A Japanese man with a fetish for women's feet has been arrested on suspicion of stealing more than 440 shoes – all of them for the left foot.

The Yomiuri newspaper said the 45-year-old was being quizzed after scores of shoes began disappearing from a hospital in Usu city a couple of years ago.

The shoes belonged to patients and workers who followed the custom of taking their shoes off at the entrance to public places.

Police say they have no idea why the shoes taken were all for the left foot.