National / Crime & Legal

Car used by fugitive to escape arrest Wednesday found in Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture

Kyodo

A car used by a fugitive was found late Wednesday night near Tokyo, hours after the man convicted of assault and theft brandished a knife and fled in the vehicle from police and prosecutors trying to take him into custody, officials said.

The car driven by Makoto Kobayashi, 43, was found at around 11:30 p.m. outside an apartment building in Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture, about 7 kilometers away from his home in the neighboring town of Aikawa, where he had fled from prosecutors and police 10 hours earlier.

The police put Kobayashi on a nationwide wanted list Thursday after the Yokohama District Public Prosecutors Office obtained an arrest warrant for him on suspicion of obstructing officers from performing their duties.

In Atsugi and Aikawa, 45 public elementary and junior high schools closed for the day to ensure the safety of students, according to their education boards.

Kobayashi was last seen driving the car on the Tomei Expressway in the city of Yamato, Kanagawa Prefecture, shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The fugitive had been sentenced to three years and eight months in prison for theft, assault and violation of the stimulants control law, according to the prosecutors’ office.

His sentence was finalized in February, but he was out on bail and repeatedly ignored orders to report to the prosecutor’s office, the officials said. They had repeatedly visited his apartment but could not find him, they added.

“I’ve locked all the doors at my home but cannot let my child walk alone. I hope he will be detained soon,” said Ai Tanaka, a 32-year-old housewife living near the Atsugi apartment where the car was found.

Local governments said they had not been informed of the discovery of the fugitive’s car and learned of it through news reports early Thursday. On Wednesday, the prosecutor’s office alerted the local government in Aikawa about three hours after the incident.

“We were surprised as the initial report on the fugitive was made hours later. Why couldn’t they inform us about the discovery of the car sooner?” asked an official of the Kanagawa Prefectural Education Board.

“We are deeply sorry for the incident and the delay in passing on the information,” said Hiroshi Takeuchi, deputy public prosecutor at the office.