• Kyodo


Police said Monday they have arrested a woman and a man and are looking for three or four others in connection with the apparent kidnapping of a woman in Kokubunji, Kagawa Prefecture, last month and the extortion of 600,000 yen.

Following the arrest of Tomoe Choki, 33, on Sunday, 38-year-old Yoshitaka Kabashima was arrested Monday evening on suspicion of kidnapping the 22-year-old woman on a street in Kokubunji on June 29.

The kidnapped woman, the daughter of a businessman, was found safe by her 57-year-old father at a hotel in Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture, on June 30 after he was contacted by the abductors, police said. Neither the victim nor her father were named.

Choki, of Hikari, Yamaguchi Prefecture, told police after her arrest, “We did not care who we kidnapped, as long as it was a family member of a business executive.”

According to police, Choki and her coconspirators halted the woman’s car at an intersection in Kokubunji at around 10:30 a.m. on June 29, threatened her with a knife, and took her to a hotel near Sakaide in Kagawa Prefecture. They later moved her to the hotel in Fukuyama.

Choki and the others called the victim’s businessman father on a cellular phone and demanded a ransom of 25 million yen, police said.

They settled for 600,000 yen, which the father paid around midnight on June 29 in Hiroshima’s Naka Ward.

The kidnappers later contacted the father to say his daughter was in the Fukuyama hotel, where he went and found her unharmed.

The victim’s car was found abandoned near the first hotel in Sakaide, police said. Her father notified the Sakaide Police Station about the kidnapping Friday, saying his daughter’s abductors were traveling in a car with a Yamaguchi license plate, and he provided them with the number, which his daughter had seen and remembered.

The father said he alerted police even though his daughter was found unharmed because he was afraid the kidnappers might return.

Choki was found driving the car in question in Hiroshima Prefecture on Sunday and was arrested, police said.

Several minutes later, Hiroshima police received word that the car, which had just been driven away, was wanted in connection with a kidnapping in Kagawa Prefecture. They explained that they had been told only to be on the lookout for the car.

Hiroshima police explained that at the time they spotted the vehicle, they had only been told to be on the alert for the car and had not been told the case involved a kidnapping.

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