Murakami apologizes to Hokkaido town hurt by litterbug depiction

Kyodo

Renowned novelist Haruki Murakami has apologized for hurting the feelings of a Hokkaido town that appears in a story he wrote for a monthly magazine and said he might call the town by a different name when the tale is published in book form.

In a short story titled “Drive My Car” in the December issue of Bungeishunju magazine, the main character sees a female driver from Nakatonbetsu, Hokkaido, throw a burning cigarette out of her car. He then notes that everyone in the town does the same thing on a routine basis.

“I’m thinking about changing it (Nakatonbetsu) to a different name when the story comes out in book form so that I won’t cause any more trouble,” Murakami said in a statement Friday.

“I wrote the story with a sense of intimacy (for Hokkaido),” Murakami said, adding that he used Nakatonbetsu because he has always liked the name. “But if I hurt people there, I’m sorry.”

Later Friday, one of the six Nakatonbetsu assembly members who sent an open letter to the magazine’s publisher said he admired Murakami’s sincerity and expressed hope the novelist would depict the town in a different way in the future.