Thursday, September 29, 2011

Solo Japanese Tourist, 31, Killed by Rapist at Bagan

This tragic story closely resembles my August 24 posting ("Update: Suspect in Frenchwoman's Murder Charged"), which concerned a French tourist who was murdered on a remote island in Malaysia presumably because she resisted being raped.

Chiharu Shiramatsu, 31, a young Japanese tourist who was traveling alone, was killed on Wednesday (September28) near Kyaukpadaung, close to the ancient temple city of Bagan (previously known as Pagan), after hiring a motorcycle taxi to go sightseeing.

According to local police, Shiramatsu was
killed by a motorcycle taxi driver who tried to rape her. Min Theik, the 39-year-old motorcycle taxi driver, was arrested at the scene. Violent crime involving foreign tourists is relatively rare in military-dominated Myanmar, yet even one isolated violent crime can be irreversible.

COMMENT: I visited Bagan during the 1980s when few tourists had even heard about it. Located 320 miles (514 kilometers from Yangoon), this is probably one of the "must see" ancient sites in the world, which rivals Angor Wat in significance. The endless view of pagodas can be seen as far as the eye can see. It is located on the Ayeryarwady River and is roughly 90 miles from Mandalay. Definitely worth the effort of getting there.

Nevertheless, Bagan is also one of the most isolated tourist sites in the world; getting there is not easy. There are many similarities in this case to the attempted rape/murder of Frenchwoman Stephanie Moray, 30, who was killed on Pulau Tioman in May.

As I have previously pointed out in many of my postings which involve personal threats, I don't suggest solo travelers visiting out-of-the-way, isolate places unless they have been competently trained to successfully repel a physical attack.

I should also note that pedicabs, "samlors," "tuk-tuks," and similar two-and-three wheeled motorized transport is the least desirable way for a person traveling along to see the sites, particularly considering that many of these drivers are of questionable character.

Shiramatsu could easily have conferred with the Japanese Embassy in Yangoon to obtain a list of reputable transport services or tour operators providing services to Bagan who could have set up safe transportation for her (, preventing the loss of this precious life.

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