Japan Today

Body found in sea off Otaru identified as JR Hokkaido president


The body of a man found in the sea off Otaru in Hokkaido on Sunday morning was identified as that of JR Hokkaido President Naotoshi Nakajima, police said Sunday.

Nakajima disappeared last Monday morning after leaving several suicide notes to his family and company executives at his house. His car was found abandoned on a coastal road in Ishikari near Sapporo.

NHK reported that the body was found shortly before 8 a.m. and quoted police as saying that the body had been in the water for several days.

Nakajima had been under intense pressure since a JR Hokkaido train derailed and caught fire in a tunnel in May. More than 35 passengers suffered injuries. In July, the transport ministry ordered JR Hokkaido to improve its safety procedures.

Nakajima’s disappearance came just days before the board of directors met with the ministry on Friday to present their plan to improve safety.

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And JR creates yet another casualty.

-4 ( +0 / -3 )

different company. Gotta be sad for his family.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Very unfortunate that he took the blame for everything. The place where he was found is one of the most scenic places in Hokkaido, famous for rockclimbing and unknown to most locals.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yet again, a suicide in Japan... !!! Oh and why that ?? Just cos' of some damn pride and incapacity to accept and live with the fact that something "u did OR are partly responsible for" went WRONG !! Accidents unfortunately do happen !! and "suicide" will NOT be the solution but more like some WEAK way out !! It's just plain DUMB to me...

3 ( +5 / -2 )

This man sure had a strong sense of responsibility, but it's nothing to die for. And then, there are those TEPCO executives who have no sense of responsibility.

5 ( +5 / -0 )


This man sure had a strong sense of responsibility, but it's nothing to die for. And then, there are those TEPCO executives who have no sense of responsibility.

Right on the money, Joe... I wonder what's taking them so long...it seems to me they are in clear violation of an old tradition regarding honor and responsibility.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Sad that he had to do this to his family.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Crazyjoe I was thinking the same thing as I was reading the article. RIP JR president

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Why didn't he just jumped off the platform in front of an express JR train? It's such a 'meiwaku' for many people who went out of the way to search for his body.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I wonder what's taking them so long...

You aren't seriously suggesting it would be better for those men to commit suicide, are you? I'm hoping you aren't, because they are all someone's husband, father, son, brother, and a suicide in the family causes immense pain for those left behind- anyone who hasn't had that experience should consider themselves extremely lucky and should not be wishing that pain on others.

1 ( +3 / -1 )

How many U.S. C.E.O.s would have done the opposite: resign and take a multi-million dollar bonus.

I feel sorry for his family. I agree suicide is a weak way out.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Yo F that, RIP JR President. Suicide sucks and shouldn't be an option in any case unless you are taking one to save someone else's life. My whole thing is why do Japanese let one person take the blame in a company? What about the last track workers that worked on the track? The mechanics who serviced the train last? The train driver? None of these guys are jumping in the sea but the guy at the top who actually doesn't put his hands on anything had to die? C'mon.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

At least the family and friends of Mr Nakajima have closure with the finding of their loved ones body and can now arrange his funeral.My condolences to them

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I don't think committing suicide is "a weak way out" as some say above. I reckon it would take a lot of guts to do it. If you think about it, it really is the ultimate way to say, "I take full responsibility for this." Most can't do it and I certainly couldn't but there are a few who can and do. Also, there may have been other pressures on him that we know nothing about.

3 ( +3 / -1 )

He killed himself, why? Take the blame! Or something else? At the end he killed himself. Did not answer questions did not explain his actions. Did not answer for them. Just devastated his family and provided little explanation. Another example of mentally unstable people running Japan's infrastructure.I feel sorry for his family they now are smeared by his action. It happens too much to be a one off.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I really feel sorry for this guy. It is just not worth killing yourself over. NOTHING IS. I wish that someone would have noticed that this guy was in trouble and got him some help. It makes you think that we need to be just a little more nicer to one another. I personally would never commit suicide and I can't follow the thinking of someone who does. Just apologize. Take your lumps and move on.

Unfortunately, I have to attack Japan on this issue because i think it could have been avoided. Japanese don't believe in seeking professional help like we do in the States and the people who do receive help here are often looked down on as if they are dangerous or something like that, but reality is that we all have issues from time to time and it pays to talk to someone about them. Nobody has to go through hell on their own. I guess what I am trying to say is that we all need to look carefully at others when they are in trouble, not just close our eyes to that persons plight. It really breaks my heart when someone does something like he did. It is such a waste.

My deep condolences to his family.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

. If you think about it, it really is the ultimate way to say, "I take full responsibility for this."

serendipitous -- don't agree. This is the ultimate sign of the fact that "I recognize I did nothing to change the company for the better while I was President, because I DID NOT take personal responsibility. Instead I was too busy maintainng the Wa, because that is why I was chosen, not because of my abilities. And I recognize that I do not have the strength or skills to really lead the company and make the needed changes." He failed once and was simply scared of failing again, but this time in the glare of the public spotlight.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

If you see this as a 'pride' issue, then you don't have much understanding of the culture of suicide in Japan. My heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

It's sad that the Japanese society has put so much pressure on individuals. It's not one persons fault, yet they take all the blame and ruins the lives of family and friends.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

None of the people at the head of Railtrack took their own lives as a result of the Potters Bar & Hatfield accidents here in England, but people were made certainly accountable - and lead to Railtrack being abolished. This guy shouldn't have taken his own life for this - a drastic overreaction. Instead, he should have seen what he could do to improve from the accident that lead to these circumstances.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


That may be true but he certainly is taking responsibility for it now, and, yes, it is too late to change what happened so that may be the reason why he killed himself.


I understand your views but we need to understand that the way we are brought up, our beliefs and morals are quite different. We may consider suicide a "drastic overreaction" but there are others who would see it as shameful not to show that "full" responsibility has been taken. I'll never understand that way of thinking either but it certainly still exists in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So sad. I was hoping he would turn up alive....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They don't say how did he exactly die, lets hope that it was fast and painless, though drowning is the complete oppositive of that. Shame on them who pressured this man to commit suicide.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't think committing suicide is "a weak way out" as some say above. I reckon it would take a lot of guts to do it. If you think about it, it really is the ultimate way to say, "I take full responsibility for this." Most can't do it and I certainly couldn't but there are a few who can and do. Also, there may have been other pressures on him that we know

sorry but WHAT!? first of all I hope you are being sarcastic. Because i will say this in the actual the most abstract way- Who are you to choose to die for my mistake?

Anyway taking full responsibility for something means that you are going to try to rectify the situation. How does dying help anything in this case? Not to mention he was not even close to being fully responsible for this. Who is going to take responsibilty for the pain and suffering that his family and friend have to go through. Now if he has kids, do you realize what its going to be like growing up for them think that "oh its in my genes". I mean wow, i cant believe thats how you feel. So I missed the game winning shot for my basketball team, so i should kill myself because i am fully responsible. That completely defeats the point of having the phrase "try again" or "try harder"

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Al Stewart

Ah, no, no sarcasm at all. That's is one Japanese idea of loyalty. Loyalty to one's company and loyalty to one's employees as well. Strange as it may seem but this still sometimes happens in Japan. No doubt, he would have apologized to his family and company for having let people down (i.e. failing as he saw it) in his suicide notes that were found. Also, you may think he wasn't responsible but that is irrelevant because he obviously did think he was responsible. You (me too I suppose) would automatically try to blame others for what happened but, in Japan, at the end of the day, what your employees do reflects on what the leader of an organization does. They are one and the same in one sense. If the "company" makes a mistake, the buck stops with the president and he (or she) will take responsibility. Yes, it's very different from what we grew up learning but that doesn't mean it is wrong. Who can say which way is better? Or more right? Finally, sport is a different thing altogether and it is very rare for a sportsman to commit suicide in Japan for missing a "game winning shot."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Crap, Do not see TEPCOs management doing anything but tuning their back on the Disaster of their own making and retiring. So that proves the social theory a little less solid.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A few people have talked about Nakajima-san committing suicide to accept responsibility for the accident. I have to disagree. I believe he committed suicide because he couldn't live with the shame. Maybe these are two sides of the same coin, but there is a difference.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Suicide: A permanent "solution" to a temporary "problem".

0 ( +1 / -1 )


I have been living here in japan for a while and i see the way some think, and for me its not about how I was raised. Its just my own ideals that i have gotten in my life. Its not whether it is wrong or right either its about suicide just being a plain waste of life. It is just plain and simply "giving up". I dont really matters how anyone tries to justify it or psychologically pretty it up. It is a waste of life. And that is putting it light. If your mistake cause severe consequences, then why dont you dedicate your life to making sure it never happens again. As far as an athlete committing suicide after missing the "game winning shot", the potential is there in japanese culture: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2054482,00.html

In addition i can say whole heartedly that not committing suicide in this type of situation is absolutely better. Because life offers the opportunity for improvement. Death, specially in this case, causes more problems. With how japanese horror is and stigmas about things like this crazy. Not to mention how does it help the situation.

Then I cant really understand how someone could condone suicide but be against the death penalty. In essence is it not the same thing? And then many criminals dont even get the death penalty and their crimes are far worse. So does this mean that in Japanese culture, a person that makes a mistake is a far more terrible person than a serial murderer? Suicide is considered murder in some countries and i agree with that. If that were true for japan, then japan would be in the top 10 for intentional homicide

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Al Stewart

The fact is that humans are intelligent (or stupid?) enough (and one of the very few species that are occasionally willing and able) to kill themselves when there is reason to believe that there is no way to remedy a situation or to live with the shame of some failure (real or perceived).

I know what you are trying to say but how exactly does death cause more problems? The stigma attached to suicide is not as strong as in Western countries from what I can tell.

The death penalty is a group of people deciding that another person should be killed as well as when and how (sounds like the definition of first-degree murder to me but that's another matter). Suicide is a person deciding to kill him or herself. Rather different I think but, again, that is another topic really.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I heard he was found a few hundred meters of Otamoi Beach. Interesting that he was found 30 km west of where he went it, given that there's a northbound current. I guess there must be countercurrents in Ishikari Bay.

Unfortunate. In these cases I always think a resignation would work. Resignation followed by community service, or time spent in reflection in an austere monastary.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


I would have to say that it would have to be ignorance or stupidity or illness that would make you belive that there is no remedy for a situation without trying. But even then, the point is not always to rectify what happened but to try to be sure that it doesnt happen again. Death creates problems in the fact that, in this case, President Naotoshi Nakajima was just that, a president meaning that he has important information and is in charge or various situations that required his approval and so on. So you are telling me that When he went missing it was business as usual? I dont think so. Also, as i said before, now his family has unecessary stress that they did not need at this time. Now we can also look at from the non-sympathetic side: tax payers money paid for police officers to be taken away from possibly more important work to hunt for a man who wanted to (selfishly) be forgotten. I could go on. Fortuanately, he wasnt as selfish as the other woman who jumped into the windshield of an oncomming train injuring others. But still a waste all the same. The stigma is here in japan and the gov is trying to use that to get people to stop. For example, the family of the deceased will be in debt for a long time if they jump infront of a shikansen. When that went into effect the number of suicides by shinkasen went down tremendouly, but that was because it was cheaper to jump inront of a plain local train (which went up in number).

Yes the death penalty is voted on. But that is only because it is the system that the gov. that we chose uses. And japan only started using the jury system recently. But still i understand your point but in the end my point still stands if not made stronger. Are you a person who supports vigilantism? That in essence would probably better match a suicide. By choosing to commit suicide, you are in effect being police, judge, jury and executioner.

The death penalty is a group of people deciding that another person should be killed as well as when and how (sounds like the definition of first-degree murder to me but that's another matter).

First, in some cases, the person on trial gets to choose how they die. But that is besides the point. How is this different from suicide. Suicide is a person deciding that a person should be killed as well as when and how . The only difference is that that person is themselves. Now i could argue that "well its their life, they can do whatever they want with it" but doesnt that go back to one of my other points about suicide (selfishness).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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