Natural Born Japanese Killers Essay

1096 words - 5 pages

Natural Born Japanese Killers

Americans and Japanese are both fond of pointing out the difference in crime rates. To many Japanese, America is seen as an outlaw nation, bristling with guns. And for many Americans, the juxtaposition of Japan's often ultra-violent entertainment with their low crime rate is fascinating. Japanese pop culture and crime statistics are often cited to defend American entertainment when it is accused of inspiring violence. But for anyone paying attention, startling crimes have a way of popping up in Japan unexpectedly. There were the "Otaku Murders" of 1988 and 1989, where Tsutomo Miyazaki kidnapped and killed four girls of around five years of age, reenacting ...view middle of the document...

There have been more crimes, including knivings in people's homes, baseball bat bludgeonings and matricide, budgeonings with hammers, and, just two weeks ago, a 15-year-old boy on Kyushu crept into a house during the night and attacked a family. All six family members were attacked, and three died.

Incidents such as these have been reported in many newspapers and online news sites, but I take the examples above from two articles on the subject. Tim Larimer, a correspondent for Time wrote "Natural-Born Killers?" Yuji Oniki, who writes for Pulp, a magazine devoted to manga and Japanese popular culture, covered the events in his column, "Nocturnal Emissions: Strange Crimes of Japan." Larimer and Oniki differ in their takes on the matter, but both cite some of the same reasons for the homicides.

Larimer covers the situation from a decidedly Western point of view, comparing the crimes with the recent wave of US school shootings. He claims that Japan's crime rates are the highest they've been in 32 years, and that violent crime among juveniles has increased 15% in the first six months of 2000. His article has a ring to it that sounds like, "See, America, we aren't so bad!" He attributes the problem to hikikomori, teenagers who withdraw from school, friends, and family. Larimer doesn't go so far as to suggest that American teen shooters such as Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, the infamous Columbine students, were hikikomori, but the implication is there. When it comes down to it, according to Larimer's line of thought, there are just some kids who go bad. Larimer interviews hikikomori, Japanese teens seeking to remedy their reclusive problem, and their psychiatrists to bolster his view.

Oniki, on the other hand, insists that the recent rash of teen crime is not so unusual, and he denies claims that youth crime in Japan is escalating. He does admit, however, that these crimes are uniquely disturbing, and that has captured the attention of the media and public. Oniki sees these crimes, and the growing number of hikikomori, as evidence of serious flaws in the Japanese educational system. While in the past studying for school entrance exams was called "exam hell," now...

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