Nippon, Daijoubu Desu Ka?

…and that is about the extent of my Japanese. “Japan, are you alright?”

Because damn, some fucked up shit happened up in there last week.  Some dude, Satoshi Uematsu, rolls up to the Tsukui Yamayuri-En center for disabled people near Tokyo and just starts stabbing patients.  He killed 19, injured 26, 13 of those severely, then just surrenders. With three knives.

Lest you think this was just some one who “snapped”, Uematsu was a former employee of the center and so ableist it makes my teeth itch – and they’re in another room.

“It’s better that the disabled disappear,” he has been reported to have told the cops.

Now before you get all in your feelings about this and how sad and so on, look inside yourself.  Ever had a thought like that?  Mocked a person’s speech impediment? Played parking lot police? Posted or shared a pic of someone in a wheelchair standing up? Complained about the lazy good for nothings on disability?

Sure, you didn’t take it nearly as far as this bastard did.  Fuck, he wrote a letter pretty much calling for the elimination of those with multiple disabilities.  He targeted those unable to effectively communicate.  But the thoughts behind these attacks are thoughts far too many fucking people have in regards to the disabled, especially those severely so.  A parent of an autistic child kills that child, and it oh so regrettable, but what do you expect? It was such a burden!  People joke about smothering long ill relatives at their most vulnerable to “relieve their suffering”.  Some probably aren’t even joking.

Now, there are a lot of cultural bits and bobs that go into this slaughter, but one thing remains universal – the ending of a burden.  As we turn to a future where here in the U.S. people are choosing to end their lives when they are at a point of illness that is just suffering, a measure I support, let’s not kid ourselves into thinking every case will be cut and dry. Who will speak for those without that ability? Their guardians?  What are their guardians’ motivations?  And why do we pity those guardians who take matters into their own hands?

So before we pooh pooh the attacks at Tsukui Yamayuri-En, let’s get our own shit together. Less “Nippon, daijoubu desu ka?”, and more “Minna-san (everybody), daijoubu desu ka?”.


(apologies in advance if I’ve completely mangled even that simple phrase. Gomen-nasai.)

Nippon, Daijoubu Desu Ka?
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9 thoughts on “Nippon, Daijoubu Desu Ka?

  1. N

    “Nani desu” doesnt really mean anything. “Nan(i) desu ka” means “what is it” so “Nippon, nani desu ka” would mean “what is Japan?” or “Japan, what is it?”

    “Nippon, daijoubu (desu ka)?” means “Japan, are you all right?

  2. 2

    I’m glad you wrote about this , because it’s the first post about it I’ve seen in the atheist blog community.
    Its not been covered so much in mainstream media also.
    Ableism is sort of forgotten about, or people really just actually want the disabled dead.

  3. 3

    Ableism in all its nefarious forms always makes me think of the great minds within challenged bodies who have come before us, and those with us now. Where would we have been without them?

  4. 4

    Daijoubujyanai, to omoimasu. 🙁

    Things are very not OK in Japan. There’s a lot of prejudice against the disabled as well as the mentally ill. The infrastructure for caring for them is very weak, and there is so much shame in admitting you aren’t able to “gaman” (endure hardship) that people very often just blow up in some way. They either start stabbing (glad there are no guns here) or else they turn it inwards and commit suicide.

    There’s a lot more crime-related violence in the US, but in Japan there’s an awful lot of violence between family members, and totally random violence where the person chose his/her victims at random.

    It’s a bit scary. I find myself being careful not to accidentally bump people, especially those who look stressed out.

    Just the other day, I had to physically put myself between a salaryman and a junior high school boy on the morning train. The boy accidentally bumped the man with his backpack, and the man became unreasonably angry. I was glad when a Japanese lady stepped in and spoke up to the guy, because I was afraid he was going to hurt someone. When she spoke up it shamed him, and he reamixed he’d taken it too far.

    Thank goddess for sharp, yet gentle, middle-aged Japanese ladies. 🙂

    1. 4.1

      Daijoubujyanai, to omoimasu.

      First a moment of joy because I know that that means without having to look it up. Yatta!

      Now to get serious. That sounds fucking horrible. I’m also glad there are few guns there, or the slaughter would have probably been a lot, lot worse.

  5. 5

    I will never be black or female. Feminace will never be white or male. There are so many physical characteristics we’re just born with, and evil as it is, I can sort of understand the bigotry . . . people get sold on who “us” is and who “they” are when they are very young and never manage to wise up. But there’s a pretty damned good chance that Feminace and I will both be less-abled than we are now, perhaps profoundly so, and there’s a near certainty that some of the people we love will be. This is a fact of life we all live with. Discrimination against the disabled is discrimination against everyone, including ourselves. It’s beyond evil, it’s bat-shit crazy.

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