Three men who allegedly barbecued and curried the remains of their victim were being held by authorities in Japan, police and reports said on Thursday.
The trio are suspected of using a hammer to dismember Kazuyuki Kobayashi, before grilling parts of his body and getting rid of the remains in mountains in rural Japan, a police spokesman told AFP.
Broadcaster TV Asahi said two of the men had confessed to stabbing Kobayashi three years ago and stewing some of his flesh in a curry, in an effort to hide the smell.
Tasuku Shimaoka, 34, Keita Yoshida, 30, and Koji Kawamura, 40, were arrested last week on charges of dismembering Kobayashi, who went missing in 2009, the police spokesman said.
It is common for Japanese police to arrest suspects on lesser charges initially in order to extend the time they are allowed to keep them in custody.
Media reported that Kobayashi's body had been stored in a warehouse refrigerator in Tokyo before being taken to Niigata in the country's north.
"The suspects conspired between July and August of 2011 and used a hammer-like object to destroy (Kobayashi's body). They then cooked the flesh on a barbecue grill," the spokesman said.
"They damaged and dumped the remains in mountains," he said, without elaborating further.
Local reports said Shimaoka owed money to Kobayashi, adding that police were preparing to open a murder investigation.
Yoshida has admitted all charges against him, Kawamura has confessed to some, while Shimaoka is maintaining his innocence, the police spokesman said.