Japan police arrest suicide site owner for murder

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TOKYO, Oct 11 (Reuters) Japanese police have arrested a man who ran a suicide Web site on suspicion of murdering a woman who had asked him to kill her, a police official said today.

A rising number of suicide Web sites have cropped up in recent years in Japan, where the suicide rate is one of the highest among industrialised countries. Experts say the sites attract those who are afraid to die alone.

Police in Kanagawa Prefecture just west of Tokyo have arrested Kazunari Saito, a 33-year-old electrician, for giving Sayaka Nishizawa, 21, sleeping pills and then suffocating her to death, a police official said.

Media reports said Nishizawa had contacted Saito thorough his Web site and had paid him 200,000 yen (1,700 dollar) asking him to help her take her own life.

Saito told police that Nishizawa had asked him to ''see through'' that she had killed herself, media reports said.

In addition to giving tips on how to commit suicide, Saito, who had debts of around 2 million yen, also offered to carry out ''revenge'' and sold illicit drugs through his Web site, media said.

A memo hinting at suicide was discovered in Nishizawa's apartment where her body was found, but the motive for taking her own life was not clear, the reports said.

No religious prohibition exists against taking one's own life in Japan, where suicide was once a way to escape failure or save loved ones from embarrassment or financial loss.

Over 30,000 people took their own lives in 2006, for the ninth straight year, according to police data.

Reuters AE GC1507

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