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Ex-president of Japanese inn that rarely changed communal bathwater found dead

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via Roméo A (representational only)

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    The former president of the Japanese inn that was found to have a communal bath with bacteria levels 3,700 times over the standard limit has died in a suspected suicide.

    Makoto Yamada, whose company operated the Futsukaichi Onsen Daimaru Besso inn in Fukuoka prefecture, was found dead by a passerby on a mountain road in Chikushino at around 7 a.m. on Sunday morning. 

    According to police, a suicide note was discovered in a nearby car. The note reportedly read: “I am very sorry. I feel morally responsible for everything. Please take care of the rest.” 

    Yamada’s death is currently under investigation. 

    Prior to his death, Yamada and his inn were under fire for only changing its bathwater twice a year

    An inspection found that the Legionella bacteria levels of the bathwater were 3,700 times over the standard limit. His management also failed to maintain chlorine in the bath at the required concentrations.

    At a press conference last month, Yamada apologized for failing to conduct a weekly replacement of the water in compliance with Fukuoka prefectural laws. 

     “I told my staff it was OK not to change the bathwater as fewer people were using it,” he said, adding that it was a “selfish reason.” 

    On March 2, Yamada resigned as head of the inn operator to take responsibility for the misconduct.

    On March 8, the prefectural government filed a criminal complaint on suspicion that the nearly 160-year-old inn had violated the Public Bath Houses Act, prompting the police to investigate on March 10.

    The inn was founded in 1865 and has hosted prominent guests, such as Emperor Hirohito and other government officials.

    If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For a list of international suicide hotlines, click here.

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