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Iwate assemblyman who compared hospital to prison on blog found dead in apparent suicide

39 Comments

An Iwate prefectural assemblyman has apparently committed suicide following a blog rant that made the headlines in Japan, police said Wednesday.

Mitsuo Koizumi, 56, had been under fire from the public after writing a blog post on June 5 in which he expressed his anger at being called by a number instead of by his name at a hospital in Morioka. He wrote that it was like being in a prison.

TV Asahi reported that although the blog post was later deleted, a cached version steadily spread around the Internet, with some 2-channel contributors mocking his outrage and suggesting that he should have been attending a psychiatric hospital instead.

Koizumi was also criticized by his peers for comparing the hospital to a prison and forced to make a formal apology for his comments at a news conference on June 17. However, the prefectural assembly said that it continued to receive several hundred complaints from the public, demanding that Koizumi resign.

TV Asahi quoted police as saying that Koizumi's body was found lying beside a road in his electoral district of Ichinohe by a passerby at around 5 a.m. on Tuesday. Investigators say evidence at the scene suggests that Koizumi committed suicide, but gave no further details about the cause of death.

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39 Comments
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Bullying culture isn't confined to just JHS. Japan has some really sadistic aspects to it's society, this is one of them. RIP Mr Koizumi.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

Well said spudman. Yes, let's try and demand the kids stop bullying but ignore the adults...

I see nothing wrong with what this guy said. Hospitals - and schools - look like prisons here. They treat people as prisoners. If anything, there should be an outrage at how we, the paying public, get treated.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

Bullied to death for an inane blog post.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Hospitals - and schools - look like prisons here. They treat people as prisoners. If anything, there should be an outrage at how we, the paying public, get treated.

Having spent time in hospital both in the UK and in Japan, I know I'd choose Japan any day if I had to go back in.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

I was in a hospital like a meat shop. I had a stripe with bar-code and was processed as a meatloaf before given medicines or taken to the operation room. What happened is OT and is very popular in the Japanese social circles. Target is chosen (teacher, public servant, etc.) his identity uncovered, his private data - address, etc. and bullied to death. Koizumi-san shouldn't have ended this way for so little offense.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Nonsense! Schools need discipline or they would end up like the touchy-feely, politically correct institutions of the west, where teachers are constantly worried about what they do and say, for all sorts of silly reasons lest they 'offend' some group or other. Japan is going soft if this is the attitude that is starting to take hold. Discipline in society is one of the best things about Japan, but it doesn't mean institutions are prisons. Grow a pair!

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

I just read his original rant, and it really was a silly thing to get angry about. But I have to agree with Spud. The public's reaction is way more overboard. He made a stupid but relatively harmless blog post and apologized for it. Let it go. Public scrutiny in a small community like this probably weighs down on you a lot more than in a big city. Poor guy. RIP

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Japanese society can be so vindictive. although his tantrum at being called by number also a bit weak.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Woah, Japan is starting to look like South Korea with its netizens bullying people so far that they commit suicide. What about freedom of speech? YOu might not agree but being angry at the company for not firing him is overboard.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I'm a sansei who has never visited Japan--never had the time or money. Now I have plenty of both. After following the news here and elsewhere of Japan post 3-11, I don't think I EVER want to visit the place. I have to say that Japan seems in many ways to be one of the most difficult and complex societies in the world with impossible rules that drive both natives and outsiders crazy.

Japanese society is both cruel and unforgiving, and it does not tolerate any deviations--bullying and just plain mean people seem to be the norm. To an American it just seems so over the top and unreasonable. I tell you, it sure doesn't do Japan's image any good and it's the primary reason why I don't want to visit. And I'm Japanese American! And I know and work with people from Japan in Los Angeles!

What kind of miserable people live in Japan? I can't remember anything like this happening here in America. People bitch and complain about things like this all the time! And I work at a hospital! It's a common complaint that patients have about being treated like a "non-person"! In fact there was a movie made about this very topic starring Harrison Ford years ago!

The picture of Japan you see on NHK must be propaganda produced by the government propaganda ministry. This is one very disturbing story on so many levels.

-2 ( +8 / -10 )

A couple of Japanese news report that the police found very high alcohol in the blood of the body of the Assemblyman, which is more than enough to totally intoxicate the person. The body was found near a reservoir. There is no report as to how he went there or where he took that large amount of alcohol.

The report says the police believe the Assemblyman committed suicide, but I do not know how they could conclude so in this situation.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The picture of Japan you see on NHK must be propaganda produced by the government propaganda ministry. This is one very disturbing story on so many levels.

Yes, tax payer government propaganda.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

He should have just resigned. This is not the way to take responsibility.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

A few recently talked about the need to contain the shock of forced hospitalization that led to the sadistic fun of seeing people forcibly hospitalized. Many people contributed to that patients had passive appreciation in society. Ie: it would be beneficial for medicine the existence of a majority in patients liabilities. Statistics demonstrates a reliable medicine to the population. Or rather the people see the value of looking at medicine. This news just shows a lack of success. See now by the side of medicine, for which there needs to force people to be their patients. That is negative. The total passivity is a positive and rewarding

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"However, the prefectural assembly said that it continued to receive several hundred complaints from the public,"

Well, I hope they're happy now. They got what they wanted.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is not the way to take responsibility.

Take responsiblity for having a private opinion about something that actually happened to him? Why? I absolutely do not get the outrage or the need for the apology in the first place.

Sad the man thought suicide was the only solution to his problem(s). Shame on the people that made such a big deal over it, especially after he apologized.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Suicide over a blog post? Come on...

Also, a potential suicide is improbable as we all know that the Japanese are the most polite, respectful and well-mannered people in the world and would never treat a fellow citizen badly.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@lonebeagle

From your comment I can tell you have never been to Japan for many reasons.... You cannot even spell sensei, and you take news as real experience! Haha Japan would be better off without you.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

We need CSI here. Japanese crime investigation and police always, or at least 90%, based on circumstantial evidence. Modern period needs modern forensic science. There is a lot of ingredients for a suicide.

1st, suicide note handwritten or duly-signed.

2nd, what was the tool used. Self-inflected wounds? Was the victim right-handed? was the wound pattern inflected by a right-handed fellow?

3rd etc 4th etc 5th etc

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Why blame the society? This fool blogged his BS, got cained for it and offed himself. There is no foul! He is (was) just a whimp that could not deal with the reaction to his opinions. Just one of the other 80-100 people that off themselves every day in Japan for similar self-centered reasons. Sorry, no sympathy!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oh cry me river. His "rants" on his blog deserves criticism. He had the audacity to criticize the hospital for calling the ticketed number during his account settlement not to mention the fact that he skipped the payment of his charges.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I think a lot of posters here don't know the full story! This guy went to a hospital for a check up, and now due to privacy concerns, instead of calling a patients name, they give each patient a number, and when it is time to pay, they only call the number. This self-important local politician began to berate the staff, telling them that he was a VIP, and should be treated accordingly! Then he refused to pay his bill and stormed out f the hospital. He then took to his blog to continue to complain about his treatment, and then went on to say he felt like he was in prison. It was only after he received so many complaints and negative feedback that he decided to apologize. Now, do I think he deserved to die, no. But he brought all this upon himself, and no I don't agree with cyber bullying, but as I said before, he brought all of this upon himself.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

nigelboy:

My god, I never thought I'd agree with you on something!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Oh cry me river. His "rants" on his blog deserves criticism. He had the audacity to criticize the hospital for calling the ticketed number during his account settlement not to mention the fact that he skipped the payment of his charges.

I think the story here is simple, Japan is a place where simple bullying is everywhere. You see it here on this message forum and you see it in schools and in society.

It's disturbing and pathetic to see this kind of behaviour. FYI, in America in any healthcare facility it is NEVER permitted to call a patient by anything but their name and it is never permitted to refer to a person by their medical record number.

But this isn't the disturbing part of this story--the reaction to Mr. Koizumi's blog by the community and his death here is just disgusting. No wonder Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. There is a shocking lack of respect for life, freedom and the individual in Japan.

Suicide and bullying are a national disgrace in Japan and the government has been trying to combat these problems for years, but the culture of Japan makes it impossible to effectively challenge or reduce the devastating effects on society. Just read some of the comments here and the blog posts for Mr. Koizumi. It's quite socially acceptable to openly bully over virtually anything and even taunt someon who has committed suicide.

In Japan it seems that you can't have a different opinion and have an argument and at the end of the day agree to disagree, and then call it quits and still be friends or neighbors. The Japanese pay a horrendous price for their "civilized" society.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It's disturbing and pathetic to see this kind of behaviour. FYI, in America in any healthcare facility it is NEVER permitted to call a patient by anything but their name and it is never permitted to refer to a person by their medical record number.

First of all, we're not talking about America.. When you visit a hospital in Japan, you are given a ticket where they assign you a number. If you happen to be the first patient there, you are, for instance, 001. After seeing the doctor, you are ready to check out to pay your bills. Instead of lining up to the payment counter only to discover that your bill is not ready, they call you that number stating "XXX ban no kata" when the account settlment/bill is ready. Standard practice in Japan.

Second, we're not talking about him being called by the number while he was waiting for the doctor. In this situation, the nurse does call you by your name when it's your turn.

To add further, he had the audacity to ask to be treated like a customer in a department store where the hospital worker would go over to him while he was sitting, present the bill, take the money, and give him the receipt.

Did I mention the fact that he skipped his payment and proudly stated so on his blog as a local lawmaker?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Oh knock it off--you're making excuses for why the millionth person who killed themself was themself responsible for their own death. It seems this is another Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in Japan's Bullying Procedure Manual.

The Standard Practice in Japan is that people commit suicide at a horrendous rate because suicide has no negative social stigma as it does in the west. Bullying children and adults alike is allowed because bullying has no negative social stigma. In fact, it is part of normal Japanese behaviour and culture.

I don't buy it for a nanosecond that Mr. Koizumi didn't have some legitimate complaints about the way he was treated by his local hospital. You're defending the STANDARD PROCEDURE as if it can't be flawed, out of date, or not friendly to the patient. Have you or anyone else in Japan considered that maybe the Japanese should catch up with America and the west and CHANGE? Oh, that's right, the Japanese don't like change.

But just the tone of your post (blaming the suicide victim) is cruel and vindictive and proves my point about many in Japanese society.

And, of course, skipping out on paying one's bill because you're pissed off means that you need to go off and commit suicide. Talk about a sick society. That Japan has no methods of dealing with minor conflict resolution is just beyond words. That you're not in shock by your own words is just beyond belief.

Civilized people don't write off people killing themselves as if they just witnessed an ant getting squished. But in Japan, I guess a dead politician who had the "audacity" to complain and skip out on a bill is no more than a dead cockroach.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

When you are a public figure the public statements you make are fair game for public criticism. While its tragic that the man chose to end his life, I don't think the characterization of the incident as "bullying" is an appropriate one.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Nigel is right

Second, we're not talking about him being called by the number while he was waiting for the doctor. In this situation, the nurse does call you by your name when it's your turn.

I've never had a problem with the number system here. It's more efficient. What I would rant about is paying thousands of dollars for a CT Scan in the US as opposed to $300 here. "Number 124! That's me!"

@lonebeagle

I'd recommend visiting Japan at least once. Not for sightseeing, but for the culture. I'd also recommend not using JT or other message boards to base your opinions on. First, JT is where we gaijins GO to complain, and second, with so many people here using message boards, twitter, etc, it's still in it's infancy and the social norms have not adjusted to this new experience yet, IMO.

You're right about the suicides, it's over the top. It's an odd observation though coming from an American (yes, I am) who's never visited Japan. If I had to choose something about the US to criticize, it would have to be the apathy. The war mongering, domestic spying, the propaganda, and the uselessness of the MSM, while bankrupting the country. For what? Terrorism? Nope!

http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/09/16/inv.binladen.denial/

http://www.globalresearch.ca/interview-with-osama-bin-laden-denies-his-i...

http://911blogger.com/news/2013-02-02/osama-bin-laden-assures-he-did-not..

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Patients waiting to pay their bills are given numbers, and called over the counter as is.He felt so important that he wanted to be addressed as YOUR MAJESTY with full name and with accolades. Serves him right. Japan assembly is much better without such prima donna.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Well, maybe he exaggerated about how bad is being called by a number instead of a name at the hospital, but I don't consider that comment so bad that it should be critiziced at that level.

That complaint is not bad enough for getting fired, not even close. I thing society was being too sensitive and bothering with this social worker's comments, and wanted to use it as a scapegoat of their own feelings or thoughs.

I think we was on a fragile state of mind, so he couldn't handle all the pressure he got from others. I think this event should be a lesson for anyone who wants to critizice someone they don't know or understand.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I don't buy it for a nanosecond that Mr. Koizumi didn't have some legitimate complaints about the way he was treated by his local hospital. You're defending the STANDARD PROCEDURE as if it can't be flawed, out of date, or not friendly to the patient. Have you or anyone else in Japan considered that maybe the Japanese should catch up with America and the west and CHANGE? Oh, that's right, the Japanese don't like change.

On the contrary, the service in your country doesn't even comes close to the level in Japan in virtually all sectors. The guy wanted a first class service like the ones they give out in department stores in a hospital for god sakes. Read his blog entry. There is not a sane person that sympathizes with his rant.

Any lawmaker in any parts of the world who rants on his/her blog about NOT getting a SPECIAL treatment which only he/she think they deserve will be criticized by the general public in a very harsh manner. I have no clues to why you make this a cultural difference issue.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

My hospital calls me by name cause frankly the numbering is impersonal and there are no privacy concerns at all. The privacy is in the nature of the medical care received not the reception room or else banks, post offices, licensing centers, schools or police stations wouldn't call out citizens names. He had a point, he may have been over zealous in making it on his blog and then he was bullied by the netizens that were anonymous and felt like they had to belittle him in public. Chicken sh!t bullying. Stop comparing things here to the USA, it's irrelevant and the US is never going to be a paragon of social services.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

If one wishes to expose themselves to the public via posts, vlogs, or blogs one needs a thick skin. Share your opinion with the world and be ready to have them share theirs back.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Spudman, you can't be more wrong. Ive known people who travel to other cities for medical treatment because of privacy concerns. With the stigma associated with mental illness here in Japan, people would never want there name called aloud if they visited a psychiatric hospital. This guy has lived his life as a career politician, and expected everyone to bow down to him like he was some sort of deity. When they didn't he lost it and acted like a real jackass. Then to make matters worse, he blogs about it, thinking he will receive sympathy, since he felt so entitled, but when the backlash came, he wasn't prepared for it!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Patients waiting to pay their bills are given numbers, and called over the counter as is.He felt so important that he wanted to be addressed as YOUR MAJESTY with full name and with accolades. Serves him right. Japan assembly is much better without such prima donna.

Well, isn't that just special. I guess the solution for nasty people in Japan is SUICIDE! This explains the ultra high rate of suicide in Japan--it's obvious from the comments here that Japan is a country which runs on coercion and extracts cooperation and compliance at all costs.

I read a translation of Koizumi's blog and it's even more shocking that people here are attempting to justify his suicide as being okay as if he deserved to die because he didn't have sufficient reasons for complaining. The fact that Koizumi was attacked so viciously by his community is shocking and disturbing in itself.

No matter how trivial his complaints were, the reaction of his community rose to such a level that you have to question the sanity of people. What kind of people make up Japanese society? And now that he is dead, people are still criticizing and taking pot shots at the guy! HE'S DEAD for crying out loud!

Sick is all I can say. There's no other way to describe this entire spectacle. It makes one question whether Japanese culture lacks basic human values. The Japanese put on a great show of compassion and respect, but in many ways it's just superficial.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Lone beagle, link to the translation please.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

When you go to the bank or post office you pull out a ticket with a number on it. This is impersonal but fair.

At some hospitals you drop your card into a box when you arrive, but you can never be sure that the staff will pull the cards out from the bottom and call your name in the right order. To avoid arguments over who put their card into the box first, some institutions must have adopted the bank system. Has his hospital changed the system recently?

I remember when applying for permanent residence here they required proof that I was mentally sane and free of venereal disease. This meant sitting in the public waiting rooms of the respective units and having my name called out in front of everyone: "Mr Anderson, your test results!" Highly embarrassing.

A case can be made either way, but I reckon the guy overstepped the line and caught flack as a people's representative when he wrote that he had refused to pay. At this point all sympathy for him must have flown out the window.

Sad that he felt he could never live it down, so no other way out, though.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A blog about frustration at hospital killed him.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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