Japanese star charged with Taiwan taxi driver assault

TAIPEI - A Japanese entertainer has been charged with attacking a Taiwanese taxi driver, prosecutors said Saturday, in an incident that has triggered public anger on the island.

Singer-actress Makiyo faces a four-year jail term for allegedly being involved in the assault and then trying to cover up her role, they said.

Prosecutors also sought a six-year jail term for her friend Takateru Tomoyori for allegedly severely injuring the driver with "violent and brutal means" during the February 2 assault in Taipei.

Makiyo, 27, who is based in Taiwan, has denied assaulting the driver and said that Tomoyori was defending her.

The entertainer, who is known just by her first name, claimed that there was an argument after the driver demanded they wear seat belts, during which the driver touched her chest.

Public anger mounted after surveillance camera footage appeared to show that Makiyo joined in the assault and seemed to have encouraged her friend to beat up the driver.

She later said she did not remember the details because she was drunk.

But a prosecutor said that "the plaintiff's claim that she had no recollection of the situation because she was drunk did not fit the evidence or the testimonies."

The driver remains hospitalised with severe head injuries and two broken ribs, according to his doctors.

The case has stirred anti-Japanese sentiment in Taiwan, which was a Japanese colony until 1945, and a group of angry taxi drivers protested Friday outside Japan's de facto embassy in Taipei.

Tokyo formally recognises Beijing over Taipei.