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Engineer Who Inspected Plane Before Crash Commits Suicide

March 19, 1987

TOKYO (AP) _ One of the inspection engineers who issued a certificate of airworthiness for a Japan Air Lines plane that crashed in August 1985, killing 520 people, has committed suicide, police said Wednesday.

Susumu Tajima, 57, killed himself by swallowing a weedkiller solution Tuesday after leaving a note in which he thanked his wife and apologized for his suicide, said a police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official did not give a motive for the suicide, but said it was related to ″work problems.″ Tajima had been undergoing questioning by police since March 10 regarding the plane crash, the official added.

Tajima did not mention the crash in his note, the official said.

A Transport Ministry official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tajima was one of three inspection engineers who gave the Boeing 747 jumbo jet a clean bill of health after repairs for a 1978 accident in which the plane scraped its tail on a runway while landing at Osaka Airport.

All but four of the 524 people aboard the plane were killed when it slammed into a mountain ridge northwest of Tokyo on Aug. 12, 1985, after losing much of its vertical tail fin and all hydraulic controls on a flight from Tokyo to Osaka.

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