The Journal of History     Fall 2002 TABLE OF CONTENTS
Book Review
Teens Ready To Kill Their Parents



"Bokutachi no Munenouchi" (What is on our mind)
By M Ishikawa, Y Komamura, T Shibui, R @Otsuki

Review by Mami Fukae

Brutal crimes by teenagers recently, including two cases in which boys killed their mothers last year, have prompted a revision of the Juvenile Act, yet the public is still left unclear about what is behind the increase in juvenile crime.

The book "Bokutachi no Munenouchi" (What is on our mind), by four free-lance writers, Mariko Ishikawa, Yasutaka Komamura, Tetsuya Shibui and Rob @Otsuki, published by Wani Books (1,365 yen), is a collection of opinions of more than 40 people aged between 15 and 23 on teenage crime.

What their candid remarks convey is that many teens today feel alienated in their lives and feel there is no way to extricate themselves.

One 18-year-old unemployed boy says in the book, "I am greatly disturbed by the recent public prejudice against my generation (teenagers). My parents treat me like a murderer. I was once sent to the Juvenile Classification Office, but I didn't kill anybody. I am interested neither in weapons nor offending anyone weaker than me."

However, a 21-year-old female college student confesses, "I really wanted to kill my mother. She often scolded me over trivial matters, and beat and hit me when she couldn't have her way. But I didn't even hit her because I thought everything in Japan was screwed up - the law and society as well as my parents. I thought if I did anything to my parents, I'd have to kill myself."

A 17-year-old high school girl says: "I have been physically abused by my mother since I was a child. She beat me over small things, stripped me and dashed cold water on me in winter. I never felt my parents have ever loved me. I think those who kill their parents are great."

A 19-year-old unemployed youth tells a similar story of abuse.

"My grandfather was a painter and my mother a wood-block printer. They were very strict on me. I was beaten and pinched until I got bruised even when I just spilt juice over my pants. Once I was also tied to a tree for two days. When I had to choose which college to enter, they insisted I enter a national art university, although I never wanted to," he says.

Editor's note: Being strict is not the same as being cruel. This grandparent and parent impress me as being cruel instead of strict. Cruelty is a form of child abuse.

But his reaction was so intense that his body reacted even before he was conscious of it. "One morning, I woke up to find I lost all of my hair," he reveals. "A little while ago, I found myself thinking 'How free I would be if only I could get rid of my parents.' I was terrified because this means I might have killed them if I had got the chance."

Some recall feeling their lives were at a dead end but being saved, not by their family members, but by someone they hardly knew.

A 19-year-old college student says, "I started living in Tokyo upon entering university. But I couldn't make friends with anyone. I seem to become uncontrollable. I wasn't beating up anyone but I was kicking the walls at school. So I stopped going and stayed at home."

He stayed at home for nearly three months without eating much. Then his parents had him committed to a mental hospital.

"I felt betrayed. I was very sad, thinking 'No one understands me.' That's why I have sympathy for the 17-year-old boy who hijacked a bus and murdered a passenger last year. It could have been me," he explains.

But there was one person who was willing to help him. "She was a staff member at my university. She told me 'Come and talk to me whenever you want.' I don't know why she took an interest in me, but I called her, saying, 'I don't know what I might do. I am dead scared. Please help me.' I talked about myself, and she listened to me, and cried over my story. How happy I was. It was beyond words. Without her support, I might have killed someone."

Editor's note: Confirmation of that which was stated in Jerry Mooney's story. Violence transcends culture.

Another 19-year-old male student in Tokyo says he attempted in vain to hang himself.

"I am from Shizuoka Prefecture and I started living on my own after I entered a Tokyo university. I joined a filmmaking club, but I spent most of the time just watching movies at home without going to school, or going to work. One day, I tried hanging myself in my room. I don't know why. I don't even remember if I wanted to die. Fortunately or unfortunately, I fell to the floor. I just cried and cried."

What saved him was a call from his acquaintance. The person phoned him just to ask him if he wanted to join him in working part-time at a hotel kitchen. The student told him everything he did. "He just listened to me for hours without saying a word. I cried in front of him. Then he told me, 'Let's go on living and laughing together.' I felt I was saved when I heard him say that."

He adds he understands the feelings of those who kill others. "Maybe they don't trust anybody. But there must be someone who could help them. If only they were aware of it, maybe they wouldn't kill, I think," he concludes.

June 29, 2001

"Bokutachi no Munenouchi" (What is on our mind) by M Ishikawa, Y
Komamura, T Shibui, R @Otsuki
Published by Wani Books
1,365 yen
ISBN: 4-8470-1375-1


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