Tokyo detectives lazy and corrupt, says father of missing hostess Lucie

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The Independent Online
The father of Lucie Blackman, the British hostess who disappeared in Tokyo more than six months ago, has made a bitter attack on the Japanese police, accusing them of "disgraceful and inhumane behaviour" in their treatment of his family and of passively colluding in the exploitation of his daughter and other foreign hostesses.</p>In an e-mail to the liaison officer for Tokyo Metropolitan Police Tim Blackman accuses the force and immigration authorities of corruption for tolerating a situation in which thousands of young women are allowed to work illegally without protection from gangsters and predatory male customers.</p>His attack comes at a time of growing despair about the competence of the Japanese investigators and scepticism about their chances of finding Miss Blackman, despite the arrest two months ago of Joji Obara, the man believed to have abducted her.</p>Last month, Mr Obara, a 48-year-old property owner, pleaded not guilty to raping two other foreign bar hostesses, and insisted that he was being framed. "The fact that he has not been charged [with Miss Blackman's abduction] after 60 days suggests that the police have made a mistake," Mr Obara's lawyer told Tokyo District Court. "They have manipulated the media to make the public believe he is the culprit. The situation has become hysterical." Like Miss Blackman, the two alleged rape victims were foreigners who worked as hostesses in the Roppongi district of Tokyo. According to reports in the Japanese media, unconfirmed by police, Mr Obara is believed to have carried out dozens of similar attacks on foreign and Japanese women, after drugging them and tying them up.</p>But Mr Blackman has received no communication from the police since October, just before Mr Obara was arrested. "It is disgraceful and inhumane that you do not provide any news or information to the family to help them cope with this terrible and tragic event," he wrote.</p>After months of lobbying by diplomats and relatives, the Japanese police have accepted the assistance of detectives from New Scotland Yard. Members of the Yard's Specialist Operations division, which specialises in kidnappings and abductions, have been interviewing former hostesses presently in Britain who knew Miss Blackman in Tokyo and who may have met Mr Obara.</p>Diplomatic sensitivities prevent them from operating officially in Japan, but a retired chief superintendent, David Davies, former head of the Royal Protection Squad, has been conducting enquiries of his own during visits to Tokyo.</p>Mr Davies flies to Tokyo today with Lucie's mother, Jane Blackman, and will be followed next week by Mr Blackman, in the latest of a series of visits intended to sustain interest in the case. Mr Blackman says that he has no hope now of finding Lucie alive, but is determined to recover her body and to bring to an end the collusion between police, bar owners and immigration authorities which allows so many young women to work illegally in Roppongi.</p>"It is evident that many, many girls have been abducted and raped from Roppongi in the last five to six years ... many of whom are working illegally on tourist visas," he wrote. "Because of this, some are not able to report the crime to the police for fear of arrest and/or deportation. This puts all the girls in danger.</p>"However, some of these girls have reported the crime to the police. Why has this man, or others like him, been able to get away with these crimes for years, continuing to abduct and rape girls? Because the police have not acted ... This makes the police guilty of the disappearance of Lucie.</p>"Obara should have been in prison years ago. But he is rich. He is important to the club owners so the police have let him get away with his crimes ... Are the police and immigration department paid by the club bosses, the owners and the yakuza</i> [Japanese gangsters] to allow this profitable situation to continue? The police and immigration department know that these girls work illegally ... but they do nothing. The British and Japanese public will come to their own conclusion on that, and will continue to believe that the Japanese authorities and Japanese police are corrupt.</p>"As a minimum ... every girl must immediately show their visa to the police, and where girls are working with tourist visas, those clubs should be shut down until they can re-open with staff employed legally with proper visas. ... I can assure you that if there is no discussion between us on these issues, then it will be seen as another failure by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police to act. Remember, I have nothing to lose. To lose a daughter is enough."</p>Privately, British consular officials have expressed fury about the slow course of the investigation. In an interview with British journalists, the head of public relations for Tokyo police did not offer one example of progress in the investigation. "We are neither optimistic nor pessimistic," Senior Superintendent Shinpei Nawa said. "The police have received more than 300 pieces of information. We've analysed it but regrettably there is no solid fact that we can comment on about the circumstances in which she went missing."</p>

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