Three of a family killed in sword attack near Tokyo shrine

Tokyo: In a family feud over succession, the head priestess of a Shinto temple in Tokyo was killed with a samurai sword by her younger brother before he killed his wife, an accomplice, and took his own life, Asahi Shimbun reports.

The attack, which was caught on a CCTV camera, took place around 8.25 pm on Thursday when Nagako Tomioka, 58, head priestess of Tomioka Hachimangu shrine was stepping out of her car to her home on the temple grounds. Her brother Shigenaga Tomioka, 56, who was hiding nearby along with his wife Mariko, 49, drew out a samurai sword and slashed his sister in the back and on the chest.

As Nagako’s car driver started fleeing, Mariko chased him and cut his right arm with another sword. His injuries are not life-threatening. Shigenaga later stabbed his wife before killing himself. A broken sword was found near Nagako’s body along with a smaller sword and two knives.

Police say Shigenaga was the head priest of the temple in the 1990s until he fired in 2001. The reason for his sacking is unknown. But one of his friends said Shigenaga lived lavishly and was always running into financial problems.

Shigenaga’s father resumed as head priest and soon he gave charge to his daughter. Shigenaga felt bitter about it and he was arrested in 2006 for sending letters threatening to kill her.

Nagako told police about family issues related to the position of chief priest. They were also told that a Shinto shrine organisation had refused to approve her succession.

One of Shigenaga’s friends said he seemed to be emotionally unstable during their telephonic talks.

A woman who knew the family said people used to get anonymous letters criticising Nagako.

Tomioka Hachimangu shrine dates back to the 17th century and it is linked with sumo.