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The BBC's Charles Scanlon in Tokyo
"Her father had become increasingly frustrated at the slow pace of the investigation"
 real 56k

Thursday, 12 October, 2000, 08:50 GMT 09:50 UK
Man questioned over missing Briton
Lucie Blackman
Lucie Blackman disappeared in Tokyo in July
Police in Japan have arrested a man they believe may be connected to the disappearance of British woman Lucie Blackman.

The man, said to be in his 40s, is the president of a real estate company who frequently visited the night life area in Tokyo where Miss Blackman, 21, worked as a bar hostess.

Police arrested the man after a Canadian bar hostess alleged she was sexually assaulted by him three years ago.

Reports in Japan say the man's mobile telephone was used to make a call to one of Miss Blackman's friends two days after she went missing on 1 July.

Police are questioning him about the case and searching his properties both in Tokyo and elsewhere.

Family's search

The former air hostess went missing after spending the day with an unidentified customer from the bar where she worked.

Her family have put up a 10,000 reward for information leading to their daughter's discovery.

Her father, Tim, from the Isle of Wight, has made several trips to Japan to try to find his daughter.

Tim Blackman
Lucie's father, Tim, continues to search
Miss Blackman went to Japan in May on a three-month tourist visa.

She began working as a highly-paid hostess at the Casablanca Club in Tokyo's Roppongi entertainment district.

She disappeared after telling a friend she was going to meet a man who had promised to buy her a mobile phone.

The friend then said she had received a phone call from a Japanese man who said Lucie was undergoing religious training at a cult.

This raised fears that Miss Blackman might have been initiated into a religious sect.

A later call to a police hotline suggested the 21-year-old, along with four other Westerners, had been abducted and shipped to Hong Kong as part of an illegal sex trade.

It's just a nightmare - I have been waiting for 18-and-a-half weeks

Jane Blackman
The missing woman's father said he was not intending to fly to Japan "immediately", although he was due to go again in the near future.

He said: "Our aim is to get Lucie found so I will go if Lucie is found."

"I had been planning to go in a couple of weeks anyway. We try to maintain our presence out there to keep asking questions and to keep under the fingernails of the police."

Miss Blackman's mother, Jane, who lives apart from Lucie's father, said she was ready to leave for Japan at "a moment's notice".

"I'm waiting for the police to telephone me. It's just a nightmare - I have been waiting for 18-and-a-half weeks and I don't know.

"I'm just going to play it by ear. I have been out there twice and I just got back last week."

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