Japan inmate recaptured 3 weeks after escape, island manhunt

A convicted thief has been recaptured three weeks after a rare escape from a Japanese prison and an island manhunt he may have eluded by swimming.

Tatsuma Hirao escaped a low-security prison in Ehime prefecture on April 8 during a work assignment while serving a 5 ½ year sentence for theft.

He allegedly drove a stolen car along a highway system connecting several islands.

Police believe he arrived on the island of Mukaishima, where more than 1,000 police searched for him daily. They say his fingerprints were detected at the scenes of several reported thefts since the jailbreak.

Media reports say Hirao probably swam across an inland sea to escape the Mukaishima manhunt and reach Hiroshima.

The 27-year-old inmate was arrested Monday being spotted walking on a street in Hiroshima.