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Flashback: Death of Japanese doctor in luxury Singapore hotel

SINGAPORE (TR) – It was 10 years ago on Saturday that the body of a Japanese national was found in a luxury hotel in Singapore. Authorities later ruled the case a suicide.

On March 2, 2009, a staff member at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore found the man — later identified as 64-year-old doctor Takamasa Kato — with a single stab wound to the chest in the bathroom of a room on the 31st floor.

“This is an internal private matter,” Peter Mainguy, the general manager of the hotel, was quoted by the Strait Times. “There has been no breach of security and no sign of criminal activity.”

At the start of the investigation, police deemed the case an “unnatural death.” An official at the Embassy of Japan in Singapore was quoted by Kyodo News as saying the circumstances of the incident, which included a letter left behind by Kato, suggested it was a suicide.

Kato was cremated on March 13 in a ceremony attempted by six persons, including relatives from Japan.

The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore
A Japanese national was found dead in a room of The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore on March 2, 2009

Losses in the stock market

Kato was a permanent resident in Singapore. Prior to the incident, the doctor had lived in the city-state for up to eight years. He owned several hospitals in Japan, according to media reports.

A father of four, Kato was a divorcee who lived with his girlfriend, Junko Maruyama, then 32, in a condominium on Club Street.

About one month after the incident, the Strait Times reported that Kato took his life after suffering extensive losses in the stock market brought about by the collapse of financial services firm Lehman Brothers in 2008.

In one of two letters found in his luggage in his room at The Ritz-Carlton, he wrote that he had been contemplating taking his life since 2008. “With the falling of the market, if continued, I will be penniless,” he wrote, according to the Strait Times. “I will give enormous trouble.” In another letter, he felt like he was being “swallowed by global waves.”

Knife bought in Chinatown

Speaking at a coroner’s inquiry into the death in April, Rudy Hesty, senior station inspector of the Central Police Division, said Kato bought the knife in Chinatown on February 28. The next day, he checked into The Ritz-Carlton for three days.

On the morning of March 2, a chambermaid found Kato slumped upright in the shower with the knife protruding from his chest.

Investigators found the room to show no signs of having been ransacked, finding Kato’s passport, a Rolex watch and mobile telephone on a table. Also on the table were other letters, include one to Maruyama that told her the location of his vehicle and gave instructions about handing over documents to his son, Norihisa, then 35, who was also a permanent resident in Singapore.

“Global economic crisis”

According to the investigation, Maruyama was the last person to see Kato alive, which took place at their residence at around 7:00 p.m. on February 28.

Victor Yeo, the state coroner, said at the inquiry that Kato deliberately plunged the knife in his chest in intending to take his life. Evidence suggested, Yeo said, that he had suffered losses of a “substantial portion of his wealth in the global economic crisis.”

Norihisa Kato and Maruyama attended the inquiry. The size of Kato’s estate was not disclosed.