Photo/IllutrationParents of twins and triplets gather for a parenting class in Gifu in 2017. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

There appears to be a “language” intelligible only to twins who have always been together since birth, according to a book by Makiko Kawamura, a freelance journalist and former Asahi Shimbun reporter, who has raised twin sons of her own.

Well before they began talking, her boys were uttering sounds as they looked and nodded at each other. They were bonding in a way unique to twins.

However, they didn’t fall ill at the same time, Kawamura notes.

When one came down with something, the other got it after two to three days. The name Kawamura gave this phenomenon was “delayed attacks from hell.”

Thinking that there must be a lag in their feeding and changing times, too, I shudder at the thought of taking care of such chores for one, only to have to repeat the process for the other later. That must be a lot of work, even with both parents taking turns.

Because of this realization, my heart broke over news of a tragedy involving young triplets and their mother.

Last year, an overwhelmed mother in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, killed her 11-month-old son, one of her triplets, by slamming him against the floor.

A report, compiled recently by the city’s independent examination committee, concluded that administrative authorities failed to provide adequate support to the woman, and that their coordination with medical experts was also insufficient.

Government officials and politicians are finally starting to take action after a string of similar incidents.

The importance of coordinated efforts and information-sharing is stressed to prevent more young lives from being lost. But what, specifically, needs to be done to ensure that such calls do not end up as mere lip service?

Another publication by Kawamura contains a roundtable discussion by parents who have raised twins.

“Administrative officials must let people know that their cries for help will be heeded,” says one participant. “And people must be encouraged to cry out in times of need.”

Parents must call for help, while officials must stay attuned to silent calls for help. Both are necessary and of equal importance.

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 19

* * *

Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.