It is a fear that haunts the lives of too many Japanese women; a silent epidemic with consequences that can be fatal: Japan is suffering a wave of violent male stalkers.
And some victims are speaking out. Reports of stalking have increased ten-fold in the past decade, with more than 21,000 reported cases last year. But experts warn that this could be just the tip of the iceberg.
Rates of stalking are growing faster in Japan than in any other nation. When a stalker murdered a woman in 2011, Japan’s anti-stalking law was toughened. But the killings continue.
‘Hiro’ began stalking his wife when she fled their home and his violent, controlling ways. He tells 101 East that he planned to kill his wife in divorce court because he believed it would be better for her to die than to be with another man.
Like Hiro, Japan’s stalkers are often jilted lovers seeking revenge on former partners who they feel have wronged them or tried to leave them.
It is not easy to find victims and perpetrators willing to talk about stalking. But through support groups, we enter a world that remains hidden in the shadows of Japanese society, often at a shocking cost.
We speak to stalking victims who detail the terrifying experience of being continually threatened and harassed. We also hear from the brother of a woman who was killed by her stalker. He wants to draw attention to the dangers of stalking and says tougher laws are needed to protect women.
Therapists working with both victims and perpetrators say that much of the crisis is rooted in Japanese society. They say many Japanese men believe that they “own” women. They also claim that the police often fail to act to stop violent attacks.
Japan’s leading criminal psychologist on stalking is calling for therapy to be made compulsory for any stalker with a criminal conviction.
101 East travels to Japan to explore the fear stalking numerous women across the country, and to hear from the men behind this insidious crime.
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