JAPAN: Suicide Point

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"Jump off the roof of a department store," would have been the advice of Chum Masako Tomito, had the emergency occurred a few months earlier. At the time of her friend's perplexity, however, all Tokyo's department stores, tired of having patrons jump off their roofs, had hired vigilant guards and fenced their cornices with barbed wire. Today every high building in Tokyo is thus equipped to foil the desperate. Miss Tomito wracked her brain, then had an inspiration. "Dearest!" she cried, "if you cannot bear the perplexities of maturing womanhood I can take you to just the volcano!"

As do most Japanese would-be suicides, Miss Matsumoto then sat down and composed her note of farewell to life. Next the two girls boarded one of President Hayashi's steamers for Mihara-yama, then merely considered a picturesque volcano. The historic day was Feb. 11, 1933. Miss Tomito, after seeing her friend jump safely to certain Death, tripped ecstatically away, explained her brilliant idea next day to chums at Jissen Girls' College. Instant persecution followed. Pecking newshawks gave Miss Tomito no rest, blew her up into a national sensation and started the procession which has brought to grim Mihara-yama 350 known suicides and 1,386 attempted suicides in two short years. Smitten down by the Press furor, delicate Miss Tomito visibly pined away, died some months later, broken-hearted at the havoc she had caused.

Officially President Hayashi, whose ships have a monopoly of service to Suicide Point, does everything to discourage crater leaps. He has obtained a police order forcing would-be passengers to buy round-trip tickets, claims thus to assure that all will return, actually makes the suicide pay double for his ticket to Death. Far too poor to pay President Hayashi 3 yen (85¢) for a ticket to Suicide Point, many of Tokyo's suicides, which average four per day, die super-cheaply by eating rat poison.

Greatest foe of profiteering President Hayashi is quiet, persuasive Mrs. Nobuko Jo, whose profession is to induce Japanese women to endure the perplexities of womanhood. Claiming to have prevented over 2,500 suicides, Mrs. Jo is busy today with the acute problem of Lesbian suicides. Starting among Geisha girls, this perversion has now spread to Japanese schoolgirls.

"The pause for reflection is vital," says Mrs. Jo. "Achieve that and the unfortunate woman generally saves herself. The thing is to ease their hysteria, if only for a few hours, and get them away from hysterical friends. We do this in simple little establishments called Wait-a-Bits. These we have established in both Japan and Chosen (Korea) and soon we will have Wait-a-Bits in Manchukuo."

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