Photo/IllutrationResidents on June 20 patrol a residential area in Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture, where Makoto Kobayashi's car was found. (The Asahi Shimbun)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

AIKAWA, Kanagawa Prefecture--A man convicted of assault and theft gave police and prosecutors the slip when they arrived at his home to escort him to prison.

Makoto Kobayashi, who was facing a prison term of three years and eight months, grabbed a knife and drove off in a black Honda Fit subcompact when authorities turned up around 1:30 p.m. on June 19.

Kobayashi was seen headed west on the Tomei Expressway. His car was found 10 hours later in the parking lot of an apartment complex seven kilometers away in Atsugi, also in Kanagawa Prefecture.

As a precaution, the education boards of Aikawa and Atsugi decided to suspend classes at 45 public schools in the municipalities June 20 so children could stay at home.

According to the Atsugi Police Station, Kobayashi is 171 centimeters tall and was wearing a white T-shirt, shorts and a white cap.

Kobayashi was convicted by the Odawara branch of the Yokohama District Court of assault, theft, stimulants use and other offenses last September.

In January, the Tokyo High Court rejected Kobayashi’s appeal against the prison sentence. As Kobayashi had been free on bail, prosecutors ordered him to turn up at their office. He ignored their requests. They visited his home several times, but never made contact.

Police and prosecutors managed to meet with Kobayashi at his home on June 19, but he suddenly bolted.

Prosecutors announced the incident about three hours after Kobayashi fled.

“I’m deeply sorry we allowed such a blunder to happen,” said the deputy public prosecutor at the Yokohama District Public Prosecutors Office.