The Mito District Court in Tochigi Prefecture has sentenced a 37-year-old man convicted of kidnapping two girls and confining them at his house in 2019 to 20 years in prison.
According to the court ruling on Tuesday, Hitoshi Ito, an unemployed resident of Oyama in Tochigi Prefecture, met the two girls, aged 12 and 15, separately on a social networking site (SNS). The 12-year-old girl was reported missing in November 2019, while the the 15-year-old girl was last seen by her parents in June of that year.
In handing down his verdict, Presiding Judge Keita Nakajima said Ito committed sexual assaults against the girls based on a premeditated plan. He said Ito took advantage of his victims’ immaturity, which will have a significant impact on their future lives.
Ito’s defense team argued that he was in fact trying to save the lives of the girls, who he claimed had told him online that they were unhappy at home and and were thinking about suicide.
The 12-year-old girl told police she met Ito on Twitter on Nov 10, 2019. Ito sent her a message asking her to come to his house in Oyama. He also told her that another girl had been in his house for about six months and that he wanted her to be "a conversation partner" for her, Kyodo News reported.
On the day she disappeared (Nov 17), she agreed to meet Ito in a park near her home. Ito then took her by train to Oyama. On Nov 23, the 12-year-old girl turned up at a koban (police box). She told police she had escaped from a man’s house where another girl was also being confined. Police went to the house and arrested Ito as he was leaving with the 15-year-old girl.
The girls’ smartphones, which were retrieved from Ito's house, had their SIM cards removed and power turned off.
The girls said they were given food once a day and allowed to bathe every two days.© Japan Today/KYODO