The slaughter in broad daylight of seven individuals on the streets of a busy Tokyo district on Sunday was shocking in the suddenness of the act, a feat as alien to Taiwanese as the Sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway in 1995. What is it that pushes an individual to commit such atrocities against his kin, that compels him to give physical form to madness?
Events such as Sunday’s may be rare, but they do happen — and not only in Japan, whose strict social mores have often been blamed for alienating young people to a combustible extent. The Columbine High School massacre of 1999 in the US, in which 12 students were killed, or the slaying 10 years earlier of 14 women at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal are only two examples.
In these cases, the perpetrators had either been bullied at school or felt that society or a specific group — in the Montreal case, women — had rejected them. Even the Tokyo subway attack, launched by the Aum Shinrikyo religious group, which killed 12 people and injured hundreds, would not have happened had the sect’s leaders not been able to exploit a certain social malaise in members of all stripes, including scientists.
There is no sure inoculation against random acts of violence, especially as some of them are the product of mental illness upon which external events can have little or no bearing. But there are things we can do as a society to make it less likely that some individuals will not choose the path of violence to express their angst.
Schools and families must learn to accept difference and create environments that encourage individuals to develop in a manner consistent with their needs. Not all people are cut out to be elite professionals, nor do all children want to grow up to take over their parents’ business. More so in Asia, where the shadow of Confucianism has stigmatized individuals who do not fit the model and which in extreme cases has led to suicide or acts of irrationality.
Beyond this, society as a whole must avoid cultivating fear and despair, a general mood that like radioactive ashes settles on everybody and, in the extreme, could turn susceptible, fragile individuals into people who are a risk to themselves and others.
Wherever we turn, it seems that the end of the world is upon us. From global warming to earthquakes, the threat of war in Iran to looming global recession, record oil prices to the next pandemic, a never-ending “war” on terrorism to rising commodity prices — people are bombarded by a media chorus of imminent doom, and in the electronic age the chorus has become louder than ever.
The youth who slashed seven people to death in Tokyo on Sunday said he was “sick of living.” As police are still trying to find out the motives and reason behind the killings, it is too soon to tell whether mental illness or something else triggered his act. But for those who can be brought back from the edge, it behooves us to take a collective breath and reflect on a world in which people are animated by fear and despair, which can only lead into a constant battle for survival, an endless resistance against an external threat, real or imagined.
This is no way to live. It is insane and makes it likelier that similar acts will be committed in the future.
Ideas matter. They especially matter in world affairs. And in communist countries, it is communist ideas, not supreme leaders’ personality traits, that matter most. That is the reality in the People’s Republic of China. All Chinese communist leaders — from Mao Zedong (毛澤東) through Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平), from Jiang Zemin (江澤民) and Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) through to Xi Jinping (習近平) — have always held two key ideas to be sacred and self-evident: first, that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is infallible, and second, that the Marxist-Leninist socialist system of governance is superior to every alternative. The ideological consistency by all CCP leaders,
The US on Friday hosted the second Global COVID-19 Summit, with at least 98 countries, including Taiwan, and regional alliances such as the G7, the G20, the African Union and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) attending. Washington is also leading a proposal to revise one of the most important documents in global health security — the International Health Regulations (IHR) — which are to be discussed during the 75th World Health Assembly (WHA) that starts on Sunday. These two actions highlight the US’ strategic move to dominate the global health agenda and return to the core of governance, with the WHA
In the past 30 years, globalization has given way to an international division of labor, with developing countries focusing on export manufacturing, while developed countries in Europe and the US concentrate on internationalizing service industries to drive economic growth. The competitive advantages of these countries can readily be seen in the global financial market. For example, Taiwan has attracted a lot of global interest with its technology industry. The US is the home of leading digital service companies, such as Meta Platforms (Facebook), Alphabet (Google) and Microsoft. The country holds a virtual oligopoly of the global market for consumer digital
Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) on Saturday expounded on her concept of replacing “unification” with China with “integration.” Lu does not she think the idea would be welcomed in its current form; rather, she wants to elicit discussion on a third way to break the current unification/independence impasse, especially given heightened concerns over China attacking Taiwan in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She has apparently formulated her ideas around the number “three.” First, she envisions cross-strait relations developing in three stages: having Beijing lay to rest the idea of unification of “one China” (一個中國); next replacing this with