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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 May 23 - 29  > Agriculture Minister Matsuoka commits suicide
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2007 May 23 - 29 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Agriculture Minister Matsuoka commits suicide

May 29, 2007
JCP Ichida criticized Prime Minister Abe for defending Matsuoka who was tainted with political funds scandals, saying, “The prime minister has the responsibility for finding out and making public the facts about this incident, the background and reasons for his suicide.”

Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Minister Matsuoka Toshikatsu, 62, killed himself on May 28 in his room in a Dietmembers’ residence in Tokyo.

Matsuoka has been under fire from opposition parties and the public for his suspicious use of political funds reported as office expenses and utilities at his office in the Dietmembers’ Office Building. He has also been suspected of involving in a bid-rigging scandal of the Japan Green Resources Agency.

At a news conference later in the day, Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi expressed his condolences on Matsuoka’s death and said, “He was suspected of being involved in many scandals. As a politician, he should have disclosed the facts before the public.”

Ichida also criticized Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, who has defended Matsuoka, saying, “Under the Constitution, this is the first time that a currently serving cabinet minister has committed suicide. The prime minister, who had appointed Mr. Matsuoka as the agriculture minister, has the responsibility for finding out and making public the facts about this incident, the background and reasons for his suicide.”

Asked by reporters about the immediate JCP policy in the Diet, Ichida said, “We will continue to work to uncover the facts about the scandals involving Mr. Matsuoka.”

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In 1969, Matsuoka entered the agriculture ministry and retired in 1988 as a Forestry Agency spokesman. In 1990, he was first elected to the House of Representatives from an electoral district of Kumamoto Prefecture. He held such posts as the Liberal Democratic Party vice secretary general and senior vice minister of the agriculture ministry. In 2005, he was elected for a 6th consecutive term, and in September 2006, he became a cabinet member as agriculture minister. - Akahata, May 29, 2007
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