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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Japan dad returns as UNV envoy

Japan dad returns as UNV envoy

HEARTBROKEN Nakata Take-hito stood outside Wat Unaloame in Phnom Penh watching

the smoke rising from the cremated remains of his son's body.

Three days

earlier his son Nakata Atsuhito, a 25-year-old Japanese United Nations

Volunteer, was gunned down while working for the Electoral Component of Untac by

unknown assailants in the Kampong Thom Province on April 8


Atsuhito's father returned to Cambodia this month, not to mourn the

first anniversary of the death of his son, but to fulfill his duties as an

Honorary Ambassador for the UNV Program.

Takehito told the Post: "One of

the things that really bothered Atsuhito was people who idly chatter about

events from a safe distance. Ultimately I was such a person.

"It was not

that I did not do the impossible, but that I failed to do the possible.

Atsuhito's death led me to this realization."

Takehito said his son

always used to say there were some things in this world that had to be done, and

he wanted to be the one to do them. "I now follow his example."

Following his son's death, Takehito decided to devote himself full-time

to the promotion of volunteer efforts worldwide.

He set up a memorial

fund in his son's name to finance a number of charitable projects in Cambodia in

May 1993.

The Atsuhito Nakata Memorial Fund finances a team of five

Japanese doctors working in Phnom Penh and also supports local and international

volunteer workers.

The fund also helps the families of international

volunteers who may lose their lives while working in Cambodia.

In Japan

the murder of Atsuhito created much public controversy. Japan's defense force

involvement in Untac was the country's first ever role in international


The Nakata family reaction to the death strongly influenced

the Japanese government to remain resolved to cooperate with Untac and UNV.

Takehito was appointed an Honorary Ambassador of the UNV in June 1993

because of his deep commitment to the aims of the volunteer service in the

causes of development cooperation, humanitarian relief, and the free expression

of human rights, and also in honor of his son's death.

On May 9th the

Nakata family will return to Cambodia for an audience with His Majesty King

Sihanouk, who wishes to express his thanks to the family.

Takehito said

that when Atsuhito was killed his mother wanted the body returned to Japan. "I

convinced her otherwise."

"While bringing Atsuhito back to Japan would

have satisfied our emotional needs, it would have run counter to his own wish,

expressed to us in an earlier letter, that in some small way he wanted to

contribute to the postwar recovery of Cambodia.

"How would Cambodians

feel when they heard how much money such arrangements cost?

"When I

thought of how much just one or two dollars means to the average Cambodian and

the huge amount of money it would take to bring Atsuhito's body back, it seemed

only right to suppress our feelings."

Atsuhito was cremated in Phnom Penh

and his family took the ashes back with them to Osaka.



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