Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
I've written against the custom of shaking babies until they cry as described once again in “Sumo wrestlers reduce toddlers to teas in ancient health ritual” (Tuesday, September 23, 2014) before. Shaking infants until they cry is not only physically dangerous (no matter how gentle you are) but is also tantamount to child abuse, and even terrorism in so far as it is terrible. Maybe Japanese people think it's cute, synchronous with the culture's regard for cuteness. But cuteness is childish and a disposition towards cuteness among adults demonstrates a childish disposition. Japanese wonder why child abuse figures are rising year after year? Not so much because child abuse is increasing as that people are recognizing it and reporting it more. However, there is still a persistent, malicious failure even to recognize it, and this Baby Cry Sumo event is one of them.
One mother, Yuki Ibusuki's explanation that she "wanted to come here so that we would have a memory of this event when he grows up" demonstrates that the motivation is for adult gratification, not the child's health. If you try this with an adult - shaking them - you will probably have a fistfight on your hands pretty quick. Here it’s done to babies who are helpless and who, as they grow up, will not remember it. I suggest that treating babies as such because they are babies is a criminal violation of their human rights - the crime of ageism.
Everyone is a criminal in this case: the parents who submit their infants to abuse; the wrestlers who perform the abuse; the shrine priests who organize and condone the abuse, and the media who report it without recognizing it for what it is, the police for allowing it to happen, social services for not intervening.
Published on Thursday, September 25, 2014 as “Everyone at the event is guilty.”