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Tokyo police: Suspects in slaying at shrine rented property overlooking crime scene beforehand

Shigenaga Tomioka
Shigenaga Tomioka (TV Asahi)

TOKYO (TR) – Investigative sources with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police believe that a man who used a sword to fatally stab his sister, the chief priestess at a shrine in Koto Ward, rented a nearby apartment beforehand to track her movements, reports Nippon News Network (Dec. 12).

On the night of December 7, Shigenaga Tomioka, 56, and his wife, 49-year-old Mariko, ambushed Nagako Tomioka, 58, as she exited a vehicle on a road near Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine. The assailants used swords to slash Nagako in the head and chest.

In the latest developments, police have learned that Shigenaga and his wife rented an apartment with a view of the crime scene, ostensibly to monitor the victim’s activities in advance. Police seized binoculars and several knives from the residence.

Police believe the motive for the attack was resentment. Shigenaga became chief priest of the shrine in 1995. However, he was dismissed six years later due to problems with women and money.

Two days after the incident, representatives of shrine parishioners received a letter believed to have been written by Shigenaga in which he outlined his perceived character flaws in Nagako that make her unfit to head the shrine. He also demanded her expulsion with his son becoming chief priest.

“I am going to haunt you by becoming a vengeful ghost after my death if my demands are not met,” Shigenaga wrote, according to the Asahi Shimbun (Dec. 10). The letter is believed to have been sent before the incident on December 7.

Murder and suicide

After the initial attack, the male driver of Nagako’s vehicle, 33, attempted to flee the scene. However, he was pursued over a distance of about 100 meters by Mariko, who was wielding a Japanese sword. She then slashed him in the right shoulder. He received injuries not considered life-threatening, police said.

At some point thereafter, Shigenaga fatally stabbed Mariko in the chest and abdomen. He then slashed his chest in taking his life.

Shrine known for sumo

Founded in 1627, Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine is located about 300 meters from Tokyo Metro’s Monzen-Nakacho Station. It is known as the birthplace of sumo. Two tournaments were held in the Spring and Autumn at the shrine each year as dictated by the shogunate.