SAITAMA -- The body of a 9-year-old boy was found in a housing complex building here early on Sept. 18. Police suspect foul play.
The body was discovered in the apartment complex in the Oya district of Minuma Ward in the city of Saitama, north of Tokyo, at around 12:40 a.m. Police identified the victim as Ryosuke Shindo, a fourth-grader at a municipal elementary school who resided in the complex.
Saitama Prefectural Police investigators are questioning the boy's parents and others about the detailed circumstances before the boy's disappearance.
According to the Omiya-higashi Police Station and other sources, the boy's 42-year-old mother called police at around 8:20 p.m. on Sept. 17, saying, "My son hasn't come back home from an English conversation school."
Police officers searched buildings of the housing complex and discovered the body in what appeared to be a storeroom.
When the body was found, he was clad in a T-shirt, short pants and socks, but was not wearing shoes. There appeared to be no external injuries to his body or abnormalities with his clothes. It remains unclear whether he actually had attended the English conversation school that day.
Ryosuke was living in the housing facility with his mother, who works as a teacher, and his 32-year-old unemployed father.
A neighbor told the Mainichi Shimbun that she had seen the boy on Sept. 14, a school day. "He was attending school normally and was learning English conversation and swimming. He would greet me whenever we came across each other."
The father of Ryosuke's classmate recalled the victim, commenting, "He was an active and spirited boy," while the mother in her 40s of another classmate said, "He was a cheerful boy. He didn't appear to be someone who would be a victim of a crime. I'm in a state of shock."
The apartment complex is situated in a residential area about 2 kilometers south of Nanasato Station on Tobu Railway's Noda Line.
(Japanese original by Takuya Suzuki, Yuki Nakagawa and Ayako Hiramoto, Saitama Bureau)