Capture: Rape suspect Yuta Sugimoto, centre. Photo: AP Photo/Kyodo News
Tokyo: A massive manhunt in which thousands of Japanese police flooded the streets has ended on live television with the capture of an escaped rape suspect.
Footage shot from a helicopter showed dozens of plainclothes police officers and their uniformed colleagues surrounding a man believed to be Yuta Sugimoto, 20, who slipped away during his visit to a prosecutors' office in Kawasaki, a port city south of Tokyo.
Mr Sugimoto had been on the run since Tuesday after fleeing during a break in questioning over the gang rape and robbery of a young woman in the city on January 2.
Around 4000 police were mobilised, along with hundreds of vehicles, helicopters, boats and sniffer dogs in the hunt for the suspect, it was reported.
Schools in the area instructed their students not to go out alone and parents told television reporters of fears for their children's safety in a country where rates of violent crime are very low.
Public broadcaster NHK aired an unusually long live broadcast of Thursday's capture, reflecting the intense media and public interest in the case.
Footage showed a man, whose head was covered, being led along a wooded path by dozens of officers, before being pushed into a waiting police car in an area of the nearby city of Yokohama.