Ex-race car driver and Japan National Diet member Junko Mihara just had her car stolen

Japan is a famously safe nation, but car thefts have been on the rise. Among the most popular targets are high-end Toyotas like the Alphard, Land Cruiser, and Lexus LX. The thefts have even struck some of the highest-ranking people in Japan. Last week, the Land Cruiser of politician Junko Mihara, a former race car driver, has been was stolen.

Mihara is a member of the House of Councillors of Japan’s National Diet, which is similar to a U.S. senator. Before she was elected in 2010, however, she was an accomplished race car driver with an International B-class racing license. Between 1987 and 1999, she participated in the JTCC, JGTC, and Super Taikyu.

Mihara is also a long-time car enthusiast. In interviews she’s stated that as a child, she played with toy cars instead of dolls, and that her first car was a Toyota Celica XX 2800GT (aka A60 Toyota Supra). She even modified the Celica XX with an aero kit and a set of Volk Racing 370 Artisan Spirits.

When Mihara entered motorsports in 1987, she participated in the Nissan-sponsored March Little Dynamite Cup, a one-make clubman series for the K10. During this time, she drove a very rare Pulsar NX Convertible, of which there were only 100 made. When she signed with Toyota in the early 90s to pilot the TOM’s AE92 Corolla Levin with her then-husband Masahiro Matsunaga in JTCC. Over the years she’s found herself professionally behind the wheel of everything from a Honda Prelude to a TOM’s F3 open-wheeler.

Notably, Mihara competed five times a the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, driving an SW20 Toyota MR2 at first, before switching to a Honda Integra in her final trial. She also competed in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity race at the Long Beach Grand Prix in California. Mihara switched careers from motorsports to politics after being diagnosed with cervical cancer and becoming an advocate for cancer research.

Mihara has also owned other interesting cars, including a Toyota Celsior and Toyota 86, but bought a J200 Land Cruiser so she could carry around her four dogs. Sadly, it was stolen from her house on April 3 at around 2:20 a.m. It was seen on camera driving behind another car believed to have been involved with the theft.

According to the National Police Agency, the Land Cruiser is one of the most stolen cars in Japan. It topped the list in 2022 with 710 thefts, and came in behind the Alphard in 2023 with 643. The police suspect that the Land Cruisers are stolen due to their popularity overseas.

So far there are no leads, but we hope Mihara-san gets her car back soon. Mihara currently serves as the secretary-general of the Parliamentary Federation for the Promotion of Motor Sports.

Images: TOM’s, Yahoo, Junko Mihara,

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4 Responses to Ex-race car driver and Japan National Diet member Junko Mihara just had her car stolen

  1. Fred Langille says:

    How is she doing. cancer-wise? Best wishes to her on getting better (I’m being treated for Stage One bladder cancer … so far, so good!).

    • Ben Hsu says:

      I don’t know the details, but it was many years ago and she seems to be in good health, so I think it’s been resolved. Sorry to hear you’re going through it. Hope you can fight it off!

  2. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    Due to a string of theft at our garageless home, we’re saying good-bye to my partner’s 93 NA Miata. Wheels stolen. Another set of wheels stolen. Window broken open. Factory hardtop stolen. Caught a guy trying to steal the soft top. Another window broken (we have never kept anything inside). We fixed it all back, albeit not a factory hard top. Hope it goes to a good home. She is still absolutely heartbroken for it was supposed to be her forever car. It was a good couple decades. Guess we just can’t have nice things…

    • CycoPablo says:

      I am sorry!
      Would an S660 be as tempting to thieves? Theft data should indicate if it’s a hot commodity. I don’t believe it’s a classic like the NA, and spare parts are easier anyway.

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