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Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Contemplating mother-daughter relationships

Rika Kayama (Mainichi)

The Supreme Court recently rejected an appeal by Kanae Kijima over her conviction for the deaths of three men under suspicious circumstances and other charges in the Tokyo metropolitan area that occurred in 2009. While Kijima still claims she is innocent, the death sentence handed down to her by the lower courts is set to be finalized.

    From within the walls of the detention center, the 42-year-old Kijima pens a journal and an autobiography that are occasionally made public through her supporters. Even before the Supreme Court decision, a long article by Kijima was published in a weekly magazine.

    According to her detailed writings about her daily life in the detention center, Kijima makes sandwiches from canned foods and jams given to her by supporters, and regularly wears trendy fashion and Kashmir gloves. She also apparently married a man that she had corresponded and met with repeatedly since her trial began, divorced him, and then remarried another man. All I could think was that she was desperately trying to appeal to others that she was living an "enjoyable lifestyle."

    I couldn't fathom why she would want to project this image. If she is in fact enjoying her daily life while having committed crimes, then her behavior is extremely thoughtless and hard to excuse. However, I was pulled in by the opening of one of her pieces which read, "I was driven to write today because I wanted to clearly record my feelings toward my mother."

    Kijima repeatedly writes about her resentment and despair from being "rejected by her mother." She appears to feel "neglected" by her real mother now, but this feeling is probably not recent at all. Kijima is said to have been raised in an education-obsessed household. I wonder if even as a little girl she had wanted to say "spoil me more and play with me," to her mother but hadn't been able to do so. I feel that that is the reason why Kijima is now trying things like appealing to her mother about enjoying her life, while still at times abruptly requesting an early execution because she says her mother wishes for her death more than anyone else.

    While it's not an easy comparison to make, there are now many daughters who harbor feelings wishing their mothers had given them more attention or been kinder to them when they were children. In particular, women who spent their childhoods excelling academically perhaps felt as though they could not act like a child even in front of their mothers, and became resentful that they had been "neglected" after reaching adulthood.

    Of course, Kijima is a special case, but I feel that there is common ground between her and other daughters who felt they couldn't be honest about their feelings with their mothers. I ended up thinking for quite a while about what exactly the relationship between a mother and daughter should be like. (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

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