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The man police say may be connected to a high-profile hostess-abduction case pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of drugging and raping two other foreign women.

The plea came in the first trial hearing before the Tokyo District Court for Joji Obara, a 48-year-old president of an asset-management company in Tokyo. Obara denied drugging and raping one woman in March 1996 and the other in October 1997 at his condominium in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture.

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