KOBE - A man suspected of abandoning the body of a 6-year-old girl told investigators that he was drunk and did not remember what he did on Sept. 11 - the day Mirei Ikuta went missing, according to investigative sources.
Hyogo prefectural police on Sept. 16 identified a suspicious man seen following Ikuta in security camera footage as Yasuhiro Kimino, 47, and sent investigators to his home, about 150 meters east of her grandmother's home, where the girl usually lived.
When the investigators asked Kimino whether he saw Ikuta on Sept. 11, the sources quoted him as saying, "I was drunk all day and don't remember anything at all."
But authorities say Kimino, who was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of illegal disposal of the body, can be seen in security camera footage from a convenience store about 300 meters southeast of her grandmother's home apparently following Ikuta at about 3:15 p.m. on that day as she was walking with a parasol.
When investigators visited his home, they obtained Kimino's agreement to search the kitchen, two rooms, toilet, bathroom and closets, but found nothing suspicious, according to the sources.
On Thursday, the police searched his apartment and confiscated many pornographic videos. They continued searching his room on Friday in an effort to find evidence showing that Kimino put the girl's body parts into plastic bags there.
The police suspect that he initially tried to leave plastic bags containing her body parts at a garbage collection point by mixing them with household waste, as some empty sake bottles and food waste were also found in the plastic bags, which were of a type specified by Kobe city for household garbage disposal, according to the sources.
Kimino was a Ground Self-Defence Force member who worked at a base in southern Kyushu and other places after graduating from a high school in Kagoshima Prefecture.
After quitting the GSDF, he changed jobs frequently and moved to Kobe several years ago.
A man who met Kimino several years ago said Kimino claimed to have once belonged to a criminal organisation in the Shikoku region and sometimes brought a man he called a "boss" to a restaurant he frequently visited.
Kimino was quoted as saying he had been arrested before, but the acquaintance said: "When Kimino was alone, he was quiet and timid. I can't believe he committed such a crime."
The man said they first met when Kimino was a taxi driver. But Kimino, who spent most of his wages on pachinko and horse racing, seemed to be hard-pressed, he said.
Kimino also worked part-time as a security guard at one time, but left the job. After that, he applied for welfare assistance and started living in his current apartment.