Thursday, 28 May 2015

Murderers Just Don't Say Good Morning

A man in Osaka murdered his neighbor this morning, killing her in front of her one year old son. The media pack which assembled immediately began interviewing the other residents of the apartment building about the nature of the murderer~ "I hear he didn't give set greetings (aisatsu)," a reporter asked, "is that so?" "Yes!" The neighbor replied. "He never returned greetings."

In 2005 I was having dinner with a professor of law who taught at a prestigious university. He was telling me about a case with a particularly violent offender. During interviews with the man's family it turned out that his mother had never said "welcome home" (okaeri). "No wonder he became a criminal" my acquaintance exclaimed vehemently, "he never learned the most basic thing about living in society!"

In 2011 I was teaching at a junior high school in a low socio-economic status area with a number of pretty troubled students. There was violence, teen pregnancy, kids cracking open beers on the front steps of the school, that sort of thing. The principal made a speech to the assembled student body about how if they just worked on their greetings, their lives would change for the better.

These experiences are why, when I started watching the TV drama "あいしてる” and a kid came home from school without saying "I'm home" (tadaima) I knew he was going to get into serious trouble. Sure enough, episode two and he'd smashed another kid's head in.

Aisatsu, guys. Don't mess with the greetings.
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