A national debate on the use of reserved seats for the elderly takes place in Japanese social networks since the past February 7 a 34-year-old man was stabbed by another 62, disgusted, he confessed, because his victim occupied with Frequently priority seats for seniors on a train line from Osaka.
According to what has transpired in the local media, the aggressor, Motokazu Koizumi, and the assaulted, who is hospitalized and out of danger, had met several times on the Kanjo train line. Koizumi – a temporary employee of a private surveillance agency – used that line to return from his shift as a night watchman in the early hours of the morning while his victim was on his way to work.
The day of the aggression, the two discussed and got off at the Taisho station shortly before seven in the morning. As they prepared to leave the station, Koizumi pulled out a small knife, stabbed his victim repeatedly in the stomach and fled taking advantage of the morning crowd.
Koizumi surrendered to the police after the incident and confessed that he had met on previous occasions with his victim who had been rebuked by the continuous use of seats, which on Japanese trains and subways are reserved for the elderly, pregnant women and people with physical disabilities.
The stabbing, an unusual event in a country with one of the lowest rates of crime in Asia, was perpetrated with a fruit knife in the second city of Japan and is generating rivers of comments from people who in many cases consider it lawful to occupy Reserved seats when they are not occupied.
In the digital debate, identified as “the problem of priority seats”, some users condemn the extreme act of Koizumi but express their displeasure with young passengers who pretend to be asleep or distracted with their phones in the reserved seats to ignore the elderly when they enter the car.
Occupying the priority seats in Japan illegitimately does not imply any penalty, but it is recommended not to do so. On the contrary, it is penalized not to respect the wagons dedicated exclusively to women, due to the existence of chikan (handlers), men who take advantage of peak hours to besiege especially schoolgirls.
The statistics have been quick to appear and a poll from the news website sirabee.com indicates that women who use the least priority seats are women, although for very different reasons according to age. While 50.8% of women in their twenties avoid those seats out of respect, 56.4% of women in 50 go away for fear of being taken by older people.
A user on Twitter complains about having been rejected with disgust when he tried to give the seat to a lady who supposed he needed one of the priority seats. While the conviction of Koizumi is known, the episode has served to draw attention to the public treatment of the elderly in a society with one of the highest levels of aging of its population. One of the most cautious comments said: “Now I’ll think about it when I’m going to use those seats.”
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