Case File #0124
The Monster with 21 Faces
The Glico Morinaga Case
"Don't let bad guys like us get away with it"
During 1984 and 1985 an unknown individual or group began a campaign of consumer terrorism against the Japanese industrial confectioneries Ezaki Glico and Morinaga. The perpetrators began by kidnapping the President of Glico, and after his escape continued to send threatening demands for money to stop the contamination of products, referring to themselves as the Monster with 21 Faces. The series of events became known in Japan by the official police designation, Metropolitan Designated Case 114 and remains unsolved.
Glico was established in 1919 making caramel candy products before expanding to produce a variety of confectionery products. Headquartered in Nishiyodogawa-ku, Osaka, the companies corporate message was "Good Taste and Good Health" and boasted impressive sales revenue, which made them a prime target for extortionists and blackmailers. On 18 March 1984, two masked men forced their way into the home of Glico President Katsuhisa Ezaki's mother and bound her, taking the key to her son's house next door.
Then at 9:00pm they used the key to enter Ezaki's residence armed with a pistol and rifle and proceeded tie up his wife and daughter. The two men said they would not hurt the family and were there only for Ezaki, who's wife then pleaded with the men, offering money in exchange for their freedom. The intruders refused and cut the phone lines and then found Ezaki hiding in the bathroom with his other children. Breaking down the door, they abducted Ezaki, threatening to kill him if he did not come quietly. He was blindfolded and taken to an unknown location.
The next day the kidnappers telephoned the Director of Glico at Takatsuki city and demanded a ransom for Ezaki's safe return. They asked for 1 billion yen and 100 kilograms of gold bullion. The company began preparations to meet their demands when three days later Ezaki was able to escape his confinement from a warehouse in Ibaraki city of the Osaka Prefecture and reported straight to the police. The ransom payment was stopped, however the extortionists were not ready to give up. The following month on 10 April, several vehicles were set on fire in the parking lot of the Ezaki Glico headquarters and six days later a plastic container was found in Ibaraki. When police inspected it, they discovered it contain hydrochloric acid and a threatening letter addressed to Glico.
The individual or group behind these events began sending letters to Glico on 10 May referring to themselves as "The Monster with 21 Faces". The was in reference to a villain from Edogawa Rampo's detective novels and can also be translated as "The Mystery Man with the 21 Faces" and "The Phantom with 21 Faces". The letters informed Glico that numerous confectionery products had been laced with potassium cyanide soda, which resulted in Glico removing their products from store shelves. This resulted in a loss of more than $21 million and over 450 part-time workers losing their jobs. The letters also threatened more acts of tampering unless the demands were met.

Katsuhisa Ezaki

Officers removing products from shelves

A potential suspect was captured on store security cameras placing Glico chocolate on a shelf. The individual was wearing a Yomiuri Giants baseball cap and although the photograph was made public, the individual was not identified. The Monster with 21 Faces continued to send letters to Glico and the media, ridiculing police efforts to apprehend those responsible. Investigators believed the linguistics used indicated the letter writer was from the Osaka Prefecture, because of the use of hiragana pronunciation.
A potential suspect was captured on store security cameras placing Glico chocolate on a shelf. The individual was wearing a Yomiuri Giants baseball cap and although the photograph was made public, the individual was not identified. The Monster with 21 Faces continued to send letters to Glico and the media, ridiculing police efforts to apprehend those responsible. Investigators believed the linguistics used indicated the letter writer was from the Osaka Prefecture, because of the use of hiragana pronunciation.

Dear dumb police officers.
Don't tell a lie.
All crimes begin with a lie as we say in Japan.
Don't you know that?
Letters were also sent directly to the Koshien police station taunting the police with clues to catch them.

Why don't you keep it 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 we used is Panwriter.
The plastic container used was a piece of street garbage.
Monster with 21 faces.
The perpetrators eventually decided to stop the campaign against Glico and on 26 June they sent a letter to the media declaring, "We Forgive Glico" and subsequently announced they would now turn their attention towards the confectionery company Morinaga, aswell as the companies Marudai Ham and House Foods Corporation. The letters to Marudai Ham promised cease all communication if their demand for 50 million yen was met. On 28 June, Marudai arranged for one of their employees to make a cash exchange which was to left on a train heading towards Kyoto.
The Monster made specific demands that the money must be thrown onto the train when a white flag was displayed. The Marudai employee was actually a policeman in disguise and he followed the instructions and spotted a suspicious looking man observing him. He later described the man as large, well built, with short permed hair, wearing sunglasses. The man must have removed the sunglasses because the policeman later described him as having "eyes like those of a fox."

Glico Suspect

"Fox-Eyed Man"

Subsequently the white flag was not displayed, so he followed the man as he disembarked the train at Kyoto station and when the policeman sat on a bench he could see that the "Fox-Eyed Man" was continuing to observe him from afar. Both men then boarded a train back to Osaka, with the "Fox-Eyed Man" keeping his distance in another train car. When the policeman left the train at Takatsuki station, the suspect boarded another train to Kyoto. At this point another undercover officer followed him but eventually lost sight of him.
The Monster with 21 Faces then began sending threatening letters to House Food Corporation who agreed to pay a ransom of 100 million yen to stop the harassment. The police set-up another sting operation on 14 November to catch the perpetrators and the Corporation were instructed to drop off the ransom at a designated place in Shiga Prefecture. They were to place the ransom in a can under a white piece of cloth which was suspended from a fence. The Police followed the cash deliver van to the drop off point but found the can was missing, despite the white cloth being present. At a rest stop by the Meishin Expressway, police saw the "Fox-Eyed Man" again. He was wearing a golf cap and dark glasses, but he managed to escape once again. As a result the operation was call off, the police believing their presence had been exposed, and the Monster evaded capture.
It was only later that the investigators realised another policeman had almost caught the "Fox-Eyed Man". An hour before the drop point delivery, an officer had come across a station wagon which was parked with it engine running and lights off. When he approached he noticed a thin man, in his 40's who was wearing a golf cap pulled down over his eyes. When the officer shone his flashlight he saw the man was holding a wireless wireless receiver with headphones. Startled by the appearance of the policeman, the "Fox-Eyed Man" drove off and although the policeman followed in pursuit, he eventually lost the station wagon.
The police traced the car and found it had been previously stole in Nagaokakyo in Kyoto prefecture and was later found abandoned near the Kusatsu Station. Inside police found the a vacuum cleaner and the radio transceiver, which they believe the "Fox-Eyed Man" was using to eavesdrop on police radio communications and was how he learned of the intended sting operation. They determined the suspect was able to listen to communications from six prefectures, including the prefecture of the drop-off point.
In December 1984 the Japanese confectionery and sushi restaurant chain Fujiya was targeted by the Monster, and in January 1985 the police then released a composite of the "Fox-Eyed Man" to the public in the hopes someone would recognise him. This tactic seemed to work and police identified Manabu Miyazaki as a person of interest. Miyazaki had previously been suspected of organising support for local trade unions against Glico, and issued a 1976 tape declaring support.
This tape contained similarities to the letters sent by the Monster and Miyazaki was believed to be behind several whistleblowing incidents between 1975 and 1976 which drew attention to the dumping of industrial waste into the local river. Glico was accused of these acts which brought considerable media attention to the company. Miyazaki was also considered to bear a strong resemblance to the "Fox-Eyed Man" and his father had ties to the local Yakuza Crime Syndicate. Towards the end of the blackmail campaign, Japan's largest Yakuza group, the Yamaguchi-gumi became embroiled in a war against an off-shoot organisation, the Ichiwa-kai.

The Monster with 21 Faces

The Police believed the Yakuza were somehow involved in the Monster with 21 Faces group, but this was never proved. When the Tokyo Metropolitan Police investigated Miyazaki further, they learned he had strong alibi's for the dates attributed to the extortion plots and he was then cleared of any involvement. Because of the investigations failure by the police force to capture the "Fox-Eyed Man" and the continued harassment by the group known as the "Monster with 21 Faces", Superintendent Yamamoto of the Shiga Prefecture Police committed suicide by self-immolation in August 1985. After the death of Superintendent Yamamoto, the group sent a message to the media.
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 let bad guys like us 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 condolence.
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 21 Faces.
This would be the last communication made by the "Monster with 21 Faces" and nothing more was heard from the group. The statute of limitations expired in June 1995 for the kidnapping of Glico President Katsuhisa Ezaki and in February 2000 the charge of attempted murder for the poisoned food products also expired. The identity of the "Fox-Eyed Man" and the group known as the "Monster with 21 Faces" has never been discovered and the case remains unsolved.

Written by Nucleus