A man obsessed with a recorded female voice has been arrested after spending more than 3,000 hours on a freephone telephone number.

Hiroyuki Nomoto, from Tokyo in Japan, called the number around 500 times so he could hear the woman's dulcet tones on a taped message.

The 38-year-old plumber was arrested on suspicion of obstructing the business of the company at the other end of the line, a food firm based in Takasaki, north of the capital.

"The company has the number for 24-hour order-taking with a female voice," a police spokesman said.

"He said he wanted to hear a woman's voice.

"The company paid the call charges, which amounted to about $37 for the call time of 3,100 hours."

Japanese police are used to dealing with people obsessed with female voices.

A 37-year-old man was arrested in January after placing at least 2,600 calls to directory enquiries over several months.

Telephone operators - who in Japan are almost always women - reportedly nicknamed him the "don't-hang-up-man".