The Yomiuri Shimbun
OSAKA–An 11-year-old primary school student in Daito, Osaka Prefecture, apparently killed himself by jumping in front of a train, leaving behind a note that suggests the act was intended to protest the closure of his school.
At about 4:25 p.m. Thursday, the fifth-year student was hit below a platform of Nozaki Station by a seven-car train heading from Doshishamae Station to Takarazuka Station on the JR Katamachi Line.
Witnesses said he apparently jumped from the platform down to the rails and was struck by the train.
The boy left a note about his school, which is scheduled to be shut down and its students integrated into two other primary schools.
The note read, “In exchange for this little life, please stop the shutdown and integration.”
Shijonawate Police Station is investigating the case as a likely suicide.
According to the police station, the driver of the train saw the boy jump and immediately applied the brake, but it was too late.
The boy’s rucksack, which he left on the platform, contained learning materials for a cram school, and the handwritten note was found nearby, the police said.
The primary school the boy attended has seen its student population decrease, and is scheduled to close at the end of this fiscal year.
Students of the school will be transferred to two other primary schools.
The boy’s family members said he recently complained that he did not want to attend the school that was scheduled to accept him and his schoolmates.
Just before the incident, the boy sent an e-mail to his mother’s cell phone that read: “Thank you for all you have done up to now. I love everyone in my family.”
(Feb. 16, 2013)
BY MOTOKI YOTSUKURA CORRESPONDENT
2011/07/16 Asahi Shimbun
MANILA–Dreaming of an idyllic existence in an exotic locale, many Japanese have packed their bags and moved to the Philippines.
But for an increasing number of adventurers seeking a laid-back, low-cost lifestyle, the dream can turn to disillusionment, loss of vital organs or even death.
This has led to a term heard with greater frequency among Japanese nationals here: “Destitute Japanese.”
One Japanese man appeared on a TV variety show in the Philippines last December and made an appeal in Tagalog to his 39-year-old Filipino wife.
“I don’t care if you run off with a younger man and become happy, but you should let me have half of our assets,” the 49-year-old former police officer said.
The man met his wife at a bar featuring Filipino hostesses in Tokyo, and they were married in 2001.
The man retired from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department and moved to the Philippines. The man’s mother, who was over 80, also took a liking to the wife and sold a condominium in Japan to join her son and daughter-in-law in the Philippines in 2007.
However, after an expensive home and commercial building in Manila was purchased, the wife disappeared with her lover while taking the cash and jewelry owned by the man and his mother.
The home was put up for collateral for loans taken out by the wife and had to be sold off. The man and his mother lost all their assets, the equivalent of about 150 million yen ($1.9 million).
Taking his case to the local police and courts, the man was able to get an arrest warrant on suspicion of theft against his wife and her lover in March.
However, the lover phoned the man and said, “Your wife has hired an assassin to have you drop the case.”
The man continues to hide at the home of an acquaintance.
“I cannot face my mother,” the man said. “I have to do everything I can to get my money back.”
On Oct. 3, 2010, in the town of Limay in central Luzon island, a 46-year-old man originally from Osaka was found dead in a rental unit, the victim of a suicide.
According to the man’s 26-year-old Filipino common-law wife, while the man was in the Philippines, the company he worked for in Japan went bankrupt.
The couple faced economic difficulties and owed three months back rent. The man killed himself after his wife left after the couple fought.
The man’s relatives in Japan refused to accept the body so it was buried in a public cemetery in Limay.
The Foreign Ministry released statistics in June of the number of cases handled in 2010 by overseas embassies and missions to provide support to Japanese nationals.
The embassy in the Philippines handled 1,354 cases, an increase of 46 percent over the previous year.
Reflecting the increase in crime in the Philippines, the number of such cases has more than doubled over the past 10 years.
The embassy in the Philippines handled the largest number of such cases last year of any Japanese overseas mission, replacing the embassy in Thailand, even though there are 2.5 times more Japanese nationals living in Thailand.
Between 60 to 80 Japanese nationals visit the embassy in Manila every month, including a number of repeat cases of destitute Japanese.
Most ask for loans. There are many elderly Japanese who are escorted to the embassy by their Filipino family members and left at the embassy.
When embassy officials ask the Japanese nationals why they came to the Philippines, a typical response is “With the bad economic conditions in Japan, I thought I could get by if I came here.”
There was one person who came to the Philippines with only 2,000 yen.
An embassy official said, “Japanese men seem to think they can live rather easily here, influenced in part by the cheerful nature of the people.”
Most of those men have met Filipino women and often end up marrying them.
Amid the general poverty in Filipino society, many Filipinas enter into relationships with foreign men with high incomes. However, the often large gap between ideals and reality frequently leads to problems among such couples.
Last December, a 46-year-old homeless Japanese was found in the mountains of central Negros island.
The man was taken into protective custody by an officer with the Commission on Human Rights.
The man was originally from Yokohama and worked as a pipe installer. After the man’s wife died in Japan, he came to the city of Dumaguete on Negros Oriental in 2002, because a friend lived there at the time.
He began living at the home of a young woman in the city and they had a daughter. While he worked on construction projects, his income did not even approach the monthly average of a Filipino worker. The women’s family treated him coldly.
Unable to bear with that situation, the man left home in October 2010 and began living outdoors in the mountains.
According to the human rights commission officer, the woman began living with the man because she thought he was a rich Japanese, but once she learned he didn’t have any money she dumped him.
The officer advised the man to return to Japan, but he refused because he did not want to be separated from his daughter. No contact has been made with the man since February.
According to sources, there have been cases of Japanese desperately short of money becoming involved in drug smuggling or providing organs for transplants and entering into fake marriages arranged by organized crime groups.
Because the Japanese Embassy does not have a budget to provide loans to Japanese nationals to enable them to return to Japan, embassy officials often phone relatives or friends in Japan and ask that money be sent. However, such requests are often rejected with relatives and friends claiming they have cut off all ties or complaining that they would be inconvenienced if the individual returned to Japan.
In some cases, those contacted in Japan suspect they are being targeted for a scam.
The life and career of Arnaud Simon once could have exemplified the excellent relationship between Japan and France. A young French historian teaching in Tokyo, Simon was preparing a thesis on the history of thought during the Edo Period. He was married to a Japanese woman. They had one son.
But on Nov. 20, Arnaud Simon took his own life. He hanged himself. He did not need to leave an explanatory note; his closest friends knew he had lost the appetite for living because his wife would not allow Simon to see his son after their marriage broke up. Simon apparently tried on multiple occasions to take his boy home from school, but the police blocked the young father each time.
“The lawyers he met were trying to appease him, not help him,” one of his former colleagues remembers.
Another Frenchman in the same situation, Christophe Guillermin, committed suicide in June. These two deaths are terrible reminders of the hell some foreign parents inhabit in Japan – and because of Japan. When a couple separates here, custody of any children is traditionally awarded to the mother. After that, the children rarely have contact with the “other side”; they are supposed to delete the losing parent from their lives.
There is no tradition of visitation rights in Japan, and even when those rights are granted, the victory generally comes at the end of a long and costly judicial battle fought in Japanese courts. The visitation rights given are also typically very limited – sometimes just a couple of hours per month. Worse yet, the mother ultimately decides whether she wants to abide by the agreement. The police will not intervene if she refuses, on the grounds that this is a private matter. While there are exceptions, Japanese fathers seem to have basically accepted this practice. For foreign fathers, it is almost universally impossible and unbearable.
France is particularly touched by these tragedies. There have been many unions between Japanese women and French men, and many breakups. Simon’s death was shocking enough to the French community for the French ambassador to issue a stern and in many ways personal press release afterward: “Mr. Simon recently told the Consulate of the hardships he endured to meet his son, and it is most probable that to be cut off from his son was one of the main reasons (for his suicide). This reminds us, if necessary, of the pain of the 32 French fathers and of the 200 other (foreign cases involving) fathers known to foreign consulates as deprived of their parental rights.”
A Killing Separation
During a recent trip related to this subject in Japan, French judge and legal expert Mahrez Abassi said: “Japan has not ratified the Hague Convention on civil aspects of international children’s abductions. There is no bilateral convention on this topic, and our judicial decisions are not recognized in Japan.” Tokyo is in a precarious position on this issue, since one of the main topics of Japan’s diplomacy is the case of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea, for which Japan requires international solidarity.
Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs seems preoccupied by the problem, which only promises to grow because of the constant rise of international divorces in Japan – now at 6 percent – and of Japanese-foreign births (20,000). Various diplomatic delegations have visited Japan to discuss the issue. France and Japan set up a “consulting committee on the child at the center of a parental conflict” in December 2009. But the National Police Agency, the Justice Ministry, and Japanese civil society in general care little about the issue.
“There is no system better than another for the child after a breakup,” says a foreign psychiatrist who has followed cases of foreign fathers that have lost access to their children in Japan. “The French and American systems have deep flaws as well. But it is simply unbearable for a French father, for example, to be unable to meet his child.”
A French lawyer based in Tokyo, adds: “The principle of joint custody as it is known in France does not exist in Japan. To implement such a principle here, we would have to amend the Civil Code, which is very hard for family law matters in this country. If this change is enacted, the police should then compel Japanese families to hand over the ‘disputed’ child to the foreign father. This seems pretty hard to achieve.” ❶
Regis Arnaud is the Japan correspondent of leading French daily Le Figaro and has been covering Japan since 1995. He is also a movie producer. His next project, called CUT, laments the decline of the Japanese movie industry.
A killing separation By: Regis Arnaud
Number 1 Shimbun, December 16, 2010Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
It is quite easy to reduce the number of suicides in Japan. Just don’t payout the insurance money if the death is a suicide. If Japan did this the suicide rate would be cut in half. According to Japan Today, the number of people who committed suicide in Japan totaled 31,560 in 2010, topping 30,000 for the 13th straight year, the National Police Agency said in a preliminary report on Friday.
Since assuming power in September 2009, the Democratic Party of Japan-led government has taken steps to help those at risk of suicide.
The government’s anti-suicide campaigns last year appear to have had some effect as the number of people who committed suicide declined in the months immediately following the campaigns, falling 15.9% in April and 13.5% in October from a year earlier.
In November, however, the number of cases rose 10%, partially because of the prolonged economic downturn.
The number of people committing suicide declined for six months in a row in the first half of last year but rose and fell in successive months.
While 2008 and 2009 saw some months in which over 3,000 people committed suicide, the number of cases remained below 3,000 each month last year.
Of those who committed suicide last year, 22,178 were men and 9,382 women, continuing the trend for a higher number of cases among men.
The government set up an emergency strategy team at the Cabinet Office in autumn 2009 in concert with civic groups and doctors working on suicide prevention.
The team worked on measures to be implemented by related ministries and agencies, including expanding public counters where people can get advice about mental health and debt problems, and compiling region-by-region suicide prevention steps based on relevant police statistics.
The government set up a task force involving cabinet ministers last September to carry out the measures.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )