Disability Japan Sagamihara

In Memoriam: On the Third Anniversary of the Sagamihara Stabbings

By Barrier Free Japan

July 26th 2019

Friday 26th July 2019 will mark the third anniversary of the killing and wounding of disabled people at a care home in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture.

A knife-wielding man went on a rampage early Tuesday at a care facility for people with disabilities in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, killing at least 19 people and wounding 25 others, 20 of them seriously, in one of the worst mass killings in modern Japanese history.

That is how The Japan Times  initially reported what has become to be known as the ‘Sagamihara Stabbings’ or sometimes the ‘Sagamihara Massacre’. The number of the reported wounded increased to 26 people in the hours after the attack, which occurred around 2:10am on Tuesday July 26th 2016.

I really don’t like anniversaries. I like remembering when I married my wife, whom I love very much, and could be talked into celebrating my birthday – still not sure why we celebrate getting older – but I have never fully understood why we have ‘acts of remembrance’. When I was studying philosophy at Hull University in the UK, one of my lecturers was fond of pointing out that ‘amnesty’, something often pronounced at the end of a war, is etymologically close to ‘amnesia’. By forgetting you become unaware of the wrong done to do you, or at least the wrong that was done to you loses some of its emotional significance. Some people find this helpful when recovering from trauma, such as an attack from others.

However, it is difficult forget trauma when one is still being attacked. The suspect in the Sagamihara case will face trial in early January 2020. However since then there have been other attacks against disabled people, such as the care worker in Sapporo City who has just been arrested on suspicion of killing a disabled man under his care.

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