Tim Blackman is frustrated, in turns optimistic and pessimistic, but above all adamant that he will find out what happened to his daughter.
“It just seems to go on in the same way it has always gone on,” he says. “I just can’t believe we’re not getting anywhere.”
In a crumpled shirt and wet after getting caught in a shower, the energy that Tim exuded when he arrived in Japan in July to look for Lucie is gradually ebbing away.
But he isn’t giving up hope that his daughter, who recently turned 22, might one day come home. And as he talks, the old determination returns.
“We’re not winding down our search here, we’re just changing the shape of our presence,” he said.
“The lord chancellor is here, a whole slew of various ministers are coming over from the U.K., and questions are going to be asked every two or three weeks when they arrive,” he said. “Don’t imagine this is just going to fade away.”
Lucie, from Sevenoaks in Kent, disappeared on July 1 after apparently going for a drive with a man she met through her job at the Casablanca hostess club in Tokyo’s Roppongi district.
Tokyo police still have 40 detectives on the case, while Tim and Sophie, his other daughter, are trying to jog the memories of people who might know what happened.
Twelve weeks later, however, the lack of new information leaves him frustrated.
“The police tell me they’ve got plenty to do and lots of leads, and I can see their reluctance to allow any information concerning the investigation to get out, but it doesn’t make it any easier for us,” Blackman said.
His own inquiries, the details of which he is cagey about revealing, have taken off on some hopeful tangents and raised hopes in the past.
Helping in the case, as opposed to simply sitting on his hands, is “what keeps me sane,” he said.
But he is acutely aware that Lucie is not the only foreign woman to disappear in Japan.
“It is true that Lucie is missing, but there are probably 100 other girls missing — mostly Asians,” he said. “It’s appalling. It’s very upsetting.
“I’m hoping, maybe naively, that this case might make Japanese people — I don’t know whether it’s the people, the society or the psyche — look in the mirror and have a look at what is going on.
“This city, in every way, is so Western, but it has somehow inherited some of the less favorable attributes that in the West we seem to have shaken off,” he said. “Somehow, the attitude here is ‘Oh well, they’re Thai or whatever, so that’s all right.’ It’s extraordinary.”
The money the Blackmans have has spent in the search has surpassed the 40,000 pounds in personal savings and bank loans they took out, although Tim said he is “not really counting the cost any more.”
It is clear these new worries — on top of Lucie’s disappearance — are mounting and taking their toll. But Blackman doesn’t scare easily.
Shortly after our conversation we speak again; he has just received a “threatening” call apparently from a Japanese man speaking in heavily accented English.
“He knew who he was speaking to. I expect it was just a nutter,” he said.
The same sort of person knows where he could find his daughter.
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