For a while my least favorite Japanese word was gareki (debris), because for ages after the 3/11 tsunami, the talk was about cleaning up all the irradiated debris. The instant mental associations were pretty sad. Then, for a short time, my least favorite word was omotenashi (a term that expresses the spirit of Japanese selfless hospitality that was used by Tokyo Olympic bid ambassador Christel Takigawa in a speech to IOC), because no matter how many times I heard people repeat it, it never got even slightly amusing.

Recently my new least favorite word has become jinshinjiko. It can mean any incident where a person is injured by a train and includes those who commit suicide by jumping in front of a train. Since 2007, the national annual average of fatal jinshinjiko has been 600. Tokyo averages about one person a day.

Almost every day I hear that such-and-such a train has been delayed because of this kind of incident. It makes me sad. It also makes Japan look bad. And if you think about it, it is an incredibly selfish way for people to kill themselves. I want to live in a Japan with far fewer jinshinjiko. I want to help make that Japan, I have no idea how. Perhaps they could make a day to raise awareness.

thomas ball
oyama, tochigi

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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