Former president of Japanese onsen inn found dead days after police search home

Former president of Japanese onsen inn found dead days after police search home

The Daimaru Besso inn in Chikushino, Fukuoka Prefecture, is seen on February 16. A part of the picture is modified for privacy reasons. Yoshitaka UnezawaCHIKUSHINO, Fukuoka Prefecture -- The former president of a century-old onsen inn under fire for only replacing its bathwater twice a year was found dead on March 12 days after police searched his home following a criminal complaint.

A passer-by found the body of Makoto Yamada, 70, the former president of Daimaru Besso inn, on a mountain road in Chikushino around 7 a.m. Fukuoka prefectural police said on March 12.

A farewell note was found in a car nearby, and police said they believe he took his own life, although they did not reveal the cause of death.

It is unfortunate that he passed away, and our hearts ache. Eiji Kodama, a senior officer at the prefectural police, said we pray for his soul. There were no problems with our response. We will continue the investigation. The Daimaru Besso inn provided a falsified management book to local public health officials in August 2022, which said the inn changed its bathwater in the correct manner and sterilized it with chlorine, according to the prefectural government and police.

In November, an unannounced inspection of the water revealed Legionella bacteria that were up to 3,700 times more than the standard level.

The inn had changed the bathwater twice a year and failed to chlorinate it, even though the water must be changed at least once a week under the prefecture's rules.

Yamada admitted responsibility and apologized at a news conference on February 28 and then resigned as president on March 2.

The prefectural government filed a criminal complaint with the police on March 8 against Yamada and the inn on the suspicion of violating the public bathhouses law by submitting the false report.

On March 10, police searched the inn and the former president's home.