A local TV camera is set up in front of the lodging facility where the severed head of a woman was found in Osaka, Japan, 26 February 2018. Yevgeniy Vasilievich Bayraktar, a 26-year-old US national, is being questioned by police after they found a woman's severed head inside a suitcase in the apartment room he was using in Osaka's Nishinari Ward. (EPA photo)

TOKYO: Investigators in Japan have arrested a tourist from New York in connection with the discovery of a human head and other body parts that were found during a search for a missing Japanese woman, officials said.

The man, Yevgeniy Vasilievich Bayraktar, 26, gave the police information that led them to mountainous areas of Osaka and Kyoto prefectures, where they found severed arms, legs and a torso, according to local news reports.

In an interview with Nippon TV in New York, Bayraktar’s parents told the network that their son loved Japan and wanted to marry a Japanese woman, and they said he would never commit a murder.

Bayraktar was apparently the last person seen with the woman, a 27-year-old office worker who was reported missing on Feb. 16. The Japan Times reported that he had admitted to disposing of her body, and it quoted investigators as saying that her head, found in a suitcase in short-term private lodging, had been cut by a knife.

The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported that the man had traveled to Japan several times before and was in the country for sightseeing. It said he had been in contact with several women through dating apps, through which he met the 27-year-old woman.

Bayraktar, who arrived in Japan in January, was arrested Thursday on charges of confining the woman against her will. During an interrogation by the police, he told them he had abandoned the woman’s body, The Japan Times reported. The newspaper said he subsequently led officers to locations where they found the body parts, and that he now faces charges of disposing of and damaging a body.

The woman’s head was found Saturday in a suitcase at a short-term lodging facility, or minpaku, in the Nishinari ward of the city of Osaka, investigators told the local news media. That area has long drawn homeless people and day laborers, but more recently it has attracted backpackers and other low-budget travelers who stay at minpaku on a short-term basis.

The involvement of a minpaku in the gruesome case is likely to add to growing concerns in Japan about the proliferation of such residences, which are advertised on the web on sites like Airbnb.

Such short-term rentals are only allowed in designated zones, but many owners and renters operate minpaku residences illegally, and critics have called them breeding grounds for illicit activity. Starting in June, such residences must be registered with local governments.

The arrest comes four months after Japan was transfixed by another grisly case, in which the dismembered bodies of nine people were found in coolers and other containers, in some cases covered in cat litter. A 27-year-old man identified as Takahiro Shiraishi was arrested in connection with those killings.

Investigators said Shiraishi had confessed to finding the victims, who he said had been considering suicide, on Twitter. -- NYT

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