“This is an age,” says Josei Seven (July 31–Aug 7), “in which anyone might be a stalker.”
That sounds alarmist, but it’s based on alarming facts – mainly on an alarming number: 21,089. That’s how many stalking incidents police handled in 2013 – up from 14,662 in 2001, when the relevant law was amended to criminalize annoyingly or menacingly persistent behavior that earlier had been dismissed as an inescapable if undesirable byproduct of human relationships.
Josei Seven’s report opens with an account of a Kansai mother’s dismay when her son, a young man in his 20s, was arrested as an alleged stalker. It was a bolt out of the blue. Criminal and violent behavior seemed hardly like him. But love is unpredictable, especially unrequited love.
The young man worked as a freelance tutor. One of his students was a junior high school girl. He was possessed by her, “couldn’t keep away from her.” When she rebuffed him, he sent her spates of emails: “I’ll kill you and then kill myself.” She told her parents, who called the police, who arrested the suspect, giving his mother her rude awakening: “Could it be my fault?” She and her husband both work, and she admitted, Josei Seven says, that there wasn’t much “communication” in the family.
Some 90% of stalkers are male, and 90% of victims female, police statistics quoted by the magazine show. Roughly 60% of cases arise out of failed or failing relationships, marital or not. For the victim, it’s always annoying, often frightening, and sometimes fatal. The example of the latter that springs most immediately to mind is 22-year-old Charles Thomas Ikenaga’s fatal stabbing last October of his 18-year-old ex-girlfriend – he pleaded guilty in the Tokyo District Court in July.
Akiko Kohayakawa, director of the NPO “Humanity” that counsels stalkers as well as victims, describes a case she handled that was nipped in the bud before it turned deadly. The emotional state of the stalker in question is fairly typical. He was in his 20s, dating a girl in her late teens and mortified to discover that she was more sexually experienced than he. She mocked his clumsiness and he flew into a rage. He beat her. The police warned him to stay away from her. He turned self-destructive, quit his job, blamed the girl for everything and wanted to kill her. Fortunately for all concerned, he sought counseling instead, which is where Kohayakawa entered the picture. She’s still in it; the counseling continues.
What is typical about him, Kohayakawa tells Josei Seven, is his emotional blend of pride and under-confidence. Males lately have been taken down a peg or two by the social and economic rise of women. Young women nowadays are in general more sophisticated, more experienced, more worldly than young men. They face a brighter future too, as employers under government pressure exert themselves to promote women to top positions. Under stress, the battered remnant of masculine pride is liable to surface dangerously.
Another counselor who deals with stalkers makes a different point. Many stalkers, he says, grew up unloved or abused by parents. Abandonment was a vivid and terrifying prospect throughout childhood. Being dumped by a girlfriend is painful at the best of times. If it happens in such a way as to rekindle your deepest childhood fears, you might very well find yourself losing control.© Japan Today