Iwate lawmaker dead in apparent suicide after Internet criticism

Kyodo

A member of the Iwate Prefectural Assembly, who came under fire for criticizing a local hospital on his blog, was found dead Tuesday in an apparent suicide, police said.

Mitsuo Koizumi, 56, was found dead by a lake in the town of Ichinohe, Iwate Prefecture, early Tuesday, police said, adding that there were no signs of foul play.

Koizumi had been under fire since criticizing a prefectural hospital he visited for a checkup ealier this month. In his June 5 blog entry, he expressed how upset he became when he was referred to as “241,” a number given to him at the reception instead of his name.

“Is this a jail? Call a person by their name,” he wrote on the blog. Koizumi also wrote that he had left the hospital without paying his bill.

His post attracted fierce criticism online, with some saying he was not suitable to serve as a local assembly member.

On June 17, Koizumi held a news conference where he apologized for his post and said he had shut down his blog.

“I had forgotten my position as a public figure and was thoughtless. I paid my bill. I didn’t know the hospital’s practice and history and my actions were unacceptable,” he said at the news conference.

Koizumi had also said he was shocked at how criticism against him escalated on the Internet.

“I will reflect on my mistakes and want to be a good prefectural assembly member,” he said.

Koizumi was an independent member of the prefectural assembly and was elected for the first time in 2011.