We're living in an age when anyone can become a stalker


“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

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the relevant law was amended to criminalize annoyingly or menacingly persistent behavior

Criminalize? Umm... I think that's a bit of a strong term since the law seems to just involve the police giving the person a call and saying, "Knock it off."

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.

This is such b.s.

Biologically women are more mature than men at the same age. This isn't new, it has always been this way and will always be this way.

As for employment prospects, don't make me laugh. Even in highly technical professions where gender has absolutely no impact on performance, like medicine, women are still actively discriminated against. If a female doctor can't succeed, then what hope does a female manager have, where her performance is largely reliant on cooperation from her subordinates.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

In the very beginning no may not mean no, but after several attempts at a relationship and she still says no, the guy should respect her privacy and back off.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A very dangerous line of thinking that leads to these problems. Legally and morally, when a woman says no, the man must respect it and look elsewhere. It's game over.<<

I am talking about in the very beginning when you are attracted to someone, at first they may so no. Such was the case with the mother of my daughter, she did not want to go out with me at first and said no, but then later changed her mind and we had a relationship for five years and a beautiful daughter together.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

If they say no, there's a reason for it, and pursuing that person further constitutes stalking and harassment. If they're interested in you, they will say yes and you can form a relationship. A person's mother doesn't really factor into the equation.

If I had followed your advice, I would never have had my daughter. Asking twice does not constitute stalking or harassment.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Is that why so many herbivores in Japan? Fake rejection accepted as real too many times, may as well give up? How can government quantify the shades of difference between "No, but maybe yes if you ask a few more times" and "No, never, nada, nyet, bug off"?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

He was possessed by her

Either the language was an unintentional mistake and the writer intended to say 'obssessed' or it was intentional and therefore putting the blame on the girl, but I doubt very much whether she possessed him.

3 ( +3 / -0 )


It's probably a translation of 取り付く, which can mean "obsess" or "possess", depending on the context.

4 ( +4 / -0 )


Ah-ha, that would explain it; the lost-in-translation has a lot to answer for! So many Japanese words seem to encompass at least two English words, therefore making specific translation difficult at times.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Let alone the ease with which online social betworks allow stalking too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Regarding Burning Bush and Yogizuna's discussion above, I think a key point is the difference between "pursuit" and "stalking." While a clear definition is difficult to come by, I'd say that, fundamentally, the former maintains a required amount of respect for the feelings and independence of the object, while the latter crosses the line in many ways, both in terms of method (psychological torture, constant observation) and persistence (extreme demands which never end).

I have fine memories of amorous pursuits from my younger days; sometimes I was successful, sometimes not - but even when unsuccessful, I generally maintained a positive friendship with my would-be amours (some of which continue to this day). That makes all of the difference.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

the law is very clear on this matter, if the target of your affection doesn't say "yes", further pursuit constitutes harassment.

The vast majority of people know the difference between stalking and romantic pursuit -- they don't need hard and fast rules such as one "no" means you're a stalker if you continue. That's a draconian imposition on the 99% of people who aren't stalkers. People may accept those sorts of laws in the US, but most other places are more sensible. By the time the police are called, the stalker is well past any possible excuse of reasonable misunderstanding.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Burning Bush that is a very robotic mentality. Yes, that is how you would program a computer to respond but we are human! Haha.. even I have said no when I really mean yes or maybe... Can people not be allowed to tease? Obviously not in your world.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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