Wednesday, May 14

An Eye for an Eye

Please read this article, to put this blog entry into context.

The other day I made an address in front of the E.U. Ambassador. I explained that historically speaking, Japanese civilization personifies symbiosis with nature, and therefore places extreme importance on the sanctity of life. For that very reason, we feel extreme anger toward those who rob another of life. We have a culture of repaying a death with a death. I feel proud to have been born into such a culture. I feel that, on the contrary, giving someone life in prison rather than the death penalty no matter how many people they kill I is a dry and coldly logical way of thinking.

A quote from Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama


How about compassionate? Giving someone a chance at redemption is neither cold nor logical, it takes faith in the human spirit, that by itself, given the act that the culprit put in prison, isn't logical at all. Faith that someone can change after a crime of that magnitude isn't logical.

Death for Death, or an Eye for an Eye isn't the Japanese way at all. If it is, should America be expecting some sort of retribution for Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Should killing real beget killing? And is an executioner really better than a murderer, how is one justifiable and the other not?

Execution isn't a punishment, living with guilt, trying to forgive yourself, trying to find forgiveness from those you've injured and attempting to redeem yourself is punishment. Often it's a burden that is never lifted. Execution on the other hand puts fear into you, fear of the unknown, but it's shortlived. And as I don't believe in an after life where people are held accountable for their crimes, it's ultimately unsatisfying.

I feel ambivalent about stories like this, part of me thinks "well, it's Japan, and I really couldn't care less because nothing I say will change the 'proud' Japanese 'civilization'" and another part of me wonders how long it will take for humanity to all be on the same page and wants to do something to bring about change. Stories like this just make me feel impotent.

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