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Ex-president of Japan inn with contaminated water reportedly dies by suicide

By NICK GARCIA Published Mar 13, 2023 10:42 am

Trigger warning: This story deals with suicide.

The former president of an upscale Japanese inn—which made headlines for only changing its hot-spring bath water every six months resulting in bacteria breeding 3,600 times over the standard limit—reportedly died by suicide.

The Japan Times reported that a passerby found Makoto Yamada on a mountain road in the city of Chikushino in Fukuoka Prefecture and reported it to the police.

They believe Yamada took his own life, based on a farewell note they found in a car nearby. He was 70.

In the note, Yamada, who had resigned amid the scandal, apologized for the situation and said he was responsible for "everything."

“We would like to express our sincere condolences to the man who passed away,” police officer Eiji Kodama said in a statement. “We believe there were no problems in how the police dealt with the case.”

The 160-year-old Daimaru Besso inn neglected to keep its water hygienic by using enough chlorine, with Yamada in a press conference saying he "didn't like the smell" of the chemical.

Local ordinances stipulate a weekly replacement of the water, where guests traditionally soak naked together after taking showers.

"It was a selfish reason," Yamada is quoted as saying, describing the lapse as a "wrongdoing that completely disregarded the health of our customers."

Such lax measures began in December 2019, during which the inn also "falsified documents to claim that the chlorine had been properly added" as Yamada admitted.

The workers even became more complacent as the number of guests dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic. Legionella bacteria, then, bred 3,600 times over the standard limit.

The legionella bacteria, which can cause lung infections, reportedly made a guest sick after visiting Daimaru Besso.

The inn opened in 1865 and was about to commemorate its 160th anniversary when the scandal emerged. Prominent guests included Japanese emperor Hirohito.


If you think you, your friend, or your family member is considering self-harm or suicide, you may call the National Mental Health Crisis Hotline at 1553 (Luzon-wide, landline toll-free), 0966-351-4518 or 0917-899-USAP (8727) for Globe/TM users, or 0908-639-2672 for Smart users.