Major manhunt for rape suspect in Japan's Kawasaki city

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Handout picture of wanted rape suspect Yuta SugimotoImage source, AFP
Image caption,
Yuta Sugimoto was being questioned over the gang rape of a woman in early January when he escaped

Japanese police have launched a nationwide manhunt for a rape suspect who escaped south of Tokyo.

More than 4,000 officers have been mobilised in the search for 20-year-old Yuta Sugimoto.

The suspect is reported to have escaped after giving his guard the slip during a visit to the prosecutors' office in Kawasaki for a meeting with his lawyer.

The escape has alarmed residents and schoolchildren have been told not to venture out alone, reports say.

Yuta Sugimoto was being questioned on suspicion of being part of a gang that raped and robbed a woman on the streets of Kawasaki on 2 January.

He was able to escape his guards after requesting his bindings be loosened while he went to the toilet, Japanese media report.

As well as 4,000 officers, police have also reportedly deployed 850 vehicles, sniffer dogs, helicopters and boats in the manhunt.