The 71-year-old Tokyo man who burned himself to death last week on an Osaka-bound shinkansen train called the Suginami Ward office minutes beforehand to say he was having a hard time making ends meet, Kanagawa Prefectural Police have revealed.
According to the police, Haruo Hayashizaki of Suginami called the ward office using his mobile phone about nine minutes before he self-immolated at around 11:30 a.m. on June 30.
"I am Hayashizaki of Nishiogikita," he reportedly told the woman who took the call. "I cannot make a living, so I'm on a shinkansen with all the money I have. Please give my regards to the head of the ward and the municipal assembly member. I am obliged."
Hayashizaki consulted a municipal assembly member before his suicide, which resulted in a female passenger's death due to smoke inhalation, to say that he could not pay his rent and had told an acquaintance that his pension wasn't enough to live on, according to the police, who believe financial difficulties led to his suicide.
When the ward official repeated his name over the phone for confirmation, Hayashizaki said yes and hung up, the police said.
The ward said Hayashizaki had never met the head of the ward and there are no records of him visiting the office for consultation. The woman reportedly told the police that Hayashizaki was speaking calmly and did not seem enraged.
The police found a mobile phone inside a pocket of Hayashizaki's trousers after his death.
They also learned from security camera footage that, after buying gasoline on the day before his death, he entered JR Nishiogikubo Station and arrived at Kyoteijomae Station on Seibu Railway's Tamagawa Line, arriving near a speedboat race course.
He had often visited the race course, according to investigative sources.