Obituary: Kenjiro Haitani

Kenjiro Haitani, a writer of popular children’s books famed for his “A Rabbit’s Eyes,” which became a million-seller, died Thursday of esophageal cancer at a hospital in Shizuoka Prefecture, his office said. He was 72.

A native of Kobe, Haitani studied at a night high school while working as a welder and entered state-run Osaka Gakugei University, which is now Osaka Kyoiku University.

After graduating in 1956, he worked as an elementary school teacher for 17 years in Kobe and later made many trips to Okinawa and other parts of Asia.

In 1974, he wrote his landmark “A Rabbit’s Eyes,” which depicts exchanges between a young teacher and children who do not give up hope amid harsh conditions.

He also authored “Taiyo no Ko” (“Child of the Sun”), which focuses on the Battle of Okinawa.

Haitani’s office said he died at 4:30 a.m. Thursday. According to his wishes, no funeral services will be held.