Documentary reveals new details on what happened to missing tourist Atsumi Yoshikubo

A filmmaker is promising more details on the case of Atsumi Yoshikubo, a Japanese tourist whose 2014 disappearance sparked an extensive search in Yellowknife before police received information suggesting she'd planned to disappear all along.

The Missing Tourist airs tonight at 9 p.m. on CBC-TV

Morrison says the new information in the new CBC documentary The Missing Tourist will help people understand 'what happened in the end.' (Submitted by Catherine Lutes)

 A filmmaker is promising more details on the case of Atsumi Yoshikubo, a Japanese tourist whose 2014 disappearance sparked an extensive search in Yellowknife before police received information suggesting she'd planned to disappear all along.

Yoshikubo, 45, was a doctor who liked to travel solo.

On Oct. 22, 2014, security footage showed Yoshikubo leaving her Yellowknife hotel at 9:15 a.m. with a backpack and a bag, dressed in a pink coat. She was last seen walking along Highway 4 away from the city.

Atsumi Yoshikubo, captured on a security camera outside the Explorer Hotel in downtown Yellowknife in October 2014, was last seen wearing a pink coat, a pink hat, black pants and white shoes. (Yellowknife RCMP)

A week after her hotel reported her missing, RCMP called off the search and said Yoshikubo was presumed dead. At the time RCMP said they had information that she "planned to go into the wilderness alone and become a missing person" and that she had taken steps to avoid detection.

Confused by the RCMP's cryptic statements, volunteers questioned the decision to stop the search and continued efforts to locate Yoshikubo, well into the summer of 2015. 

That was before Japanese media outlets reported that Yoshikubo had written a suicide note before she left Japan. 

In August 2015, a hiker stumbled across bone fragments and items belonging to Yoshikubo. DNA testing later confirmed the bone fragments belonged to Yoshikubo.

Geoff Morrison, who directed The Missing Tourist, said his never-before revealed information will aid in adding greater closure and help people understand "really what happened in the end."

"It was quite rewarding to find that," said Morrison.

"A lot of the new information I learned was towards the very final stages of this documentary."

Atsumi Yoshikubo visited a gift shop in Yellowknife in the days before she disappeared. This is one of the images released by police after she went missing. (Submitted by Yellowknife RCMP)

"I think what really compelled me more than anything was the difficulty in finding closure," he said.

"Some of the facts were grey, or unreported. Some of the messaging the RCMP used was quite cryptic in describing Atsumi Yoshikubo's activities and what had happened."

In the film, Morrison interviews the lead investigator of the RCMP in Yellowknife.

Atsumi Yoshikubo, the Japanese tourist who was reported missing in Yellowknife Monday, appears in this security video shot at the Northern Frontier Visitors Center on Oct. 19. 0:56

'Nervous' travelling to Yellowknife and Japan

Morrison said he felt "a little bit nervous" coming to Yellowknife for the film.

"To come to Yellowknife for the first time, and start poking around and asking questions particularly as an outsider, it was difficult."

Although he encountered a spectrum of voices, he said the response was overwhelmingly positive.

What he discovered was that people in Yellowknife "care deeply" about visitors.

"I think this story really affected people in Yellowknife. People really cared about this person," he said.

Morrison also travelled to Japan to interview Yoshikubo's family, friends and even former patients.

This is the old section of Highway 4 where Yoshikubo was seen last. (Submitted by Geoff Morrison)

"Everyone had very fond memories of her and spoke of her being a very smart and caring and diligent doctor who cared deeply about her patients."

A personal attachment to Yoshikubo

Morrison says the project became "a very peculiar journey" for him.

"It's not hard to develop an attachment to someone who is not safe," he said.

Yoshikubo was a doctor in Japan. Morrison says he interviewed one of her former patients. (Submitted by Geoff Morrison)

"My partner kind of pointed out to me a few months ago when we started editing. She's like, 'Jeez, I sense you really want to protect her.'"

This was a first for Morrison, who says he's never been emotionally involved in a project before.

"The film ends on a message of hope," he said.

Morrison says his team is working on a Japanese translation for the film for Yoshikubo's family in Japan.

The film will air Thursday at 9 p.m. on CBC-TV, or you can watch the full episode later online on CBC's FirstHand.

With files from Loren McGinnis


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