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Japanese Political Official commits suicide

Date Posted: 1998-02-28

A fourth suicide involving a corruption scandal was discovered on Thursday. Shokei Arai, a 50 year old Japanese government politician, was found hung from his bathrobe belt tucked into an air conditioning duct, at a Tokyo hotel.

Police representatives say, Arai, left two suicide notes, addressed to his spouse and an unnamed parliamentarian. He was later found by his wife at 1 p.m. after officials of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), showed concern of his whereabouts.

The last words of Arai, to the media only hours prior to his suicide, left a frigid effect on the public in retrospect, "There will be no occasion for me to meet with you in the future. What I say at this news conference are the last words of my political life."

The two notes left by Arai made no mention of the scandal. Former finance Ministry official, and a member of parliament say, Arai was suspected of having demanded certain guarantees for profits on an account he held at brokerage Nikko Securities Co.

Any such guarantees would be illegal under Japanese law. Several Nikko officials, including former managing director Hiroyuki Hamahira, the member Arai allegedly demanded guarantees, has been arrested on suspicion of illegally compensating a corporate racketeer, for stock losses.

Both sides of the parliamentary parties demanded his arrest, after the parliament voted to lift his immunity. Officials from prosecutor's office raided Arai's office and home Wednesday, concerned about the possible destruction of evidence.

Arai held a news conference in the evening to declare his innocence. He even played a taped that recorded his conversation with Nikko executive to show he did not demand profits on any stock transactions.

Three other political officials under similar investigation for suspected corruption hung themselves. This suicide creates a wave that mare Japanese tradition, often resorted to as a means of escaping shame.

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