Police say that former talento Iijima Ai had been dead for about a week when her body was discovered on Christmas Eve (see link to earlier story below). Even after an administrative autopsy, they have been unable to establish the cause of death. They found Halcyon prescription sleeping pills in her apartment, so speculation as to whether or not it was a suicide will likely continue unless results of a more extensive autopsy are revealed. The management agency that represented Iijima until she retired from showbiz last year said they spoke to her by telephone about 10 days before her death was discovered. That would make it just a few days before she died, but they said she seemed in good spirits and wanted to meet to discuss setting up a new business. Iijima crossed over from a successful career as a porn actress to find even bigger success as a writer and variety show regular. She quit last year citing health problems but maintained a popular blog and was active in the campaign against AIDS. She was 36.
Iijima Ai Found Dead
• J-pop diva Hamasaki Ayumi (30) had to undergo emergency surgery after she injured her hand in a fall on Christmas Eve. Her agency didn’t reveal the extent of the injury but said she had surgery on Christmas Day. On doctor’s orders, she has had to cancel a scheduled appearance on today’s edition of the TV Asahi show “Music Station.”
• Talento Hamada Mari (39) has been married since the spring, it was revealed yesterday. She got hitched to a 51-year-old company employee and they now live in Tokyo with Hamada’s daughter from her previous marriage. She was married to Fuji Maki (43) of the rock band Soft Ballet from 1996 to 2005.
Talento Yamamoto Mona (32) is to make her return to showbiz in the New Year. She announced the news to the media by fax, apologizing for the scandal she caused and promising to be more careful in future. She’s been on extended leave since news broke in July of an affair with the married pro baseball player Nioka Tomohiro (32). Nioka was with the Yomiuri Giants at the time, but moved to the Nippon Ham Fighters during the off-season. No doubt he’ll be hoping to avoid the media spotlight a bit more up in Hokkaido. Yamamoto is represented by the Office Kitano management agency owned by entertainer and movie director Kitano Takeshi (61, profile), who is fiercely loyal to his proteges. The agency also issued a statement saying that Yamamoto has shown the required remorse and promised not to fall into the same situation again. She went through the same process back in 2006, when she was found to be having an affair with a politician. She made her comeback on a Takeshi-hosted New Year special variety show.
When Will Mona Be Back? (July 28, 2007)
Time for Mona to Don the Watermelon Again (July 17, 2007)
Mona’s a Jackass! (Jan 9, 2007)
Return of Mona (Nov 11, 2006)
• Actress and singer Hitomi (32, profile) announced on her blog yesterday that she gave birth to her first child on December 23. After a short maternity leave with her new daughter, she plans to release a single in the spring. She was first married in 2002 to a former rapper, a relationship which ended on their fifth wedding anniversary in November 2007. She married actor Haneda Masayoshi (32) at the end of June.
• The busiest man on Japanese television may be getting a bit of a breather. Mino Monta (64, profile) announced that he will be stepping down as host of the NTV afternoon show “Omoikiri Ii!! TV” from March. He has hosted the live weekday show (in its present and previous formats) for more than 21 years. One of his other long-running shows, the TBS animal-themed documentary “Dobutsu Kisou Tengai!” is also coming to an end in March. Mino has hosted that Sunday evening show since 1993, but it has been falling in the audience ratings.