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Police have served a fresh arrest warrant against Joji Obara, a 48-year-old company executive under arrest for raping a Canadian woman in 1996, on suspicion of raping another foreign woman.

Obara, a senior executive of a Tokyo-based company, is suspected of raping the second woman, who is in her 20s, in a condominium he owns in Zushi, a coastal city in Kanagawa Prefecture, in October 1997 after plying her with alcohol laced with drugs.

Police investigators are looking into possible connections between Obara and a missing Briton, Lucie Blackman, 22, who disappeared July 1 after telling a friend that a man was taking her for a drive to the coast, as well as other cases of drug-induced rape reported by several women.

Obara has denied the latest police allegation, telling police investigators that he has no clear recollection of meeting the woman.

Police sources quoted him as saying that he had slept with foreign women but he did not know their identities.

On Friday, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office indicted Obara on charges of raping the Canadian woman, then aged 23, in his Zushi apartment on March 31, 1996, after giving her drug-laced alcohol.

Obara was arrested Oct. 12 on suspicion of molesting the Canadian woman, who was also a bar hostess in Tokyo’s Roppongi district.

Similarities between her case and Blackman’s have led police to believe that Obara may know of Blackman’s whereabouts, according to investigative sources.

They said Obara used false names when he frequented bars employing foreign hostesses in Roppongi.

Police have seized pornographic videos depicting sex with foreign and Japanese women, as well as a large quantity of imported sleeping pills from a condominium he owns in Tokyo and his house.

Blackman’s disappearance became a high-profile case when her father and sister visited Tokyo and appealed for help in finding her.

British government officials including Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Robin Cook have also voiced concern about the case.

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