Japan’s financial services minister committed suicide in Tokyo on Monday, shortly before a tabloid magazine was reportedly scheduled to run a story detailing Tadahiro Matsushita’s alleged extramarital affair.
Matsushita, 73, was found hanged at his apartment in Tokyo at around 5pm. Police told local media that he was immediately transferred to a local hospital but was already dead.
Police say there are no indications of foul play and that Matsushita left three suicide notes. One was addressed to his wife, the second was to Yoshihito Noda, the prime minister, and the final letter was to his colleagues in the cabinet.
Monday was also the World Health Organisation’s World Suicide Prevention Day.
The prime minister told reporters that he “cannot find any words” for Matsushita’s death.
“I am very surprised at the sad news,” Noda said as he left his official residence to go to the hospital where Matsushita’s body had been taken. “He always encouraged me in difficult times.”
A member of the People’s New Party, a minor party in the ruling coalition, Matsushita had accepted the ministerial role in a cabinet reshuffle in June and was also tasked with pushing through the privatisation of Japan’s postal system.
When Matsushita failed to arrive to start his official duties, his wife, a secretary and bodyguard entered the apartment and found his body.
Matsushita had recently undergone hospital treatment but had fully recovered, the head of the PNP told a press conference, and it is the imminent release of details about the minister’s personal life that are believed to be the cause of his suicide.
Editors at the magazine have declined to provide details about the next edition, which is to be released on Wednesday.
Matsushita is the first minister to commit suicide since Toshikatsu Matsuoka, the 62-year-old agriculture minister. Matsuoka hung himself in May 2007, shortly before he was scheduled to be questioned in the Diet over allegations of corruption.
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