House of Representatives lawmaker Yoji Nagaoka was found hanged Monday morning at his home in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, in an apparent suicide attempt and died later in a hospital, police and hospital officials said.
The 54-year-old Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker bore no wounds and left no suicide note, police said.
Nagaoka, who was serving his second term representing Ibaraki Prefecture’s No. 7 district, was one of several lawmakers criticized by a magazine for changing positions on postal privatization, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s priority policy initiative.
The magazine called Nagaoka a traitor for his actions, and he was concerned about it, according to a secretary at his Tokyo office.
Nagaoka opposed the bills in the LDP’s decision-making General Council but later voted for them in the crucial Lower House vote on July 5. The bills passed by a razor-thin margin of five votes.
Nagaoka, a graduate of the University of Tokyo and Harvard University graduate school, belonged to a faction led by former LDP policy chief Shizuka Kamei, a staunch opponent of postal privatization.
“I was so surprised,” Koizumi said after learning of the incident. “I don’t know the reason why (he would have taken his own life), but I am sorry it happened.”
Kamei told reporters that Nagaoka seemed to be suffering over the postal privatization bills.
“I can’t think of any other reason that troubled him and would lead to suicide,” Kamei said.
Nagaoka’s wife called police at around 10:15 a.m. Monday, telling them her husband “hanged himself at home.”
She said she did not notice anything suspicious about his behavior.
According to his office in Ibaraki Prefecture, Nagaoka visited his constituency in Koga, where he was raised, on Saturday and was seen carrying a portable shrine with the local residents at a summer festival.
He then attended a ceremony to mark the 55th anniversary of the city Sunday morning, visited local regions and returned to Tokyo. There was nothing strange about his behavior, the office said.
Nagaoka, a former agriculture ministry official, was first elected in the by-election in 2003 and won his second term in the general election held the same year.
If the Lower House is not dissolved, a by-election for his seat will be held Oct. 23.
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