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A Pause for the Akihabara Dead

From the New York Times:

TOKYO – A 25-year-old man “tired” of life went on a killing rampage in a busy shopping area in central Tokyo on Sunday, plowing his truck into a crowd of pedestrians before stabbing passers-by with a survival knife. Seven people died and 11 others were injured in the attack.

The attack took place shortly after noon on a main thoroughfare that had been closed off to vehicles for the day in Akihabara, the main district for electronic goods in Tokyo and a magnet for fans of Japanese anime and manga comics. The location, as well as the number of fatalities, stunned a country that has long enjoyed low crime rates but has recently experienced random stabbings in less-high-profile areas.

The police identified the attacker as Tomohiro Kato, who was living by himself in a small apartment in Shizuoka, a prefecture just west of Tokyo.

According to the Japanese media, Mr. Kato told the police that he had grown “tired” of life, “hated the world” and had gone to Akihabara to kill people.

“Anyone was O.K.,” he told the police, according to the Japanese media.

This mass murderer hit people like us in the place we would have felt safest. Especially with people who are typically not the most aggressive in society. That’s why it hurts so much, and we at Anime Diet send our thoughts, prayers, and grief to the epicentre and the birthplace of so much of our entertainment and joy.

It’s hard not to wonder, like I did initially during the Virginia Tech shootings (which took place in an Engineering building), whether this is something of a “geek hate crime” aimed specifically at otaku. From what we know now, it doesn’t appear to be, just as it wasn’t in VTech. The killer appears to be connected to the yakuza, and said “anyone would do.” It takes a special kind of callousness, I think, to simply pick out purely random victims, each of whom have names, have stories, have families and friends.

Sometimes in our concentration on our various anime and manga fantasies, we forget there are real people producing it, real people buying it. May all otaku worldwide unite in mourning and in solidarity with our fallen brothers and sisters in fandom.

These are the seven dead (from ANN):

As a minister-to-be, I would like to offer the same prayer that I offered after the Virginia Tech massacre, from the Book of Common Prayer.

Today we are reminded, O God, of the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil ones and establish your rule of justice, love and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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