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World Briefing / Japan

Ex-finance official found dead

October 05, 2009|Times Wire Reports

A former Japanese finance minister who stepped down after appearing to be drunk at an overseas news conference was found dead in his home, according to police.

Shoichi Nakagawa was lying face down in bed when his wife found him in their Tokyo home, a spokesman for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of police policy.

Investigators have ruled out foul play because the room was undisturbed, and they were downplaying the likelihood of suicide. Determining a cause of death will probably "take some time," the spokesman said, adding that an autopsy will be conducted.

Nakagawa, 56, caused an uproar when he appeared to be intoxicated at a news conference during a meeting of Group of 7 financial leaders in Rome in February. International news programs repeatedly played footage of him slurring his speech. He stepped down shortly afterward, denying he had been drunk and blaming cold medicine.

The trip was widely seen as a major embarrassment for the Japanese government.

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