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Obituary: Narihiko Ito (1931 – 2017)

On 29 November 2017, Narihiko Ito – long-standing, active participant in the ITH Conferences and member of the ITH International Scientific Committee until 2012 – died after a long and serious illness in Tokyo at the age of 86 years. Regarding his life’s work, I point to my congratulation for his 80th birthday in the ITH Newsletter 48 (1) from January 2012 (in German).

In the last years his creativeness had unfortunately declined considerably. Nonetheless, still in 2014, he published a Japanese volume with selected contributions to the conferences of the International Rosa Luxemburg Society (IRLG) in Tokyo, Berlin, Moscow and Paris (2007, 2009, 2011, 2013) under his sole editorship. On the occasion of his 85th birthday on 26 October 2016, the International Rosa Luxemburg Society, whose founding chairman he had been, presented him with a glass plaque that he still could accept with great pleasure.

Undoubtedly, the political developments of the last years in Japan, as well as in both Koreas had contributed to the deterioration of his health. Being a peace activist of the first hour, he considered his life’s work under threat. He was a personal friend of the South Korean president and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kim-Dae Jung, who died in 2009, and whose Sunshine Policy has only been taken up again by his former associate and current president Moon Jae-In in 2017. In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in the meantime, was re-elected with an overwhelming majority in October 2017 and is about to finally convert Japan into a military power and to abolish Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution that forbids Japan to have an army. In his book Der Friedensartikel der japanischen Verfassung – Für eine Welt ohne Krieg und Militär [The Peace Article of the Japanese Constitution – for a World without War and Militarism] (Münster, Agenda Verlag 2006) Narihiko Ito vehemently took a stand in support of this legal obligation. It is to be hoped that his numerous friends and students do not drop out of the struggle for peace and international solidarity, but that they are on the contrary inspired to keep up this struggle. In the meantime, the International Rosa Luxemburg Society has reconstituted itself and will continue and honour his legacy.

Prof. em. Dr. György Széll
School of Cultural Studies and Social Sciences
Osnabrück University/Germany

Translated from German by Lukas Neissl