• Kyodo


A Japanese businessman kidnapped last week from his home on the island of Mindanao has been released unharmed, police announced Wednesday.

Yasumitsu Hashiba, 48, a Tokyo native who runs a store in Lanuza in northeastern Mindanao, was abandoned by his captors on Dinagat island in the province of Surigao Del Norte and picked up by villagers Tuesday evening, police said.

Officials said Hashiba had been abducted by a local group of bandits. They said no ransom was paid for his release, adding that the kidnappers freed him because of pressure applied by the police and the military.

Hashiba is in good physical condition, although he suffered minor injuries, police said.

He was kidnapped Thursday evening by a group of armed men who barged into his house, police quoted his Filippino wife, Emelie Lopio, as saying.

Police earlier indicated that former communist rebels who have turned to banditry were suspected in the abduction, saying the rebels engage in extortion and robbery.

According police, the kidnappers tied up Hashiba and his wife, their children, and Emelie’s father and brother, and threatened to take one of the children unless paid 2 million pesos (about $37,700) or at least half that amount. Hashiba refused and offered that he be taken instead.

The abductors also took some of Emelie’s jewelry and at least 31,000 pesos in cash. They claimed to be rebels and said they needed the money to pay for medication for their colleagues, Emelie said.

They threatened to kill Hashiba if his family notified the police, the officials said. Emelie’s father informed the nearest police station about the incident.

Hashiba’s wife had been reportedly negotiating by telephone for Hashiba’s release in exchange for a ransom.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.