This is a very sad story out of Osaka that illustrates the tragedy that can result from a breakdown in communication.
Makoto Hamada, a 42 year old cook, killed his 42 year old wife, 15 year old son, and 12 year old daughter while distraught over 5,000,000 yen in debt. He strangled the three in their sleep and then unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide by slitting his wrists with a utility knife. He later turned himself in to a local police station.
Hamada had reportedly kept his debt a secret from his wife, Sachiko.
When police searched the home, they found a stash of over 20,000,000 yen his wife had secretly been saving for the children’s educational expenses.
Makoto Hamada’s debt was a result of losses from investments in stocks. At the same time Sachiko Hamada worked multiple jobs to save money. She was overheard saying that with a little frugality she hoped to let her children go to college.
Makoto was also known to take his children out on his day off, and to be very proud of them. His son, Yuki’s graduation essay in elementary school stated his desire to become a cook like his father. Friends of daughter, Aika, were surprised because of how nice he seemed at her birthday party at which he had prepared delicious food himself.
Makoto reportedly said that he was afraid that if his debt became known Sachiko would leave him and take the children. He therefore decided to kill his wife, and the children as well to keep them from having to be known as the children of a murderer.
This story really breaks my heart. It’s not a story that is unique to Japan, but this lack of communication, very strange sense of what is best for the children, debt leading to suicide, attempted suicide, murder-suicide (or, as in this case, the attempt at suicide) is all too common here. Each year brings us another 30,000 suicides or more, most of which are debt related.
This case is yet another sad illustration of a trend that needs to change, and like many of the problems facing society in Japan, the children are the ultimate victims.