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Book by Japanese murder suspect tells of mutilations to mask identity

While on the lam for 2 1/2 years, a Japanese man wanted in the murder of a British woman scissored off his lower lip, dug two moles out of his cheek with a box cutter and gave himself a nose job in an attempt to obscure his identity.

The disclosures come in a book released Wednesday and written from jail by Tatsuya Ichihashi, who will stand trial later this year in the murder and rape of his English teacher, Lindsay Ann Hawker.

Hawker, 22, was found dead in a sand-filled bathtub on the balcony of Ichihashi's apartment in Chiba, east of Tokyo, in March 2007.

Ichihashi, arrested in 2009 after a lengthy nationwide manhunt, admits to taking Hawker's life in the book, "Until the Arrest." But he doesn't describe the crime or his motives, instead detailing his life at large, during which he traveled throughout the country, in constant fear of arrest and obsessed with cosmetic surgery.

While police say that Ichihashi has confessed to assaulting Hawker and that she died from her wounds, he won't enter a plea until the trial begins. The details in the book do not reflect responsibility for anything beyond what Ichihashi has already told investigators. If convicted of murder, he could face the death penalty.

At first, Ichihashi, 32, wandered throughout Tokyo and then drifted north to Aomori prefecture, where he twice tried to cut off part of his lower lip to make it thinner. The first time, he couldn't follow through because of the excruciating pain, he wrote. He finished it up a few days later in a public restroom.

Ichihashi wore several layers of surgical masks to hide the scars but apparently didn't stand out in the spring when many Japanese do the same to escape pollen.

Once he walked past a police station and saw a wanted poster with his face on it. It was then that he sliced off the moles on his left cheek -- prominent on the wanted poster.

Having saved nearly 1 million yen, or $12,100, from a string of construction jobs, he spent most of it on two plastic surgeries, one of them to obtain a longer and narrower nose, and the other to raise the bridge of his nose.

In the end, his attempts to obscure his identity led to his arrest.

Staff at the second clinic took many photos of his left cheek with traces of moles he had removed, which seemed "strange."

The clinic reported his visit and sent the photos to police.

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