NAHA, Okinawa Pref. — The mother of pop singer Namie Amuro was slain Wednesday morning on an Okinawa road in what police suspect may have been a murder-
suicide involving the younger brother of her widowed husband.

Emiko Taira, 48, was struck head-on by a car while strolling with her husband along a road near National Highway No. 58, in Ogimi-son, northwestern Okinawa Prefecture, at around 10:40 a.m., the husband was quoted by police as saying.

The husband, whose name is being withheld, told police that the couple tried to hide behind a telephone pole to evade the car, it doubled back and struck the pole. The driver, identified as Kenji Taira, the victim’s 44-year-old brother-in-law, then exited the vehicle wielding a hatchet-like object.

As he began striking the woman, the husband tried to hold him back with a steel pipe. The younger brother then fled the scene in the car, police said.

Emiko Taira was taken to a hospital, but her heart had already stopped and she was pronounced dead shortly before noon, police said.

Hours later, Kenji Taira was found in the car parked on a rural road about 5 km from the scene of the killing, police said. He was unconscious and foaming at the mouth, they said, adding that he may have consumed insecticide from a can found inside the car in an attempt to kill himself. He was confirmed dead at around 4:30 p.m.

Police decided later Wednesday to send to prosecutors papers listing the brother-in-law as a murder suspect. They said later the same day that they had obtained information on problems between Emiko Taira, who managed a bar, and her construction worker brother-in-law, whom they suspect planned the crime.

The victim published a book last year titled “Promise, To My Daughter Namie Amuro.” The biography details her life working as a nursery employee by day and a bar hostess by night to support Amuro after divorcing her first husband.

Amuro, 21, a native of Okinawa Prefecture, made her singing debut in 1992 and produced the smash hit “Try Me, Believe Me” in 1995.

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