National

FIVE UNSOLVED INCIDENTS

Statute on Asahi attacks running out

Kyodo

Asahi Shimbun-related sites were targeted in five attacks beginning in January 1987, the most serious of which was the fatal shooting of a 29-year-old reporter at the daily’s Hanshin branch in the city of Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture.

On Tuesday, the 15-year statute of limitations runs out on the final incident — the attempted bombing of the paper’s Shizuoka branch on March 11, 1988.

A time bomb had been planted in a parking lot adjacent to the branch. It failed to go off and was discovered the next morning.

No arrests were made in connection with the five attacks, which police suspect were carried out by the same party.

The other four incidents were shots being fired into the newspaper’s main office in Tokyo on Jan. 24, 1987; the shotgun slaying of the Hanshin branch reporter on May 3, 1987; the firing of a shotgun at an Asahi Shimbun employee’s dorm in Nagoya on Sept. 24, 1987; and shots fired at the home of a former chairman of Recruit Co. on Aug. 10, 1988.

The parents of the slain reporter, Tomohiro Kojiri, said Tuesday they “hope that even if the statute of limitations runs out, the world will not forget these events, and the fact that there was a reporter called Tomohiro Kojiri.”

Kojiri’s 75-year-old father, Nobukatsu, said that for the past 16 years he has found no means of venting his anger and has kept asking himself why the Hanshin branch was attacked.

“I want the culprits to stop hiding and show themselves, and explain why they took such action,” he said at his home in Kawajiri, Hiroshima Prefecture.

In the immediate wake of the Hanshin shooting, in which another reporter was wounded, a note claiming responsibility was sent to media organizations, signed “Sekihotai.”

The term suggests the involvement of a group, but investigators have never been able to determine whether this was the case.

The incidents were, nevertheless, viewed as an attempt to muzzle the media.

Earlier this week, the Asahi allowed media organizations to visit its Hanshin branch, which carries a photograph of the late reporter, as well as a framed panel with the words, “Let’s chat again tomorrow, just like the wind whistles against the mourning banners.”

The sofa that Kojiri and the other reporter were sitting on when the attack occurred is kept in storage on the fourth floor of the building, the bloodstains having largely faded. Part of its back rest, which was hit by shotgun pellets, was removed by police during the investigation.