Last month a 40-something man, who we’ll call Taro (not his real name), was spending the first Saturday night of March in Tokyo’s Akabane Park. His quiet evening, though, was suddenly interrupted when two men, neither of whom Taro had ever seen before, approached him while one of them shouted, “What the hell do you think you’re doing to my woman?”
It was obviously a rhetorical question, but it was also an impossible one. That’s because Taro wasn’t talking to, touching, or looking at any woman at the time. He wasn’t even interacting with another human being. He was feeding a stray cat.
But before Taro’s brain had time to process the information, the two men switched topics away from feline chivalry and instead demanded “Give us your money!” and began punching him in the face. After the attackers tore away his drawstring bag, Taro ran, but when the muggers realized that the only thing inside, a shuincho (a book of blank pages on which visitors to shrines and temples stamp commemorative seals) wasn’t of any monetary value, the younger of the two thieves began chasing after him.
Luckily Taro was able to outrun his pursuer and took refuge in a nearby supermarket, from where he called the police and reported the crime. Last Thursday, officers from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s Akabane precinct arrested 21-year-old Hiroki Nakamura (seen in the video below) and his accused 19-year-old accomplice (whose name has been withheld as he was arrested one day before the age of legal adulthood was lowered from 20 to 18 in Japan).
Though Nakamura is denying involvement in the attack, the 19-year-old has admitted, “We did it because we wanted money.” In most aspects, it sounds like a pretty straightforward case… except for the “What do you think you’re doing to my woman?” reference to a cat part.
Twitter commenters, though, have a couple of theories as to what it all might mean.
“Explanation: Dude is dating a cat.”
“Maybe his girlfriend was a human woman, but she’s been reincarnated as a cat.”
“The cats’ two boyfriends have been taken into custody.”
“So the guy is a cat who got cursed and turned into a human, right?”
“Gotta watch out for those tricky cats that can transform into people.”
Barring the supernatural, there really only seem to be two possible explanations. One is that the muggers are, by whatever deluded logic, extremely possessive of one of the strays that lives in the neighborhood.
The other, and more likely scenario, is that shouting “What are you doing to my woman?” was a tactic meant to startle Taro enough to keep him from running away, and also to keep passersby from coming to his aid. Verbal and physical confrontations are both pretty rare in Japan, but it’s also a country where people don’t like to stick their noses in other people’s personal business. Creating an atmosphere of an argument between someone and the guy he thinks just disrespected his girlfriend would probably cause other people to keep their distance long enough to steal a wallet or bag without any interference.
The police say another man was recently mugged in the same park by two attackers, and are investigating the possibility that Nakamura and the 19-year-old were involved in that incident as well. The cat, meanwhile, is not believed to have been an active participant in either plot, and its romantic status remains unconfirmed.
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