Jul 02, 2022 05:17 UTC
  • Iran mourns death of Japanese mother of Holy Defense martyr

The Japanese mother of an Iranian Holy Defense martyr passed away at a Tehran hospital on Friday after a brief spell of illness.

Koniko Yamamura, who changed her name to ‘Saba Babaei’ after converting to Islam, had been admitted to Khatam al-Anbiya Hospital in Tehran recently after complaining of respiratory issues.

She was popular in Iran as the only Japanese mother of an Iranian martyr, Mohammad Babaei, who fell during the Iraqi-imposed war in the early 1980s.

Muhammad was 18 when he took part in ‘Operation Muslim Ibn Aqeel’ launched on October 1, 1982 in the western region of Iran during the eight-year war.

After the operation, he returned and appeared at a university entrance test, earning an engineering seat for himself; his mother was quoted as saying in one of her interviews.

However, the teenager chose to go back to the frontline, taking part in the Fekeh Operation in southwestern Khuzestan province. He died after getting hit by shrapnel from a shell fired by the forces of Iraq’s former Baathist regime.

Yamamura chose the name Saba Babaei for herself after converting to Islam following her marriage to an Iranian Muslim trader in Japan at the age of 20, according to her own account.

Her memoir, compiled by noted Iranian writers Hamid Hesam and Massoud Amirkhani is titled ‘The Immigrant of the Land of Sun’, which chronicles her early life in Japan, marriage to an Iranian Muslim trader, conversion to Islam, the martyrdom of her young son and experiences in Iran.

Yamamura worked enthusiastically to promote the ideals of the Islamic Revolution and taught at several Iranian educational institutes including Refah School and the University of Tehran.

She was also associated with Iran’s ministry of culture and Islamic guidance as a translator and played an instrumental role in setting up the Japanese radio service of the IRIB World Service.

Last year, she led Iran’s Paralympics delegation at the Tokyo Olympics.

Tributes pour in for the martyr’s mother

In a message of condolence on Friday, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raeisi termed Yamamura’s death “sad and heart-rending”.

"I offer my condolences to the family of Babaei on the passing away of this faithful lady, and I pray for God's grace for the deceased and companionship with her martyred son, and patience and health for the honorable family,” he said in his message.

Dr. Peyman Jabelli, the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), also offered his condolences on her demise in a statement on Friday, hailing the deceased for her “revolutionary spirit”.

The head of IRIB’s World Service, Dr. Ahmad Noroozi, also issued a statement condoling Yamamura’s demise, saying her memory will “remain alive and cherished in our minds and hearts forever”.

He also recalled her efforts in laying the foundation of the IRIB World Service’s Japanese radio service.

Both Jabelli and Noroozi had visited her at the hospital recently and inquired about her condition.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei also sent his message of well-being to the Japanese mother when he was admitted to the hospital through Mohammad Mohammadian, the deputy head of the Leader’s office.

Hadi Tahan Nazif, the spokesperson of Iran’s Guardian Council, also paid his tributes to the deceased lady, calling her a “free woman” whose life path “changed under the influence of the Islamic Revolution and Imam Khomeini”.

The Japanese Studies department at the University of Tehran also posted a statement on Twitter expressing condolences over Yamamura’s death, calling her “one of the first and oldest Japanese language teachers” in the faculty of foreign languages and literature at the university.

Meanwhile, her death has been widely condoled in Iran and abroad, with many people whose lives she touched in some way posting messages of condolences on social media platforms.

MG

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