HEARTBROKEN Nakata Take-hito stood outside Wat Unaloame in Phnom Penh watching
the smoke rising from the cremated remains of his son's body.
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
The Atsuhito Nakata Memorial Fund finances a team of five
Japanese doctors working in Phnom Penh and also supports local and international
The fund also helps the families of international
volunteers who may lose their lives while working in Cambodia.
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.
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?
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.