Letters to the Editor,
The Daily Yomiuri,
Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-8243
I don’t think the rise in reported cases of child abuse (“Child abuse cases hit record in Jan.-June,” September 7) means that things are worsening in Japanese society. It’s probably just that people are recognizing it more. Sadly, it’s always been this bad, and much worse besides. Child abuse is not a difficult thing to find here. When I see little school boys in short pants in February with apple red thighs burning in the cold air, or sumo wrestlers shaking babies to make them cry, or parents and teachers terrorizing youngsters with demon masks at setsubun I want to weep, then shout, then complain to the United Nations. In fact, I have. Toleration of social customs like these looks disturbingly like embedded criminality.
And, in the wake of a spate of schoolchild suicides credited to bullying, what is the use of launching committees and investigations to write guidelines to counsel children and train teachers (“Antibullying guidelines released,”September 7)? That kind of approach is cosmetic. For many foreigners cosmetic appearances are useless, but they count for a lot in Japan. Bullying is a kind of assault. Assault is a crime. Guidelines, counsellors and therapy are not necessary, only arrest and prosecution. Tolerating bullies in society is comparable to tolerating me if I just randomly attacked commuters on the train platform. I’d expect to be arrested. I expect bullies to receive similar treatment.