US expats in Japan mull staying put to avoid gun violence at home

Published:  21 Jul at 6 PM
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US expatriates working in Japan are considering staying rather than going back home and risking death on the streets of America.

The total number of gun fatalities in the USA during 2015 was an appalling 13,000, whilst in Japan just one citizen was shot and killed. America has the highest number of gun deaths of any developed world country, and Japan has the lowest rate. As news of multiple mass shooting deaths at home continues to hit the headlines, many US expats are mulling over ways to stay in Japan.

One American woman who, with her husband and four-year old daughter, is living in Tokyo, can’t take her mind off the increasing violence in US cities. Every time she travels back to Connecticut, she has to drive from Newark airport past the scene of a mass shooting which took place in 2012. She now believes nowhere in America is safe from the mindless violence,, and is reluctant to plan moving back to the USA. Japanese schools, she says, may be prone to earthquakes, but it’s easier to explain a natural disaster than mass murder on the streets.

Another working expat mother with similar views is a university lecturer based in Japan for the past 20 years. She’s especially concerned about school shootings to the extent that, when her father suggested her 13-yearold son should come to the USA to save her paying for his international school education, she refused. She admits school shootings aren’t common, but compares the risk to playing Russian roulette.

The reality of gun crime in the USA became personal for an editor and translator who’s worked in Japan for three years when he realised an acquaintance was one of the victims of the recent Orlando shootings. He’s worried that he’d be targeted as a gay man, is in no rush to return to the USA and is even considering renouncing his American citizenship.
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