Japanese police have launched a nationwide man hunt for a rape suspect who fled while he was being interrogated near Tokyo.

Police say the suspect, Yuta Sugimoto, 20, fled Tuesday from the prosecutors' office in Kawasaki, south of Tokyo. A Kanagawa prefectural police official said Wednesday that he apparently loosened his waist rope after requesting a toilet break. He tore himself away from police officers and escaped.

Police on Wednesday have mobilized 4,000 officers for the manhunt following an unsuccessful overnight search.

The rape suspect's disappearance has triggered fear among residents in the area. Some parents accompanied their children to schools, while students went to school in groups.

Police say Sugimoto was arrested Monday on suspicion of robbing and gang-raping a woman with another man.