyo at saw. Tell some more inaugu. Candies laced with cyanide. Were found on shelves clearly marked as poison. It was at this point year since the monster with twenty one faces appeared and no one was happy with the police an editorial in the newspaper. You'll meet ru shimbun. Contain the line. We do not recall a case in which criminals have made such fools of the police. That summer shoji yamamoto. The fifty-nine-year-old police superintendent of shiga prefecture was fired. He taken the failure to catch the monster with twenty one faces really really personally and just days after his firing doused himself in kerosene in his backyard and burned himself alive just days later on august. Twelfth nineteen ninety-five. The monster with twenty one faces sent their last known message to the media in the letter they pointed out police officials that had been overseeing the investigation into them and announced that they were retiring from harassing food companies and terrifying. The public yamamoto of shiga prefecture. Police died how stupid of him. We've got no friends or secret hiding place in shiga it's yoshino or shikata who should have died. What have they been doing for as long as one year and five months. Don't want bad guys like get away with it. There are many more fools who want to copy us. No career yamamoto died like a man so we decided to give our condolences. We decided to forget about torturing food making companies if anyone blackmails any of the food making companies. It's not us but someone copying us. We are bad guys. That means we've got more to do other than bullying companies. It's fun to lead a bad man's life monster with twenty one faces and just like that they were gone. Of course the search for them did not stop. The police investigated at that point over one hundred twenty five thousand people and followed up on twenty eight thousand three hundred public tips. The problem was like i said earlier. There was no clear motive as to why this was happening. And by whom so. There's three theories some better than others. Theory number one. The monster with twenty one faces some kind of stock psycho analyst guy. Each company took a hit but when they were left alone. Their stock price surged and also the culture underpants. Time was to try to support these companies help them so when their products went back in the markets people bought a ton of them which again feels like the safest thing but people really back these companies that they had a long history with its like nabisco or something like things that we as a culture really align with japanese people at that time did too and they were really on these large companies sides. So maybe it was money making effort. Maybe to the coosa. The japanese mob around the time that the monster with twenty one faces disbanded. the yamauchi. war happened violent. Four year conflict within the acoustic that resulted in a major overhaul to the crime ring structure. So maybe this was a part of the coosa. Things weren't going well. Different areas were vying for power and they kind of broke it up because they didn't wanna work together. The time of this happening and the are very very close. So i think it's hard to ignore any kind of lack of mop tie. Three men boo. Ms who was identified investigators in january of nineteen five. He matched the physical description of the fox at man. Sketch and also was involved in a labor dispute with coleco. He was always kind of around. During some very sketchy. Whistleblowing incidents one of which pointed out. How glee co had been illegally disposing of industrial. Waste in local bodies of water conveniently. Enough manabu milwaukee's father was cousy boss which fit the mo of the monster with twenty one faces miyazaki airtight alibi but he could have been one of the organizers he published a book about his experience which is titled topa mono the book details primarily the difficulties of being a major crime suspect in one of japan's most iconic crimes and how the association would carry in the following months in years into his life and affect him. In one thousand nine hundred the statute of limitations out on kidnapping ran out in two thousand expired. I'm poisoning of any candy. The week prior a press conference had been held at the national police agency headquarters an official name yuji a ura admitted defeat and regret at having not been able to solve this case because he is ocoee. The man who's kidnapping had jump started this whole thing and the investigation back in nineteen eighty four was at the press conference still acting president of the glee co company to this day. The identity of the monster with twenty one faces remains unknown. I never heard of that before. I went into a huge deep dive on it. There's not as much information as you would think especially having been not that long ago. I mean as soon as you started this. I was dying to know what the result would be. Yeah i had a feeling that there was none but also the same time. That's what makes it so interesting. Not the not knowing and yet it isn't that long ago and i wonder i wonder. In retrospect in hindsight there's other things they could have done to find this out There's also the possibility that they didn't wanna find it out like maybe there's please connections in corruption. I don't know maybe. I've been to tokyo once and i've been to kyoto so my opinion. Yeah you're you're an expert. It's pretty i mean. No one's asked me about it the whole time just sitting here waiting. Just just waiting. Yeah i think it i. It must be mob related. I think chaos also fucking love it because it's like for me. I'm like i try to be again. Like anti-cooperation big corporations in the power that they have. I love like this feels kind of like in the same vein of game. Stop where it's like we're in tribute your own game. You think you're making money we're gonna make money off of you. We're going to damage you and you're never going to know who we are when you do it again at any given time the can you imagine if this happened in america. I don't know what it would result in. But i just think at any point we can come in here fuck with everyone's food products and then vanish like that. Is that sounds so traumatic. The industry of japan has recovered from this. But i'm sure there's some vestigial fear and panic and you were there once but i think that happens when things is not this same thing but when there's botulism or it's like can is dented like i hit lingers like certain lettuces you couldn't eat there's always those kinds of things and i think those things even they lingered. I'm sure there's probably people in japan when they you know go pick up a pocket or something like that. Maybe they're just like i choose to never eat this again. Based on how traumatizing. The scare was only people. Don't want money that is or why are you doing this. You're just fucking with the chaos like why people would hack into something and not want anything like that equivalent. Yeah and really one person died in this case. I'm sure there are many more who were traumatized by you. Know clearly that and yet they were people that were affected by it. But there's only one death and that is a self inflicted death in this whole case which is also in insane given the amount of panic that this caused. Yeah i mean. I think at this point you enough time that pass were somebody would is always somebody that knows something connected to it or not connected to it and i feel like the truth would be revealed by this point nine at this point after similar to be like oh p s which was why i think it's mob related. No mob members going to be like. That's time a talk this out. You really have it off. The ma i hate the mob. You heard your first and last probably last. This episode is brought to you by ten ten. 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