Photo via CNN
This summer, Japan experienced its largest mass kill-ing since World War II, and hardly anybody heard about it.
According to CNN, at around 2 a.m. on Tuesday, July 26, Satoshi Uematsu broke into a residential care home for people with mental disabilities in Sagamihara, Ja-pan. He had been an employee at that same facility until last February. The 26-year-old man stabbed 19 people to death and injured another 26. Local officials reported Uematsu turning him-self in at around 3 a.m. carrying a bloodstained knife and cloth.
According to the Guardian, at the time he turned himself in he told the police “it is better if dis-abled people disappear.” The Sydney Morning Herald also wrote that Uematsu had sent a letter to the government of Japan that same year with a description of his intentions. They reported that in his letter he called for a euthanization of people with multiple dis-abilities when it becomes difficult for them to perform daily tasks, claiming this will ultimately “re-vitalize the world economy” and possibly “prevent World War III.”
CNN notes that firearms are highly restricted in Japan and that mass killings are extremely rare in the country. However, violence against people with dis-abilities is a widespread problem internationally. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reported last year that in 2013 rates of serious violent victimization (including but not limited to sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated assault) were upwards of three times higher for persons with disabilities than for persons without disabilities. In addition, an inquiry by the Australian Senate in 2015 found that 70 percent of women with disabilities have been subject to violent or sexual encounters, and that 90 percent of women with an intellectual disability have suffered from sexual abuse.
Despite the severity of this hate crime, as well as the larger global concern of which it is a part, there has been little buzz surrounding it on mainstream or social media. Some disability activists have argued that it is part of a larger problem in our overall ideology, that even in an age when it is so easy to quickly mobilize communities over the Internet, an attack of this magnitude specifically targeting people with disabilities has not even received enough attention for its own hashtag. This is in sharp contrast to the responses garnered from similar recent attacks, such as those in Paris and Orlando.
This brings into question not only what makes some tragedies garner such vigorous responses while others do not, but also how many others there are that are still overlooked.