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Kidnapped girl found safe

Date Posted: 2004-05-20

A child abducted in Chiba in mainland Japan has been found unharmed in Okinawa. Okinawa City police are holding a 47-year-old man,Yoshikazu Ueki, in connection with the abduction. He was caught after being seen sleeping in a car.

Meanwhile, the ten-year-old victim was found on a beach in nearby Chatan. Police say she was with friends of Ueki when they found her. The fifth grader is reportedly in good condition, and had been well fed and cared for.

It appears, though, that the kidnapping may not be quite as simple as it seems. A woman who knows Ueki says the girl wanted to run away from home because of family problems, and that she asked him to help her.

A woman acquainted with Ueki quoted the girl as telling her that the victim did not want to go back to her Chiba home because of a family problem and that she asked her abductor to take her to Okinawa. She told police the girl had sought help from police in Chiba, and also from a child guidance center, but that they’d paid no attention to the youngster.

The girl, according to the alleged kidnapper’s friend, told Ueki he should take her, and “we should go to Okinawa together.” The pre-teen is apparently telling police the same story about her home life, and wanting to run away with Ueki.

The girl was reported missing May 7th, and her grandfather identified Ueki as a possible suspect.

Police indicate Ueki had not confined the girl, said she was in good condition and had been fed regularly. The kidnapper Ueki had been in a long running dispute with the girl's family. He apparently had been taking her out without her family's permission since last autumn.

Ueki had obtained a job in Okinawa at a local transportation company, driving for an unten daiko group which transport drunken drivers home at night. Officials say he may have even taken the youngster with him on a driving call one evening.

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