• Kyodo


A 43-year-old man suspected of orchestrating the murders of a Swiss-based Japanese couple is being held in a hospital after attempting suicide Tuesday on Okinawa’s Miyako Island, where he had fled, police said Wednesday.

Police allege the suspect, a corporate executive, played a key role in the high-profile case by luring Makoto Shimomi, a 51-year-old financier, and his wife, Mie, from their condo in the Ginza district of Tokyo on Dec. 7, they said.

The suspect, who has not been identified and was initially wanted on the specific charge of abandoning two bodies, also prepared a vehicle believed to have been used to abduct the couple, the sources alleged.

Shimomi’s corpse was found buried in a vacant lot in Kuki, Saitama Prefecture, along with that of a woman yet to be identified but presumably his wife.

Police earlier arrested Takaaki Kuwahara, a 41-year-old unemployed man, on Miyako Island for allegedly dumping the two bodies. Both had been buried about 2 meters deep. Kuwahara has denied the charge.

The couple’s wallets and watches were taken to a pawnshop in Tokyo in late December, the police said. It was also earlier reported that a man in a mask tried to use Shimomi’s credit card to buy some ¥3 million in shinkansen coupon tickets at JR Tokyo Station on Dec. 20 but left after he was asked to provide identification.

Kuwahara and Shimomi are believed to have become acquainted about a year ago, they said.

The Shimomis vanished after leaving their upscale Ginza condo. The couple had told others they were going to Nikko, in Tochigi Prefecture, to attend a party featuring a famous singer at the invitation of an acquaintance.

No such party was held and the invitation was probably bogus, police said earlier.

The couple, who owned several condominiums in Japan and abroad as well as two imported luxury cars, had been scheduled to return to Switzerland, where their company was based, on Dec. 14. Their airplane tickets and passports were found in the Ginza condo, according to investigators.

Shimomi was considered “a fine investor with good sense,” and the couple, who handled businesses across the globe, traveled abroad frequently with their pet dogs.

Shimomi, originally from Miyazaki Prefecture, joined a Tokyo-based securities company after finishing college. He was first assigned to the firm’s Kitakyushu branch.

“(Shimomi) was always full of energy. He loved to sing. He was great at sales,” said a former colleague who had known the victim since then.

Eager to start an international career, Shimomi was later assigned to the international department at the brokerage. “It was probably then that he succeeded in creating ties with people he later did business with,” the colleague said.

Shimomi quit the brokerage more than a decade ago and began his business in Switzerland, which involved investment and asset management.

According to business colleagues, he was a skilled trader who would take his laptop and three cellphones with him even when going out for dinner.

Shimomi’s former colleagues claim he was making ¥500 million annually several years ago and managing over ¥30 billion in the stock market.

“He was a bold trader and at times would handle high-risk stocks to enjoy the thrill of it,” a colleague said.

The pair first met at the securities house over two decades ago.

They did not have any children but had two pet dogs. At their dogs’ birthday parties they would serve high-priced tuna caught in Oma, Aomori Prefecture.

“They were like a family,” a friend of the Shimomis said.

A blog believed to have been written by Mie Shimomi showed the couple traveling through Europe, including Zurich, Paris and Monaco, along with their beloved pets. The site was last updated on Dec. 6, the day before the pair disappeared.