News stories covered this week by the mainstream news media in Japan have shaken Japanese society, with many wondering where their country is heading and what has happened to the nation's youth. Most sensational among these stories is the shocking tale of a high-school boy who killed and beheaded his mother, then carried the head with him to an Internet cafe before turning himself over to the police. (It is noteworthy that this is not the first time that this type of crime has occurred in Japan.) Police reported that after admitting to the crime, the boy said: “I want terrorism and war to disappear from the world,” and explained that: “It doesn't matter who I choose to kill.”
Next up is the story of a 24-hour standoff involving a former yakuza gangster, who hid in his suburban home holding his former wife as hostage. The standoff finally ended, but not before the man killed one police officer, injured another, and also injured his own son and daughter.
Add to these two the story of the first Japanese “Akachan Post” (Baby Post, also referred to as a “Stork's Cradle”), a kind of “baby hatch” measuring 50 centimetres by 60 centimetres, opening onto a small heated compartment. Parents who, for whatever reason, cannot take care of their children can drop off their young babies in this hatch; hospital personnel are alerted when the door is opened, and immediately come to receive the baby.
The idea of introducing a “Baby Post” was sparked by the rise in cases of child abandonment in Japan. One such case, also in the spotlight this week, involved a couple whose baby died in the luggage compartment of their motorbike as they gambled their money away at a local pachinko parlour, the baby's body later found dumped in the gutter.
Although the Baby Post may help avoid horrific situations such as these, the system is not without its detractors. On its first day of operation, a man apparently misunderstood the intended age range of the “Stork's Cradle” and dropped off his 3-year-old son into the baby hatch, telling him that they were just playing hide-and-go-seek. The boy apparently could talk and was able to identify himself by name.
What do Japanese people think about all these stories? Many expressed great distress about what is happening to Japanese society. Blogger choumi summarizes the situation well in the first few lines of her entry on the topic:
to a father who abandoned his son.
The series of hideous news continues.
Another blogger dawnpurple writes:
As always, this leaves us with no answer, but where on Earth is Japan heading? Or is it this whole world?
In a post called “What is this we call life?“, blogger bar_moonCot writes:
Are human beings, after all, just “beasts in the shape of people”? No, I want to believe that I am not like that.
This is all very sad news, but it is also an opportunity to reaffirm yet again for myself what the word “life” really means.
Others, such as Prefectural Assembly Member Kanda Masakuni, related the recent events to their own lives:
In the case of Akachan Post, the father brought his child and dropped him off.
As I thought about what kind of world this is, I also had to ask myself questions about parental love.
Another question is: why was the parents’ love cast aside?
Having 3 children poses difficult challenges.
This is something that I think about every day, but there is a great variety in the way parents express their love, and there is also a great variety in the receptiveness of children who receive this love. There is no correct answer to the question of how to express one's feelings of love, but I feel that, perhaps, repeated trial and error on both sides of this relationship is connected to the deepening of love between parents and their children.
Of course these are just my thoughts, I'm sure that there are many other people with much better ways to deepen the love between parent and child.
There was another group of bloggers who took a different position, arguing that the mainstream media had sensationalized these stories at the expense of other issues, which received much less (or no) attention. Blogger mk-labo expresses this sentiment:
Other bloggers made this argument more explicitly. Blogger wayakucha argues that the sensational stories were used to cover up or ignore other more important issues, such as the passage of the new national referendum law and the protests at Henoko Bay:
There aren't, are there?
In other words, these incidents were used to hide the story of the National Referendum Law.
Actually, the Akachan Post story was already known on the 10th. So then, why was only this story so extensively covered in Japan?
Even if, tomorrow morning, news comes out that North Korea has fired a nuclear missile, I would not be surprised.
Japan's suppression of speech has advanced this far… no, actually it's been like this from the beginning.
Finally, other bloggers were more introspective. Blogger kiryuyrik's post on the topic, simply titled “Saikin…” (Recently…), expresses dismay and great sadness:
I feel like crying…
It's that kind of feeling…
But it feels like the tears will come.
It is so painful.
The accident in ExpoLand
The murder of the pregnant mother in Kobe
Matricide in Fukushima
The 3-year-old left in Akachan Post
This progression of negative stories
is not stopping.
When I watch the news, I become depressed.
It's so sad…
It is not just a social trend.
Something else is plaguing us.
I have that kind of feeling.
The mass media is taking the bait, all for nothing.
A meaningless media circus