• Kyodo

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The Canadian air force has ended its search for a Japanese adventurer who disappeared Thursday in the Arctic Sea while traveling from the North Pole to his native Ehime Prefecture, supporters said Tuesday.

The supporters of Hyoichi Kono said the air force informed the support group’s secretariat in Matsuyama of the decision to abandon the search at 1:20 a.m. Tuesday.

The supporters said Canadian police have also concluded it is impossible to retrieve Kono’s sled, which was spotted earlier, as doing so would be too dangerous.

Kono’s base camp in the Canadian hamlet of Resolute plans to ask the Japanese Embassy in Ottawa and the Japanese Consulate in Edmonton, Alberta, to negotiate with Canadian authorities to resume the search, the supporters said.

A chartered plane left Resolute at 2 p.m. Monday to search for Kono on Ward Hunt Island, where a shelter is located, according to the supporters.

Shinji Kazama, an adventurer who succeeded in reaching the North Pole on a motorbike and who saw Kono off in March, fears Kono might have been attacked by a polar bear.

“If the rumor that Kono was following a bear’s tracks is true, it worries me because there are polar bears from some 70 km away from the coast,” Kazama said.

Kazama also said he cannot imagine that Kono accidentally fell into water through a crack, saying, “I am sure he will come back.”

Earlier, a private plane dispatched by the support group spotted Kono’s sled and some belongings from the sky, but the 43-year-old adventurer’s location remains unknown.

Kono maintained daily radio contact with the secretariat until his last call at 11 a.m. Thursday from Eureka near the Arctic Sea.

Kono left the North Pole on March 27 to begin a 15,000-km journey home on foot and by kayak via Canada, Alaska and Sakhalin. He was expected to arrive at his parents’ home in the town of Seto in 2007. His journey was briefly halted April 2 due to frostbite and radio malfunctions, but he set off again April 21.

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