POLICE investigating the death of an Irish student in Japan believe she was sexually assaulted after she was strangled.
Nicola Furlong (21), from Curracloe, Co Wexford, was killed after she and a friend went to see a concert by the rapper Nicki Minaj in Tokyo on Wednesday night.
Police are investigating the possibility that Ms Furlong -- who had been in Japan as an exchange student from DCU -- had her drink spiked.
In a statement yesterday, her family asked for time to grieve her death. "We are devastated by the loss of our beautiful daughter/sister Nicola in such tragic circumstances," it said.
"Nicola was a warm, generous, stunning person who always had time for her family and other people.
"Nicola will always be at the centre of our lives. She stood for everything that is good in life."
The 'Tokyo Shimbun' newspaper has reported that two Americans -- a 23-year-old dancer and a 19-year-old musician -- have been arrested in connection with the death.
Police believe Ms Furlong was sexually assaulted, while marks found on her neck indicate she was strangled.
According to reports, witnesses saw the men getting into a taxi with the women in which they went to the hotel in Shinjuku. It is believed the two men have denied the allegations but CCTV footage of the group getting into the taxi has been obtained.
Ms Furlong was studying at the Takasaki City University of Economics in Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, about 95km northwest of Tokyo.
She and her friend went to Tokyo's Koto Ward for a concert on Wednesday night and were approached by the two men afterwards.
They had a meal together and then went to the hotel where the men were staying.
At around 3.20am on Thursday, a guest complained about a loud noise coming from one of the rooms.
A hotel employee went to the room and found Ms Furlong lying on the floor near the bed with the 19-year-old American man standing nearby.
Yesterday, members of her family attended Sunday morning Mass in the local Curracloe Church, just a few hundred metres from their family home, where prayers were offered for Nicola.
She was due to return to Ireland in July.
Her Irish friend in Tokyo comes from the neighbouring parish of Oylegate.
Her family has flown out to support her.