Man again held in his wife’s 1981 L.A. killing

Times Staff Writer

A decade after being acquitted in his own country, a Japanese businessman was arrested Friday on suspicion of murdering his wife in downtown Los Angeles almost 27 years ago.

Kazuyoshi Miura, 60, was taken into custody while visiting the U.S. territory of Saipan and could now face trial in L.A., according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

The November 1981 killing of Kazuma Miura initially caused an international uproar because her husband had blamed two street criminals, reinforcing Japanese stereotypes about violence in Los Angeles and other U.S. cities.


It was one of the most sensational international whodunits in Japanese history, and when suspicion turned to Kazuyoshi Miura, the Japanese media portrayed the case as a sordid tale of greed and murder for hire.

At the time of the shooting, Miura, a fashion importer who often traveled to Los Angeles, said he and his wife were tourists taking photos of the skyline on Fremont Avenue. He said his wife was shot in the head about noon in the middle of an area busy with lunchtime traffic.

He told police that two young men pulled up in an old, dark green American car and demanded money. When the Miuras hesitated, one of the men pointed a handgun out the car window, shot him in the leg, then shot his wife in the head before fleeing with about $1,200, Miura said.

Kazuma Miura, 28, lapsed into a coma after the shooting and died in Japan a year later.

Kazuyoshi Miura was put on trial in Japan for conspiracy to commit murder under a Japanese law that allows its citizens to be prosecuted for crimes committed in other countries.

He was convicted in 1994 and sentenced to life in prison. But the decision was reversed by the Tokyo High Court in 1998 when a judge determined that his wife’s assailant was unknown.

Miura was arrested on charges of murder and conspiracy at the airport on Saipan, in the northern Mariana Islands, a commonwealth territory of the United States. LAPD cold case detectives have been working with authorities in Guam and Saipan, believing that Miura would be visiting the island. Los Angeles officials are seeking his extradition.


Miura, authorities allege, staged his wife’s murder to collect about $650,000 in insurance money, believing he could never get away with it in Japan -- but might be able to in downtown L.A. He served 13 years in prison for attacking his wife three months before she was shot.