"More terrifying than Islamic State,” says Spa! (Sept 6). What can it possibly be? “Elderly suicide terrorism.”
It’s astonishing what loneliness and despair can do to us. One hot August day, a 68-year-old man tossed Molotov cocktails from his third-floor apartment in Tokyo’s Suginami Ward into a crowd of revellers enjoying a samba carnival, injuring 15. Then the man hanged himself. He’d been heard by neighbors grumbling about samba being noisy. He was retired and lived alone. His wife had died two years before.
In June 2015, a 71-year-old man doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire on a bullet train south of Tokyo. Perhaps he dreaded dying alone and wanted company. In fact, a fellow-passenger in the same car died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Twenty-six others were sickened from smoke inhalation. The man had complained of being in dire financial straits. His pension, he said, was barely keeping him alive.
Sometimes it doesn’t go that far. From a 37-year-old Tokyo-area mother, Spa! hears of a nursery school festival canceled because a nearby elderly resident had called the school to say, “I don’t know what I’ll do if the festival proceeds.” He, too, it seems, didn’t like noise. No responsible person would put children’s lives at risk in the face of such a threat and yet, said the mother, weren’t they in effect – unavoidably perhaps but still unfortunately – giving in to terrorism?
A 43-year-old man living in Saitama tells of an incident in which a number of bicycle tires were slashed in the parking lot of his apartment building. Security camera footage exposed the culprit – a man in his 70s, living alone. When arrested, he explained he’d been angry because everyone except him had been invited to a neighborhood meeting. Actually, no one had been invited. Posters advertising the event for all, however, were plainly visible. “The man seems to have had a persecution complex,” said the resident who told the story. It’s as good an explanation as any.
In Umizu, Gifu Prefecture in June, a 68-year-old man rammed a group of school children with his car, injuring eight, though not seriously. His arrest shortly afterwards interrupted his attempted suicide.
In Nagaokakyo, Kyoto Prefecture in June, a man, also 68, threatened a group of high school girls outside his home with a grass cutter. Their noisy chatter had roused him to fury. He also arrested.
In Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture in February 2015, a 73-year-old man furious over taxes deducted from his pension went to city hall armed with an ice pick, slapping a woman and injuring a man who worked there.
And so on and so on. Spa! sketches one incident after another, the inference being that old age is simply too much for some and a potential threat to the population at large. Police, preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, are busy preparing defenses against international terrorism. Maybe, the magazine suggests, they should focus as well on this spreading domestic variety.© Japan Today