"Akihabara murders : background info?"

As with any ‘Japan shock’ story, foreign papers always attempt to fill-up the pages with “background information” to give the reader an in-depth view into Japanese society.
For the Akihabara killing rampage, the foreign press of course focus on the fact that it took place in Akihabara, the epitome of Japanese “weirdness.” Other background topics range from ‘inside the mind of a criminal,’ ‘Japan’s dysfunctional youth’ and ‘a Japanese person’s weapon of choice.’

Here are a few examples of background information, according to some papers…

The Guardian:

Nobuo Komiya, a professor of criminology at Rissho University in Tokyo “cites the ever-growing income gap in Japan as one of the factors in creating an underclass of young people who go to extremes to break out of their isolation. The gap between rich and poor is growing at the same time as Japan’s information society is becoming more sophisticated.”

“Even government ministers admit that poverty is now at unacceptable levels; that neo-liberal economic reforms have created a low-paid, part-time workforce, the antithesis of the job-for-life security that the Japanese took for granted until the arrival of the “lost decade” of recession and corporate restructuring.”

“The internet means people start believing they can function, find what they are looking for in life without ever having to really interact with another human being,” Komiya said.


The Scotsman:

The knife or, less frequently, the traditional Japanese sword, have long been the weapons of choice in Japan, primarily because of the relative scarcity of guns outside the ranks of organized crime groups.

Hunting is uncommon there, as is sport shooting, and anyone looking to purchase a rifle or pistol as part of a hobby will undergo a thorough investigation. Those laws were tightened last November in a move designed to curb the firepower of the yakuza.

With handguns largely unobtainable, anyone with murderous intent is inevitably drawn to knives. Their advantages are that they are relatively cheap, easy to purchase and arouse little suspicion when bought.


The Times:

Millions from around Japan and across the globe flock to the super-high-tech streets of Akihabara every year. For many it represents the very soul of Japan’s gadget-loving culture, and in a rapidly ageing society it has also become one of the few growing hubs of youth culture: mingled with the electronics shops are countless boutiques catering to Japan’s otaku sub-culture of manga, vintage toys, video games and hentai pornography.


The Mail:

At least seven people were killed and 11 injured after a Japanese gangster went on a lunchtime knife rampage through Tokyo's popular electronics district.
Tomohiro Kato—who originally claimed to be a member of the notorious yakuza crime syndicate but later retracted the statement - began the bloodbath after driving a two-ton truck into a crowd of shoppers in the Akihabara area and hitting three, terrified witnesses said.

Akihabara is known for its electronics shops and “maid cafes” where waitresses wear maid costumes and serve beverages and food.

The Scotsman’s informative report on the values of using a knife are particularly poignant. There are also a few unconfirmed reports of the suspect being a gangster, laid out as fact by The Mail. But of course, the standard filler award has to go to the descriptions of Akihabara, the home of Japan’s twisted subculture.

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