• Kyodo


Police on Wednesday arrested one of the two suspects in last week’s abduction and confinement of a 7-year-old girl in Kuroiso, Tochigi Prefecture.

Arrested was 22-year-old Ryuichi Fujita, who police believe to be the main culprit in the case. His friend and alleged accomplice, Kunihiko Tanaka, 21, remains on a nationwide wanted list. Both are residents of Kuroiso.

Tochigi police received a call around midnight Tuesday from Fujita’s mother, who told them her son would soon turn himself in. Investigators, however, went to Fujita’s home and asked him to accompany them to the station, according to police.

He was arrested at 1:44 a.m. Wednesday at the Kuroiso police station on suspicion of abducting a minor.

Police said they plan to question Fujita to determine whether to serve him a fresh warrant on suspicion of confinement.

Fujita reportedly said, “There is no mistake” about his abducting the girl.

Asked if he knew the whereabouts of Tanaka, Fujita said: “After releasing the girl, we separated and haven’t even contacted each other so I don’t know. I don’t have a clue.”

Fujita and Tanaka kidnapped Miho Akimoto, a second-grader from Kuroiso, at around 11:55 a.m. on Aug. 14, according to investigators.

The pair abducted Akimoto from outside her grandfather’s home in the city as she played with her 4-year-old sister. After forcing her into a car they were driving, the two men took her to Tanaka’s apartment, where she was confined until the following day.

Just after noon the same day, the girl’s mother, Sachiko, reported to police that her daughter had disappeared.

The kidnappers dropped off Akimoto at a pay phone in the Kuroiso cultural center, located near Tanaka’s apartment, the next day. The girl called her mother and was immediately taken into protective custody.

Tanaka emerged as a suspect during investigations based on descriptions provided by the girl and her testimony. Tanaka was placed on a wanted list Sunday after police found her fingerprints in his apartment.

Police obtained an arrest warrant Monday for Fujita, who attended elementary and junior high school with Tanaka in Kuroiso. The pair had also worked together at a convenience store, police said.

The case has received wide media coverage since Akimoto’s abduction.

Sketches of the two suspects, based on her accounts, were released Friday.

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