A thief has been on the run for more than a week despite a massive manhunt mobilizing no less than 6,600 Japanese policemen, forcing the justice minister to apologize on Tuesday. This case made the front page of many media in Japan, the television channels reporting every minute of this stalking started on April 8, when 27-year-old Tatsuma Hirao falsified company with the guards of the Matsuyama open prison, located in the city of Imabari (southwest). 6,600 police officers are now deployed to try to find him, according to officials, an impressive number that continues to increase. Research is focused on Mukaishima Island, where a stolen car was found. On Tuesday, Justice Minister Yoko Kawakami apologized for the failure of the search. “I heard that the incident is causing a lot of anxiety among locals, especially because there are a lot of elderly people living alone … I am deeply sorry,” she said. She added that 96 prison guards are mobilized to protect the schools of this island with an area of 22 km2 and has 22,000 inhabitants. “Terror and anguish on a peaceful island”, headlined for example the television Fuji TV, during a debate on the case. Research is slowed by the fact that the island has about a thousand empty houses, inside which the police can not enter without the agreement of the owners, according to the daily Mainichi Shimbun. The hilly terrain also prevents police officers from using a helicopter to spot the thief, the newspaper adds. Since the opening of the Matsuyama open prison in 1961, 21 prisoners have escaped.