• Kyodo


A 52-year-old Shizuoka prefectural official in charge of arranging training facilities for Senegal’s national soccer team ahead of the upcoming World Cup finals committed suicide Saturday, police said Monday.

According to investigative sources, family members of Osamu Okamura, a chief in the sports promotion section of the Fujieda municipal office, found him hanging in his barn on Saturday morning.

He had used an electric cord to kill himself.

Okamura was rushed to a nearby hospital even though he was already dead, investigators said, adding he had left a suicide note at his home.

Okamura reportedly said in the note that he could not handle his job.

City officials said Okamura had been transferred to the sports promotion section last month and was doubling as the deputy manager of a committee handling the training camp in the city.

With the details of the training camp having not been finalized until immediately before the team’s arrival early this month, Okamura had been working an extremely demanding schedule, his colleagues said.

They added that Okamura had experienced difficulties in liaising with Senegalese officials, saying they “worked differently.” They also said he had complained of insomnia.

“(Okamura’s) wife was saying that her husband came home late every night and he was exhausted,” said a housewife living in his neighborhood. “I cannot believe (his suicide). It’s so shocking.”

A 47-year-old man, who was Okamura’s friend since high school, said Okamura looked pale when they met on the night before his death.

“He said he had been assigned to a totally new task since April and complained that he had to work a lot even on weekends.”

Okamura, who was a member of the city office soccer team, had asked to be moved to the sports promotion division in the fall.

The Senegal national team arrived in Fujieda on Friday.

It is scheduled to leave the city Wednesday to play in a friendly match in the city of Tottori before heading off to play its first-round matches at venues in South Korea.

Meanwhile, Okamura’s suicide sent a shock through a number of municipal bodies hosting training camps for foreign teams, which are in a last-minute frenzy preparing to receive World Cup competitors.

“I was surprised,” said Koji Ishitobi, chief official at Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, who oversees the city’s efforts to host the Ireland national team. He said the suicide struck close to home “because we also work past midnight everyday for preparation.”

Some 15 officials at the municipal office of Tsuna, Hyogo Prefecture, are also working until the wee hours to prepare to host the England team.

“We have been coordinating efforts with officials from the England football association, but a lot of things remain unfixed at this last moment,” said Masatami Kasayama, the official of the general affairs section.

“I think other municipal governments are also facing a growing list of unexpected tasks.”

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