Knife attack on entrance examinees a selfish act that leaves us speechless

People are likely to wonder how much time the test takers spent preparing for this day. A boy’s atrocious act, which was intended to ruin such efforts, has inevitably caused outrage.

On Saturday, the first day of the Common Test for University Admissions, two examinees, a boy and a girl, and a 72 year-old man were stabbed with a knife near the University of Tokyo, which was a test venue. The three victims did not sustain life-threatening injuries, but the man was said to be seriously hurt.

Police immediately arrested a second-year student of a private high school in Nagoya, who was near the crime scene, on suspicion of attempted murder. The boy was quoted by the police as saying: “I was aiming to go to the University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Medicine, but my grades didn’t improve. So I thought I would kill someone and die.”

The assailant may have become desperate because he was pessimistic about his future, but why did he involve people unrelated to him? Such selfishness leaves us speechless.

The boy came to Tokyo by overnight bus from Nagoya where he lives. Shortly before the knife attack, minor fires occurred at a station near where he carried out the attack. The boy said he set the fires, according to the police.

About three liters of combustible liquid was seized from his belongings. If he had set fire to a train or similar place, it could have been a disaster.

The police need to clarify the motive and background of the incident in detail.

A doctor’s job is first and foremost to save people’s lives. At present, many medical workers are making strenuous efforts day and night to respond to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Those who attempt to kill others indiscriminately simply because their life does not turn out the way they want are not qualified to become doctors.

It is heartbreaking to imagine the feelings of the two examinees who were victimized. Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Shinsuke Suematsu held an unscheduled press conference where he expressed an intention to consider special arrangements for the two victims.

It is hoped that wisdom will be exercised to prevent their future from being ruined by this outrageous crime.

It is also concerning that the incident will unsettle entrance test takers more broadly. University entrance exams are about to get into full swing.

Following the knife attack, the education ministry asked the National Police Agency to strengthen safety measures around test venues. It is important to secure an environment where people can take the exams with peace of mind.

In recent years, there has been a succession of incidents in which young people brandished knives on trains or barricaded themselves in restaurants because they could not find any meaning in life or wanted to be executed as a result of killing someone.

Such assailants may think they are the only ones who are unhappy, but everyone has failures, setbacks and other hardships. It is hoped that such people will broaden their perspectives through such methods as reading books to get a sense of other people’s sufferings and writing a journal to face their inner selves.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Jan. 17, 2022.