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Hitoshi Igarashi (1947-1991) July 24, 2006

Posted 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.



1. Telyas - July 25, 2006

I knew several translators of the “Satanic Verses” were attacked and murdered, but I didn’t know the attacks reached Japan.

I totally agree with you, it is a shame it received so little press.

2. Raza - April 16, 2007

i am a muslim
no matter salman and his team did a stupidity in the eyes of islam

but no one has right to kill any one
if salman did wrong so was the perosn who tried to kill another stupid

3. Mel - April 26, 2009

>i am a muslim
I’m not.

>no matter salman and his team did a stupidity in the eyes of islam
Did they? I think you didn’t read the novel but got your informations from the islamist slander in the hate-campaign against Salman Rushdie.
I think he did something really great in this novel, brilliantly in a fantasy-story putting religion in the context of migration. He hit a nerve because this undermines islamic clerics and self-appointed “community-leaders” by making clear that also Muslims are individuals and not “faith-robots” (even though their leaders would like us to think that) and have the ability and responsibility to question religious authority.

>but no one has right to kill any one
What a dark time in which we are living that you have to emphasize this.

>if salman did wrong so was the perosn who tried to kill another stupid
Murder or murder attempts or even a hateful smear-campaing is not the same as writing a novel that some people don’t like.

Hitoshi Igarashi, we know not enough about him. Are there writings of him translated into English? Is there a short biography somewhere? What was his motivation to translate the novel? Did he maybe even write a foreword to the Japanese edition of The Satanic Verses? (I would be interested in reading an English translation of this)

What was the reaction of the Japanese public to his murder? Or the Japanese authorities? Isn’t it strange that there were no clues to be found?

4. cantSayDueToTheSameReason - October 19, 2011

I’m also highly interested to know more about this Japanese author and his opinion about the book. Even in wikipeida, I could not find any more details about the even and about himself.

Bruno - January 29, 2013

You might like to view the translated version of his Japanese webpage, or, the japanese page on the murder investigation which is below. You can translate with Google Translate or use Chrome which does it automatically.


5. chubaka - February 15, 2013

Watch out, Iran ain’t gonna take it EZ! lol.

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