This post contains graphic descriptions of violence, ableism, eugenics and murder. If you need to talk to someone, contact LifeLine on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 in Australia, or the crisis lines in your country.
This picture remembers the disabled people who were murdered in an act of terror and hate against disabled people in Japan.
Image description – a Japanese flag shedding one red tear drop. The universal symbol for disability is in the middle of the flag. The text reads ‘Mourning those killed at Tsuki Yamayuri En. End hate against disabled people’. The black triangle logo, an upturned white triangle on a black background, is beside the text.
(Feel free to use this image and text for your social media profile picture.)
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, a former employee of a disability care home in Sagamihara, Japan, broke into the facility and restrained then stabbed its residents. 19 people were killed, and 45 people were injured. The disability support workers were handcuffed while this happened, and escaped uninjured.
After the slaughter, the killer tweeted:
“I hope for world peace. Beautiful Japan!!!!!!”
This man then handed himself into the police. The Guardian reported:
“I did it,” he was quoted as telling police officers at around 3am. “It is better that disabled people disappear,” he was said to have added.”
He grinned for the cameras. No remorse.
The man told friends he believed taking care of disabled people was a waste of money. How did he treat those in his “care” when he worked there?
A new Japanese friend I made on Twitter through tweeting about the tragedy shared a brave tweet, showing some people share the sentiments of the killer.
The Japanese government knew about it and they should have done more to prevent it. Would they have taken more notice if this man followed a certain religion or looked a certain way, or had a different demeanour to the way his neighbours described him? Or did the government conspire with him?
My heart breaks. I’m so sad for these people – how frightened they must have been. My deepest sympathies go to their loved ones. I worry about the way disabled people are treated all around the world.
The biggest thing that’s been on my mind this week is the silence about this story.
The discussion about the murder of 19 disabled people in Japan is an echo chamber – mostly among other disabled people.
While the media is relatively quiet about this, it saddens me more that not many of you are not talking about it either. You’re not upset like Orlando or Niece or Paris, Istanbul, Kabul, Baghdad and so on. (I’ve thanked every non disabled friend for sharing the news.)
You know, I have compassion fatigue too. The tragedies year has been too much to bear. Every day we wake up to news that makes us cry. Stop the world, I want to get off.
But this time, there is no hashtag. No public outcry. Not even prayers. When I posted about it on Facebook, people have told me they didn’t know about it.
In this age of algorithmic curation, It’s no wonder this isn’t in your newsfeed – because no one is talking about it. Very few people are talking about the massacre of 19 disabled people. Very few people are talking about 45 people who were injured by a knife attack – how scared they must have been, wondering if they’d live, witness to the violent death of their housemates.
The idea that the lives of disabled people are worthless is not a new one. Most of my friends with disabilities have been told we should kill ourselves at some point of my life. I’ve been told this on a date. Others are told this by strangers. Disabled people are scared.
Forbes wrote “this is what disability erasure looks like”.
The killer wrote a letter to the Japanese government in February this year, outlining his intent to kill. He was hospitalised involuntarily for two weeks, and released without charge. And then he killed 19 and injured 45. I will post his letter below.
Yet the Japan Times claimed the killer’s motive would be difficult to determine.
It seems pretty clear to me. He wrote:
“I believe there is still no answer about the way of life for individuals with multiple disabilities. The disabled can only create misery. I think now is the time to carry out a revolution and to make the inevitable but tough decision for the sake of all mankind. Let Japan take the first big step.”
These residents’ lives were not valued from the time the government received the letter and did not act.
When I and others wrote about Me Before You – that the premise was disabled people are better off dead, we were shut down, told the movie is only fictional. A man believed disabled people are better off dead and acted on it this week. 19 people are dead in an act of terror – a hate crime – and no one is talking about it. No one is calling it a terrorist attack or a hate crime either. Is it because disabled lives aren’t worth as much?
This is Japan’s biggest mass killing. It rivals the number of those killed in recent attacks.
And still, no one is talking about it. We only know the killer’s name, his evil, remorseless smile and his horrific intent. I want to know more about the disabled people killed and injured in Sagamihara than the killer. I hope the government and media honours them. I don’t think they will. (This piece is a good indication why.) And as reported today, where will the survivors even live now?
The silence is deafening. These are my people who were murdered and injured in Japan . They were hated and they were hunted because they were disabled. And I wonder when more non-disabled people will talk about it. Anyone could become disabled or have a child born with a disability, and anyone could be born in a country that doesn’t care for its disabled.
To the disabled people around the world: you matter, I love you, the world needs you, you are valuable. This tragedy and media is tough, seek support if you need.
Here are some pieces of writing that articulate the tragedy much better than me.
There’s also a statement from the Japanese Government.
Here is the killer’s Satoshi Uematsu’s chilling letter, sourced from The Daily Mail. It contains graphic descriptions of violence, eugenics, ableism and murder. If you need to talk to someone, contact LifeLine on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 in Australia, or the crisis lines in your country.
As Bill Peace described it, “the letter is chilling. Ableism in its most deadly form.”
“Dear Lower House Speaker Tadamori Oshima,
Thank you very much for reading this letter. I can wipe out a total of 470 disabled individuals.
I am fully aware that my remark is eccentric. However, thinking about the tired faces of guardians, the dull eyes of caregivers working at the facility, I am not able to contain myself, and so I decided to take action today for the sake of Japan and the world.
My reasoning is that I may be able to revitalize the world economy and I thought it may be possible to prevent World War III.
I envision a world where a person with multiple disabilities can be euthanized, with an agreement from the guardians, when it is difficult for the person to carry out household and social activities.
I believe there is still no answer about the way of life for individuals with multiple disabilities. The disabled can only create misery. I think now is the time to carry out a revolution and to make the inevitable but tough decision for the sake of all mankind. Let Japan take the first big step.
Would Mr. Tadamori Oshima, who bears the world, use his power to make the world proceed in a better direction? I sincerely hope you would deliver this message to Mr. Shinzo Abe. This is the answer I reached after serious thinking about what I can do for humankind.
Dear Lower House Speaker Tadamori Oshima, would you lend your power for the sake of dear Japan and all humankind?
Please give this full consideration. Satoshi Uematsu
The Plot: It will be carried out during the night shift, when staffing is low. The target will be two facilities where many multiply disabled people reside.
Staff on guard will be strapped with cable so they can’t move and can’t make contact with anyone outside. The act will be carried out speedily, and definitely without harming the staff. After wiping out the 260 people in two facilities, I will turn myself in.
In carrying out the act, I have several requests. After my arrest, my incarceration should be up to two years, and please let me lead a free life afterward. Innocence on grounds of insanity. A new name (Takashi Iguro), government registration and documents such as a driver’s license needed for everyday life.
A disguise for regular society through plastic surgery. Financial aid of 500 million yen ($5 million). I would like these conditions to be promised.
If you can make your decision, I will carry it out at any time. Please consider this fully for the sake of Japan and world peace.
I hope with all my heart that this can be discussed with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, although I am sorry to trouble him in an unimaginably busy schedule.