Police and relatives of a girl missing since 1996 on Sunday sought help from the public on her fate. Yukari Yokoyama, then 4, was abducted from a pachinko parlor in Ota, Gunma Prefecture, on July 7, 1996.
As they do each year on July 7, about Gunma prefectural police officers, Yukari’s relatives and friends handed out leaflets in front of a shopping center in Ota City. Yukari's father’s Yasuo, 52, told reporters he still feels pain that there has been no trace of his daughter for 23 years. “I still ask myself every day why I went to the pachinko parlor that day. There has never been anything as heart-breaking for me.”
Yukari vanished from the pachinko parlor after wandering off from her father. Police said their only lead is surveillance camera footage of a man wearing sunglasses and a cap walking up and down the aisles of the pachinko parlor without playing for about 15 minutes. At one point, the man is seen talking to Yukari. However, police have yet to locate him.
Police said that over the years, they have received more than 4,000 tips from the public but none have turned up any solid leads. Police have also released an artist's sketch of how Yukari might look now, if she is still alive.
Yukari’s mother Mitsuko said in a statement: "When I think about the years that have passed, I just can't stop asking myself why Yukari is still missing. We have written our wish on Tanabata slips many times over the past years, but it has not come true. Since that day, I have never thought of Tanabata (July 7) as a beautiful day.”
Anyone with information that might help police is asked to call 0276-33-0110 or 0120-889-324. There is a reward of 6 million yen for any information that might help police solve the case.© Japan Today