This week’s CTCB State of Play Newsletter No.12 provides a snapshot of Japan for use in considering contemporary challenges. This includes left-right/West-Not ideological polarisation, mass shootings, incels, frenzy for isolation & censorship, and the politicised radicalisation of religious figures and materials.
Theme 1 covers the case of author Yukio Mishima, storming a demilitarised base to incite a coup, before committing suicide for a pre-WWII Japan. Theme 2 covers mass-kill incidents and the risky ‘Otaku’ profile, one also affiliated with members of Aum Shinrikyu, the social outcasts, the ashamed, the obsessed. It was this profile of technologically gifted but socially dislocated individuals that were drawn to Aum’s blend of Buddhism + Science = Ultimate Truth/Solution, and enabled its mass production of chemical weapons (Theme 3).
There is a lot of intersection with high and popular culture for this security domain, so some of the readings provided are a little strange. However, they do show how the mind-state of Japanese society and terrorism risk shifts with and between fiction and reality. Escapism as technological and literary immersion facilitates life as fantasy (Napier, 2002; Grassmuck, 1990), which makes individual or collective decisions for violence more ‘rational’, although detached from the social and physical world.
A list of incidents is given on Page 5, with some trends to note. Physical and/or social disability comes up often. Tuberculosis and societal failure or interpersonal difficulties created the condition of ‘nothing to lose’, a big factor in individual decisions to act violently. Think the incel dictum ‘it’s over’. The drive for self-death by apocalypse or state execution is also common. This doesn’t seem as clear-cut as ‘revenge’ which is the conclusion often leapt to post-attack, but suicidal, cathartic, and punitive desire. In many of the cases, perpetrators described their intentions as pro-social. The presence of a personal or societal vacuum, and the vulnerabilities or swirling, slicing chaos that spirals in to fill it (Holborn, 1983), is a concept to watch out for as you read.
It begs the question: When would an attack be categorised as a heroic deed, a patriotic crime, a Herostratic crime, simply crime, or product of a sick or deluded mind?
For the series of incidents, it is interesting that there has been historical leniency towards rightists in sentencing, but rarely towards the personality disordered, mentally ill, and pharmacologically affected of recent years. Also the blaming or connection of anime like Neon Genesis Evangelion with savage violence, including by Aum Shinrikyu and Hiroyuki Tsuchida, and indeed Buddhism, is represented frequently. For movement/group type violence, the mobiliser of ‘we are/could lose everything if we don’t act’ had America, aspiritual industrialisation, and leftists as the Big Evil.
We hope you find this week’s issue interesting and useful, and that you have a good weekend ahead.