An alternative look at life in the Land of the Rising Sun, coming from its southernmost prefecture, the island of Okinawa.
Posted By Dave on July 8th, 2014


Those who have known me a while will know that I just about kept my body shape in control (mainly in Okinawa through sweating generally due to the heat and humidity) or because of walking so much with my car dying.  It definitely wasn’t due to exercise though!  But after a couple of months of being back in England […]


Archive for August, 2008

Exclusive insight into Ako Kawada suicide

Posted By Dave on August 20th, 2008

Ako KawadaSince yesterday’s article about Ako Kawada’s (see right) suicide and her mother blaming peace activist Matt Taylor for his supposed actions (or lack of them), I have been in contact with someone who can shed some more information on the situation surrounding Kawada’s suicide and actions of all parties prior to this sad event. I have promised my source anonymity, but they have no reason to tell me anything but facts about the case. So, without any delay, let’s get straight into this.

Firstly, you’ll recall this mystery “Mr A” who was mentioned very favourably by Kawada’s mother but never named in the article. This was in contrast to Matt Taylor who’s name was dropped at every occasion. Well I’m all in favour of both openness and equality, so let’s give this Japanese media boss a name. Genichi Taniguchi may not mean so much to anyone outside Japan (and probably not a huge amount to a lot of people inside Japan), but stating someone’s real name is much better that toying around with these mystery names. And Mr T is the only person who could ever warrant a single-letter name!

Hopefully you can see that I mean business with this blog entry and am not messing around. So let’s move on with some more facts. The Japan Today (and Shukan Post – the original Japanese tabloid source) article suggested that Kawada was in a relationship with two men prior to her suicide; Taniguchi and Taylor. This was never the case, and her relationship with Taniguchi was ended over a year ago, long before she started seeing Taylor. It is true that they were having a relationship, and were in fact engaged at one point. One month into the engagement though Kawada had serious concerns about her finance, and called off the engagement and relationship. Taniguchi took this badly and proceeded to stalk & harass her with emails, phone calls etc. Taniguchi assured her that if she was not to be with him, then he would ensure she wouldn’t be with anyone else. Kawada’s mindset was that she would die before going back to him, which ultimately was the case. It was this harassment by Taniguchi that led Kawada to her depression and finally to her taking her life.

Now this harassment at the end of a relationship I can easily believe, having experienced it first hand here in Japan. Please note, I wasn’t the harasser(!). A former girlfriend had her ex-boyfriend saying almost the same things, and stalking her with threatening emails and phone calls after she ended the relationship. The wonders of technology eh… you can stalk someone effectively by pressing a few buttons on a keyboard or on your mobile phone; no following them necessary these days. And I’ve seen the effect it can have on the women who are subjected to this kind of harassment.

Let’s continue looking at this article. Kawada’s mother is claiming that it was obvious Taylor knew about her daughters depression and suicidal thoughts, but said and did nothing. She might want to believe this, but the fact of the matter is her family all knew about what was going on. Compounded is the fact that her father (ironically the owner of a mental hospital here in Japan) was one of the first people in her family to become aware of Kawada’s depression, and yet did nothing. My guess is that the perceived shame of having someone with a mental illness in the family took precedent with actually using his professional experience and dealing with it, hoping that it would just go away. Kawada’s mother was also fully aware of her daughter’s illness and depression, having talked about it with her a couple of weeks before her death.

Taniguchi also knew exactly what his actions were doing to Kawada, but openly joked about it and is on record as saying that she’s just saying it and that she wouldn’t really take her own life. Tragically, he couldn’t have been more wrong.

And there we have it for now. Hopefully that’s added some food for thought for everyone about Ako Kawada’s tragic suicide. One final thing I thought about: Kawada’s mother said that Taylor was using her daughter’s death to promote his film. But Kawada’s death was just 6 days before the film was premiered. Given that the most publicity you want for a film is prior its initial release, there would have been no time at all to make any changes to the film. With that in mind, it does look like Taylor’s desire to place Kawada’s name in the final credits was through genuine feelings for her.

Lastly, although I am focusing on this particular suicide, there are over 30,000 people taking their lives each year in Japan (that’s around 90 per day) and over 1m do the same in the world (that is one suicide every 40 seconds). If you are feeling depressed and are having thoughts about suicide, it is always better to talk to someone than to keep your feelings bottled up inside. In Japan the following organisations are there if you need to talk:

Befrienders International: Tokyo (Japanese)
Tel: 03 5286 9090
Website: www1.odn.ne.jp/~ceq16010

Tokyo English Lifeline (English)
Tel: 03 5774 0992
Website: www.telljp.com

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