Wearing white gloves, seven or eight plain-clothes cops stormed into an apartment building in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district one recent morning. Their destination was the 14th-floor residence of Kanae Kijima, a 34-year-old native of Hokkaido who has been arrested for marriage fraud and is under investigation for the deaths of six men, reports Shukan Post (Nov. 13).
“The officers stayed for a week, working 24 hours a day, and they took her wine-red Mercedes,” a resident of the building tells the tabloid.
News reports indicate that Kijima has conned numerous men, whom she met on Internet dating sites, out of sizable sums of money. The police are treating four of the subsequent deaths, which took place in Tokyo and Chiba and Saitama prefectures, as murder. Information on the other two deaths has not yet been released.
“Sometimes she was wearing a black one-piece dress with an open front to display cleavage,” says another tenant. “But usually she didn’t wear make-up and sported worn-out jeans and t-shirts. To be honest, it is hard to believe that kind of lady was able to deceive men.”
The body of Yoshiyuki Oide, a 41-year-old company employee from Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, and a charcoal burner, a common tool used for committing suicide, was discovered inside a rented car in Fujimi, Saitama Prefecture on August 6. Investigators found that he was defrauded by Kijima for 5 million yen. An autopsy revealed that he had died of carbon-monoxide poisoning and that his body contained the remains of sleeping pills. Described as the victim’s fiance by police, Kijima was seen with him the day before his corpse was located.
Kenzo Ando, an 80-year-old invalid from Noda, Chiba Prefecture, died on May 15 in a house fire. Kijima had withdrawn money from his account and served as his nurse. She was seen at the residence the day before the incident. A charcoal stove was found at the scene and Ando’s system as well contained a sedative.
Circumstantial evidence also links Kijima to recycle shop manager Sadao Fukuyama, 70, whose naked corpse was found by a co-worker in his home in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture on August 6, 2007. He had given her 74 million yen. Also described as Kijima’s fiance was 53-year-old Takao Terada. He died in his home in Ome, Tokyo in February of this year from carbon-monoxide poisoning.
Thus far, Kijima has been arrested for defrauding four other men, in their 40s and 50s and residing in various prefectures across the Kanto region, out of a total of 5.3 million yen after posing as a prospective marriage partner.
On several matchmaking sites she utilized the search tools to locate her targets based on age, marital status and income.
Investigators searching Kijima’s computer, according to Web site Iza (Nov. 4), discovered that she had bought briquettes online with the brand matching that found with Oide’s corpse.
This was not Kijima’s first run-in with the law. Shukan Post reports that after going to high school in the Kushiro, Hokkaido area, she moved to Tokyo to attend university. After dropping out she continued to maintain a 90,000-yen-a-month studio apartment in Meguro Ward. It was during this time, in June 2003, that she was sentenced to two and a half years in prison (suspended for five years) for bilking 10 bidders on the auction site for Yahoo! Japan out of 1.3 million yen.
Shukan Shincho (Nov. 12) describes her life as being “grotesque” and wonders just how a woman who could not be labeled a bijin (beautiful lady) succeed in manipulating so many. (A selection of photos of the heavy-set Kijima are provided so readers can judge for themselves.)
An acquaintance of Fukuyama, the manager of the recycle shop, describes him as very frugal, which meant buying discounted items and wearing simple clothing — certainly not the type to hand out large sums of money. The article describes emails from Kijima to Fukuyama as indicating that her parents had died in a plane crash and that she could not afford tuition at music school in Boston. She had told him that she could meet him once a month upon her regular return visits from the U.S., the only times when Fukuyama was ever seen to have dressed up.
The web of deceit was indicative from the beginning of the relationships. A member of the National Police Agency comments on Ando’s death: “They met online. An analysis of her computer showed how she initiated the encounter. This included sending her profile and a picture, which had been altered to look very attractive. I don’t know if she used the same picture with other guys but I would guess they must have been disappointed when seeing her in person.” (The photo appears to have been carefully cropped so as to show only the area of her body between her lips and chest.)
A member of the Chiba Prefectural Police believes, however, that her success was due to her ability to do whatever it took. “What we found after speaking with her other fraud victims was the extremes to which she would go. In providing nursing care, she would offer anything you can think of, including below-the-belt services.”
He adds that she not only bought briquettes online but aphrodisiacs for men to consume. “She would use the name Sakura Yoshikawa during the times she was deceiving men,” the investigator says. “She would change her personality, doing anything to become that character as a means of getting men to stay with her.”
Shukan Post reveals that she tried to create a princess-like aura around her life. On her blog, she used photos to boast about staying at five-star hotels and the brand-name presents she routinely receives. “The orange Hermes color brings good luck,” she gushed on her site on August 11, 2008. “This wallet is what I received for my birthday last year.” She also displayed numerous paper shop bags from various brands, which she had bought on auction sites, to enhance a look of elegance.
Even her large breasts were largely a fraud. Entertainment site Zakzak (Nov. 5) reports that she purchased eleven push-up bras between December, 2007 and March, 2008.
A person related to the investigation tells Shukan Post: “With the image she had crafted, she would target men with little experience with women and write to them, ‘Please take me to a nice hotel on a date.'”
Attired in that black dress, she would then drive to the hotel inside her red Mercedes — a facade that fooled numerous men, many of whom it would seem lost their lives as a result.
“She just became what she was destined to become,” says her grandmother, who lives in Hokkaido, “but I don’t understand…” (K.N.)
Source: “Kuroi wanpi no josagishi,” Shukan Post (Nov. 13, pages 42-45); “Dare mo ‘bijin kekkon sagishi’ kakenakatta ‘dokufu’ no gurotesuku jinsei,” Shukan Shincho (Nov. 12, pages 26-31)