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Japan Businessman Commits Suicide

August 20, 1998

TOKYO (AP) _ Troubled by financial difficulties, the president of a small firm and one of his employees committed suicide together Thursday, a police spokesman said.

The deaths were the latest in a rash of business-related suicides in Japan, which is suffering its worst recession in decades.

Tomoyuki Watanabe, a local police spokesman, identified the two men as Nobuo Shibata, 48, president of a sheet metal manufacturing firm near Tokyo, and employee Yoshio Kimura, 56.

The two were found dead inside a passenger car in the company compound after they had inhaled exhaust gas through a hose run through the car’s back seat early Thursday morning, Watanabe said.

Police found a note in Shibata’s pocket that read: ``I am sorry to all of my employees for causing a poor (business) performance,″ Watanabe said.

In March, the president of a small firm and his wife hanged themselves in their living room because of financial difficulties. Financial troubles also led three Japanese businessmen to hang themselves in a hotel in February.

Japan’s prolonged economic slump has hit especially hard at small- and medium-sized businesses, many of which are facing difficulties in getting bank loans.

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