Writer Mari Yonehara, known for her witty essays based on her experiences as a Russian translator, died of ovarian cancer Thursday at her home in Kanagawa Prefecture, sources close to her said Monday. She was 56.
The daughter of Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Itaru Yonehara, Mari was born in 1950 and spent her childhood in Prague, the capital of then Czechoslovakia, where her father was posted.
After returning to Japan, she entered Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and continued on at the University of Tokyo to become a Russian translator.
In 1992, she received the Society of Japanese Women in Radio and Television award for her contribution as a simultaneous interpreter at international conferences.
She won the Yomiuri Literature Prize in 1995 for “Disloyal Beauty or Loyal Ugly Woman,” a collection of essays on her experiences as a translator.
She also became a TV commentator while heading the association for Russian-Japanese translators and was a standing director of the Japanese Center of International P.E.N.