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Two deaths made headlines on May 28. Izumi Sakai, the lead singer of the pop group ZARD, was found at the bottom of an outdoor staircase at Keio University Hospital, where she was undergoing treatment for cancer. Her management quickly released a statement to pre-empt media speculation that the death was a suicide, presumably as a means of preserving the singer’s post-mortem reputation. ZARD’s most famous song is “Ma-kenai de (Don’t Give Up).”

The other death, that of agricultural minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka, was unquestionably a suicide, but the Liberal Democratic Party politician’s legacy is beyond saving. People who kill themselves tend to earn a reprieve from negative public comments because it’s considered bad form to speak ill of the dead, but the press has given Matsuoka no such dispensation. If anything, they’ve done the journalistic equivalent of propping up his corpse in order to sling mud at it.

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