Rahman M. Khondaker, a professor at Nagoya’s Nanzan University, was shocked by the July 1 massacre of diners at a restaurant in Dhaka.
The 56-year-old, who is from the Bangladeshi capital, has lived in Japan for over 30 years. He expressed grief at the slayings of seven Japanese — people from a country that has treated him so well.
“(Bangladeshis) love Japanese people. I don’t understand how this could have happened,” Khondaker said in an interview.
The attack occurred in the early morning of July 2, Japan time. He was busy that morning preparing for a lecture and only found out about it that afternoon.
He said he cannot believe such an incident could take place in a quiet city, in a district with embassies and high-end restaurants about 2 km from the residential area where he grew up.
When he was 24 and working as a lecturer at the University of Dhaka, he came to Japan as an exchange student under a program funded by the Japanese government.
He studied at Nagoya University and went on to become an associate professor at Nihon Fukushi University in Aichi Prefecture. He now teaches at Nanzan University, specializing in business administration in Asia.
“I was able to study and find a job in a university here because of the support I received from the Japanese government. I am who I am today thanks to this country,” he said.
As one of the poorest countries in the world, Bangladesh was able to improve its roads and other infrastructure with the help of the Japanese government. As a result, Bangladeshis are said to hold Japanese in high regard.
Khondaker said he cannot understand why well-educated young men from wealthy families were among the perpetrators.
“I don’t think the attackers had reason to feel any resentment toward the government or their schools. I am baffled as to why they committed such an act,” he said.
Local reports suggested that a fanatic group brainwashed the young men through Islam. It is reported that the attackers targeted foreigners in particular, including Japanese, in order to inflict the maximum damage on the rest of the world.
“Most young people are obsessed with soccer and enjoying their lives. I cannot fathom how these men could have been brainwashed,” Khondaker said.
As a Muslim, he is worried that this attack may lead to the spread of prejudice against Muslims.
“It is not the teaching of Islam to think you can go to heaven by killing people,” he said.
Khondaker counts many Bangladeshi ministers and senior government officials as among his friends.
“I hope they will take to heart the fact that they could not protect the Japanese people and make sure that such a thing does not happen again,” he said.
He expressed hope that the good relationship between the two countries will remain unchanged.
This section, appearing Tuesdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. It is appearing on Wednesday this week because Tuesday was a press holiday. The original article was published on July 9.
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