| 12.2°C Dublin

Suspects can be held for 10 days in secretive Japanese police system

TWO suspects arrested for assaulting the travelling companion of Irish student Nicola Furlong in Japan can be held by police for 10 days without a court appearance.

Professional dancer James Blackston (23) and an unnamed 19-year-old musician remain in custody in Tokyo having been charged on Sunday with assaulting another girl.

Sources in Tokyo have indicated that once that time period is up, a further ‘holding charge’ – generally for a relatively minor offence in the overall investigation – could be brought against the two Americans to extend their period of detention.

Meanwhile, it is understood that the Furlong family have been kept in the dark in relation to specifics of the investigation and have not yet been given an official cause of death.

While marks on the student’s neck indicate she was strangled, there has been no official contact with the family to confirm this.

Both the Irish embassy in Japan and Department of Foreign Affairs have been praised for their handling of the situation, but have been unable to extract information from the Japanese authorities.

Journalists in Japan have described a culture of secrecy, with select members of the media belonging to an official ‘police media club’ or ‘kisha club’. And because membership is restricted, access to information by foreign media is often problematic.