A group of Japanese citizens were walking through Paris’s residential 17th district on Feb 10 when an acid attack happened. A trio of hooded individuals approached the group, and one of the hooded individuals brandished a bottle, spraying its contents toward the Japanese. The three then promptly fled the scene.
Though two of the Japanese were not physically harmed, one sustained burn injuries to the hands and was immediately rushed to a local doctor for treatment. There is currently no information on the assailants, and lack of camera footage has impeded the determination of a potential suspect.
Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has since posted a notice on their Overseas Safety website and emailed Japanese nationals currently residing in France about the incident, providing details and warning individuals to be cautious of their surroundings.
As the victim has decided not to file a complaint, and in France a police investigation cannot begin until a formal complaint has been filed, it is uncertain whether or not more details about the acid attack will come to light.
While the situation renders factors such as the perpetrator’s motive unknown, it is still important to take a step back and acknowledge this incident within an international context.
According to nonprofit organization Human Rights Watch, crimes against individuals of Asian and Pacific Islander descent have increased in countries with a large Asian and Pacific Islander diaspora population.
For example, in the United States, the collective Stop AAPI Hate has recorded more than 2,800 incidents which happened in 2020 alone. Though each case has its own particular circumstances, many of these reported attacks have been spurred by COVID-19-related fear, the perpetrators maliciously associating individuals of Asian and Pacific Islander descent with COVID-19.
On a more positive note, netizens have come together on social media platforms to deliver messages of support for the Japanese citizen injured in the acid attack, and for France’s Japanese community:
"Even though the victim decided not to press charges, we need to emphasize that this isn’t some small issue!"
"Everyone please stay safe."
"Praying for a speedy recovery."
"Share and spread the word so more Japanese news sites pick up on it! This is really important to talk about."
"Especially in these unprecedented, strange times we inhabit now, solidarity and acts of compassion are more important than ever."
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