The Words of the Ota Family

Mass Search For Japanese Hostages

April 3, 2007

Police in Paraguay have mounted a huge search operation for two Japanese citizens who were abducted at gunpoint.

Hirokasu Ota, a 62-year-old businessman living in Paraguay, and his secretary were seized on a road near the eastern town of Caaguazu.

They were abducted on Sunday along with a police officer and his girlfriend.

Reports from Tokyo say the kidnappers are demanding a ransom of $150,000 (76,000), but local police have not confirmed this.

Mr. Ota runs a local property management company and is a pastor with the Unification Church led by the Rev Sun Myung Moon.

Paraguayan officials named his secretary as Savako Shuma Takayama, but reports in Japan gave her family name as Yamaguchi.

The road where the group was abducted is the main corridor for business between the capital, Asuncion and the trading city of Ciudad del Este on Paraguay's so-called Triple Border with Argentina and Brazil.

The Paraguayan policeman and his girlfriend stopped to help the pair but were themselves kidnapped, police said.

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