Yesterday marked 3 years since my brother-in-law, Hitoshi Ikezaki, decided to take his own life.
If you knew him, you'd know that he was not the sort of person who would consider doing such a thing. Everything I write about him comes out as a cliché. I love him and I miss him. He was a good man. Not everyone really is good, but Hitoshi was.
Here is what happens with a suicide. The people left behind spend an abnormal amount of time trying to figure out that most dangerous of all questions; WHY?
There is a lot I don't know, and I've speculated about a whole lot of other things these past 3 years since the phone call came in.
What I do know is that he was a man of honour and professionalism. He was depressed for about a year, and I do think I know the reason.
Hitoshi worked for a well known Vancouver clothing company and was to head the Tokyo division. If you live in North America, you will know this company, its logo and its corporate image. I remember that he was excited about this. I also remember that he and my sister-in-law were required to attend a weekend session of Landmark Education. That weekend did not go well.
I have not attended a Landmark Education forum. All my research indicates it is something that would make me very angry. They do seem like a very litigious group not very accepting of criticism. It's the sort of thing I steer clear of. It did have an impact on my sister-in-law and Hitoshi.
What happened when Hitoshi was in Tokyo is confusing to me still. The company in question asked him to go against his principles of leadership, honour and his ethics.
He and I had spoken a year or two earlier about leadership. I had been in a position of authority a few times. I was well trained and then further mentored by the right people. The most important message I got was take care of those in your charge. Make sure they are safe, as comfortable as possible and as happy as you can keep them. Hitoshi treated his people with that in mind.
He was told that he would have to lie to his people and ultimately they would likely see it as betrayal. It was not really in him to do this. It is certainly against the spirit of the public image of this company. They made him lie, and Hitoshi wasn't comfortable with lying.
That ought to be a good quality. But apparently in the business world, even if the pseudo-yoga new age beliefs are printed all over the company's shopping bags, if this quality of honesty gets in the way of money, it is abandoned without a thought.
Hitoshi Ikezaki made a choice that I will never understand completely. He was a good man.
Though I can't blame the company for his death, I believe their corporate behaviour led to a situation where good people were abandoned for the love of money and ego. One of those good people was my brother-in-law.
I miss you Hitoshi.