Shinichi Nishimiya, the newly appointed Japanese Ambassador to China, died on Sunday morning after collapsing in the street on Thursday and being hospitalized. Government officials have confirmed Nishimiya’s death, and just as doctors couldn’t immediately determine the cause for his collapse, representatives for the hospital say they do not yet understand why he passed away so abruptly. The diplomat had only been appointed to his new position two days before being hospitalized.
The 60 year old Nishimiya, who has spent his entire career serving as a diplomat, collapsed in the street near his home in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward on Thursday morning and was found by someone walking by. He was rushed to the hospital by ambulance and admitted, however he remained unconscious throughout the day. Those with the Japanese Foreign Ministry told reporters that they were unaware of any health problems, and had not heard of any accidents or altercations Nishimiya may have been involved in. Police are believed to have ruled out foul play in his death at this point.
Nishimiya was to be replacing Uichiro Niwa as Japan’s Ambassador to China; as Japan-China tensions are the worst they’ve been in the last 30 years, it was hoped that Nishimiya could make some new progress in salvaging bilateral relations. As a career diplomat, the new ambassador appointee had served at a number of Japanese consulates over the years, including in Beijing from 2005 to 2006. The Japanese government says it may now take as long as two months to find a new replacement.