Twenty-nine years ago, on May 3, 1987, a man carrying a shotgun broke into the Hanshin bureau of the Asahi Shimbun and began shooting. A 29-year-old reporter was killed, and another reporter sustained serious injuries.
A few news agencies were contacted with a statement wherein a group calling itself the Sekihotai claimed responsibility for the crime. Letters were also subsequently written that strongly denounced the media -- particularly the Asahi Shimbun.
The incident received widespread social attention as having constituted a tyrannical act clamping down upon freedom of speech. The perpetrator was never caught, however, and the parents of the murdered reporter -- who had continued to call for an investigation in order to determine what had really happened -- have both since passed away.
May 3 is Constitution Day, and since it is also the date when this incident took place, a gathering is held every year in order to consider the freedom of speech issue. This year, I joined the symposium as a speaker.
When I arrived at the venue in the city of Kobe, I overheard someone say, "Before we begin the event, people who are opposed to it are apparently going to be giving speeches out on the street."
I went outside at the designated time, and saw a single youth standing there doing something while holding a large bag. Looking closer, I saw that this person was reaching inside of a bag to pull out a megaphone, and then adorning it with a small Hinomaru flag.
This young person -- who was slim and dressed in a fancy coat -- had an innocent-looking facial expression, and resembled a university student who might have come to Kobe just to go shopping for clothes over the "Golden Week" holidays.
I went to take a closer look together with another panelist, a political scientist. Shortly thereafter, the youth -- who had by then finished with preparations for the demo -- began to speak.
"Today is apparently Constitution Day, and our Constitution -- which was forced onto us -- is a true embarrassment," the speaker said. "Japan must not have a Constitution like this."
It sounded like a speech that had been lifted directly from the speeches of the constitutional revisionists.
A bit later, the youth continued by saying, "I heard that there is an event taking place today here at this hall, but can we really say that what the Sekihotai did was wrong?"
The speech seemed to cast the incident -- which had resulted in a fatality -- in a positive light. This is unacceptable under any circumstance.
The political scientist and I were stunned. We began saying things like, "You must not justify murder!" and "Please stop this now."
Instead, however, the speaker began hurling discriminatory statements directed toward people including Koreans, before eventually concluding.
The entire experience felt appalling -- and empty.
Perhaps by spouting these sorts of anti-foreign remarks, this young person was seeking to draw attention from the local community?
I doubted that this person even understood the ramifications of what was being said -- but had instead simply found a role to fulfill, and a place to belong.
Did no adult ever scold or instruct this person by saying something along the lines of, "Glorifying discrimination and terrorism is wrong?"
As a society, we must stop creating empty youth like the one I saw on that day. (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)