The city of Okegawa in Saitama Prefecture has an unfortunate claim to fame. In 1999, there occurred the incident that caused the nation to reconsider its deplorable response to stalking. That response consisted mostly in ignoring it, as a 21-year-old woman discovered on complaining repeatedly to Okegawa police about the menacing behavior of her ex-boyfriend. The woman’s murder in October 1999 resulted in the police being roundly criticized and laws being toughened.
Stalking, one might think, would wither in consequence, but more than a decade later it not only survives but flourishes, the number of episodes rising steadily year by year, reports Josei Seven (June 20). The leap from 2,280 known cases in 2000 to 14,662 the following year was predictable, a result of heightened and more sympathetic police attention under the stronger laws. But the figure for 2012 is 19,920, up from 14,618 for 2011. This hardly suggests a crime on the verge of being stamped out.
Most stalkers are ex-husbands or boyfriends, Josei Seven claims. A recent case in Isehara, Kanagawa Prefecture highlights the obsessive bitterness of the stalker and the helplessness of the victim. The couple met at university and married in 2005. They lived with his family. Slowly the young wife discovered aspects of her husband’s character she hadn’t suspected. He had been raised conscientiously but at the onset of puberty he turned violent, repeatedly attacking his parents and younger brother. His mother had hoped marriage would change him. It didn’t. His wife divorced him and fled, first to her own parents, then, with her infant son in tow, to a shelter, where she lived three years, finally moving into her own apartment.
The ex-husband, meanwhile, took to venting his murderous fantasies on a blog. For seven years that seems to have absorbed him. On the morning of May 21, his ex-wife was taking their son, now 6, to school when a man sprang at her with a knife. She is recovering slowly, still hospitalized. The husband, Shimon Sadakari, has been charged with attempted murder. He apparently hired a private detective to find and photograph his ex-wife.
“The stalkers I’ve met,” a counselor who helps stalking victims tells the magazine, “all give the impression of being good, earnest, conscientious men.” The flaw that undoes them, she says, is likely to be narcissism. “They’re always looking at themselves in the mirror.”
Having been dumped by a wife or girlfriend can be a dreadful assault on such a man’s self-esteem. The increasing independence of women, if that analysis holds, does not bode well for the fight against stalking.© Japan Today