• Kyodo


The statute of limitations on the 1991 murder of a Japanese academic who translated Salman Rushdie’s controversial novel “The Satanic Verses” is due to expire in 12 months, with the case as yet unsolved.

The Ibaraki Prefectural Police still maintains a special task force investigating the death of Tsukuba University assistant professor Hitoshi Igarashi, but it has uncovered no information that could help solve the case, investigative sources said.

Most of the officers who have worked on the case since the launch of the task force have been transferred to other sections, the sources said.

Igarashi’s widow, Masako, 57, an assistant professor at Teikyo Heisei University in Chiba Prefecture, will organize an event with her supporters in Tokyo on July 20 in memory of Igarashi.

“My husband will not come back even if the case is resolved,” she said. “It is hard to recall (the incident), but I will do what I can so that this case will not be forgotten.”

Igarashi, 44, was found stabbed to death on the morning of July 12, 1991, near his office on the Tsukuba campus in Ibaraki Prefecture. Police suspect the attack took place the night before.

A similar attack on an Italian translator of Rushdie’s novel took place several days earlier.

Rushdie, an Indian-born British author, was condemned to death by the Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini shortly after the book was published in 1989. Fundamentalist Islamic leaders claimed the novel insulted their religion.

The Japanese translation was published in 1990.

Several days after Igarashi’s murder, an anti-Tehran Islamic group issued a statement claiming the Iranian government had dispatched an assassination squad to kill Igarashi. The Iranian Embassy in Japan strongly disputed the allegation.

A 49-year-old officer in the Tsukuba police, who worked on the case 14 years ago, said recently, “It is impossible to verify (the allegation), and we have no evidence to confirm that the case was (an act of) terrorism.”

Igarashi was stabbed in the abdomen and his neck was slashed.

The police found only footprints and stains of type O blood, which they believe belonged to the attacker.

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