Popular actress Yuko Takeuchi has passed away at age 40. She was found in her Tokyo home on Sunday by her husband, actor Taiki Nakabayashi. According to the Japan Times, The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department has launched an investigation and suspect suicide. No suicide note was found.
Her passing comes eight months after she gave birth to her son with Nakabayashi, whom she married in 2019. She has another 14-year-old son with kabuki and film actor Shido Nakamura II, whom she divorced in 2008.
Takeuchi was one of the most prolific actors in Japan starring in both movies and TV series. 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 never stopped working since her career took off in 1999. She has that rare ability to disappear in every role and be a completely different person in all of them. She never played drew on old habits to repeat her mannerisms or personalities in different roles. She was the lead in the original Japanese version of The Ring where she played a reporter desperate to save herself and her son from the ghostly Sadako. Naomi Watts played her role in the Hollywood remake. She 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. She starred in Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Creepy (2016) as the detective's neglected wife who falls under the spell of one of the most insidious serial killers in the history of movies. She also played the title character in Miss Sherlock (2018), the HBO Asia and Hulu Japan adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic Sherlock Holmes stories, and a partial remake of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss' Sherlock, where Sherlock and Watson are Japanese women. It is currently streaming on HBO Max.
There has been a long string of suicides in the Japanese entertainment industry this year, including in recent months. Actor Haruma Miura was found dead in his home in July, aged 30. Hana Kimura, a professional wrestler, and star of reality series Terrace House, died in May at 22. Actress Sei Ashina, 36, and actor Takashi Fujiki, 80, were both found dead this month in suspected suicides. These are just the most high profile instances. Several other actors and singers have also died from a suspected suicide. There has also been a spate of suicides in the Korean entertainment industry this year involving actors, actresses, and K-pop stars. Mental health issues in Asia are frequently neglected due to the shame and stigma associated with them as well as lack of understanding.
If you or someone you know are in need of help and support, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HELLO to 741741 for the Crisis Text Line – that text number can be used by both the US and UK. The number in Canada is 686868. You will be connected to a volunteer counselor who is supervised by a licensed, trained mental health professional.