Ransom frees pachinko worker

Wife, boss drop 20 million yen by road before cops set up

Kyodo

An Osaka pachinko parlor employee was apparently kidnapped early Friday morning but later released basically unharmed after his wife and boss dropped a bag holding a 20 million yen ransom off along a highway, police said.

Police said they received a call from the manager of the pachinko parlor at around 4:10 a.m., telling them that Shigemasa Nakaothe, 43, head of the sales department of the pachinko parlor in the city of Izumiotsu, Osaka Prefecture, had been kidnapped and that he might be killed.

The manager and Nakao’s wife followed the instructions of the kidnappers and dropped a bag containing the 20 million yen at a designated spot on the Hanwa Expressway in the city of Izumisano in the prefecture at around 7:40 a.m.

Kidnappers waiting in a small van on a street under the Hanwa Expressway made off with the money, police said, adding they believe three people were in the van at the time.

Nakao was released with only minor scratches, investigators said.

The drop-off point was marked by a yellow towel tied to the expressway guardrail near the Kaminogo Interchange of Kansai Airport Expressway.

Police said Nakao called the manager’s cellular phone just as his car was approaching the designated point and told him to stop and drop the money.

He was abducted from the ground-floor parking lot of his apartment in the city of Kishiwada in the prefecture just after 1 a.m.

Nakao called the pachinko parlor manager to ask for a ransom to be paid. He was quoted as saying that 20 million yen would be enough to secure his release and that the money should be taken from the parlor’s earnings and brought to the Kaminogo Interchange.

Police said they tried to talk Nakao’s wife and the manager into not giving in to the demand until they could prepare for the exchange of money, but they refused to listen, saying they had already struck a deal with the captors.

An Izumiotsu Police Station officer accompanied the two as they drove to the drop site, point, but no one from the prefectural police division that handles kidnappings had yet arrived, investigators said. There were no officers positioned at or around the site, they added.