YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The trial of a Japanese woman accused of trying to set an Air Force captain on fire begins Friday in Tokyo District Court in Hachioji.

Kimiko Kishiguichi, 27, is charged with threatening Samuel A. Pupich, assigned to Yokota Air Base, on June 25 outside Fussa train station.

A men’s club hostess, Kishiguichi is accused of dousing Pupich with a gasoline-kerosene mixture and trying to ignite him with two lighters while he sat in his car. Pupich drove away unharmed.

Kishiguichi’s court-appointed attorney said her client claims her friend, Nanae In, brainwashed her into committing the act.

“There was no intention of murder by Kishiguichi, if what she says is true,” said attorney Mizuyo Nakagawa.

According to the lawyer, Kishiguichi said In told her that because Pupich was born under a lucky star, he wouldn’t be injured if she set him afire, but she’d receive some of his good fortune.

Nakagawa told Stars and Stripes that Kishiguichi is “not a person with an ordinary psychology.” It is difficult, she said, to understand how her mind works.

In, a 33-year-old unemployed South Korean woman, and Kishiguichi reportedly were friends with Pupich, Nakagawa said, adding that she was unsure of In’s motives.

Fussa police have said In accompanied Kishiguichi to Fussa train station, where they were to meet Pupich. They said In told them that while she’d gone to retrieve a cell phone from the station’s restroom, Kishiguichi poured the fuel on Pupich. Fussa police said In denied knowing anything of a plot to ignite the Air Force captain.

In was charged with attempted murder, but Hachioji prosecutors determined she was not an accomplice and released her from jail Jan. 29 — with the caveat that she remains under investigation and still could be punished.

Attempted-murder charges against Kishiguichi were reduced to “threat, menace or intimidation,” according to court papers. If convicted, she would face up to two years in jail or a fine of less than $2,500.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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