Japanese actress Yuko Takeuchi dies at 40 in suspected suicide

Yuko Takeuchi posted on her Instagram just this month to promote an instant ramen brand.
Yuko Takeuchi posted on her Instagram just this month to promote an instant ramen brand. PHOTO: YUKO_TAKEUCHI0401/INSTAGRAM
Yuko Takeuchi at an event in August 2019.
Yuko Takeuchi at an event in August 2019.PHOTO: YUKO_TAKEUCHI0401/INSTAGRAM

Popular Japanese actress Yuko Takeuchi has died at the age of 40.

According to Japanese news reports, she was found unconscious in her Tokyo residence by her family in the early hours of Sunday (Sept 27) and was confirmed dead at the hospital. Police are suspecting suicide as the cause of death.

This is eight months after Takeuchi gave birth to her son with Japanese actor Taiki Nakabayashi, whom she married in 2019. Takeuchi has another 14-year-old son with kabuki and film actor Shido Nakamura II. She divorced Nakamura in 2008.

Takeuchi is well-known in Japan and around the region. She got her big break with the morning drama series Asuka (1999) and went on to star in hit series like the ice hockey romance Pride (2004), alongside Takuya Kimura. She also starred in Miss Sherlock (2018), a HBO Asia and Hulu Japan adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic Sherlock Holmes stories. It is available on HBO Go.

She had received critical acclaim for her various film roles, including Yomigaeri (2003), for which she was nominated for a Japan Academy Film Prize - the country's most prestigious acting award.

More recently, Takeuchi had been on a break from acting due to her pregnancy but had appeared at an event promoting a brand of instant noodles earlier this month. She said then in an Instagram post: "How's everyone doing during summer vacation? I cut bangs for the new school year."

Comments from fans, many in disbelief, have flooded her last Instagram post.

There has been a string of suicides in the Japanese entertainment industry in recent months. Actor Haruma Miura was found dead in his home in July, aged 30, while professional wrestler and reality series Terrace House star Hana Kimura died in May at 22. Actress Sei Ashina, 36, and actor Takashi Fujiki, 80, were both found dead this month in suspected suicides.

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