• Kyodo

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A 36-year-old man was sentenced Thursday to eight years in prison for murdering a suicidal woman who paid him to kill her.

Noboru Tokuhara, a rightist group member, was found guilty of conspiring with two accomplices to murder Keiko Yamazaki, 49, in June 1996.

The trio pushed Yamazaki into a lake from a bridge in Tazawako, Akita Prefecture, resulting in her drowning, the Akita District Court found.

Yamazaki paid 2 million yen to Tokuhara and the two other men — Tateshi Fujimori, 43, a former gangster, and Shinichi Tanikawa, 29, a former company employee — to kill her.

Tokuhara, the ringleader, took 1 million yen and his accomplices pocketed the rest. Prosecutors had demanded that he serve nine years in prison.

The district court earlier handed Fujimori a six-year prison term, which he subsequently appealed to the Akita branch of the Sendai High Court. Tanikawa received 3 1/2 years in prison.

Fujimori is already serving a prison term on a separate charge for extortion.

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