I shared the tragic news with you last week about the death of a 20 year old Japanese student in Romania. Yurika Masuno, a sophmore from a university in Tokyo, was sent to Romania as part of a student internship to teach Japanese at a school. Sadly she was raped and murdered only a few hours after her arrival at the airport in Bucharest. There has been much talk about the arrested suspect, 26 year old Vlad Nicolae, and his racial background as a “gypsy,” but there hasn’t been much light shown on the organization that has a fair amount of responsibility to bear: the internship NPO, AIESEC Japan.
The full details of what happened to Yurika Masuno can be found here, but I will quickly recap. The 20 year old’s flight arrived in Bucharest at night, and she was to travel by taxi to the local train station where she would have made the several hour trip to Craiova, the Romanian city where she was to teach. There was no one from the school or internship organization to meet her, she was to travel alone.
A young man approached her outside the airport, and speaking in English, offered to escort her to the train station by taxi. She didn’t realize it, but Vlad Nicolae told the driver to go in the opposite direction, and then had the car stop next to a forest a few kilometers away. There in the woods, not far from the road, Masuno was raped and then strangled. Nicolae covered and left her body, and stole her personal belongings.
Now, thankfully, Nicolae has been arrested and police have already connected the monster to attacking and raping several other women. Police found airport security footage of him and Masuno together. Upon searching his house, they found several of Masuno’s things, such as her cell phone, so it’s safe to assume he will be convicted of his crime. And that’s certainly how it should be; Nicolae is the one responsible for committing a horrible act against that young woman, and then taking her life. But what about those who put her in the situation where what happened was a possibility?
Some people have pointed out that the Romanian police should have been doing a better job patrolling and protecting the Bucharest Airport. Even I pointed out the naiveté of this girl accepting an offer from a stranger at an airport, especially in a country that she’s never been to before. But what’s making me more and more angry is how AIESEC Japan set up her arrangements, and are now avoiding any reaction to what happened.
There were a few people who commented on my original post of Masuno’s death in Romania, and said that the girl must have missed someone who was there to pick her up. That is not what happened. I want to reiterate, this was not a case of a missed chance, there was no one from the internship organization or the school there to meet Masuno at the airport. She was to arrive, get to the train station, and make the trip to her destination, all alone. We also had numerous Romanians comment to us that even those that live in the country know that Bucharest is not a safe place to be alone after dark, even more so as a woman. Some said that it’s common knowledge the airport is in fairly dangerous area for foreigners to come to at night, and couldn’t imagine letting a young student arrive without someone to escort them.
Yet that is exactly what AIESEC Japan arranged for Masuno. I want to know what they hell they were thinking. So, I reached out to them. I tried to contact AIESEC Japan, but was simply told there was nothing they could say about what happened. This in itself seems to speak louder than any comment they could offer. The global youth organization of AIESEC is said to have programs in 110 different countries, and the Japanese division sent 441 students overseas in 2011. I find it very hard to believe that they wouldn’t know about what kind of cultures or situations they would be sending their interns into. They gave her a plane ticket that would arrive after dark, then had her take a three-hour train ride in the middle of the night, and they could have at least warned her about the dangers she might encounter.
It’s a terribly sad thing that happened to Yurika Masuno, and AIESEC Japan should, no, needs to at least acknowledge that fact. Then they need to take steps to make sure that something like this never happens again to an intern they are sending overseas.