June 18, 2008

Tokyo Rampage-- Japan Asks 'Why?'

This week, a young man rammed a truck into pedestrians on a crowded Tokyo street, then began stabbing people, killing seven and wounding ten-- the worst of a string of five random stabbings this year, in which nine have been killed and twenty-four injured-- besides these, there was also a teenager who pushed a stranger under a train, saying he just wanted to kill someone.

Soon after this latest attack, I visited an electronics store similar to those in Akihabara, Tokyo's biggest electronics shopping district-- where the attack took place-- and also a popular destination for those obsessed with video games and animated characters.

There, as I waited at the service desk to get something repaired, my wife muttered, 'It's horrible!'-- referring to a violet video game demo playing on a large screen nearby. This game, "Metal Gear Solid 4" had its Tokyo premier canceled after the attack. The company cited customer safety. Really!

This kind of entertainment reminds me of the ancient Colosseum of Rome-- where death as a spectator sport covered their consciences with unfeeling scar tissue. To me, the possible connection between these mind-numbing, heart-hardening violent video games and these attacks seems obvious, yet I've seen and heard little reference to them.

I have tried to keep track of the opinions of the many Japanese, as they are struggling to make sense of this outbreak of random violence. Most concerns that I've heard voiced echo those heard in other developed countries in recent years, yet Japanese are even more bewildered-- since they have grown up with an extremely low rate of violent crimes.

Most blame what they see as disturbing trends in society.

High on their lists are Japan's failing families and communities. People fear that the disappearing extended family has made Japan a lonelier place, with little support for troubled youth. There is often with no one to talk to, and relationships become strained.

Next, many sense that a general 'me first' attitude has become increasingly prevalent and that morality is declining. People feel they can do anything-- there are no more restraints.

Japan's sluggish economy is a big issue. In a country where nearly everyone could previously expect to be 'middle-class', companies are converting to low-paid part-time or temporary workers, creating a growing gap between rich and poor. Frustrated, those left out of of the middle-class 'norm'—are buffeted by rising prices, taxes and disappearing work and government benefits.

Finally, they mention Japan's continued obsession with exam grades. Those who can't succeed are treated as losers and their frustration builds. They begin to hate society.

Tomohiro Kato, 25, in Internet postings made before his attack, sounded like just such a person.

"I don't have a single friend and I won't in the future. I'll be ignored because I'm ugly."
A man with hope could never understand this." "I'm lower than trash... I am hopeless,"
"What I want to do: commit murder. My dream: to monopolize the tabloid TV shows...
"I will kill people... I will crash my car and when the car becomes unusable, I will use a knife.
Good-bye, everyone!"

In the northern city where he grew up, Kato was a model elementary and middle school student. However, when he entered his province's top high school, he found himself in the bottom twenty percent of his class. Apparently discouraged, his studies suffered and he became withdrawn-- even violent at home. In a few years, Kato went from studying at a top high school to living alone as a seemingly friendless temporary worker in a factory near Tokyo.

Yes, we are living in stressful times, with 'Men's hearts failing them for fear'. For some insight on the times in which we are living, please read:

The Future Foretold: Part 2 --current world violence, famines and earthquakes forecast two millennia ago with predictions of what is yet to come.

[Bible references used: 1Timothy 4:2; Ephesians 4:17; Titus 1:15; Luke 21:26]

June 14, 2008

Major Earthquake in Northern Japan

Just to let you know-- sorry we didn't write immediately-- we didn't even feel the large earthquake that hit northern Japan. Strangely, we felt a minor jolt the day before-- perhaps not too strange, since Japan gets 20% of the world's quakes.

Here's a news link: At Least 6 Dead in Major Japanese Quake