Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4 Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
Why am I not surprised by the story of a 51-year-old man who stabbed a fellow commuter with an ice pick over a disagreement about smoking a cigarette on a commuter train (“Smoker hits commuter with ice pick,” April 7).
Tobacco is a drug and tobacco smokers are drug addicts. Kozo Tachiklawa’s behavior seems in keeping with demented drug addict behavior, and I would not be surprised if many similar occurrences happen every week in Japan but simply go either unreported, unprosecuted or both. Probably both.
Smoking on trains is illegal in Japan, so Tachikawa was already a criminal even before he stabbed the young man who brought his violation to attention. These days, nonsmokers livein an almost constant state of outrage, so it seems that it might have been more appropriate for the victim in this case, 22-year-old Susumu Onda, to stab the drug addict, not the other wary
In the title of the article, The Japan Times says that the victim was “hit,” but then the word “stabbed” was used in the story itself. Perhaps in Japanese the same word can have both applications, but in English it looks like the obfuscation in the Japanese language is contributing to a mitigation of the situation, making it sound like a real criminal offense did not occur, when in fact it did.
Tachikawa, in a drug-crazed state, attempted murder. So I wonder, then, what, if anything, he will be charged with? Attempted murder? Drug possession? (Not likely.) Fleeing the scene of a crime? It is more probably that he will be released with no litigation after professing sincere regret (that he was caught). For the safety of the healthy public, violent, uncontrolled drug addicts like this must be incarcerated, either in a penal facility or a secure, guarded medical facility.
Published on Sunday, April 11, 1999 as “Smokers are hazardous.”
This is SO typically Japanese immature behavior. “Run away!” It reminded me of the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail when some knights decide to flee from the vicious bunny with big teeth. The story highlights a widening gap that has occurred. It might be a generation gap, too. On the one hand are those among whom smoking is common and not just widely tolerated but even expected. And on the other hand are those among whom the idea has grown that tobacco is unhealthy and not jus requiring but deserving of regulation.