Photo: Gunma Prefectural Police

Police, parents appeal for help in solving disappearance of 4-year-old girl in 1996


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.

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A 4 year old girl was running around pachinko parlor unsupervised while her father was in a pachinko trance. Not a candidate for father of the year. I wonder if he still plays pachinko. It would be nice to believe the little girl is still alive, but it's very unlikely she is.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I hope she's still alive, but if she does how she can recognise her parents that was 23years ago? Probably she has have own family or out of the country ?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Why would someone take a 4 year old into a pachinko parlor in the first place? 23 years later, she has probably been raised and brought up as someone else's daughter and has no clue. That's if she is still alive.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

“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.”

to be honest he is a bad father i mean why on earth would he take her there ? is he serious ?

then he say i think about it everyday well i hope he think of that all his life, he don't deserve to be a father if he can't take care of hes kids

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@ Disillusioned: through his actions he's now paying heavily for that bad decision, its going to toucher him for the rest of his life!!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

she would be 27 now , with most likely almost no memory of her parents , given it is also their direct fault she was taken....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If they have surveillance footage of the man, why not of the kid? And whereas it is true that the father is not the best father ever, it was in a Pachinko parlor presumably full of customers and staff.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Phill Smy if you're hooked on pachinko when you play you're so absorbed you wouldn't know what day it is, and certainly a little child running around wouldn't register. I don't understand this form of gambling but I do know of someone who got into millions of debt and is still paying it off 10 years later. I ask you, to get hooked on little silver balls running down a machine, you couldn't make it up if you tried

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Just try to remember that 20 some years ago, as kids, we rode in the back of trucks, played outside daily unsupervised, didn't wear seatbelts or had no seatbelts, etc.

It was a different time to raise kids and places like the pachinko parlors, ball parks, game center,etc. were all places that we ran wild. There was really a thought that you would go missing.

It is just as safe now as it was, if not safer, but what has changed is the news making parents aware of the rare threat of abductions.

Just surprised that nobody here has hinted as to N Korean kidnappings.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When I think about the years that have passed, I just can't stop asking myself why Yukari is still missing.

Maybe because your dumb a** husband took her to a pachinko palor and forgot about her while he gambled life away. I would be really stunned if she is still married to him

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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