Friday, January 17, 2014

More Than Carelessness In Hokkaido

Something for the "you have got to be kidding me" file.

On the morning of 12 September 2011 Nakajima Naotoshi, the president of JR Hokkaido, went missing. He had been under a great deal of stress and media pressure as a result of the May 2011 Sekisho Line accident where an express train derailed and caught fire, part of a spate of accidents and incidents involving JR Hokkaido railway trains. Later investigations of the company found systemic delays and cancellations of basic line maintenance and poor labor management -- inconceivable breaches of the public trust and a violation of the cultivated image of Japan's railways as avatars of a national obsession with high quality service.

Nakajima left behind a pile of letters of apologies and final farewells, leading police and family members to fear he would be trying to take his own life. His private automobile was found that afternoon, parked, empty, in the port area of Ishikari City.

On 18 September, a fisherman in a boat of Otaru, across the bay, found the corpse of a man floating in the water. It was Nakajima. Officers examining the body ruled the death a suicide. (Link -J)

On 15 January 2014, early in the morning, Sakamoto Shin'ichi, the former president (1996-03) and chairman (2003-07) of JR Hokkaido, went missing. His private automobile was found at the seawall of Yoichi Township, just to the west of Otaru City.

At around 08:20, Maritime Self Defense Forces personnel found a corpse of a man floating in the waters of Yoichi's harbor. The Japan Coast Guard retrieved the body. It was Sakamoto. Finding no signs of struggle upon the body, the police are classifying Sakamoto's death a suicide. (Link - J)

When the second and fourth presidents of one of Japan's emblematic but admittedly struggling companies are both found, as the Sicilians, "sleeping with the fishes," within three years of one another, disappearing under nearly identical circumstances (Sakamoto left behind no notes, as far as anyone can tell) with the bodies being found basically the same condition in largely the same area, one should not feel ashamed if Oscar Wilde's admonition on losing one's parents (Link - J) bubbles up.

Comments on these deaths, Dr. Duignan or Mr. Adelstein?

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