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TOKYO — The trial of a Japanese woman charged in attempting to set a U.S. Air Force captain on fire continued Tuesday, with the defense presenting evidence.

Kimiko Kishiguchi, 27, is accused of dousing Capt. Samuel A. Pupich with a gasoline-kerosene mixture and trying to ignite him with two lighters as Pupich sat in his car June 25 outside Fussa train station. She admitted attempting to light the captain on fire but claims Nanae In, a 33-year-old unemployed South Korean woman, directed her actions.

Kishiguchi and In met the captain, who was assigned to Yokota Air Base, inside the Lexington Queen club, a popular bar in Tokyo’s Roppongi district.

Defense attorney Mizuyo Nakagawa asked Kishiguchi about her childhood, family, school life and relationship with In.

“I had trouble making friends and was attracted to her because she was a very outgoing person,” Kishiguchi said of In. “I met her at an English-speaking coffee shop in Osaka.”

Kishiguchi — a men’s club hostess — turned over much of her earnings, sometimes more than 100,000 yen, or $854, a day to In.

She said In told her she could improve her bad luck if she were to set Pupich on fire. Kishiguchi said In told her the captain was born under a lucky star and would not die in the incident. She also said In claimed it was her last chance to change her luck, because Pupich someday would die in a plane crash, bringing bad luck to other people.

Kishiguchi said at first she declined In’s proposition.

But sobbing, she told the court that In changed her voice and appeared to be possessed while telling her she would go to hell because of her bad luck.

Both In and Kishiguchi originally were charged with attempted murder. Prosecutors determined In was not an accomplice and released her in January with the caveat that she remain under investigation and still could face prosecution.

The attempted murder charges were reduced to “threat, menace or intimidation” in Kishiguchi’s case. If convicted, she could face up to two years in jail or a fine of less than $2,500.

The next trial date is scheduled for June 3.


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