Running in fear for his life or just to escape it? A British businessman who mysteriously disappeared from Tokyo last year, sparking speculation of misadventure, has turned up back in England, safe and sound, according to a British media report.

Garin Dart, former CEO of Tokyo-based event management company Bluesilver, vanished last May without a word to his pregnant Japanese wife, Yukako, and their then-4-year-old son.

Friends and the authorities launched a campaign to find him. But according to media reports, police abandoned their effort in July after learning Dart had withdrawn a sizable amount of money and left the country.

According to a report published online Tuesday by the British tabloid Daily Mail, the 41-year-old is “alive and back in Britain,” having vanished, he claims, to protect himself and his family from gangsters.

The story goes that Dart had infuriated the yakuza by tipping off a friend that they planned to murder him. In response, mobsters threatened to harm Dart’s family and eventually told him to “disappear” if he wanted to keep his loved ones safe, according to the Daily Mail.

The story asserts that Dart had befriended underworld members at bars, but quoted him as denying he ever did business with them.

A source close to the matter contacted by The Japan Times, however, blasted the Daily Mail story as a “fictional piece,” while refusing to elaborate because he is “not in a position to speak publicly.” He added he has no knowledge of Dart’s whereabouts and hasn’t seen or spoken to the Briton since his disappearance.

According to other sources close to Dart, he left behind a large number of unpaid debts and bills, contradicting the Daily Mail’s claim that he was running a successful business.

The Mail’s reporter could not be reached for comment. The British Embassy here said Dart is no longer listed as a missing person.

A long-time Tokyo resident, Dart arrived in Japan in 2003, says charity organization Foreign Volunteers Japan, which the Briton co-founded in the wake of the 2011 disasters.

Citing his events company’s steady growth and his gregarious personality, the group back in May expressed utter surprise on its website at his disappearance.

Jake Adelstein contributed to this story.

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