Japan’s Agriculture Minister Commits Suicide
Cross-posted from PoliBlog:
Via the AP: Cops: Japanese minister commits suicide
Japan’s agriculture minister died Monday after hanging himself just hours before he was to face questioning in a political scandal, officials said, dealing a powerful blow to the increasingly beleaguered government ahead of July elections.
Toshikatsu Matsuoka, 62, was found in his apartment Monday unconscious and declared dead hours later.
Matsuoka had faced heavy criticism over a scandal involving suspicious bookkeeping practices in his offices, and was scheduled to appear before a parliamentary committee Monday afternoon for further questioning.
He was under fire for allegedly claiming more than $236,600 in utility fees even though he rented a parliamentary office where utility costs are free. Opposition lawmakers had demanded his resignation, but Matsuoka denied any wrongdoing.
Matsuoka had been dogged by scandal. Along with the utilities questions, he apologized publicly just three days after taking office for not declaring $8,500 in political donations.
He acknowledged the undeclared funds, which came in the form of purchased tickets to a fundraising party, saying he was unaware that the contributions had not been reported. Matsuoka had since corrected his political funds report for 2005.
And please: no jokes about US politicians and the suicide route…