Explore ways to prevent random acts of hostility against society

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Justice Ministry in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.

There has been no end to incidents of violent attacks on members of the public at random. It is necessary for society as a whole to think about how to confront such similar one-sided acts of hostility toward society, taking into account the background of such incidents.

A man attacked passengers with a kitchen knife on a moving Odakyu Line train in Tokyo, leaving 10 people seriously or slightly injured. The man also poured vegetable oil on the floor of a train car and tried to set it on fire. Had it been gasoline, it would have been a catastrophe. It is a shuddering thought.

The man, who was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, reportedly lamented to police about his misfortunes, saying, “I’m the only one with an unhappy life.” After dropping out of university, the man moved from job to job. He reportedly targeted a female university student first because she looked like she was on the “winning team.”

How terrifying it must be to be on a train and suddenly have a stranger come at you with a knife. Such an irrational and short-sighted motive makes it hard not to be enraged.

In 2008, a man rammed a truck into a pedestrian zone in Tokyo’s Akihabara district before getting out and attacking passersby with a knife, killing or injuring 17. The man allegedly committed the crime after becoming frustrated with society as he repeatedly changed jobs.

Random attacks have occurred across the nation. According to an analysis by the Justice Ministry on such cases, 40% of the assailants cited dissatisfaction with their circumstances as the motive for their crimes.

It is nothing short of selfish for an attacker to commit a crime because they thought they were the only one who experienced misfortune and people around them were blessed. Everyone has setbacks. Even among athletes at the Tokyo Olympics, some experienced setbacks in the past but worked hard unseen.

It is unacceptable to blame others for a life not going well and direct one’s anger at society.

In recent years, abuse directed at strangers on social media has become a social problem. It is likely that people who post abusive messages take advantage of their anonymity and use heartless words without thinking about how hurtful their comments might be.

To learn the difference between right and wrong and develop a sense of values, it is crucial to interact with family members and friends. However, as connections in local communities have weakened, so have personal relationships. It is important to nurture the mind by reading books from an early age and having various experiences at home and school.

In many cases, suspects in indiscriminate killing sprees had no friends at work or school before committing their crimes. Couldn’t anyone notice that they were becoming increasingly isolated and developing a hatred of society?

Police are urged to find out what was behind the latest attack to prevent a recurrence.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Aug. 14, 2021.