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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Murder at Chuo University

中央大学 殺人

The big news last month was the murder of Hajime Takakubo, a professor at Chuo University’s School of Science and Technology. Takakubo was murdered on 14 January in a toilet near his office, stabbed 60 times in the back, chest and hands in a frenzied attack.

Chuo University's School of Science and Technology located in Tokyo's Bunkyo ward.

Both Takakubo’s grandfather and father were professors at Meiji University.

The culprit has yet to be caught, and Japan’s blogs have been buzzing since the incident as to who did it and why.

There have been similar incidents in the past. In July 1991, the translator into Japanese of Salmon Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses," Hitoshi Igarashi, age 44, was murdered at Tsukuba University – about 40 miles north-east of Tokyo - by a yet unknown assailant.

And in July 1987, Tetsuhiko Okamoto was murdered, allegedly by a fellow faculty member (“allegedly,” as his conviction was based on a confession, not in court).

Friends and acquaintances mention in connection with this incident the fact that universities in Japan are breeding grounds for intense personal dynamics, especially between professors and research students who, they point out, are often treated by supervising professors much like personal servants.

News reports portray Takakubo as a well-liked professor, which only thickens the yet-to-be-unraveled plot.


The murder was at last solved, with a 28-year-old graduate of Chuo University, RyutaYamamoto, receiving a prison sentence of 18 years for the murder, in December 2010.

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