Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Circle of Life

Were you to indulge an interest in poorly-written English-language far eastern news publications and check the Japan Times right now, you'd see the following above-the-fold stories stacked neatly on top of one another:
  • Police arrest Ichihashi in Osaka: Tatsuya Ichihashi, the only suspect in the 2007 murder of a British woman, was arrested Tuesday after managing to elude police for 2 1/2 years.
  • More body parts of college student are discovered: The torso and part of a thigh bone of a beheaded female college student from Shimane Prefecture have been found on a mountain in Hiroshima Prefecture near the site where her head was found last week, police said Monday.
And the great cosmic Rube Goldberg machine spins & whistles along its merry way! I'll not indulge in the prejudicial speculation about whether or not Ichihashi will be (a) beaten to death with a spiked, LSD-drenched bat because he murdered a foreigner, or (b) slapped across his backside and sent home because he murdered a foreigner. Instead, I'll just remind myself how lucky I am to live in a city that doesn't see an average of 270 of its citizens killed every year, and where my wife can walk home alone at night without a can of mace & six months of aikido lessons under her belt.

Of course, this presents a timely opportunity to examine the strange nature of crime in Japan - which is to say that, to the infinitesimal extent that it exists, it is spectacular and grotesque. The average national crime rate (33.7 per 1000 people according to the UN) is a full 50% above the Japanese overall crime rate (19.177 per 1000 people), but that's nothing compared to the stupefying fact that the average national murder rate is twenty times that of Japan (a near-nonextant 0.00499933 per 1000 people).* Yet, when a murder does occur, it's a horror that could've sprung from the imagination of Wes Craven on bad methamphetamines: children chopping each other up, young nightlife workers defiled & dismembered by men, men dismembered by despondent spouses, knife-wielding lunatics lashing out at anyone within arm's reach, or deformed, cannibalistic shut-ins butchering little girls. Absolutely unspeakable.

But a timely opportunity to examine the strange nature of crime in Japan though it may be, I'm damn tired and haven't the stomach to ruminate at length about the above atrocities right before bed time. Besides, attempting to either legislate around or prepare for psychopathologically-driven assaults is like trying to do the same for lightning or earthquakes.

*Discussion of the fact that Japan, on the other hand, has more than double the average national suicide rate will likewise have to wait.

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