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Thursday, February 26, 1998 Published at 11:22 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Japanese businessmen in suicide pact
image: [ There is concern about the psychological effects of the recession. ]
There is concern about the psychological effects of the recession.

Tokyo journalist Murray Sayle explains the men and their motive
Three Japanese businessmen have been found hanged in separate rooms in a Tokyo hotel. It is the latest suicide shock to hit the country.

The three men - all in their fifties - had all checked in to the hotel at the same time and were seen drinking together.

They were later found by staff, wearing identical white shirts and hanging from identical ropes from the ventilation grates in their rooms.

Beer cans, soft drinks and cigarettes were found in one of the rooms they had used, a police official said.

"We are assuming they had a meeting in the room beforehand," he said.

The three men were all involved in the vehicle spare-parts business, heading medium-sized companies which supplied each other.

According to the police, two of them had left suicide notes.

The Japanese media are reporting that the three men were involved in a failing business deal, although the exact reason for the suicides has not yet been established.

[ image: Shokei Arai hanged himself over corruption scandal.]
Shokei Arai hanged himself over corruption scandal.
The triple suicide has many similarities with the death last week of a popular politician, Shokei Arai.

He hanged himself in a hotel, hours before police planned to arrest him for involvement in a corruption scandal.

Mr Arai's death was the fourth suicide connected to the economic scandals this year.

The BBC Tokyo correspondent says that as Japan goes through a painful recession, many small businesses will collapse, and psychologists have been warning that an increase in suicides linked to financial loss could result.


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