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Monday, March 2, 1998

Parents cope with slaying of Japanese-Brazilian son


Staff writer

KOMAKI, Aichi Pref. -- Memories of Herculano Reiko Lukosevicius are everywhere throughout the house.

Photographs of the 14-year-old Japanese-Brazilian boy cover the walls. His possessions -- from stuffed animals to a Tamagotchi key chain with a sticker of a female school friend inside -- are placed in the corner of a room.

His mother, Mirian Reiko Higa Lukosevicius, 35, plays his favorite song "Tears," by the heavy metal band X Japan. "With love to Herculano. From Mama. I love you," she wrote on the cover of the CD when she gave it to him.

Herculano died last October, allegedly as a result of a random attack on Brazilians by Japanese youths in the area. The boy came to Japan in July 1995 to join his parents, who had started working here in 1991. At the time of the attack, he was preparing to go back to Brazil, taking correspondence courses at home, his parents said. "He was such a nice kid," his mother said, staring at a framed photograph of her son, touching it as if she could really feel him. "He got along with everybody."

His father, Mario, 36, who worked at a plastic container-manufacturing company before the slaying, questions how such a violent incident could take place in a wealthy country like Japan. "They (the alleged attackers) had places to live, money, jobs, everything," Mario said. "Why did such an incident have to take place?"

Herculano himself did not know why when about 20 Japanese boys came running after him in a local park on the night of Oct. 6. He was chatting with friends in the park in front of Komaki Station on the Meitetsu Line when the group approached.

According to police, a Brazilian group of youths, whom Herculano had no association with, and the Japanese boys, aged 18 to 20, had been fighting. The Japanese boys, who included former "bosozoku" motorcycle gang members, were out to get any Brazilian for revenge, police said. It is alleged that they randomly assaulted more than 10 Brazilian youths who were at the park.

Herculano became the target of further violence only because he was tall and stood out, his parents said. While his friends managed to escape, Herculano was captured by the Japanese boys and taken by car to another park, where he was kicked, beaten and stabbed.

His father received a phone call from him that night, after he was taken to the second park. "He asked me to help him, although he didn't know exactly where he was," Mario said. "Soon I heard the sound of the boys beating him up."

By the time they traced him to a Komaki hospital, he was bruised, swollen and bloody. He died three days later.

His parents live in grief and outrage. Four 19-year-olds and an 18-year-old have been indicted for the deadly assault on Herculano.

The killing horrified Komaki's Brazilian community, which numbers about 2,700, said Mami Yasunaga, a local correspondent for the Brazilian weekly newspaper Jornal Tudo Bem. Soon after the attack, Brazilian employment agencies began distributing flyers, urging Brazilians to stay away from the streets and go straight home after work, Yasunaga says. Customers have been staying away from local Brazilian restaurants, and nobody hangs out at Melody Park in front of Komaki Station any more.

Herculano's 8-year-old brother, Heitor, was sent back to Brazil in November. But his parents decided to stay here to see the trials through and to spread their message that life must be respected and that Herculano's tragedy should never be repeated. The couple plans to embark on a nationwide campaign to eradicate violence. Except on days when trial hearings are held, the two will drive their van to various cities to deliver their message against violence, they said.

So far, the Lukosevicius have toured several places in Nagoya and Osaka. Although they welcome the help of volunteers and donations to support their activities, the purpose of the campaign is not to collect money, Mario stresses.

"Young Japanese people have forgotten the importance of life, which is truly shameful," he said. "This is not a campaign for me. This is a campaign for the Japanese people."

For more information on the activities of the Lukosevicius, call Mario at (0568) 76-6954.


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