Noise complaints by annoyed neighbors are on the rise in Japan as people forced to stay home for weeks during the country’s coronavirus lockdown grow increasingly hostile.
In an extreme case, a man in Tokyo was stabbed to death by his neighbor following a noise complaint, the Japan Times reported on Wednesday.
On May 4, a 38-year-old construction worker was stabbed to death by a neighbor over a noise complaint in Tokyo’s Adachi Ward. The man was killed at his parent’s apartment, which he had been visiting with his family before he was murdered. The culprit, Shizuharu Hiruta, 60, lived in the same apartment building as the victim’s parents. He was immediately arrested following the deadly attack and readily confessed to the crime, telling police he “could not stand the loud footsteps and voices.”
The next day, on May 5, 80-year-old Senji Takahashi “slashed” his 62-year-old neighbor with a knife in Tokyo’s Edogawa Ward. Senji told investigators he was “annoyed” by the noise his neighbor made.
On April 16, Japan’s prime minister, Abe Shinzo, declared a nationwide state of emergency, including stay-at-home orders and school closures, in an effort to curb the spread of the Chinese coronavirus. In Tokyo, the nation’s capital and most populous prefecture, the order will remain in place until May 31.
On the island of Japan, limited space coupled with a high population density has long been an issue. Most people are forced to live in close quarters with one another in small apartments. In Tokyo especially, micro-living spaces are infamous. Now, confined to their often cramped homes due to the lockdown, Tokyo residents have grown increasingly sensitive to noise from neighbors.
In March and April, Tokyo police received 24,245 phone calls reporting excessive noise, an increase of 28.5 percent from the previous year, the Japan Times reported.
According to the report, the Japanese were already sensitive to noise prior to the pandemic, likely due in part to their living in densely packed apartments. In 2018, 15,665 noise complaints were filed, according to Japan’s Environmental Dispute Coordination Commission. This amounted to 32.9 percent of total reported disputes for the year. Between neighbors, noise complaints have been the number one source of official disputes for the past five consecutive years.
In April, “corona divorce” trended across Japanese social media as couples vented their frustrations online at being forced to stay at home for extended periods with their partners, with some spouses contemplating or filing for divorce.