Taxi driver found hanged in Osaka; investigators suspect murder-robbery

Kyodo

A 62-year-old taxi driver was found hanged from the gate of a sports field in Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture, on Thursday morning, the victim of an apparent homicide, police said.

He was identified as Tateo Yoshiyama, a resident of the city. A passerby phoned police to report the grisly find at around 5:50 a.m.

Police said Yoshiyama had apparently been struck in the face. There was blood in his taxi, which was parked about 10 meters away, with the engine still running. Both his wallet and about 90,000 yen in fares were missing, and police believe Yoshiyama was attacked and robbed before an attempt was made to stage his slaying as a suicide.

Records found in the cab suggest that two people boarded Yoshiyama’s cab when he picked his last passengers.

Yoshiyama was found hanged by his necktie from the 2-meter tall gate. The tie was tied about 80 cm from the ground, and Yoshiyama was suspended with his back against the gate, legs splayed out on the street, police said.

An autopsy performed later in the day determined that Yoshiyama was strangled, with police giving the estimated time of death at around 5:30 a.m.

Yoshiyama usually worked between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. around JR Ibaraki Station.

Police said he picked up his last passengers near the Ibaraki Interchange on the Meishin Expressway — about 3 km south of where his body was found — at around 4:30 a.m. The meter on his cab posted a fare of 3,230 yen and was set at “settlement.” This notice appears on the meter when a cab driver arrives at the passenger’s designated location and stops the meter.

According to Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., which owns the field, the grounds are no longer used. The area, some 5 km north of Ibaraki Station, is deserted at night, it said.

Local residents said taxi drivers often park in the area to take a nap.