When people retire, they often find new hobbies to fill the time—golf, maybe, or contract bridge. Perhaps Xbox. Rising numbers of elderly Japanese, however, are picking up a more sinister pastime: stalking. In 2012, the number of stalking incidents perpetrated by people aged 60 and over hit 1,834, a surge of 3.8 times compared with 2003, according to the National Police Agency (via RocketNews24, which translates the Japanese press). Stalkers aged 70 and older jumped to 505, a 460 percent increase from 2003.
Japan has a big problem with stalking. A fatal stabbing of an 18-year-old hours after she reported her stalker to the police is the latest in a slew of high-profile stalking-related murders that have left the Japanese public miffed by what many see as police inaction. Only in October did Japan change the law to recognize e-mails as a medium of stalking harassment, along with phone calls and faxes, after a woman was slain by her ex-boyfriend from whom she received more than 1,000 threatening emails.
Adding to the problem is that stalking cases have exploded in the last year. The number of reported cases hit 19,920 in 2012, up 36.3 percent on the previous year, the highest since the police first started tracking the crime in 2000, the year that it criminalized stalking.