Critically-acclaimed and best-selling author Haruki Murakami has said he regrets how he portrayed the citizens of a small Japanese town in his latest novella, even if it was just one line. The residents of Nakatonbetsu, a town in the northernmost island of Hokkaido, have taken offense to being implied as habitual litterbugs in Murakami’s 24-page Drive my car – men without women, published last December.
Murakami said that he has liked the name Nakatonbetsu for some time now, and that he has great love for Hokkaido, which he has visited several times already. “I find it quite regrettable and unfortunate that it has caused people living there to feel unpleasant,” he said in an interview last February 7. He said he plans to change the name of the town when the story will be published as a book so that the towns people will be appeased and to also prevent “causing any more trouble.” He said his purpose for including the town name was to give a “sense of intimacy” for the prefecture. “But if I hurt people there, I’m sorry,” he added.
In the short story published in the long-running monthly magazine Bungeishunju, during one of the conversations between a middle-aged actor and his 24-year-old chaffeuse, she flips a cigarette outside the car and the actor thinks, “Probably this is something everyone in Nakatonbetsu commonly does.” The eight-man town assembly protested the portrayal and one of the members, Shuichi Takai, said that in fact, their townspeople are very conscious and pro-active about protecting the environment. In response to Murakami’s apology, one of the assembly members said they appreciated his sincerity and they hope that in one of his future novels, he would show a different image of the town and its people.
[ via The Star ]