enpaku 早稲田大学演劇博物館

Online Exhibition

Making of Minoru Betsuyaku: From His Unpublished First Play to the Soyosoyo Tribe

Taking on the Incomprehensibility of Crime

Betsuyaku did put effort into his commentaries through submissions to Kikan Hyoron (quarterly commentaries); in the late 1970s, he started to write more criminal commentaries. Around this time, he also started working on engaging in criminal drama based on crimes that had actually happened. His most famous criminal plays include Mae Mae Katatsumuri (dance, snail, dance) (1978), which dealt with an actual mutilation murder case from the 1950s, Mother, Mother, Mother (1979), which covered the group suicide of an American new religious group, Ki ni Hanasaku (Flowers bloom on the tree.) (1980), which was about domestic crimes, and Ano Ko wa Dare, Dare desho-ne (Who is that child, I wonder who?) (2015), which was inspired by the Amagasaki Serial Murder. In the 1980s, as new religions were attracting young people, Betsuyaku stated that crime has always been typical of the times, but that in recent years, crime has become difficult to decipher and its ‘incomprehensibility’ has come to confuse our ‘sense of everyday life’. Betsuyaku did not aspire to give easy meaning to the incomprehensibility of crime, but rather attempted to clarify its mechanisms. The crime commentaries and the criminal drama were means to this end. According to Betsuyaku, the ‘family disintegration’ of Japanese society, triggered by the ‘absence of fathers’, was behind the new religious incidents, as exemplified by the Aum Shinrikyo attack. Those who suffered from this disintegration and became socially dysfunctional would then commit what was known as ‘raging 17-year-olds incidents’. Betsuyaku published more than ten crime commentaries between Betsuyaku Minoru no Hanzai Syndrome (Minoru Betsuyaku’s criminal syndrome) in 1981 and ‘Bosei’ no Hanran: Heisei Hanzai Jikenbo (the revolt of ‘motherhood’: a Heisei-period case file) in 2002. From the Showa period and into the Heisei period, he continued to debate the predicaments of modern society through the lens of crime.

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