So it was a happy weekend for Japan, this one just gone. First up a Chinese born woman with a Japanese husband stabs two 5 yr old girls to death – she was taking them to kindergarten with her own 5 year by car, a system introduced to protect kids from strangers and, it was hoped, danger. Then in the paper today there were the headlines ‘Woman stabs son, self in apparent suicide bid’, followed by ‘Man hangs self after strangling daughter’. Oh what a happy world we live in.
I don’t know, seems like there are more and more of these kinds of things going on, indeed I think I might have written about it only a few weeks or months ago, and here I am again. What I find stranger is that, well, I know suicide is quite a big thing in Japan, not frowned upon as the coward’s way out as it is in the West, but rather more a heroic thing to do (at least it was, I mean the old connotations of suicide are more glorified than in the west – death or glory, you’ll never take me alive, seppuku, that sort of thing), but now there seems to be a definite ‘not just me but I’ll take someone with me as well, as in the two headlines from the paper.
The first case, with the mother killing the two little kids, is truly shocking as there seems to be little, so far, in the way of motive, except that the woman seemed a little upset that she had to take part in the car-pooling for the kids and that she blamed the other kids (and, I guess, mothers) for her kid not being able to fit in and make friends (which, of course, the little kid will be very able to do from now on!). But of course this sort of thing is not without precedent. A few years ago, before this blog started perhaps (or maybe not, I forget), a mother in Tokyo murdered the friend of her daughter, again about 5 years old or so, as she was jealous of the girl getting into a prestigious kindergarten (no doubt paying a wad of ‘gift’ money into the bargain as well). That one shocked the nation: ‘how could she do it?’; ‘all because of a kindergarten?’ and ‘how could jealousy drive a mother to kill a little girl?’. But I reckon there were a few, in the long dark nights, given the extremely competitive nature of schooling in this country, and especially Tokyo, who could see what drove the mind of that particular woman and, whilst never sympathise with her, could find a tiny bit of empathy for her. Or I could be completely wrong, of course.
But no, the other two in the headlines strike a different kind of chord. OK, end of tether has been reached and you just can’t go on with your life. Suicide seems to be the only option open to you and a decision is made. But this is not a spontaneous decision as not only do you plan to do away with yourself, but you decide that someone else is going to come with you. And not only that but a member of your own family as well. Maybe I don’t remember reading about this stuff in the UK, or maybe t happens all the time now I don’t live there, I don’t know, but it seems to be happening more and more in this country and, I guess this is my point, no one really seems to be that bothered about it. I mean, I would expect politicians to be up in arms about this, or at least appear to be as family groups would be putting pressure on them to do something about it. But no, not a mention. Don’t get me wrong, politicians do get up in arms about the breakdown of moral fibre in this country, but that is invariably focused on kids and teenagers who are disrespectful to their elders (i.e. the politicians, to whom everyone should be disrespectful), who talk funny, are slovenly and who are, generally, teenagers. But parents killing their kids and then committing suicide, well, that seems to be acceptable, or, at least, not something anyone can do anything about, so best keep quiet about it.
But luckily for Japan we have the Winter Olympics in Turin to take our minds off all the nasty stuff going on. What with all the gold, silver and bronze medals the boys and girls have bee raking in the ski jumping, speed skating and...sorry...ah. As of this morning’s newspaper even Team GB had more medals than Japan, with its proud heritage and great expectations – OK, GB has only a lone silver in the skeleton, whatever that is, but it is better than nothing. And Japan may well overtake us seeing as they have the women’s figure skating to come and their women’s curling team beat GB putting us, it looks, out of contention for a medal. But it is interesting to watch the events, late in the evening before going to bed, and wonder if there are any sports going on which Team Japan are not involved in – there are, of course, like ice hockey and bobsledding, but as Japan aren’t in those, NHK doesn’t care and wont show them. But hey, we’ve been here before with the summer games in Greece in ’04 so we know all about the tv coverage.
On a lighter note
In the last week the young ‘un has made great strides, literally. On Valentine’s day last week he finally decided that ok, maybe he would give this crawling lark a try and set off around the living room but in the ‘commando’ style of pulling himself along with his arms. Then on maybe Friday he thought he’d try a new stage so started doing the crab style thing on hands and toes, not moving, just getting into the position (if you don’t know, this is a precursor to standing up). Then today he managed to pull himself into a standing position all by himself (well, with the help of the sofa, but all the upwardness of thrust came from his legs, not mum or dad). And finally, this evening, he actually crawled properly for the first time, i.e. moving arms and legs at the same time.
So, well done youngster, a very productive week.