The legacy of U.N. peacekeeper Yutaka Akino continues five years after he was shot dead in Tajikistan.

A fund in his name now helps Japanese youth research and conduct activities to promote peace.

“Akino was a rare expert in Japan on the settlement of (international) disputes. We want to help more people become like him,” said Takayuki Ito, an executive of the Akino Yutaka Eurasia Fund.

An associate professor at Tsukuba University who researched regional affairs in Central Asia and Russia, Akino, 48, was killed by rebels July 20, 1998, while serving as a member of the U.N. Mission of Observers.

With the fund’s help, soccer fan Taro Morita, 26, set up a nongovernmental organization in Bosnia in 2000 to sponsor soccer games involving kids of various ethnic groups.

Morita said he learned through his NGO activities that even people who once hated each other could put aside their differences through sports.

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