In October, about 800,000 people packed the streets of central Tokyo with raised hands and hand-phones to greet eighty-seven medalists from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics & Paralympics. Athletes on parade soaked in moments of glory, awed by the sheer crowd, as cheers roared from office windows, restaurants and shops above ground. Customers with undone hair, diners, and office workers lined glass windows immediately when their champions came near. For a taste, http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161007_14/
While crowds soaked in the excitement, over at Shibuya – not too far away, a suspicious-looking bag led to cordoned-off streets in fear of a bomb-threat. Strangely, the coverage was extremely brief, but it captured thoughts of Japanese startled by lurking danger.
Murders seem to be a daily affair. One took place near my region. Nineteen people with disabilities were stabbed to death past midnight while asleep in their residential facility. The murderer is 26 years old, a former employee of that facility. Uematsu injured 26 others that night, causing mental stress and traumatic behaviour amongst victims and survivors. After the slaughter, he tweeted, “I hope for world peace. Beautiful Japan!” To Uematsu, “It is better that the disabled disappear…the disabled can only create misery…there is no answer about the way of life for individuals with multiple disabilities…I think now is the time to carry out a revolution and to make the inevitable but tough decision for the sake of all mankind. Let Japan take the first big step.” (Extracted from his letter to the government in February this year expressing his intention to kill).
I wonder how Uematsu felt if he saw the athletes with disabilities winning their medals at the Paralympics. Uematsu is reported to be mentally unwell but medical grounds will not soothe grief. Imagine what that night of stabs left the survivors, staff, and families?
Down south in Yokohama, two elderly patients on intravenous (IV) drip died mysteriously. Their IV drips had been tampered with toxins. Police are investigating forty-six patients who died in the same ward in this hospital. Apparently, bleach was also found in nurses’ drinks. “People trust hospitals. It is scary that this has happened”. Who would have thought the liquid in the intravenous drip bag was meant to kill? Murder suspected.
20 typhoons came and gone. Typhoon 10 brought severe floods, rainfall, crop-damage and deaths. Last month, Mt. Aso volcano erupted after 36 years, accompanied by atmospheric vibrations, ashes and earthquakes. Officials warn of further re-eruptions. The news also never fails to report each missile fired by North Korea to nearby waters.
How do the Japanese cope with the news: another disaster, an unprecedented murder, threats? Are they shocked? Are they numb? Tourists often price Japan as safe – true but there is still crime. New tricks by impostors and uncommon murders make news.
Many still choose Japan for travels – for its seasons, safety, food and beauty. When reality beckons us to the not-so-nice parts; the bad and the ugly, how do we respond? What should we do?
Pray for Japan – the bright and the dark. Pray for a deep consciousness of sin amongst the Japanese, as most do not think they have personal sin. Thank God that while sin seems to reign, our Lord Jesus, our Saviour, has come to save us from the clutches of sin! As churches welcome Christmas, may multitudes of Japanese encounter this truth!