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Okinawa story wins national Japan newspaper award

Date Posted: 2005-04-07

A touching story of a caring Okinawa policeman on tiny Iriomote Island has blossomed into a “Happy News 2004” award winner.

The story, originally published by Island Market and the Okinawa Times last November, centered on a tourist visiting Iriomote Island and losing his wallet. A policeman, Tatsuyuki Itou, took the report from the visitor that someone had stolen his wallet.”

Itou, who went to Iriomote in 2003, was aghast, telling the man “it can’t be the island people.” There were no other tourists on the island at the time, so initial suspicion was on the local residents. Itou was convinced the Iriomote people were too honest, so began looking elsewhere for the thief.

And then it struck. “It might be that bird,” he thought, recalling that birds flocked to tourist sites and picked up leftover foods. Itou conducted his own sting operation, setting a trap for the crows, watched one pick up the bread, and fly away. Itou followed and found the nest where, sure enough, the missing wallet was sitting. The tourist was happy; case closed. The bird was not arrested.

That’s where the story began. It was reported by the two newspapers, and read by a 62-year-old reader, Kimiko Seki. She submitted the story to the Japan Newspaper Association contest “Happy News in 2004”, and wound up the grand prize winner.

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