Do you ever wonder what makes nations different? Now I am not just talking about the common differences such as culture, laws or people, but specifically crime. I was up late last night surfing the web like I usually do for interesting reads and one of the websites I frequent often is JapanToday.com. JapanToday is a website that gathers news from all around Japan. I used to refer to it frequently while stationed in Japan as a correspondent in the Marines and continue to use to this day to stay on top of current events in Japan.
One thing I have always been fascinated by with Japanese news is the crime. Now anyone who watches the news or reads news articles online in the U.S. will find stories ranging from murder to rape to theft. Occasionally you read bizarre murder stories about patricide/matricide or stories about mothers killing their babies, all of which are unfathomable and could make any sensible person not want to read the news. However the crime stories I read about in Japan almost make me laugh, not because I don’t take them seriously or that they are anything to laugh about really, but I laugh about how bizarre they seem to me. I can’t really understand how people can do these things or what they would even be thinking about at the time. I will give a few examples of what I am talking about. Here are few headlines with brief excerpts from JapanToday:
Man attacks schoolgirl, cuts her hair
…TV Asahi reported that the girl told police the man, whom she did not know, called out to her from behind to wait a minute. The man grabbed her and cut about 20 cm of her ponytail before running away with the stolen locks.
72-year-old woman arrested for killing bedridden son
…Ikeda was quoted by police as saying she had become worn out from looking after her son who had been bedridden for the past three years, NTV reported.
76-year-old woman arrested after daughter’s mummified remains found in home
…According to police, Kiyoko Kikuchi left the body of her daughter Hiroko in her bedroom after she died on Oct 30. NTV reported that Kikuchi’s oldest daughter, 40 visited the home in Minato Ward on Wednesday night. When she tried to go into her sister’s room, her mother vigorously tried to stop her. The woman then contacted police.
Man arrested for breaking into woman’s hotel room, spanking her with shoehorn
…a man was arrested in Daisen City, Akita Prefecture last weekend on charges of entering the hotel room of a female acquaintance through the window before proceeding to strike her about the buttocks with a shoehorn that he found in the room.
OK, so I think it’s safe to say that these aren’t your typical crime headlines. In Japan however, these are pretty average. Now I’m not trying to make a statement about how we are normal and they are not or “look how insane Japanese people are” because lets face it if we lived in a country where space was extremely limited and we had no choice but to live with our parents well into our late 20’s because we couldn’t afford to live on our own, our headlines might read the same. I’m fascinated with Japanese culture. I believe they are extremely hard working, kind and have a rich vibrant culture, but one can’t help but wonder why these types of crimes are so common.
Take for example, the story about the guy who grabbed the girl and cut her hair. OK, what do you think he was thinking…”Mhmmm I sure do like hair, but I can’t find a place to buy it.” When I read that story I picture a Japanese version of Billy Bob Thorton’s character in SlingBlade and can’t help but laugh. The crime itself isn’t funny, that poor girl is going to be scarred for life, but come on who just cuts off a piece of someones hair and runs away?
Based on these headlines, what do you think? Are they that strange? Why do you think these crimes are so common in Japan?