• Kyodo

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A 22-year-old man from Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, was arrested Tuesday morning in the kidnapping of a 10-year-old girl, police officials said.

Yoshiko Tsuda, who had been missing since Saturday, was rescued from an unoccupied apartment. She had an injury to her left wrist and was taken to a hospital.

Aichi Prefectural Police quoted the suspect, Hiromitsu Nagasawa, as saying he kidnapped Tsuda because he “liked small girls.”

Police who raided the apartment found Tsuda, a fifth-grader at an elementary school in Toyohashi, locked inside the toilet. Nagasawa had access to the flat.

She had been blindfolded with adhesive tape and gagged with a handkerchief. She was sitting on the floor with her hands tied behind her back, the officials said.

After forcing the girl into the toilet, the kidnapper apparently put a desk and other objects in front of the door so she would not be able to open it.

She nodded when an officer assured her that she was safe, the officials said.

Tsuda was last seen Saturday evening standing on the back of a bicycle ridden by a man who appeared to be between 20 and 40 years old. She was waving to a classmate at the time.

There had been no contact from the girl or demands for a ransom, police said when they began a search for the girl Monday night.

Shortly after midnight Monday, police in the neighboring city of Toyokawa alerted Toyohashi police that Nagasawa, whose name had been mentioned as a suspect in a different case, could be involved.

Toyohashi police then questioned Nagasawa, who confessed to abducting Tsuda and confining her in the toilet of a nearby apartment. Police officers immediately rushed to her rescue. The girl was found inside the flat in the town of Oi at around 2:50 a.m. on Tuesday.

Nagasawa told investigators that he persuaded Tsuda to ride on his bicycle on the pretext that he was lost and needed directions. Then he threatened her at knifepoint and took her to the apartment, police alleged.

The suspect slashed the girl’s left wrist with the knife and struck her around the face, they said.

Nagasawa said he had never met the girl before, adding that he “happened to find her at the school,” police quoted him as saying.

Sometime after confining the girl, he returned to his own house and never went back to the apartment, leaving the victim locked inside the toilet, the officials said. When he was told the girl had been rescued, he reportedly said he was “glad she was alive.”

According to police, Tsuda was playing with two classmates at her school Saturday afternoon. Her father, Katsushi, a 43-year-old company employee, notified police around 10 p.m. that his daughter had not returned home.

Her classmates went to cram school around 4:30 p.m., and the girl began playing with another friend who went home about half an hour later, police said. Tsuda reportedly told the friend she would continue playing at the school.

Boy reported missing

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) A search Tuesday failed to locate a 9-year-old boy from Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, who went missing after leaving school for home on Monday, police said.

Police said Go Dobashi left Fujimi Elementary School at around 1:40 p.m. Monday for his home, about 1.5 km away.

His mother contacted a local police station in the evening after he failed to show up. Neighbors said they saw a schoolboy who appeared to be Go picking flowers along a road near the city-run school at around 4 p.m.

Go is about 125 cm tall and wears glasses, police said.