Jake Adelstein*1 “Japan's suicide statistics don't tell the real story” The Japan Times February 3 2013
According to the government's 2012 “White Paper on Suicide,” in 2011 there were 30,651 cases recorded of people taking their own lives. The motives listed were in the following descending order of problems related to health; daily life; family; and work.
But here's an odd thing: the reason for the suicide were only determined in 73 percent of cases – in more than 25 percent of cases they were for reasons unknown. Many of those cases perhaps presented no reason because they were'nt suicides at all.
According to the NPA*2, since 1998 there have been 45 cases of murder initially ruled by police to have been due to natural causes or suicide. Among those, one was a man from Nagano Prefecture whose murder in 1980 was treated as a suicide until the killer confessed in 2000 – afer the status of limitations had passed.
The NPA has admitted that in Japan only 10 percent of susupicious deaths result in an autopsy. However, when a death initially appears to be due to suiceide, only 5 percent are autopsied. The lack of comprehensive use of autopsies was only bought to the public's attention after several cases of “missed murders” came to light. The 45 cases known may just be “the edge of the graveyard” as some cops have put it.
*4:Mentioned in http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20091028/1256753819