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Police find 2 bodies on Niigata mountain; could be missing father and son

AGANO, Niigata -- Niigata Prefectural Police on May 29 discovered what may be the remains of a father and son who have been unreachable since May 6 in the Gozu mountain range area.

According to the Agano Police Station, the bodies were discovered at roughly 11:20 a.m. in the Kokurasawa area of the mountain range by a police rescue helicopter, and were recovered by 2:35 p.m. Police are currently working to identify the bodies to see if they are indeed the missing 37-year-old Koya Shibuya and his 6-year-old son Sora of Niigata's Kita Ward, as well as their causes of death.

Shibuya and his son started their hike at roughly 2 p.m. on May 5. About two hours later, Shibuya called his father to tell him that they had lost their way on the trail and were making camp on the mountain. The next morning on May 6, he called again to let his father know that they were on their way down from the trail, but Shibuya could not be reached after that. Prefectural police and other rescue personnel started searching the area early on May 7, but were hampered by bad weather.

Prefectural police initially stated that the Agano Police Station was first aware of the situation around 6 p.m. on May 6. However, they then announced on May 10 that a police officer stationed at a local police box had been consulted by Shibuya's father over the possibility of an accident nearly nine hours earlier, at roughly 9:20 a.m. on May 6. The station has apologized for the delayed response.

(Japanese original by Aya Iguchi and Hidenori Kitamura, Niigata Bureau)

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