He was an individual who people passed by while they were engaged in discussions with friends, a man who sat next to someone on the metro who was focusing on the day’s news, or the man who walked by you as you entered the apartment building. Tomohiro Kato, wrote online, “the clicking sound of my cell phone echoes emptily in my room. If only I had a girl friend, I wouldn’t have to live so miserably….” Kato posted thousands of such messages online most probably of hoping someone might respond and he would have a friend with whom to talk, but nothing happened other than his constant posting of messages. He was trapped in what Japanese people term, “seken”(society of people with whom one deals with) an emotion that is so important in life for a society in which the word “individual” never appeared until the 1880s.
In his postings June 3-8, he used the word “hiton”(alone) 39 times, “kanojo(girlfriend) 42 times, “tomadach”(friend) 26 times. He wrote, “I don’t have a girl friend. Just because of this my life has fallen apart.” Finally, he rented a truck and drove it into a crowd of people in Tokyo’s Akihaara district and killed seven while leaving others seriously injured.
After the attack, there were 360,000 postings in which writers expressed their understanding of why this lonely man had become a killer. Professor Naoki Soto notes: “In Japan, individuals are created by their relationship to the people around them.” Kato, who was an outstanding student in school but wound up painting carts, invested heavily in trying to become a member of Japanese society, but never received a return investment in him.