BREAKING NEWS: Nakagawa Shoichi dead, suicide suspected

Breaking news is that Nakagawa Shoichi, defeated LDP politician and former cabinet member, has been found dead on his bed in his home. No external injuries were found on his body and suicide is suspected.


Nakagawa was defeated in August in his district in Hokkaido. Although he served in several prominent positions in the government, he resigned after his drunken press conference at the G7 meeting of finance ministers in Rome in February earlier this year. He was widely known in Nagata-cho to have a serious alcohol problem.

20 thoughts on “BREAKING NEWS: Nakagawa Shoichi dead, suicide suspected”

  1. Although I’ve seen stories online, I’ve not seen this mentioned on the TV yet.

    Still, I’m quite shocked. I used to tease my friend for looking like Nakagawa.

  2. BTW his father Ichiro committed suicide as well under somewhat mysterious circumstances. Wikipedia notes that he got addicted to sleeping pills after losing badly in a bid to head the LDP, but also speculates that the CIA might have had him killed for trying to foster closer ties with USSR.

    After Ichiro’s death, his secretary Suzuki Muneo and Shoichi battled over who should replace him, with Shoichi coming out on top.

  3. When his wife found him, she called 119 saying, 「夫が冷たくなっている。急いで来て下さい」. If my wife said that, I wonder if they would send an ambulance or a marriage counselor.
    BTW, there is no reported evidence yet for or against suicide.

  4. “Wonder if it’s a suicide-by-binging, which is how Tanaka Kakuei went out after Ozawa and his allies defected from the faction.”

    It was Takeshita,although Ozawa was among them.

    “BTW, there is no reported evidence yet for or against suicide”

    We have to wait for the autopsy.But it seems suicide.

    Former Soviet spy recruiter Ivan Kovalenko wrote memoir of his Japan related activities in対日工作の回想(文藝春秋刊).
    In that book he clearly stated Nakagawa Ichiro was killed by CIA.However,Kovalenko’s mission was to maxmize anti-American・Chinese sentiment in Japan and his words need to be taken with grain of salt.
    However,Ishihara Shintaro,who has been close friend and political ally,denounced Kovalenko,but somehow believed the conspiracy.

  5. This is quite sad. Clearly, he was a troubled man and needed help, but never received it. It’s always sad to see someone end their self-destruction in suicide rather than in rehabilitation. The worst part is that people knew he had a problem, yet he was still allowed to expire in despair.

  6. Shocking, yet I wonder how much a role, if any, his alcoholism played.
    Its just that suicides of disgraced politicians/officials have happened before, with no mention of the person being alcoholic

  7. I’m guessing accidental suicide, or quasi-accidental suicide. In other words, Nakagawa was prescribed sleeping pills to deal with his stress and his attempts to quit drinking after years upon years of alcoholism (assuming he really did try to quit drinking at some point), he took those – maybe a bit more than he should have – and maybe he slipped and started drinking again. It would explain why his wife found him slumped against the bed at 9 p.m., but didn’t think much of it (she’d surely seen him worse) until he hadn’t left the room by 8:15 the following morning.

    Give the way Ichiro Nakagawa went, there could have been a history of mental illness of some sort as well, which would have put Shoichi in prime playing-close-to-the-edge territory.

  8. (I think I have a post here stuck in the spam filter….)


    “「夫が冷たくなっている。急いで来て下さい」. If my wife said that, I wonder if they would send an ambulance or a marriage counselor.”


  9. People a lot closer to Nakagawa than you or me are saying he had given up the bottle after the incident that cost him his Minister post, that he could not sleep as a result and was using sleeping pills, and that he had flu-like symptoms in the days before his death. So let’s wait before assuming he was killed by alcohol or took his own life.
    Usui Yoshito, on the other hand, now that’s a story…!

  10. I don’t buy the suicide stories, although according to one source, the press wouldn’t report as such even if it were a suicide.

    He didn’t OD on sleeping pills, they say. I think he may have choked on his own vomit. They found puke on the bed…

  11. “although according to one source, the press wouldn’t report as such even if it were a suicide.”

    Well,it’s more like cops choose to follow the intention of the families.

  12. I don’t see any reason to think that Usui Yoshito killed himself. From what I read, he was taking a walk in the hills where he habitually did, and his his digital camera was full of the kinds of photos that he always shot when taking walks through the woods, no sign of suicide.

  13. What friends report is that Usui had been depressed lately, had pretty much lost the creative urge, no longer engaged in his favorite pastimes like scuba diving, and even had stopped pushing his Jehovah’s Witnesses religion on people or being active in that faith. He may not have jumped deliberately, but he also may have deliberately taken the risk that led to his death. We will never know.

  14. Wataru, I spoke with a person who knew Shoichi well who reported a similar situation — at a private dinner party two weeks before he died, he never smiled or laughed, said he felt pressured into running for office again but was loathe to do so, and the only bright thing he had to say was about the “good ‘ol days in the 1960s.” It may never be clear if he died or committed suicide, but here also, he may have been reckless or careless with his health, meds and alcoholism relapse that resulted in his death.

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