National

Literary critic Eto, 66, commits suicide

Renowned literary critic Jun Eto was found dead Wednesday night in an apparent suicide at his home in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, police said. He was 66.

Ambulance workers found Eto, whose real name was Atsuo Egashira, dead just before 9 p.m., facedown in his bathtub and bleeding, police officials said.

He had apparently slashed his left wrist with a cooking knife found in the room. An autopsy showed he drowned in the bath water.

A suicide note was left in his home, in which he mentioned the recent loss of his wife, Keiko, as well as his own failing health, police said. He had recently spent time in the hospital after suffering a stroke.

Police suspect Eto killed himself due to anguish over these matters.

Eto, known as a conservative critic, resigned as head of the Japan Writers Association earlier this month due to health reasons. He had been named to the post in 1994.

The Tokyo native was also a member of the Japan Art Academy and an honorary professor of Tokyo Institute of Technology.

Earlier this month, he published an essay, “My wife and I,” which told of his experience nursing his wife for six months before she died of cancer in November.

Friends say Eto suffered great mental and physical pain after her death; they had been married for 41 years.

Police were called to Eto’s home after a maid discovered his body in the bathroom at about 8 p.m.

Eto wrote on writer Natsume Soseki when he was a student at Keio University and became known as a literary critic in the 1950s.

Eto was also known as a vocal champion of conservative ideas. He criticized Japan’s postwar literary works, saying they reflect a “false theory that Japan agreed to an unconditional surrender in World War II.”

He also said the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution “continues to bind the sentiments of the Japanese people as an inviolable taboo.”

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi commented on Eto’s passing, saying he regrets the loss of a critic who also had deep political insight.

“I called him Sunday because I had been told of his failing health,” Obuchi told reporters. “He said his health was getting better, and his voice sounded all right.”

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