British mother claims remains of murdered daughter


TOKYO, AP

The mother of a missing British bar hostess whose dismembered body was found on beach near Tokyo arrived in Japan on Saturday to take her daughter’s remains back home, vowing to give her a funeral “with dignity.”

“I have arrived in Japan today to do a job I prayed I would never have to do,” Jane Blackman told reporters at the British Embassy in Tokyo. “There are no words to describe my grief.”

Blackman’s daughter Lucie, a former flight attendant, was working as a hostess in a Tokyo night club when she disappeared in July in one of this country’s most-publicized missing person cases in years.

Earlier this month police unearthed Lucie’s decomposed and mutilated body near the seaside apartment of a Japanese businessman who has been charged with sexually abusing several young women. She was 21 when she vanished.

Appearing at a news conference shortly after arriving in Tokyo to claim Lucie’s remains, Jane Blackman, 47, said she hoped to bring them back to Britain some time next week in order to give her daughter a funeral “with the dignity she so deserved.”

“If you had a child, you would know exactly how I felt,” she said, speaking softly and appearing stoic.

Police have yet to charge anybody in relation to Lucie’s disappearance and death.

Her remains were buried in a cave on a beach in Miura, a resort community southwest of Tokyo. They were just 200 meters (220 yards) away from a condominium belonging to the 48-year-old president of an asset management company who was arrested in October and has been accused of drugging and raping several women.

Joji Obara was allegedly a regular at bars in Tokyo where foreign hostesses pour drinks, light cigarettes and make conversation with Japanese men willing to pay as much as US$100 an hour for the service.

Lucie’s case has highlighted concerns about foreign women employed in Japan’s night club and sex industries. Many of them do not have proper visas, making it difficult for them to seek the protection of the law.

Her mother called on the Japanese government to clarify their legal status.

“I think if girls come here to work as hostesses they should be issued correct work permits,” Jane Blackman said.

Her father, Tim Blackman, is scheduled to arrive in Tokyo on Monday. He came to Japan last year to conduct his own search for Lucie, making personal appeals to Prime Minister Tony Blair and other British politicians for help.

Jane Blackman said she was not sure why it took police seven months to find her daughter’s body. But she refrained from criticizing them, and instead thanked them for their hard work and kindness.

“I have every confidence in the way they handled this case,” she said. She declined to comment on potential suspects and said she has no plans to visit the site where Lucie’s body was found.