• Kyodo


Colleagues and relatives expressed grief late Saturday at the news that a pair of local junior high school teachers have been found dead in Afghanistan.

The two teachers, 44-year-old Jun Fukusho and 30-year-old Shinobu Hasegawa of Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture, had gone missing in early August after saying they would be traveling to Pakistan on holiday.

Two bodies found Friday in the desert in southern Afghanistan were identified as being those of the missing pair the following day, after dental records matched.

At the doorway of her home in Higashi-Hiroshima, Fukusho’s mother came out to face reporters at around 8 p.m. Saturday and said tearfully, “We’ve just received the news.”

She said the last time she had seen her son was in November, saying he had become a fan of backpacking around 10 years ago and often took photographs of the local children he encountered during his travels.

“I don’t have the words” to describe her feelings, she said.

Meanwhile, at Hasegawa’s home in Onomichi, her father spoke of how he tried to talk her out of the trip, saying it might be dangerous.

“But she wasn’t one who would change her mind once she’d made it up,” he said.

“We had been hoping that the two of them would return safely,” said Takuyuki Fujiwara, principal of the school where they taught, at a late-night news conference at City Hall. “I’m very saddened, and it’s a very regrettable incident.”

At the start of the news conference, Fujiwara and other municipal education officials apologized for having caused so much concern and trouble to people, including the students’ parents and the city’s residents.

According to school officials, Hasegawa had submitted a notice to the school saying she would be traveling to Pakistan a day before her departure. However, Fukusho had not handed in such a notice, and school officials only became aware that he was overseas after receiving a phone call from his family Aug. 22.

He added that the school will explain the course of events to its students Monday morning, and that staffers will do their utmost to offer psychological support to the children.

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