Reporter’s family angry killer still free

Kyodo

Relatives of an Asahi Shimbun reporter who was murdered on May 3, 1987, have expressed frustration that the case, on which the statute of limitations expires next month, remains unsolved.

Yuko Kojiri, 42, the wife of 29-year-old Tomohiro, who was based at the daily’s Hanshin Bureau in Hyogo Prefecture, said in a statement released Friday by the Asahi Shimbun that she still has a great deal of unresolved anger over her husband’s death, made worse because his killer remains at large.

“I feel pain and am at a loss for words just thinking about the criminal. I want to know the truth behind why my husband was killed,” she said, adding that there is no statue of limitations on the anguish for her and her family.

Their daughter, Miki, who is now 17, was quoted in the statement as saying she wished she had been able to talk with her father about the books he liked, or seen him blush when she gave him presents on special occasions. Miki was 2 when her father was murdered.

Hyoe Inukai, 57, another Asahi reporter who was seriously injured in the incident, reflected bitterly on the past 15 years, saying he wished he could ask the murderer why his colleague had to be killed.

“Even if the statute of limitations on the case expires on May 3, I will continue to track the criminal down,” Inukai reportedly said.

The crime was allegedly committed by a member of a nationalist group, who shot and killed Kojiri and seriously injured Inukai in the paper’s bureau in Nishinomiya.

Police said they plan to extend the investigation until at least March next year, when the statute of limitations expires on another attack involving the newspaper’s Shizuoka Bureau, in which a time bomb was placed in the bureau’s parking lot, in March 1988.

Hyogo Prefectural Police investigators believe a rightist group, reportedly angry at the newspaper because of its editorials, was responsible for the shooting, but have not identified any suspects or made any arrests in the case.

A group calling itself Sekihotai claimed responsibility for the shooting at the Hanshin Bureau. Apparently an ultranationalist organization, it said the newspaper is “anti-Japanese” and vowed to “execute all Asahi Shimbun employees.”

The killing was widely seen as a terrorist act aimed at suppressing freedom of speech. The Asahi Shimbun’s publisher was also targeted, apparently by the same group, in other attacks, including a shooting at the dormitory of the paper’s Nagoya Bureau in September 1987. No one was hurt in that incident.

The Asahi Shimbun, widely viewed as a liberal daily, has been the target of sporadic rightist terrorist attacks.