Tamako Kawashita was cheerful and in high spirits when she left Japan for what she expected to be a wonderful trip to Thailand 17 years ago. “Her life, however, ended tragically during the trip and it is sad that her killer is still at large,” Tamako’s father, Yasuaki, said at Suvarnabhumi International Airport on Sunday.
His daughter’s body was found near Saphan Hin Temple in Sukhothai’s Mueang district during the Loy Krathong festival in November 2007. Also found at the scene was the bicycle she had rented for sightseeing.
Her throat had been slit and her belongings were missing, leading police to suspect that it was a robbery gone wrong.
Her parents said in an earlier interview that their daughter had saved money for her Thailand trip by taking extra jobs and that she was especially attracted to the Loy Krathong festival in Thailand.
“I have not been to Thailand for about five years and, so far, there has been no progress at all (in finding her killer). It is unfair to me and my family,” he said.
Today, Tomoko’s parents visited and laid flowers at the spot where their child was killed.
They both wept while speaking in memory of Tomoko.
They then visited an upper floor of Saphan Hin Temple and other places their daughter had visited before the tragedy, including the guesthouse where their daughter had stayed. The owner of the guesthouse opened the place for the visit, even though it had already gone out of business.
Tomorrow, her parents will go to Sukhothai police to seek progress in the case.
The father said that one of the objectives of this visit is to ask for an extension of the case’s statute of limitations, which will expire in 2027.
The parents are scheduled to pay a courtesy call on Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong on Thursday, hoping to get news of any development in the Thai police’s investigation.
In 2013, the Department of Special Investigation reopened the case after Sukhothai police had failed to make any progress.
A mass DNA collection was carried out, involving 379 Thai men, but no matches were found. A Japanese tourist, who was seen with Tomoko at the time, refused to provide a DNA sample and left the country.
In 2020, the Thai authorities announced a breakthrough in the case after they applied more advanced DNA testing methods to the sample found on Tomoko. The result of the testing showed that the suspect was not genetically Thai.