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Autopsy of Japan`s ex-finance chief inconclusive

Last Updated: Monday, October 5, 2009 - 12:50

Tokyo: An initial autopsy of former Japanese finance minister Shoichi Nakagawa found cardiovascular abnormalities and alcohol in his body, but was unable to determine the cause of death, reports said on Monday.
Police will conduct further examinations, which will require a few more days, according to Jiji Press and other media.

Nakagawa, who resigned in February over his apparently drunken behaviour at a meeting of world powers on the global financial crisis, was found dead on Sunday at his home. He was 56.

No suicide note was discovered -- although his sudden death reminded many of his father`s suicide in the early 1980s at about the same age -- and there was no suggestion of foul play, police said.

Initial examinations suggested Nakagawa may have died of a circulatory disease, Kyodo News reported, quoting unnamed investigative sources.

Nakagawa had vomited in bed and was found dead, lying face down, with sleeping pills left on a nearby desk. He has recently been taking sleeping pills as he was suffering insomnia symptoms, news reports said.

His sudden death shocked the nation. Leaders of both ruling and opposition parties, including Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, visited his Tokyo home to offer condolences.

"I could not be more disappointed," Hatoyama told reporters.

Nakagawa, who was a close ally of former prime minister Taro Aso, came under fierce criticism after appearing drowsy and slurring his words at a news conference following Group of Seven talks in Rome.

The Liberal Democratic Party heavyweight said he had sipped some wine with lunch before the press conference but blamed jet lag and cold medicine for his drowsiness.

Nakagawa, who had made no secret about his fondness for drinking, promised to swear off alcohol ahead of August`s lower house election, but lost his seat anyway.

He was first elected a lawmaker in the powerful lower house in 1983, taking over the constituency of his father, who killed himself by swallowing pills in a hotel room, a year after losing a bid to be prime minister.

Bureau Report

First Published: Monday, October 5, 2009 - 12:50

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