- On 20 July 1998, Dr. Yutaka Akino, our
friend and colleague, lost his life in the Republic of Tadjikistan.
- Dr. Akino was one of Japan's
distinguished specialists in Slavic Eurasian studies. Born in Otaru,
Hokkaido, in 1950, he graduated from Waseda and Hokkaido Universities
in 1974 and 1976, respectively, and obtained his Masters and Ph.D from
the Graduate School of Law at Hokkaido University in 1978 and 1983. Dr.
Akino taught as an assistant at the Faculty of Law of Hokkaido
University (1981-86), and as a lecturer and associate professor at
Tsukuba University from 1986 to March 1998.
- In April 1998, Dr. Akino was sent to
Tadjikistan by Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work as a
political affairs officer under the auspices of the UNMOT peace-keeping
operation. On July 20, while patrolling a mountainous area east of
Dushanbe, his UN vehicle was ambushed by unknown assailants and Dr.
Akino, along with the rest of his patrol team, were killed. The Slavic
Research Center (SRC) expresses its shock and outrage over this
incident and condolences to the families of the other team-members:
Major R. Szewczek, from Poland, Major A. Sherpegi, from Uruguay, and
Mr. Y. Makhramov, the team's Tadjik interpreter and driver.
- For more than two decades, since his
entry into the Faculty of Law at Hokkaido University directly after he
graduated from Waseda University, Dr. Akino played an important role in
the SRC's activities. Since 1982, a year after he started working as an
assistant at the Faculty of Law, Dr. Akino's research was officially
associated with the SRC's research activities.
- Between 1995 and 1997, when the SRC
worked on a priority research project entitled "Changes in the Slavic
Eurasian World", Dr. Akino actively participated in and contributed
greatly to the project. We still have fresh memories of how
energetically he presented his unique views based on "hot data"
obtained from his abundant field surveys, while participating in
meetings and symposia. Regrettably, Dr. Akino was unable to attend the
SRC's Summer International Symposium this year (July 23-24) since he
was working in Tadjikistan and we were devastated by the news of his
death the preceding day of the Symposium. At the Symposium's opening,
participants observed one minute of silence in honour of Dr. Akino's
- On July 25, Dr. Akino's body was brought
to his home in Sapporo and the following day a private funeral was held
in accordance with his family's wishes. Two public memorial meetings
are planned: one in Sapporo in August and one in Tokyo in September.
- The Sapporo memorial meeting is to be
held on August 6, starting at 6 p.m. at the Sapporo Park Hotel (Sapporo
Koichi Inoue, SRC