The Sagamihara stabbings were committed on July 26, 2016 at the Tsukui Yamayuuri En home for people with intellectual disabilities in Midori War, Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan. 19 people were killed and 26 others were injured, 13 severely, at a disabled care home. The suspect was a 26-year-old man, identified as Satoshi Uematsu,. He was a former employee of the care facility. He surrendered at a nearby police station with a bag of knives, and was subsequently arrested. The attack has been described as the worst mass slaying in Japan since the Second World War. The suspect, Uematsu, has been quoted in the media expressing some euthanasia ideas about improving Japan by eliminating disabled people, to rid society of what he saw as the nuisance that is severely disabled people.
The treatment of the crime in the press here has been remarkably different from what follows a similar crime in the West - in America, for example. Little information has been released about the victims of the attack. There have been no vigils, no protests, no coloured ribbons and catchy slogans. The Reuters news service wrote that this is due to Japanese culture being less accepting of physically and cognitively impaired people and it is a thread that has been repeated.
Critics of the handling of the Sagamihara massacre continually call out the police, the victims' families, the media and society for "secrecy." First, the patients are hidden away and isolated from society in nursing homes and similar facilities. Second, even in death, by not releasing their names, they are still being hidden while all the attention goes to the suspect. It’s as if, by not acknowledging their names their very existence is being treated as shameful. The lack of reaction by Japanese and their media leads some to speculate that Uematsu’s euthanasia motive might actually be an accurate reflection of a common sentiment. I wonder what does work mean to human beings? In today’s world there seems to be a growing tendency to try to justify meritocracy and performance-based wages. Society demands ability, efficiency and results from us all. More and more governments, companies and even our neighbourhood schools and universities are steering towards ruthlessly practical dividends. Failure in those things contributes to the segregation of people with and without disability under the guise of “protection” or some other virtue. Perhaps we should not judge people like machines, based only on how they function.
Privacy means private. That's why it's called that.
I don't see it that way. I have a very high regard for privacy, which is how I see it. If the families of the victims want to keep their identities private (the police claim) then that is their prerogative, not the business of disabled rights advocates who think they know better. Full stop. End of story. Privacy means private. That's why it's called that. I disregard the proposition that publicizing names of victims honors their humanity by affirming their existence because I see it the opposite way: excessive publicity is dehumanizing more than ennobling. I understand the arguments that knowing names confirms humanity, and that shrouding identity denies it discriminatorily, with a related fear that continued anonymity in death will extend discrimination into the afterlife. I understand, but I disagree, because those arguments are wrong. Knowing someone's name is a powerful thing. I try to avoid my identity being excessively publicized, which is why I often use a pseudonym. Anonymity and under-estimation are liberating. The internet and social media are good that way because they lend themselves to obscured identity. I use so many pseudonyms on the internet that I have to keep a written list to keep track of myself. Human life, of course, is a tale told with a mixture of truth and lies. It’s how we mine our experiences for meaning.
The petition by disabled advocates for name revelation and name recognition is a development of contemporary individualistic culture, which has what I think is excessive regard for the Self. It seems very American to me. I am less impressed with overly assertive Self - which looks like self-centeredness and even selfishness - than many are today. I have greater feeling for the mysteries of the unknown and the seduction of the unseen than many others today who need and insist that things be laid out for them like pablum before an infant - Now!! - and then have a hissy fit if it isn’t.
The police have said that they are not publicizing names at the families’ request for privacy. That sounds suspiciously like Japanese double-talk, a conspiratorial cleaning of the story. It could be true, or it might not. Are the police acting on their own and fallaciously rationalizing it retroactively with no regard at all either for the facts or for the true feelings of the victims and their families? To date no one has proved it, calling us humbly to accept their explanation.
But I could be wrong.