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Solitary seniors who seek soul mates descend into stalking

24 Comments

"Say, don't you want to have a man in your life?"

The 86-year-old woman, seated on a bench outside a rail station in Chiba Prefecture, reacted in disbelief. She'd just been propositioned by a elderly gent, four years older, sitting next to her.

The woman happened to be on her way home from a muscle-strengthening exercise session at a local day care center when accosted by the man, a former cop. "How about a cup of tea?" he persisted.

"I was just sitting on the bench waiting for somebody, and didn't make any moves toward him," said the woman. "But he kept sliding closer."

She subsequently learned that the man has been declared persona non grata at the day care center after having come on to numerous females.

"Being a former cop, he still had a robust physique," relates the woman, who had been widowed more than 10 years earlier. "I never expected him to approach me. It was scary. I wanted to get away from him."

As it turned out, nothing came of the above encounter. But as Shukan Asahi (Oct 10) reports, violations of the anti-stalking law involving elderly people have been on the increase.

In June of this year, the Asahi Shimbun reported three cases. In one, a 68-year-old unemployed man in Nagasaki was apprehended after slipping a lurid message into the mail slot of a 78-year-old woman, and then requesting she let him in her home. He had previously been a good customer in the shop operated by the woman.

In Fukuoka, a 70-year-old man who collected discarded items for recycling persistently telephoned a woman, 23 years his junior, who had broken off their relationship. Disregarding a warning from the local police to leave her alone, he was caught waiting in front of her house.

In Wakayama, an 85-year-old man seeking companionship (his wife had passed away the previous year) recorded a string of messages on the home answerphone of an 80-year-old woman. He also entered her yard.

According to National Police Agency statistics, out of 21,089 reported cases of stalking in 2013, 1,089, or 9.1%, involved perpetrators age 60 and above. This number represents a fourfold increase from 10 years ago, and the increase in this age segment has considerably outstripped those of other age groups.

"There were cases of elderly stalkers in the past, but in the present society with people living longer, the statistical parameters have increased, and with them, the number of reported cases has also risen rapidly," says Hiroaki Fukui, a psychiatrist and author.

Fukui cites such contributing factors as anxieties over old age, poor human relationships, living alone and other problems common among the elderly. He also thinks that males belonging to Japan's postwar baby boomer generation, now around age 65, are particularly vulnerable to becoming stalkers.

"From the time they were born, their numbers were large, and they were obliged to constantly engage in competition, in school examinations, for job promotions, and so on," Fukui observes. "And because they were so devoted to their jobs, after they reached the age of retirement, they found there was no place for them at home. They had few interests outside of their work, and don't know what to do with their time. There's also the value systems they hold, of regarding males as superior to females. These factors and the sense of alienation they produced draw out stalker behavior."

At the behest of the police, Fukui has developed a computer program that rates the degree of potential danger in cases of stalking and domestic violence, using items from a checklist that use frequency and types of behavior in a 5-point scale. The police officially adopted the program nationwide at the end of 2013.

Finally comes these words of advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of stalking, from Akiko Kobayakawa, who serves as a director and counselor at an NPO called "Humanity."

"Even if you intend to be fair and gentle to someone, a person bent on stalking won't understand this. While you may feel you must be deferential to a person because of his age, if you feel that he has special feelings toward you, it is best, at an early stage, to inform him (or her -- Dr Fukui says the numbers of the two genders are roughly even) clearly, 'I don't see you in terms of being a member of the opposite sex.' And it's important to remind yourself that you have done nothing to deserve it. Even if that person scares you, you need to maintain composure. It's necessary to deal with the problem before it escalates."

© Japan Today

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24 Comments
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Looks like the old goats never give up.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

... and what would qualify a psychiatrist to rate the danger of these individuals?

For those who don't know, a psychiatrist specialises in brain chemistry and structure, they study little to nothing about sociological and economic factors.

A psychologist knows a little about brain chemistry and structure, and specialises in studying the mind, but also studies enough sociology and economics to understand the person in context.

What we're looking at here is a complex interplay between economic, social factors filtered through how these individuals see their world. There is no brain disfunction in an organic sense, and therefore psychiatrists offering advice in this area are operating outside of their area of expertise, and therefore illegally.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I hear stories like this all the time, including one case when two elderly men came to blows over the affections of a younger (sixty-something) lady who didn't especially like either of them. They met through their local gateball club.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

@frungy

What qualifies you to make 90% of what you write on this site? Offering an opinion to a gossip rag is hardly illegal. Where is your evidence that it is, in any case, or is that just your opinion? If you had read the article properly, you'd see that the psychiatrist obviously does have a good idea about the sociological factors at play here. Could it be that he, despite being a psychiatrist, has a background in sociology as well?

You're hardly one to be making judgement calls here.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

I don't see how the first case could be considerate as stalking. He was sitting next to her and asked her to out for a cup of tea. It's called nanpa.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

I hope the computer formula includes the perception of threat felt by the women in these cases.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

sourpussOct. 05, 2014 - 10:50AM JST What qualifies you to make 90% of what you write on this site? Offering an opinion to a gossip rag is hardly illegal. Where is your evidence that it is, in any case, or is that just your opinion? If you had read the article properly, you'd see that the psychiatrist obviously does have a good idea about the sociological factors at play here. Could it be that he, despite being a psychiatrist, has a background in sociology as well?

Except that Fukui wasn't just offering an opinion, he developed a computer program that claimed to be able to rate the degree of danger posed by these individuals:

At the behest of the police, Fukui has developed a computer program that rates the degree of potential danger in cases of stalking and domestic violence, using items from a checklist that use frequency and types of behavior in a 5-point scale. The police officially adopted the program nationwide at the end of 2013.

That's way outside the expertise of a psychiatrist. And it is concerning because the police are using this program to profile and stigmatise people. Has it been tested? What are the criteria? Or did they police believe that, because he was a psychiatrist, he was qualified to make this judgement... and he did nothing to correct their lack of understanding about the difference between psychiatry and psychology.

TL;DR version: He didn't just offer an opinion. He took money for a service he doesn't seem qualified to render. The consequence of that decision may result in the police arresting and prosecuting people who are not real risks.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@Frungy Why don't you read the checklist, and then decide? He could be on to something. Recently I've been looking up checklists for DV on behalf of a close friend, and I'm amazed at how accurate they are.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I have had problems with the same generation aggressively stalking me for English lessons. I consider it stalking when they refuse "no" more than 5 times and begin to follow me.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

TessaOct. 05, 2014 - 12:21PM JST @Frungy Why don't you read the checklist, and then decide? He could be on to something. Recently I've been looking up checklists for DV on behalf of a close friend, and I'm amazed at how accurate they are.

... Define "accurate"? How many false positives do they produce? What is their predictive validity BEFORE something bad happens? What percentage reliability do they have?

You're talking about the least important type of validity, "face validity", i.e. they look valid to a non-professional. But that isn't sufficient to put in place a country-wide system that can result in police action.

As for checking the checklist, I can't. I've tried multiple search terms in Japanese, but it is producing no results. It is quite possible that Fukui never published the checklist for public scrutiny... and if that was the case it would not have been subject to peer review, another major reason for concern if you have a solitary psychiatrist operating outside of his area of competence as the sole source of a system that could not only result in false prosecutions, but also potentially in deaths if the system fails.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Frungy,

a psychiatrist specialises in brain chemistry and structure

That's right.

Unfortunately, people assume psychiatrists know about the mind and human behaviour. It would be great if they did, but, in practice, they don't have a clue. To make an analogy, they may know much about the mechanism in a piano and methods of piano tuning, but they know NOTHING about music and even less about the pianist.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I am 82 and getting tired of all the young women stalking me while I take my daily walk in the park. I must admit that they are subtle about it, by looking away and pretending no interest in me. The old women are worse because they actually cross to the other side of the street when they see me. They are tempting me.

8 ( +7 / -0 )

I am 82 and getting tired of all the young women stalking me while I take my daily walk in the park. if you not married get into it, only have a few years left in you so might as well go out with a BANG!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I am 82 and getting tired of all the young women stalking me while I take my daily walk in the park.

You know the woman who got up and walked off when you sat next to her on the park bench yesterday? That was me! I was so overwhelmed with lust that I didn't think I could control myself. Sorry!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

It's interesting how a couple of people are discounting psychiatrists' understanding of the human mind and behavior when the very definition of a psychiatrist proves them wrong.

Psychiatrist --> "a medical practitioner specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness."

Since most people would agree that stalkers engage in abnormal behavior and that they lack compassion for the feelings of others, who would be better able to analyze that behavior than psychiatrists?!

-2 ( +1 / -4 )

If asking someone for a cup of tea is stalking, then there is really something wrong with yhis society.

Taking pictures at thebeach is off limits. Taking pictures on a train is off limits.

Just ban all men, and take away their phones.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well, it might be comforting to know my 83 year old grand aunt toured Italy with her friends. She was pinched in a place which was not polite, especially not polite. The man, who spoke English, said she was beautiful and wanted her to spend the night. He was also very old. So, it is a common problem for older women, just be careful, call the police. They might be after money.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Kathryn: Explain to granny about her knee and upward sharp motions. Do not need language to express thoughts that way.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Frungy is right in his assessment of the basic differences between psychiatry and psychology. Psychiatrists prescribe the meds in cases where meds can help. We psychologists study everything. it's kind of like this. A psychiatrist will say depression is based on a chemical imbalance in the brain. A psychiatrist will say in some cases that's true, but in many cases people have genuine reasons for being depressed and it's those reasons that need to be addressed and the person taught how to change their thought patterns.

I'm also an old man. And alone. I hate it. I don't do well without a woman. But, there are manners and common sense to consider. I might ask a woman if she would like to have coffee or tea with me, but if she says no, I walk away. That's it. Anything more is pressing your luck. Why would a woman want to be with anyone who shows by their actions that they are not a nice person?

3 ( +3 / -1 )

shonanbb,

If asking someone for a cup of tea is stalking, then there is really something wrong with yhis society.

Welcome to planet Earth! There is PLENTY wrong with just about every society on it.

In Japan, what is said and what is thought are two often entirely different things. The Japanese describe it as "honne" (that which is thought) and "tatemae" (that which is spoken).

When the guy says, "Let's have a cup of tea," he is NOT talking about drinking infused leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant. In his mind is getting the preliminaries over quickly and getting to the "horizontal folk dancing" as soon as possible.

In other words, it's a pick up line. Stuff like this: Are you an interior decorator? Because when I saw you, the entire room became beautiful. Are you religious? Because you're the answer to all my prayers. Do you have a Band-Aid? Because I just scraped my knee falling for you. I'm not a photographer, but I can picture me and you together. They say dating is a numbers game... so can I get your number? Do you have a sunburn, or are you always this hot? Is your daddy a Baker? Because you've got a nice set of buns!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

"contributing factors as anxieties over old age, poor human relationships, living alone and other problems common among the elderly"

So, it's not that a "stalking" is the only symptom of isolation. These examples are more defined by a shared aberrant behavior. The range of personal and social impact from isolation has examples on both ends of the age spectrum. Oddly, a 'disciplined and competitive' demographic seems to have problems filling hours of able time and fall into obsessive or fantastical delusion.

"According to National Police Agency . . . of 21,089 reported cases of stalking in 2013, 1,089, or 9.1%, involved perpetrators age 60 and above. . . . a fourfold increase from 10 years ago . . . the increase in this age segment has considerably outstripped those of other age groups"

Aged 60 and above, many still possess the vigor of those in their fifties. This underutilized demographic should be offered as subsidized assistants; a far less expensive form of usefulness than dementia.
0 ( +0 / -0 )

My mum came to Japan once and went on a date with a senior she had met. FIRST date - "lets go away together to an onsen overnight and then we can get married and you can move in with us and help look after my 97 year old mother."

So far Sizzler (yes! He took her to a Sizzler!) havent hit us up for the scorch maks she left on the carpet as she shot out the door....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Oh my, even I have been approached many times for those ojiichan, and I usually follow the conversation to a healthy and safe degree.. Sometimes I checked they wanted to approach more so I said, Well I have to go! but other times, I used to get gentle smiles.. I even got to know my Tennis oji chan sensei in that way! He just approached to me for helping me with my tennis, and I became good! Most of Japanese stalkers, are just humans sick of loneliness that want to try the direct approach and don't give up on it.

I just hate the way they are all classified as sick or dangerous.. when they are mostly searching for acceptation and human love.. Grrr so upsetting..

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Cecilia, you got it ! Men are just men.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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