Hitoshi Igarashi (1947-1991) July 24, 2006Posted by fukumimi in crime, History, Japan.
The 15 year statue of limitations expired earlier this month, in the unresolved murder case of Hitoshi Igarashi, an assistant professor of comparative culture and specialising in Islamic studies at Tsukuba University.
It is highly likely that he was murdered because he had translated Salman Rushdie’s controversial “Satanic Verses”. Only a week earlier, the Italian translator of the book was also attacked and stabbed, although he escaped with his life.
The murder is all the more tragic because Igarashi’s stated position on the issue was a conciliatory one, trying to bridge the gap between the Islamists’ position and the one espoused by Rushdie. He felt that by translating the piece and making it more accessible to Japanese readers, more people would have a chance to judge for themselves.
The police are continuing their investigations, as the statute of limitations is suspended for any period that the assailant is outside Japanese jurisdiction. Rumours persist that an Iranian securities force backed hit squad was flown in specifically for this attack, and if this were the case the assailants probably fled the country quickly, and may still be brought to justice.
I thought it was a shame that this issue, relating to freedom of speech which is such a fundamental cornerstone of western beliefs of personal freedom, have received such little press. Not even a statement from Rushdie to mark the 15 year anniversary.
We must not forget.