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Police search for missing British businessman Garin Dart in Tokyo

Originally from London, he disappeared on 22 May on the way to a meeting

The friends of a British businessman who went missing in Tokyo over a week ago say they are growing desperately concerned for his safety, as police comb surveillance footage of his last known whereabouts. Garin Dart, originally from London, disappeared on 22 May on his way to a business meeting at the Tokyo Hilton Hotel.

Mr Dart, 40, runs a successful Tokyo-based event management firm and has been in Japan for a decade. His wife Yukako, who is pregnant with their second child, called in help after he failed to return home. Reports say his bank account, credit cards and cellphone have not been used since.

“We’re trying to pick up the pieces and cope as best we can,” said Mr Dart’s business partner Bruno Damizzio. “It’s totally out of character for him to be away for any length of time, let alone to disappear. We’re all just shocked – it’s a total mystery how someone can disappear like this.”

Tokyo police have told Mr. Dart’s family that he has not checked into any of the city’s hospitals. Investigators have been trying to retrace his steps from the time he left the offices of his company, Bluesilver, on the afternoon of May 22. He reportedly called a friend shortly afterwards to say his cellphone battery was about to run out, then vanished in the center of the city.

Colleagues say Bluesilver was doing well and that Mr Dart had no apparent reason to leave the city. “After a decade of successful projects, the gradual expansion of his company, a loving family and many close friends and colleagues, it seems unlikely that he would just disappear by his own will,” said the website foreignvolunteers.org.

Mr Dart’s father Bob posted a message on Facebook pleading for help. “The more people that know about Garin and are looking the better chance we have of finding him,” he said.  Some friends have speculated that the missing man could have had a breakdown or be suffering from amnesia. His mother Finella Dean said on Facebook that his family is “desperately worried about him.”

Friends say Mr Dart co-founded a volunteer network after Japan’s 2011 triple disaster and used his business contacts to collect money and deliver aid to the country’s devastated northeast. The ex-pat was widely known for his charity activities. “He’s extremely well liked and respected,” said Mr Damizzio.

Mr Dart’s friends have been asked to allow police to do their jobs and hold off from launching a poster and leaflet campaign. Twitter and Facebook have been enlisted to help the search. A spokesman for the British Embassy in Tokyo declined to comment on the case other than to say that the consulate is doing “all it can” to find the missing man.

Violent crime is relatively rare in Tokyo but the city has been the venue for several high-profile cases involving missing British nationals.   In the most notorious, Lucie Blackman vanished from work at a hostess club in 2000, triggering a huge search that ended when her dismembered body was found months later in a seaside cave outside the city. Police stress, however, that most missing people eventually turn up safe.