I was having dinner with some friends when one says, “Did you hear about the stabbings in Hakata Station?” Apparently, some guy just suddenly got the urge to stab people Friday night/early Saturday morning. Thankfully, there were no fatalities, and only one person was seriously injured. (Here’s an article in English about it.)

Up till now, the random stabbing sprees that occurred in Japan always seemed far away. Not that they were common anyway. It’s true that Fukuoka has one of the highest crime rates in Japan, but that seems to be mostly because of all the yaks. And with things like that, as long as you’re not involved with them, you tend to be safe.

Growing up in the City of Detroit, I learned to always have my guard up. But I also knew that random crime was uncommon. Most crime, in any place, tends to go on between people who know each other. Yes, sometimes completely innocent people get caught in the cross fire. And sometimes family members get mixed up in a relative’s mess. But for the most part, looking at crime overall, I always figured I’d be more likely to get beat up by a boyfriend than to be assaulted at random by a stranger, especially since back then I obviously wasn’t carrying a single thing worth stealing.

Suffice it to say, I find completely random violence pretty disturbing. There’s no way you can guard against a stranger who suddenly decides this is gonna be the day they slash or shoot people up.

I found myself thinking, “Thank goodness people in Japan don’t have guns.” If someone open fired with an automatic or semiautomatic weapon in a place as jam-packed as Hakata Station, it’d be a blood bath.

Recently I saw on the news here the story of Yoshihiro Hattori, an exchange student who was shot and killed 20 years ago in Louisiana when he went to the wrong house for a Halloween party and the homeowner thought he was trying to break in (despite Hattori’s having rung the doorbell). I was just a kid when it happened, so I don’t remember if I knew about this incident back then. But seeing it on the news here, and reading up about it, I thought, “I wonder if this is the reason my English Course students, when doing skits that took place in the States, would ALWAYS have a part where one of them gets shot.” There was always something too personal in the sense of persecution they seemed to display. It wasn’t just the idea that everyone in the States had a gun, it was the idea that if they went to the States, they would be shot by these weapons.

Reading about Hattori, I couldn’t help thinking of Trayvon Martin. How many other unarmed youths have been shot and killed at close range without provocation?

I’ve noticed an increase in police patrols in my city. I hardly ever used to see police cars at all. I don’t think it’s that I didn’t notice them; even though I never had anything to hide from the police, I can’t say I trust them completely, so I tend to note their presence. Now I often see them rolling around with their lights flashing.

Meanwhile, Detroit was getting more bad press. I saw this article this morning. More than the article itself, the comments made me sad. Here is a city in need of TLC, and all people can say is “raze it to the ground” and “it’s the minorities’ fault.”