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Japanese Woman, 19, Found Alive After Being Held Captive 9 Years

From Times Wire Services

A 19-year-old woman who disappeared as a schoolgirl has been found alive after more than nine years as the captive of a man who hid her in his home, police said Saturday.

Fusako Sano was discovered by police Friday when she made her first trip outside the man’s house to visit a hospital.

“I was abducted near the school by a man who forced me into a car,” Kyodo News Service quoted her Saturday as telling police. “For nine years, I did not take a step out of the house. Today, I went out for the first time.”

The man suspected of confining her was put under psychiatric observation while Sano was treated for dehydration and later was reunited with her mother, police said.

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The 37-year-old man, whose identity is being withheld, kept Sano in a room on the second floor of his home in Niigata, 160 miles northwest of Tokyo, police said. The house is 600 yards from a police station, Kyodo said.

The man’s mother, who also lived in the house, told police that she did not know that her son was holding anybody upstairs. She said she was afraid to enter her son’s room because he was subject to violent outbursts, the media reported.

Sano, who says she was too afraid to try to escape, spent much of her time watching TV, the Asahi newspaper reported.


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