A Fire Inside: 15 People Die in Japan Porn Store

As big as this was in Japan, I don’t think people are regarding it as more negative than the story of the man who shot several in Akihabara this past summer. More people died in this incident, even. But maybe I am getting ahead of myself. The links to the story are at the bottom, but I will try to summarize it. Basically, a man set what is being described in the healdines as an “adult video theater” and “late-night video shop.” I like the latter designation.

This shop catered mainly to Japanese men, mainly “to people who needed a cheap place to stay, the spokesman said. The parlour had 32 tiny private rooms and a wide selection of DVDs, including adult films.” That’s a side of Japan people don’t always know about. People will use these stores to rent out these private rooms, not to watch DVDs or pornography, but to sleep. It’s cheaper than a hotel, at about $15 a night (1500 yen).

This fire broke out at 3 AM, a time when trains don’t run. Japan ‘runs’ on a very efficient public transit system, mainly trains. The last trains run at about 1 AM. If one misses his/her train, it would be more expensive to take a taxi home than to just stay the night at a local store like this. It’s not that these rooms are meant for people to camp out like people do. But a business is a business-if they can make money doing that, then that’s on them. Why should they care what people are using it for? And apparently, there are no regulations on this practice. I am not insinuating it should be regulated, just noting it here.

All 15 people were men. This fire took place at a porn store. Now, what was interesting was my reaction when I only heard a few details. When I heard it was a store, but didn’t know if it carried adult films, I assumed it did. Was I being judgmental, stereotypical or ‘assuming too much’? The same goes with the fact it was all men. In some respect, it’s important to note that this was a fact. I wonder how facts like that can be stereotypical. At the same time, did it need to be disclosed? Could the AP have just said it was 15 people, and not specified their genders? Maybe. Maybe it really isn’t a big deal. Or perhaps the sheer fact it was all men was important to note.

A customer who made it out alive said that “there were no emergency lights or exits and that no staff helped them rush out of the store, which had a complicated layout.” Well, in a frantice situation I can understand that staff wouldn’t necessarily be able to help. And of course, this was a case of aggravated arson-it wasn’t a small fire. Here’s another interesting fact: “A labour ministry survey last year said that Japan, the world’s second largest economy, had about 5,400 ‘Internet cafe refugees.'” These are people who basically call these parlors their home.

A newer news article (of the two links below, the one on the bottom) reveals more about the man and the incident-that police believe it was a suicide attempt. “Police quoted the suspect as saying he did it because ‘I was tired of living,’ public broadcaster NHK reported.” Sad words, and even sadder he felt that people had to go with his sadness. Please pray for Japan, and people like this. A lot went wrong that night.

Here are two links to the news story:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081001/wl_asia_afp/japanaccidentfire;_ylt=Ahz.qgdbe.lZugIz3TS7b_gBxg8F

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081001/ap_on_re_as/as_japan_fire;_ylt=AguWXEmDJ6LgRYQkunk6gyUBxg8F