/

Kidnapped girl, 12, safe; trio nabbed

Cop stumbles upon getaway van; ¥20 million ransom bid fails

Kyodo

Police have arrested three men for allegedly kidnapping a junior high school girl in Ota Ward, Tokyo, on Wednesday evening and demanding a ransom of ¥20 million from her family.

The 12-year-old girl was safe and in police protection after she was found about three hours after being abducted, authorities said.

She was found in a van with two of the suspects in Fuchu, western Tokyo, by a police officer who did not know about the kidnapping but was checking license plates for stolen vehicles.

Tokyo police identified those suspects as Ryunosuke Taba, 23, and Genki Miyagi, 24, both unemployed and from Okinawa. The third suspect is Hiroaki Hata, a 43-year-old company employee from Saitama Prefecture.

Police sent the three suspects to prosecutors Friday.

Police suspect that Miyagi and Hata forced the victim to get into their van on a street in Ota Ward at around 5 p.m. Wednesday and Taba called the girl’s home using a pay phone at around 6:50 p.m. to demand a ¥20 million ransom.

Miyagi and Hata have admitted to the charges, while Taba has said he knows nothing about the ransom demand, the police said.

They said Miyagi and Taba got to know Hata through the Internet and picked their victim at random.

Hata rented the van, and someone put stolen license plates on it, police said, adding that they suspect Hata did this.

The girl’s mother, who answered the kidnappers’ phone call, notified authorities at around 7:05 p.m., the police said.

An officer spotted the van with the stolen plates at around 7:50 p.m. in Fuchu and pulled it over. He found the girl in the rear luggage compartment with her hands and legs bound and her eyes covered with adhesive tape, and immediately arrested Miyagi and Hata.

Taba was arrested Thursday night at a convenience store in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Miyagi and Taba, who are friends from Okinawa, came to Tokyo about a week earlier and stayed with a friend in Kanagawa Prefecture. They and Hata apparently met for the first time Wednesday before perpetrating the kidnapping.

Hata, who works for a transport company in Saitama Prefecture, is known among his colleagues as hard-working and causing no trouble, people from his office said. He came to work Wednesday as usual, they said.

According to the National Police Agency, there were 188 kidnapping cases last year, 92 percent of them ending in arrests.

During kidnappings where the victim’s life is believed to be in danger, police often ask the media not to report on the case. No such request was needed this time.