In the 1990s, Japan had a phenomenon called “hikikomori” – a concept that refers to young people confining themselves, isolated from the outside society. Two decades have passed, the pressures of Japanese youth to flee the world have become more and more obvious and widespread.
And alarmingly, social isolation combined with changes in social gender roles have created heavy “incels” of violence against women.
Incel is a concept that comes from the Internet, referring to “involuntary” singles. They are a group of young men who consider themselves incapable of attracting women, incapable of having a healthy sexual and love relationship.
Korea – Japan’s “neighbor” faces a different problem. There, it is also the changing role of gender in society that has created cultural problems. Lawmakers are even struggling with whether to make “semen terrorism” – the act of putting sperm in the victim’s food and belongings – a crime. sex or not.
Horrible violence but the reason is… “oh my god”
In August 2021, Yusuke Tsushima – a 36-year-old man used a knife frantically to attack many passengers on a train in western Tokyo. Ten people were injured under his hysterical blade, including a 20-year-old female student who received at least 10 stab wounds to the chest and back.
Yusuke Tsushima – the culprit who attacked and injured 10 people on a train in Tokyo
According to police reports, Tsushima has a resentful obsession with women after being made fun of at several gatherings and repeatedly rejected for using dating apps. “I’ve wanted to kill every happy-looking woman for the past six years,” – Tsushima told the police. “Any kind of guy.”
This is not the only serious assault and harassment against women in recent years in Japan. In July 2021, a man in Osaka was arrested for smearing feces in the bag of a woman walking on the street. Confessing to police, he said he was stressed and had a hostile intent towards women.
In 2019, a man committed suicide after attacking a group of schoolgirls waiting for a bus in the city of Kawasaki. The attack left two female students dead and 17 others injured.
In 2018, on a bullet train on the outskirts of Tokyo, a man killed a passenger with a knife and injured two others. The perpetrator, named Ryuichi Iwasaki, 55, is a hikikomori cum “incel” – according to his aunt, speaking to the media after the incident.
In May 2016, pop star Mayu Tomita was stabbed 60 times while on her way to sing at a concert in Tokyo by Tomohiro Iwazaki – a crazy fan. Previously, the female star had returned many books and a watch sent to her by Iwazaki, infuriating him and leaving up to 400 threatening comments on social media weeks before the attack. Fortunately, Tomita survived, and Iwazaki received a sentence of 14 years and 6 months in prison.
Mayu Tomita – Japanese female pop star stabbed 60 times by crazy fans
According to Makoto Watanabe, a professor of communication at Hokkaido Bunkyo University, these violent acts are like a symptom of hopelessness for a group of young Japanese men.
“In the past 18 months, there have certainly been more incidents,” – Watanabe commented. “In the past, cases like Tsushima were little known. Now, the media even gave it a name: kireru, used to refer to young people who feel dissatisfied, suddenly angry and then lose control.”
“Two decades ago, hikikomori was an ominous trend. But actually they are not violent, just want to be alone. But life in Japan has become more difficult. Do young people have a sense of leadership? And this division is even more pronounced during the pandemic.”
“For a lot of people, life is getting harder and harder and they feel so much behind other people. So they get angry, and this worries me.”
In fact, Japan is not the only place where there is violence from incels. In early September 2021, a 22-year-old man in the town of Plymouth (England) killed four people and then committed suicide after posting a message related to women on social networks. In it, he targeted “arrogant” women, making him feel “bitter and jealous” when he couldn’t find a girlfriend.
There is no shortage of incels abroad either
However, Japan’s “incel” violence stems from changes in men’s expectations of women in the younger generation.
“Japanese women today are freer, less stressed than men of the same age,” – Watanabe said. “Men will be expected to study well, get into a good university, have a stable job with a good income to support a family.”
“Those are very traditional expectations of Japanese society. But they had to endure those expectations at a different time than their ancestors did in the past, with greater financial pressures. become a “sandwich” generation, sandwiched between old values in a new age.”
“As for women, they don’t have to be subjected to the traditional pressures of the past. Although there are still limitations, they are freer than ever.”
Korea’s “sperm terror” and hostility towards women
In South Korea, there is currently a campaign to crack down on “semen terrorism” – where men put sperm in women’s clothing, food or items.
In May 2021, a male civil servant was fined 3 million won (about 56 million Vietnamese Dong) for “deliberate destruction of property”. But this charge tied to the way he committed the crime created outrage, because he was found guilty of putting semen in a female colleague’s cafe for 6 months.
In 2019, a male student was sentenced to 3 years in prison for “intent to cause injury”, after 54 times trying to mix semen, saliva, laxatives, and aphrodisiacs into a female student’s coffee with just one female student. because the girl refused to date.
In 2018, Korean media reported on a man who slipped a condom containing his semen into the bag of a woman waiting for a train.
All of the above crimes are usually assigned to the crime of “destruction of property”, because it is impossible to prove that it is sexual assault under Korean law. However, activists are demanding a new bill that would make “semen terrorism” a sex crime and carry harsher penalties with it.
Besides, hidden camera – also known as molka – is also a prominent problem in Korea, when images of women (mostly hot photos) are secretly recorded and distributed on the internet.
An isolated and outraged generation
According to consultant William Cleary in Tokyo, Japan and South Korea are two countries with high-tech backgrounds and wide-connected societies, but this makes their problems worse.
“Technology promises to make it easier for us to connect than before, but the downside is that it makes people dependent,” – he commented. “As a result, social isolation will be greater, creating a behavioral imbalance for some people.”
According to Cleary, the Covid-19 pandemic is part of the growing isolation of young people. “The pandemic creates resentment among people who have nowhere to vent their emotions.”
“Humans are inherently a species that depends on social interaction – at work, at school, with the world. When there is no interaction, some will experience anxiety, depression, which leads to mental illnesses. I’m not surprised that more cases of violence appear.”
“The attack on the Tokyo subway was a big deal, because the suspect made it clear that he wanted to kill happy-looking women. Men are under a lot of pressure, but this is the first time I’ve seen one. Men attack a woman just because she looks happy.”
Police and ambulance at the scene of the attack in Tokyo
After the attack in Tokyo in August, feminist groups have come forward demanding harsher punishments for men who commit violence against women.
“Fortunately such incidents are still quite rare in Japan, but it has indeed increased,” – Tsumie Yamaguchi, spokeswoman for Women In A New World. “This trend is worrisome, as it is not possible to stop 100% of such attacks, especially when they are perpetrated by men who have lost their minds. Police need to do more to stop them. prevent such incidents.”