Former Japanese porn actress Ai Iijima, who campaigned for AIDS awareness in a nation where it is still widely seen as a foreign disease, was found dead at her home yesterday, police said.
Iijima was also popular in Taiwan, where she caused a stir in 2001 on a three-day visit to promote her autobiography Platonic Sex (柏拉圖式性愛), which described her younger days as a porn actress and club hostess.
Her AIDS awareness campaign started around the time she published the autobiography.
The book has sold some 2 million copies and was made into a movie and a television drama.
Citing kidney problems and a lack of motivation, Iijima retired in March last year, but continued to campaign for AIDS awareness.
The body of the 36-year-old was found lying in the lounge of her condominium in downtown Shibuya by a friend.
“There were few signs of foul play. We will conduct a post mortem tomorrow to determine if the cause of her death was an illness, suicide or something of a criminal nature,” a police spokesman said.
“In Japan, HIV-positive patients are increasing year by year and many people’s lives are lost,” she wrote on her Web log on Dec. 2. “Is your boyfriend alright? Is your girlfriend alright? Why don’t you take an AIDS test to know yourself.”
She last wrote on her blog on Dec. 5 and attended an AIDS seminar the following day.
In a recent interview with the weekly Asahi, Iijima said she had borrowed money from an investment bank and would “open a shopping site dealing with cosmetics.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER