• Kyodo

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Police early Thursday arrested a 42-year-old man who allegedly confined a woman in his apartment in Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture, for five months and beat and starved her.

Takuya Muramoto is suspected of confining the woman, a company employee in her 20s, between February and July, police said. He has flatly denied the allegations, they added, without naming the victim, who met the suspect at a matchmaking party last year.

Investigators have also learned that the woman sent an e-mail to a coworker saying she “cannot escape” in early February when the confinement began.

Around this time, the woman’s family asked police to look for her.

The family contacted police again after hearing about the e-mail message, but it took five months before police took her into protective custody, and that was only after the man summoned the fire department because his victim was ailing.

The confinement came to light after the suspect called for an ambulance July 15, saying she was unwell, and she was taken to a hospital. She had scars that appear to have been caused by an iron and she weighed just over 30 kg.

The woman, who has become extremely weak, is still hospitalized. She is said to have impaired consciousness.

From February to mid-July, Muramoto allegedly kept the woman’s hands and feet bound and repeatedly beat her, while barely feeding her.

The woman met the suspect at a matchmaking party in May last year. While they dated for a short time and broke up, he asked to see her again in January had her come to his apartment.

Investigative sources said police also plan to question Muramoto about a separate case in which a 29-year-old woman was found near death in his apartment in March 2004.

She subsequently died but no charges were filed.

Nearby residents told police that a man, believed to be Muramoto, had confined a young woman for about a month nine years ago before her parents came to get her.

The sources said police are set to question the suspect to see whether he was involved in any more confinement cases.

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