Japan's Financial Services Minister Hangs Himself On World Suicide Prevention Day

Tadahiro Matsushita

Photo: AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi

Tadahiro Matsushita, Japan’s Minister of Financial Services, was a busy man since taking his post in June.He had already led a crackdown on insider trading resulting in resignations of the two top executives at Nomura Holdings Inc. He was also handling the application of Japan Post Bank Co. to begin lending in the retail and commercial sectors starting next April.

The stresses of work on Matsushita, who was 73-years-old, may have been too much for the man to handle. He hung himself on Monday, according to Bloomberg. In what is apparently a sad coincidence, September 10 is also World Suicide Prevention Day.

While nobody is exactly sure why Matsushita chose to end his life, one theory has emerged.

The Atlantic Wire reports the Japanese weekly tabloid magazine Shukan Shincho was preparing to publish a story detailing an affair between the married Matsushita and another woman. This, it appears, may have been the real cause for Matsushita to hang himself in his home. The AFP has confirmed the story of an affair being in the works, stating that a woman at the magazine said a story on a scandal would be published in its Wednesday edition. Today on Shukan Shincho’s website, the front page headline references a story, which is behind the paywall.  

Whatever the cause though, the death serves as a reminder of the continuing problem of suicide in Japan. Japanese officials have begun implementing laws to try and combat the problem, but the number of suicides has continued to surpass 30,000 annually for the past 14 years. The latest World Health organisation figures for Japan from 2009 revealed that 36.2 men and 13.2 women committed suicide per 100,000 Japanese.

For perspective, that’s about one suicide every 15 minutes, or about 100 suicides every day. Of the G8 countries, only Russia has a comparable suicide rate (53.9 for men, 9.5 for women).

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