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    Tuesday, October 17, 2017-6:49:24A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

Parents raise reward money to find missing daughters

THE parents of Natsuki and Chinatsu Yamada, the two sisters who went missing while on Saipan on June 30, 2014, are back on island for their 17th visit, still hoping to get new information from local authorities and community members.

With them were Chinatsu’s fiancé, Kenichi Ichikawa and Natsuki’s friend, Yoko Ishikawa, who served as the couple’s interpreter.

In an interview at Mariana Resort lounge on Sunday, the Yamada couple, Hideki and wife Kozue, said they are raising the reward money from $5,000 to $10,000 in addition to the $1,000 reward offered by Crime Stoppers to any person who can provide information about the whereabouts of their daughters.

Click to enlarge
The Yamada couple, Hideki and wife Kozue, with Kenichi Ichikawa, their daughter Chinatsu’s fiancé, and Yoko Ishikawa, their daughter Natsuki’s friend.  Photo by Junhan B. Todiño

The couple arrived on island, Saturday, and left on Monday after meeting with a Department of Public Safety investigator and their friends from the Japanese Society of Saipan and the Japanese Consulate Office.

They did not meet with Federal Bureau of Investigation agents since the agency was only involved at the beginning of the case, the parents said.

Since their last meeting with DPS last year, they had not received any new information, Hideki Yamada said, adding that their daughters’ belongings are still with the police, including the two gold necklaces which he gave to Natsunki and Chinatsu as Christmas presents.

“We were told by police investigators that their [daughters’] belonging were brought to the U.S. mainland for examination,” the father said through his interpreter.

The Yamadas said DPS had assured them they would be informed if there were any new information about their daughters.

On Saturday night, the Yamada couple and Kenichi Ichikawa went to Wing Beach where the sisters’ rented car was discovered.

“They offered prayers and hoped to meet again their daughters,” the interpreter said.

Chinatsu, 26, and Natsuki, 33, arrived on island on June 28, 2014 for a two-day vacation and were supposed to leave Saipan on June 30, 2014 at 6 a.m., but they did not show up at the airport for their flight.

After the discovery of their rented car, DPS-Boating Safety Unit, Fire and Emergency Medical Services, and a search and rescue unit were immediately activated to look for them.

On Sunday, the Yamada couple said most of the hotel employees who knew their daughters were no longer working at Mariana Resort & Spa where the two sisters checked in.

“But we want to stay there when we visit again,” the parents said.

Every time they’re on Saipan, they make new friends and “we are still trying to make more friends.”

They said they are grateful to Rodney Klinge of Asian Business Knowledge who expressed willingness to help them.

The parents said they will return to Saipan in December to meet with Klinge and other friends.

In their meeting with the Japanese Society of Saipan, the couple said they discussed other ways to conduct an information campaign about their missing daughters.

The parents said they also discussed the possibility of opening a Facebook page for Natsuki and Chinatsu so anyone who has information can post or send their messages.

Kenichi Ichikawa, Chinatsu’s fiancé, said he is thankful to the Yamada couple. “I share their sentiment — I’ll never give up. We will continue to visit the island and wait for any new information. We know that every time we come to Saipan, it is like we will meet them again.”

Printed on his t-shirt was the last picture of the Yamada sisters taken on Saipan.

In March, he joined a marathon, where he and other participants wore the photo-shirt to raise awareness about the Yamada sisters.

Mrs. Yamada said she remains “hopeful that something positive would come up,” citing stories about missing persons who came back years after their disappearance.

Yoko Ishikawa, too, believes her friends are still alive and she is not giving up hope of finding them. “We miss them and we hope they will come back soon,” she added.

In July 2014, the Japan Times reported that the sisters were dressed for water sports and believed to have set out to sea in an inflatable raft. A deflated raft that was apparently used by the sisters was recovered from the sea.

The Japan Times quoted the local police as saying that there was no sign of foul play and they believed the sisters went for a night swim in an area known for strong currents.