Byline: Lindsay Clydesdale
WHEN Clare Campbell went to japan to research a book on the murders of young British women, she didn't find what she expected. Like Lucie Blackman and Lindsay Hawker, Clare thought she knew what awaited her on the other side of the world.
But in Tokyo's Roppongi district, the party capital of Japan, the London journalist discovered an underworld of sex for sale, and huge cultural differences that may have played a part in both girls' deaths.
Lucie, 21, and Lindsay, 22, both went to Tokyo to work and both were murdered by clients. English teacher Lindsay was killed by a man who asked for a one-off private lesson.
Lucie worked in a hostess bar, a kind of modern version of the Geisha tradition, where women are highly paid to drink, flatter and flirt with businessmen - and absolutely nothing more.
But she met her killer there, a serial rapist who would abduct her, drug her and cut up her body with a chainsaw, before encasing her severed head in concrete.
For Tim and Jane, Lucie's divorced parents, the details were almost too much to bear.
Clare has two grown-up daughters and felt their pain every day.
"I could only imagine if I had lost one of my daughters in this way," she said.
"I kept thinking about it from the first time I met Tim. As Jane said, 'It's bad enough to lose your daughter, but to know what he did to her as well...'
"To have to live with that and wake up every morning and think about that, it's just inconceivable."
Clare's book, Toyko Hostess, out later this month, is a fascinating but disturbing look at the sexual psyche of Japanese men and the circumstances that led to the murders.
Researching it took her form the clubs in Roppongi's red-light district to the cave where Lucie's body parts were found, buried under sand and stones and in plastic bags.
"It was very harrowing and some details were chilling," said Clare. Lucie worked at a bar where, after a rocky start trying to attract businessmen looking for a drink and a pretty young Western woman to relax with, she was soon earning pounds 1500 a week.
The downside was the beauty pageant line-up when the doors opened to the customers, the hard-drinking culture, working late into the night, partying with friends afterwards and sleeping all day until it was time to start work again at 7pm.
Escape from this, for the lucky girls, came in the form of clients who would pay dearly to take their pretend girlfriend on chaste dates, weekends away and even back to the family home to meet the wife and kids.
In Japan, it was nothing out of the ordinary for businessmen to go to hostess bars and spend their firm's money entertaining clients and the girls who worked there, said Clare.
Lucie must have thought she'd landed just such a lucky break when Joji Obara asked her to come to his home on the coast. She accepted, went to meet him on a Saturday afternoon and was never seen again.
"The irony was when Obara started being a regular customer of Lucie's, she thought she'd cracked it," said Clare. "She wrote to her family saying that she'd got the hang of it."
Obara was a middle-aged playboy with the money to try and buy himself out of trouble.
He was also a pathetic figure who could only have sex with women who were unconscious. His decision to record the crimes was his downfall.
Detectives searching his many properties found a notebook with the names of 209 women and, next to each, shorthand codes for the drugs he had used to knock them out.
AS well as this disturbing document, there were hundreds of video tapes of him drugging and abusing countless women for hours on end.
The women would be naked and tied to a bed. …