National

Amuro's mother slain; brother-in-law suspected

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.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5