• Kyodo


Parents, teachers and police passed out fliers on the streets here Thursday seeking tips on the whereabouts of a 17-year-old high school student who disappeared exactly five years ago.

Yuko Kitayama was a senior at Mie Prefectural Matsusaka Technical High School when she was last heard from on the night of June 13, 1997. She had phoned a friend after her part-time job at a local cram school while on her way to the friend’s house.

Police suspect foul play and have involved some 22,000 officers in the case to date. Currently, about 10 detectives are assigned to the case on a full-time basis and are still looking for her possessions and any witnesses.

On Thursday, some 90 people, including the girl’s parents and teachers as well as police officers, handed out fliers at six sites, including JR Matsusaka Station.

“For the last five years, I have prayed every day for her return,” the girl’s mother, Hiroko Kitayama, 51, said tearfully. “I beg for any information related to the case.”

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