Missing Sapporo girl rescued from confinement; man arrested


Police in Sapporo said Monday that a 9-year-old girl who had been missing since Jan 27 was found unharmed after being kept confined in an apartment near her home, and that a man has been arrested.

According to police, Rina Hataya, a 3rd year student at Higashi-Sapporo Elementary School, was rescued on Sunday night. Fuji TV reported that a 26-year-old unemployed man has been charged with kidnapping.

The girl was last seen after she left home at around 3 p.m. on Jan 27, telling her mother that she was going to buy a notebook for school. She was not seen again after that. After questioning the girl’s friends and the family’s neighbors, police released Hataya’s photo to the media, appealing for public help.

Up to Sunday, police said they received 198 leads, Fuji reported.

At around 10:30 p.m. Sunday, police said they received a call from a neighbor of the suspect, identified as Hajime Matsui, stating, “There is a suspicious man living nearby who is always carrying comic books intended for young girls…I don’t know for sure, but he might be related to the case of the missing girl.”

A taxi driver also told police that Matsui had been a passenger in his cab.

Police waited outside apartment late Sunday night and when he came out, they asked if the missing girl was inside, Fuji TV reported. Matsui said no but police asked to search his apartment and found the girl inside.

According to police, the girl had never met Matsui before and said she was approached by Matsui in the parking lot near her house as she was returning home. 

Matsui’s apartment is about 350 meters from the girl’s home.

Japan Today

  • 20


    Jail, please.

  • 30

    Joey Sauer

    Thank god - a happy ending!

  • 15


    I'm glad that she was found unharmed. The guy must be mentally ill or something. Kudos to the cops and to the neighbor who was observant enough to notice such details.

  • 15


    Wow, solved the case before it got any worse.

  • 4


    genjuro... Unharmed in the physical, "not murdered" sense, but certainly I suspect this experience will stay with her for the rest of her life.

  • 11


    Unemployed, single man living in a lousy apartment reading manga. Unfortunately, this guy's got nothing to lose by going to jail.

    Do the opposite and give this guy a 9 to 9 job cleaning the urinals and toilets of train stations.

  • 9


    I'm so glad...she was missing so long I was fearing the worst.

  • 13


    So glad she is safe. Thanks to the neighbor too for helping to nail him!

  • 6


    Glad the neighbor of the kidnapper called in. I wonder what the other 200 leads were though?

  • 5


    some good news

  • 3

    Sparky Santos

    Glad she was unharmed …

    Her abductor clearly is unbalanced - I doubt he will ever be free again to repeat this. If this was a cry for help - at least he didn't do anything irreversible.

  • 4


    Poor girl. Glad she's found safe.

  • 5


    I'm glad the girl was found alive. His crime of terrorizing the girl is a serious offense. They should investigate the culprit thoroughly.

  • 2


    Thanks to the neighbor too for helping to nail him!

    Yep, congrats for being proactive.

  • 9


    good on the neighbor! i can't believe he or she spotted that and connected it to the missing girl. i think most people woulod just assume the girly comics were for him.

  • 2

    Elbuda Mexicano

    I am so happy she is was not killed by this nut case!!

  • 3


    wow so relieved to hear this!

  • -9


    This nutcase brings a whole new meaning to the term, asylum seeker! Glad the girl is safe. I hope this loon gets the isolation he deserves.

  • 2


    so glad she's returned. i am wondering what this guy said to the girl when he approached her... it wasn't like kidnapping a toddler, and it was that this girl walked with the guy to her apartment.. she is 9 years old, my kids have been taught at school not to go with a stranger.. i'm sure this girl knew it was not good to go with a stranger.. i wonder why she went with him.

  • 0


    It seems that earlier announcement of kidnapping might have solved the case as people's memory is still clear. Japanese police did not announce it soon in publice. Many cases many years ago still remain unsolved.

  • 4


    Good news indeed! Nice change of pace

  • 4


    i wonder why she went with him.

    Criminals can be very convincing. Look at all the 'ore ore' scams, for one. The victims of those crimes are adults and they get taken. This is a 9 year old girl.

    I am really glad she was found alive.

    Since this is so fortunately the case, I have one correction. The article states:

    She has not been seen since.

    I suggest that 'has' now be changed to 'had'.

    Good on that neighbor for being alert and involved.

  • 3


    Glad they found her relatively safe. Lock the man up.

  • 1


    He was probably influenced in someway by the manga he reads himself. Some strange stuff out there! Great that the neighbor acted on instinct and phoned the police. Well done!

  • -1


    Kudos to the neighbor who spoke up. Best wishes to the girl for a speedy, emotional recovery. Hoping the guy who abducted her gets the death penalty; crimes against children merit no sympathy.

  • 0


    Whew, good news. Glad they found her before it could have gotten much, much worse.

  • 0


    Their are some real crazy men that are losers in JP. This guy kidnapped a 9 year old and kept her confined as if she was a lost puppy! Something is missing upstairs the lights on but nobody is home! Brainless!!!

  • 0


    the lights on

    I think you are giving him way too much credit.

  • 1


    This is an unexpectedly wonderful outcome to what many of us thought might be a horrible result. Kudos to all involved who got this one right.

  • 1


    Good news! I am glad the cops found her, before the pervert hurt her. This would probably have ended badly otherwise. I hope he gets the longest possible jailtime.

  • 3


    I am father of a little girl and this type of ending is good news. I am glad the perp is caught but what his claim, forgetfulness? mental sickness? and then what? IS he let go free? and then the next time SHE / HE is not so lucky? Whats up with these hobos unemployed just looking to ruin someones life. They don't think about the lives they are hurting. By pleasing themselves for a little while, they scar the victim, the family members and the whole community, not to mention, the Japanese society itself.

  • 2


    I'm glad she was found unharmed. I worry that she may have a psychological trauma.

  • 3


    Thats 3 missing-girl/teenager cases with happy ending in a row so far this year. Very happy indeed

  • 1

    Mirai Hayashi

    Great work to the jpolice again for finding another missing girl. I hop she is unharmed, and I really hope this is the last of it.

    As for the abductor, they need to lock him up for a very very long time.

  • 3


    IS he let go free?

    I highly doubt that he will be seeing the light of day for a long time. Which is exactly how it should be.

  • 4

    Aaron Loki Brummett

    Incredible! Thank your Japan Today for starting my day with some good news!

  • 0

    Amanda Harlow

    Drove past the end of the street a few hours ago - swarms of media still. It's just an ordinary street, yards from the mainroad. It IS amazing that she followed him there etc. Students are telling me that 2 weeks ago kids at the school told a teacher about a strange guy flashing himself at them and a warning message had gone out in the school newsletter to parents. And STILL she followed him home....luckily a parking area camera caught them walking away, and the neighbor noticed the magazines. So glad it's a happy ending.

  • 1

    Mirai Hayashi

    Yesterday, my daughter was skipping rope out in front of our house, and anytime it got quiet for more than 10 seconds, I found myself running to the window to check to see if she was ok. I feel so paranoid thanks to creepers like this idiot.

    I wish they would show a pic of this jerk's face!

  • 1


    Glad she's back after so long.

    I just read a book by Gavin De Becker

    Protecting The Gift

    I highly recommend it for any parent, or anyone involved in taking care of kids. It is about how to keep kids safe from predators. Although, it is definitely US- centric, a lot not applicable to Japan.

    To the ppl asking why she went with him-- There could be a million reasons you wouldn't know if you weren't there. But the short answer is generally these guys are good at what they do, ie it is their job. Many of them have experience, ie not first time, and they have certainly thought about it- what to do and how to do it. And also, what kind of kid/ situation to hunt for.

    Read that book. One interesting thing- telling your kids not to talk to strangers can be counter-productive. They are unlikely to choose a predator when looking for someone to help them, for several reasons I won't repeat here.

  • 3

    Dan Pilkington

    Not to be a stickler for details but I'm sat watching the news here in kanagawa right now and they're interviewing a taxi driver who gave the abducter a ride, he contacted police after the man carried 4 boxes and some shoujo magna and came across to the driver as suspicious.

  • 3


    Well done everyone who helped ! More of the good stuff from people to people in everyday life please !!

  • -2


    Judging from the 4 boxes of manga, he was planning to keep her as a guest for a long time Now, why did she go with him? It is a cultural matter. Kids are taught to obey adults no matter what. They cannot distinguish case by case. It is the conformity stigmatism.

  • 4


    It is a cultural matter.

    Sorry to disagree, but Japan is hardly unique with this type of crime, or most others for that matter.

    She is a child and he is, and I use this term extremely loosely because he is an animal, an adult. It is not unthinkable that an adult can deceive a child, any child.

    Stop looking for blame in the child. There is none. It all rests with this arrested thing.

  • 1


    So glad she is safe! May the kidnapper be incarcerated.

  • 3


    When I first read about this case and how four days had already gone by, I thought to myself, "Then this is three days too late to save the girl." I am absolutely ecstatic that I turned out to be wrong.

  • 1


    Finally, some happy ending

  • 2


    Good to hear some successful J-police stories once in a while.

  • 1


    A case where the good old fashioned Japanese nosy neighbor was a tremendous benefit.

  • 2


    Hooray! This should be the top link.

  • 0


    Good job by police.

    I hope the police checked everyone in location

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