I’ve been meaning to talk about this for a few days – last week, M. told me about a fire at a “video café” in Osaka.
(“15 killed in pre-dawn fire in Osaka Japan”)
For someone who frequently stays overnight at similar establishments* (I’ve done so four times so far this sojourn), this is food for thought. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for the fire exit(s) and noting them before going to sleep.
From Japan Today:
Police arrested a 46-year-old man Wednesday on suspicion of arson and murder following a predawn fire that left 15 people dead and 10 others injured, three seriously, at an establishment for viewing videos in a multi-tenant building in Osaka.
Kazuhiro Ogawa, an unemployed man from Higashiosaka, Osaka Prefecture, is suspected of setting fire to a newspaper in his bag while using one of the rooms in the establishment, according to police. They quoted him as saying he had ‘‘got fed up with life.’’
All of the dead, found in individual rooms, were male customers and are believed to have died of carbon monoxide poisoning or inhalation burns, according to firefighters.
There were 32 individual rooms, each equipped with a reclining sofa, TV and video recorder, and 26 customers, two staff members and the manager were present when the fire broke out, police and firefighters said.
Most of the dead were found in the individual rooms, while several were found collapsed in the aisle, which is 1.2-1.6 meters wide.
A 37-year-old customer from Itami, Hyogo Prefecture who managed to escape said he had gone to the establishment at around 1 a.m. following work in order to stay there overnight. The layout of the establishment ‘‘is so complicated that customers who visited here for the first time may have found it difficult to escape.’’
At the fire-hit Osaka establishment, a customer could stay for up to 11 hours from 11 p.m. at a cost of ¥1,500 ($15)
“Got fed up with life,” huh? Evidently categorically so, not just individually - why is it that so many Japanese suiciders these days are determined to take other people with them? Why can’t they just go and get lost in Aokigahara anymore? One of the worst ones was ex-janitor Mamoru Takuma, who fatally stabbed seven girls and one boy with a kitchen knife at an Osaka elementary school in 2001.
From The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal:
When he was arrested, Takuma reportedly told police, ''I'm exhausted. I've become disgusted with everything. I've tried to kill myself several times, but couldn't. Give me a death sentence.''
I can’t independently prove that capital punishment is an effective deterrent, but with this case I can prove that it is sometimes an enticement.
* * *
There was a run on bandages and swabs today. The children are playing outside all the time now, and it’s not like there’s a grassy knoll for them to go frolic on. In Canada, when kids trip and fall on the playground, they can get grass stains. Here, they get blood stains. Now, there are a few jungle gyms and some swings here, but they’re not much. Most of the time the kids play on and around ornamental boulders or concrete and tile ledges, with predictable results.
One of my colleagues is feeling the heat in preparing for her sankanbi lesson, similar to what I experienced back in June with the open lesson. She drew the short straw, so to speak, and is teaching Year 6 Social Studies. Ulp. In an effort to save their own face, the Japanese teachers and the administration have been bouncing her around from topic to topic, idea to idea, and she’s feeling a little bit under the gun. Fortunately for everyone, she’s not as stubborn or belligerent as I was and she tolerates others’ stupidity and lack of forethought (not to mention continuity and resources) rather well – much better than I.
I think, though, in both cases it’s ironic and somewhat contemptible that the burden of promoting the school and increasing teacher’s salaries via enrolment is placed upon the lowest-paid, shortest-staying employees. M-sensei and W-sensei appealed to me directly on the point of teacher’s salaries. I should have told them that was a laughable appeal to make, as 1) they made (I’m guessing) treble and quintuple my salary, 2) I was living off cup noodles and instant ramen, and 3) I probably wasn’t coming back anyway. I know we all have dues to pay in life, but that was ridiculous.
Well, day duty tomorrow! I’d best be off.
* - BBC: Immersed in Japan’s media pods