Celebrated novelist Haruki Murakami said he didn't work out the plot or characters for his latest book, “Kishidancho Goroshi” (Killing Commendatore), first, but started with the title.

“Each time I listened to the opera, I was wondering what the commendatore was,” he said in a recent interview in Tokyo with The Asahi Shimbun and other media, referring to a character in Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni.”

“I tend to be intrigued by the peculiarity of the feel of the word. I gradually grew curious of how a story would play out if there is a novel about killing a commendatore.”

The new book, which was published by Shinchosha Publishing Co. in February, sets itself apart from his previous works in many respects.

For example, the book, a two-volume series, concludes with the birth of a child, named “Muro.”

“I have not written about a family before,” he said. “But in my recent novel, the function of sort of a family is set in motion (with the child’s birth).”

Murakami’s works are said to describe what has been lost or has disappeared. But the new book gives the feeling of putting one step forward.

“It may have something to do with the fact that I am getting old, but I have a desire for people to get the things that will be passed down,” he said. “I cannot articulate what those are myself, though.”

The novel is set to recall what had transpired over a nine-month period before the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

He said when he was still working on his latest book in the autumn of 2015, he traveled to Fukushima Prefecture to attend a literary event and drove along the coast of the disaster-hit Tohoku region by himself.

“Characters in this novel were wounded in various ways,” he said. “That overlaps with the damage done to Japan as a nation in one way or another. There is not much a novelist can do about it, but I wanted to do what I can do.”

War, leaving deep wounds in people, too, carries a significant meaning.

Acts of violence that occurred in the West and East almost simultaneously--the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany and the Nanking Massacre by the Imperial Japanese Army--become gradually connected to an aged artist who painted a mysterious picture.

“History is a collective memory, so it is wrong to forget about it as a thing of the past or rewrite it," Murakami said. "I believe all of us will have to inherit our history responsibly."

When Murakami won the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award last year, he warned in his address at the award ceremony in Denmark: “No matter how high a wall we build to keep intruders out, no matter how strictly we exclude outsiders, no matter how much we rewrite history to suit us, we just end up damaging and hurting ourselves.”

He said he has “strong fears” about a way of thinking emerging in many societies that the world would be better off by excluding outsiders and others who do not fit in.

“A tide is gathering strength that anything of a dark side of society should be eliminated,” he said. “But I do not want to voice it as a political statement. I would rather speak about it in the form of a story I write.”

Murakami said a long novel is worlds apart from so-called social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

“In today’s society, people consume only short messages,” he said. “What is important for me is to write something readers cannot put down once they get started.

“I believe that a story will ultimately empower readers as time passes, although it does not have an immediate effect,” he said. “I am hoping that I will be able to empower, if I can.”