Japan

Girl held captive from 9- to 19-years-old

November 13, 1990
Sanjō, Niigata Prefecture, Japan
9-year-old Fusako Sano is abducted and held captive for 9 years and 2 months

Sano was walking home after watching a school basketball game when Nobuyuki Satō (28) forced her into his car and later into the upper floor of his apartment. For 9 years, Sano was kept isolated in the apartment 55 km (34 miles) from where she was abducted. After her rescue, Sano reported she was scared at first but resigned to her fate fairly quickly. She was allowed to listen to the radio, but was initially kept tied up, threatened with beatings and a knife, and punished with a stun gun if she didn’t record horse races on television. Eventually, Satō stopped tying Sano up and even left the door unlocked. Sank never attempted to leave in fear she would be discovered escaping and subsequently punished.

Satō would feed Sano with either instant food or meals cooked by his mother, who lived in the downstairs area of the apartment. After Sano’s rescue, the mother claimed to not have known of the abduction and imprisonment as Satō would become violent if she attempted to go upstairs, but she allegedly purchased feminine hygiene products for Sano.

The mother made several calls to the public health center, reporting her son as violent, and eventually requested a visit to her home. During the visit, Sanō caused enough of a scene to have the police called and, on January 28, 2000, a now 19-year-old Sano stepped forward and identified herself. She was mostly healthy but suffered from dehydration and jaundice, and was weak from a lack of exercise. Additionally, she acted like a child. Satō was arrested and convicted for the abduction. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

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