“I received a telephone call informing me that my daughter, Lucie, had gone missing,” says Tim Blackman, the father of Lucie Blackman, a 21-year-old British woman who disappeared while living in Tokyo in 2000.
Lucie, who was working in Japan at the time, vanished just three weeks after moving to Tokyo. She was last seen leaving the bar where she worked as a hostess. A team of Japanese detectives launched an international investigation to find her, which is explored in Netflix’s documentary, “Missing: The Lucie Blackman Case.”
Tim shares his perspective and experiences in trying to locate his daughter. The day after Lucie went missing, her friend Louise Philips received a call from an individual claiming that Lucie had joined a cult and would not be in touch again. Concerned for Lucie’s safety, Philips raised the alarm, and Tim held a press conference in Tokyo to appeal for information. Even the then-prime minister, Tony Blair, met with the Blackman family in Japan and promised to address the issue at a G8 summit.
During the seven-month search for Lucie, Japanese police received a letter, believed to be fake, purportedly written by Lucie, stating that she wanted to be left alone. In early 2001, body parts identified as Lucie’s were discovered buried near a beach close to Joji Obara’s seaside home. Obara, a Korean-Japanese businessman, was subsequently arrested for Lucie’s death and faced charges related to her abduction, rape resulting in death, and disposal of her body. He was also accused of killing an Australian woman in 1992 and raping eight other women.
A pursuit for justice followed, during which Tim faced criticism for accepting a “condolence payment” of 100 million yen from a friend of Obara’s. This payment is a common practice in Japan, where the accused are expected to reflect on their crimes and make amends through financial compensation to the victims or their families. Tim defended his decision by stating that he wanted to utilize the money to secure the long-term future of the Lucie Blackman Trust, an organization focused on promoting safety awareness among young people, especially when traveling abroad.
In 2005, Lucie’s younger sister Sophie attempted suicide due to overwhelming grief after Lucie’s ashes were laid to rest. Obara was initially cleared of all charges related to Lucie’s death in 2007 but was sentenced to life imprisonment for the rape and murder of another victim named Carita Ridgway, along with eight counts of rape. Following an appeal from prosecutors, Obara was convicted in 2008 of abducting Lucie. Although there was insufficient evidence to prove murder, the high court in Tokyo concluded that Obara had mutilated Lucie’s body.
“Missing: The Lucie Blackman Case” is currently available on Netflix.