"Moral suicide" of a Japanese hotel manager due to the cleanliness of the pool

The former head of a historic Japanese hotel has died by suicide for a professional ethical reason after being investigated for hygiene issues at his upscale hotel, police said.

Makoto Yamada, 70, was facing a criminal complaint filed by the local government of Southern Fukuoka Prefecture after authorities found that his historic lodge, Daimaru Beso, changed the water of his shared bath only twice a year. A health check in November found that the water in his upscale hostel was teeming with Legionella bacteria - a deadly bacterium - at a rate of 3700,<> times the permissible level. Community baths are popular in Japan, which has a culture of using public baths even as the popularity of such facilities has waned in recent years.

Yamada, who resigned as president on March 2, apologized publicly after the information came out. He claimed he did not know that local laws required weekly water changes and explained that he had asked his staff not to change the bathing water because very few people use it.

But less than two weeks after he resigned from the 158-year-old inn, a passerby found Yamada dead on a mountain road. Police later found a note believed to be from Yamada in a nearby car that read: "I'm so sorry. I feel morally responsible for everything. Please take care of the rest."

A senior police officer in Fukuoka Prefecture expressed sadness at Yamada's death. "It's a pity that he died and our hearts hurt. Japan's public broadcaster NHK quoted the officer as saying on Sunday: "We pray for his soul."

At a press conference on Feb. 28, Yamada also admitted that he had instructed his staff to falsify chlorination records that had been submitted to the Public Health Bureau "because we acted selfishly to hate the smell of chlorine."

Founded in 1865, Daimaru Besso is a traditional hotel with a Japanese-style garden and karaoke room. Among his previous guests was Emperor Showa, better known as Emperor Hirohito, who ruled Japan from 1926 to 1989.