Railroad president suicide to atone for derailment

09/19/2011
By

JR Hokkaido President Naotoshi Nakajima

SAPPORO (majirox news) — JR Hokkaido President Naotoshi Nakajima took his own life to atone for a May derailment in which 35 were injured, JR Hokkaido Chairman Akio Koike told a news conference here Sept. 18.

Nakajima’s body was found earlier that day, floating in waters off Otaru, Hokkaido, after he had suddenly disappeared on Monday last week, leaving a series of suicide notes behind him.

“He disappeared in the week he was supposed to report on improved safety to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Koike told reporters. “I presume his work had become a heavy burden. Just how heavy is something only he could have known.

“The disappearance of the president was the greatest crisis this company has known since its formation. We want to move forward by carrying out his will.”

Koike said the company remains undecided about Nakajima’s successor.

Nakajima left several suicide notes before his disappearance, including one addressed to JR Hokkaido employees, which Koike read out at the news conference.

“I regret the derailment and apologize that it came at a time when the entire company was tackling the issue of improving the corporate atmosphere,” the letter read. “I am aware that we are entrusted with the enormous task of protecting the lives of passengers, and I want all employees to always be thinking that passengers’ safety is our prime concern. I thank you for your support and cooperation over many years.”

Nakajima had been under pressure since the May derailment. In July, the Transport Ministry ordered JR Hokkaido to improve safety. Nakajima was supposed to report to the ministry on the improvements on Friday, but other JR Hokkaido executives did so instead after he had disappeared.

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