Pacific Affairs journal book review of “Embedded Racism”: “a timely and important contribution to social and scholarly debates about racial discrimination in Japan”

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Book Review in Pacific Affairs Journal
http://www.pacificaffairs.ubc.ca/book-reviews/book-reviews-2/forthcoming-book-reviews/ (page down)

EMBEDDED RACISM: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination. By Debito Arudou. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2015. xxvi, 349 pp. (Tables, figures.) US$110.00, cloth. ISBN 978-1-4985-1390-6.

Arudou’s book is a timely and important contribution to social and scholarly debates about racial discrimination in Japan. It comes on the heels of both the Japanese government’s 2014 official claim that an anti-racial discrimination law is not necessary (third combined report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination [CERD]), and recent developments in Japan that have politicized the issues of dual nationality and hate speech, and even the Miss Universe Japan pageant.

Arudou draws on a quarter-century of research involving personal interviews, action research, and cataloguing, to highlight micro-level observations that illuminate the broader macro-level structural workings of the racialized dimensions of what it means to be “Japanese” in Japan. The contribution of this book is not only in its richness of information, but also in Arudou’s focus on a paradoxical blind spot in both the quotidian status quo understandings of and academic discourses on racialized social dynamics in Japan: the invisibility of visible minorities. Borrowing from Critical Race Theory (CRT), and applying its analytical paradigms present in Whiteness Studies to the case of Japan, Arudou argues that “the same dynamics can be seen in the Japanese example, by substituting ‘White’ with ‘Japanese’” (322-323). He introduces the concept of embedded racism to describe the deeply internalized understandings of “Japaneseness” that structurally permeate the psyche and sociolegal elements of Japanese society, resulting in systemic discriminatory treatments of individuals based on visible differences.

Instead of defining the Self/Other binary in oft-conceptualized terms of citizenship, he uses an original Wajin/non-Wajin heuristic. By original Wajin, he refers to visually identifiable “Japanese” who are members of Japan’s dominant and privileged majority, and for non-Wajin he refers to both invisible (e.g., ethnic minorities who can pass as “Japanese”) and visible (Gaijin, foreigners and naturalized Japanese citizens who do not “look Japanese”) minorities who are not members of Japan’s dominant and privileged majority. He uses this heuristic to parse out the nuanced sociolegal-structural logics that differentiate between not only citizens and non-citizens, but also non-citizens who can phenotypically pass as “Japanese” and citizens who cannot, in which the former is often given preferential sociolegal treatment, and the latter is often subject to overt racial discrimination.

More specifically, the book opens with a theoretical primer on race and the universal processes of racialization and nation-state formation. The author then critiques how studies on Japan often suffer from flawed conceptualizations of foreignness, viewing it as a function of either ethnic differences within the Asian-phenotype community or legal membership status, thereby overlooking overt discrimination against visible minorities that are racial in nature.

The first chapter contextualizes racial discrimination in Japan and explicates Arudou’s usage of the concept of visible minority and his theory of embedded racism in the context of Japan. The second chapter then addresses the historical roots of extant racialized understandings of “Japaneseness” by tracing national self-image narratives that Arudou argues undergird the dynamics of present-day treatments of foreigners in Japan. The next chapter surveys approximately 470 cases of establishments that have engaged in racialized refusals of entry and services and three civil court lawsuits, to demonstrate that “Japaneseness” is determined by racialized paradigms such as physical appearances (37–38).

In chapter 4, Arudou explains how Japanese nationality laws, family and resident registries, and policing regulations/practices constitute the legal underpinnings of the racialized “Japanese” identity, and asserts that Japan’s legal definition of a “Japanese citizen” is closely intertwined with “Japanese bloodlines” (11). The following chapter shifts the focus to how “Japaneseness” is enforced through exclusionary education laws, visa (residence status) regimes, and racial profiling in security policing. This chapter is supplemented with chapter 6, which highlights differential judicial treatments of those who are seen as “Japanese,” and those who are not. Chapter 7 details how media representations of “foreigners” and “Japanese” as well as the criminalization of “foreigners” popularize the racialized narratives of “Japaneseness” established by the processes discussed in chapters 4 to 6.

Chapter 8 shifts gears as Arudou turns his attention to domestic civil society and international criticisms of Japan’s embedded racism, and discusses the government’s passive reactions. Arudou traces the correspondence between the government and the (CERD) before and during its first two CERD report reviews in 2001 and 2010 (but not the most recent CERD review in 2014). Chapter 9 then takes two binaries that can be used to understand how sociolegal distinctions of “Japaneseness” are often made—by nationality (citizen/non-citizen) and by visual identification (Wajin/Gaijin)—and superimposes them to form a heuristic matrix of eleven categories of “Japanese” and “foreigner.” The author thus drives his point across that social privilege and power in Japan are drawn along lines that straddle conceptual understandings of and assumptions about both legal and phenotypical memberships. The book concludes with a final chapter on the implications of embedded racism for Japan’s future as an ageing society, and argues that Japan’s demographic predicament could be mitigated if Japan can begin eliminating its racism to create a more inclusive society for all.

The book does not touch on the voices and local/community advocacy initiatives among and on behalf of visible minorities, and stops short of systematically testing how the proposed heuristic matrix and its combinations of characteristics empirically lead to differential treatment. However, it does cover a lot of ground, and would be of interest to a wide audience, from the casual reader interested in learning about the racial dynamics in Japan, to researchers with area studies interests in Japan and/or substantive field interests in international migration, ethnic and race studies, citizenship and human rights, and advocacy politics at both the domestic and international levels. Arudou argues that Japan’s passive stance to addressing racial discrimination is “the canary in the coal mine” regarding its openness to “outsiders” (xxiii), and by starting this conversation, he addresses “the elephant in the room” that needs to be reckoned with for Japan to navigate its way through its impending demographic challenges.

— Ralph Ittonen Hosoki, University of California, Irvine, USA

Ends


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Japan Times JBC Column 104: The Top Ten Human Rights Events of 2016

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

Japan’s human rights issues fared better in 2016
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
The Japan Times, Jan 8, 2017, Column 104 for the Community Page

Version with links to sources

Welcome back to JBC’s annual countdown of the top issues as they affected Non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan. We had some brighter spots this year than in previous years, because Japan’s government has been so embarrassed by hate speech toward Japan’s minorities that they did something about it. Read on:

No. 10)  Government “snitch sites” close down after nearly 12 years…

We’ve named and shamed this before (“Downloadable Discrimination,” Zeit Gist, March 30, 2004). From Feb. 16, 2004, Japan’s Immigration Bureau had websites where anyone could anonymously rat on foreigners for any reason whatsoever — including (as a preset option) the xenophobic “repugnance and anxiety” (ken-o fuan). This occasioned calls for abolition from rights groups, including Amnesty International, and government leaders. As the Japan Federation of Bar Associations pointed out in 2005, “The program has ordinary citizens essentially spying on people suspected of being illegal aliens, which serves only to advance prejudice and discrimination toward foreigners.”

Yet Japan’s police “see no evil” when it suits them. According to the Asahi in 2015, the sites were being inundated with hate emails “slandering” Japan’s Zainichi generational Korean community. Immigration suddenly realized that false leads from trolls were a waste of time. Yep, we told you so more than a decade ago. Glad it sunk in.

9 Priyanka Yoshikawa wins Miss World Japan

This year showed us that 2015 was not a fluke. In 2015, multiethnic American-Japanese Ariana Miyamoto won the Miss Universe Japan competition as Japan’s first biracial national beauty queen. In 2016, Indian-Japanese Priyanka Yoshikawa was elected to represent Japan despite protests about whether she is a “real” Japanese. Although these events are cheer-worthy because they demonstrate that “Japaneseness” is not purely a matter of looks, they’re more important because the women’s stories of being “different” have highlighted their struggles for acceptance. When the domestic media bothers to report them, that is.

The discussion has mostly been a shallow one about “looks.” Sadly, this is par for the course. As I said to ABC NewsRadio Australia, “Why do we keep doing these 19th-century rituals? Demeaning women by putting them on a stage, making them do debasing things, and then saying, ‘This is a standard of beauty that is or is not Japanese?’ How about we just call it what it is: incitement to superficial judgment of people not as individuals but by physical appearance?” Progress made, yes, but the real progress will be when beauty pageants stop entirely.

8 Japan’s multiethnic citizens score at 2016 Olympics

Similarly, Japan’s athletes have long been scrutinized for their “foreignness.” If they are “half” or even naturalized, their “foreignness” becomes a factor no matter what.

If they do badly, “It’s the foreigners’ fault.” As seen when Japan’s men’s rugby team lost in 2011 and the nation’s rugby union criticized coach John Kirwan for using “too many foreign players” (including naturalized former NJ). The team was then ethnically cleansed. When multiethnic Japanese figure skaters Chris and Cathy Reed underperformed in 2014, Tokyo 2020 Olympics Chair Yoshiro Mori essentially labeled them leftovers, bashing them (mistakenly) as “naturalized citizens” who couldn’t make the U.S. Team.

But if they do well, they get celebrated. Remember October 2015, when Brave Blossoms, the men’s rugby team, scored an upset over South Africa, and their players’ enhanced physical strength was attributed to their multiethnicity? Suddenly the fact that many players didn’t “look Japanese” (11 were even born outside Japan) was no problem.

Same when Japanese athletes did well in Rio last year. Prominent performances by multiethnic Japanese, including Mashu Baker (Gold in Judo); members of Japan’s Rugby Sevens (the men’s team came in fourth); other members of Japan’s soccer, basketball and athletics teams; and most prominently, runner Asuka Cambridge (who missed out on Gold only to Usain Bolt) made it clear that hybrid Japanese help Japan in sports. If only people would stop putting up the extra hurdle of attributing success or failure to race.

7 Renho Murata takes helm of the Democratic Party

After years of tired leftist politics with stale or uninspiring leaders, last September the main opposition Democratic Party made young and dynamic Taiwanese-Japanese politician Renho Murata its leader. It was the first time a multiethnic Japanese has ever helmed a major party, and immediately there were full-throated doubts about her loyalties. Media and politicos brought up Renho’s alleged ties to untrustworthy China (even though Taiwan and China are different countries; even the Ministry of Justice said that Taiwanese in Japan are not under PRC law), or that she had technically naturalized (Renho was born before Japanese citizenship could legally pass through her mother) but had not renounced her dual citizenship, which wasn’t an issue when she was a Cabinet member, nor when former Peruvian President and dual citizen Alberto Fujimori ran for a Diet seat in 2007 (Zeit Gist, May 5, 2009).

Whatever. Renho has proven herself a charismatic leader with an acerbic wit, ready to ask difficult and pointed questions of decision makers. She famously did so in 2009, during deliberations to fund the “world’s most powerful computer,’ when she asked, “What’s wrong with being number two?” The project still passed, but demanding potential boondoggles justify themselves is an important job. The fact that Renho is not cowed by tough questions herself is good for a country, which with 680,000 Japanese dual citizens deserves fresh unfettered talent with international backgrounds.

6 Abubakar Awudu Suraj case loses once and for all

This has made the JBC annual Top 10 several times, because it’s a test case of accountability when NJ die in official custody. In 2010, Ghanaian visa overstayer Abubakar Awudu Suraj was so “brutally” (according to this newspaper) restrained during deportation that he was asphyxiated. Suraj’s widow, unsuccessfully seeking justice through Japan’s criminal justice system, won civil damages from the Immigration Bureau in a 2014 Tokyo District Court decision. However, last January, the Tokyo High Court overturned this, deciding that the lethal level of physical force was “not illegal” — it was even “necessary” — and concluded that the authorities were “not culpable.” Suraj’s widow took it to the Supreme Court, but the appeal was rejected last November.

Conclusion: Life is cheap in Japan’s Immigration detention systems (Reuters last year reported more NJ deaths in custody due to official negligence). And now our judiciary has spoken: If NJ suffer from a lethal level of force — sorry, are killed by police — nobody is responsible.

5 2016 Upper house elections seal Shinzo Abe’s mandate

Past JBC columns on Japan’s right-wing swing anticipated that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would capitalize on the left’s disarray and take Japan’s imagined community back to an imagined past. Sure enough, winning the Upper House elections last July and solidifying a majority in both houses of Parliament, he accomplished this hat trick. Since then, Abe’s popular support, according to the Asahi, remains at near record-highs (here and here). There’s even talk of changing the rules so he can be PM beyond his mandated five-year term.

That’s it then, really. Everything we feared his administration would do since 2012 is all coming to pass: the dismissing of universal human rights as a “Western concept,” the muzzling and intimidation of the press under a vague state secrets act, the deliberate destabilization of East Asia over petty territorial disputes, the enfranchising of historical denialism through a far-right cabal of elites, the emboldening of domestic xenophobia to accomplish remilitarization, the resurgence of enforced patriotism in Japan’s education system, the further exploitation of foreign workers under an expanded “trainee” program, and the forthcoming fundamental abrogation of Japan’s “Peace Constitution.”

Making Japan “great” again, similar to what’s happening in the United States under President-elect Donald Trump, has been going on for the past four years. With no signs of it abating.

4 Next generation of “Great Gaijin Massacres” loom

In April 2013, Japan’s Labor Contracts Law was amended to state that companies, after five years of continuous contract renewals, must hire their temporary workers as “regular employees” (seishain). Meant to stop employers from hiring people perpetually on insecure contract jobs (“insecure” because employees are easily fired by contract nonrenewal), it is having the opposite effect: Companies are inserting five-year caps in contracts to avoid hiring people for real. Last November, The Japan Times reported on the “Tohoku University job massacre,” where 3,200 contract workers are slated to be fired en masse in 2017.

JBC sees this as yet another “Gaijin as Guinea Pig” scenario (ZG, July 8, 2008). This happened in Japanese academia for generations: Known as “Academic Apartheid,” foreign full-time scholars received perpetual contract employment while Japanese full-time scholars received permanent uncontracted tenure from day one. This unequal status resulted in the “Great Gaijin Massacre” of 1992-4, where the Ministry of Education (MOE) told National and Public Universities not to renew the contracts of foreigners over the age of 35 as a cost-cutting measure. Then from 1997, the MOE encouraged contract employment be expanded to Japanese full-time educators. From 2018, it will be expanded to the nonacademic private sector. It’s a classic case of Martin Niemoller’s “First they came …” poem: Denying equal rights to part of the population eventually got normalized and applied to everyone.

3 The government surveys NJ discrimination

Japan has been suddenly cognizant of “foreigner discrimination” this year. Not “racial discrimination,” of course, but baby steps. The Asahi kicked things off in January by reporting that 42 percent of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward encountered some form of discrimination, and nearly 52 percent of that was in finding apartments. Glad to have the stats, albeit localized.

Then the Ministry of Justice’s Bureau of Human Rights conducted its first-ever nationwide survey of discrimination toward longer-term NJ residents by mailing them a detailed multilingual survey (available at www.debito.org/?p=14298), asking questions specifically about unequal treatment in housing, employment, education, social situations, etc. It even mentioned the establishment of “laws and regulations prohibiting discrimination against foreigners” (not a law against discrimination by race, natch).

Although this survey is well-intentioned, it still has two big blind spots: It depicted discrimination as 1) due to extranationality, not physical appearance, and 2) done by Japanese people, not the government through systemic racism embedded in Japan’s laws and systems (see my book “Embedded Racism” for more). As such, the survey won’t resolve the root problems fundamental to Japan’s very identity as an ethnostate.

2 Blowback involving NJ tourism and labor

Japan’s oft-touted sense of “selfless hospitality” (omotenashi) is an odd thing. We are seeing designated “foreigner taxis” at Kyoto Station (with a segregated stop), “foreign driver” stickers on Hokkaido and Okinawa rental cars stigmatizing NJ tourists (and NJ residents touring), and media grumblings about ill-mannered Chinese crowding stores, spending scads of money (diddums!) and leaving behind litter. (Japan’s tourist sites were of course sparkling clean before foreigners showed up. Not.)

Then there’s the omnipresent threat of terrorism, depicted for years now by the government as something imported by foreigners into a formerly “safe Japan” (although all terrorist acts so far in Japan have been homegrown). To that end, 2016 was when Japan’s Supreme Court explicitly approved police surveillance of Muslim residents due to their religion. (What’s next? Surveilling foreign residents due to their extranationality?)

Yet foreigners are a necessary evil. Japan still needs them to do its dirty work in the construction, manufacturing, agriculture, fishery and nursing sectors. So this year the foreign “trainee” work program was expanded, along with measures against abuses. About time — bad things, including NJ slavery and child labor have been happening for decades, with the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry acknowledging that about 70 percent of employers hiring “trainees” engage in illegal labor practices. Omotenashi has been counterweighted by government-sponsored exploitation of NJ, and now with the upcoming 2020 Olympics, there’s plenty more dirty work out there.

And after all this, 2016 offered one big bright spot:

1 Hate speech law gets passed — and enforced

Japan’s first law protecting “foreigners” from group denigration in public was passed nationwide in May. JBC (Feb. 1) heralded it as a step in the right direction. Critics quickly pointed out its shortcomings: It doesn’t actually ban hate speech, or have penalties for violators, and it only covers people of overseas origin “who live legally in Japan” (meaning “foreigners,” but not all of them). Plus it skirts the issue of racial discrimination, natch.

However, it has had important effects. The law offered a working definition of hate speech and silenced people claiming the “Western construct” of hate speech didn’t exist in Japan. It also gave Japan’s bureaucrats the power to curtail haters. The Mainichi Shimbun reported that this year’s xenophobic rallies, once daily on average somewhere in Japan, had decreased. Rallies also reportedly softened their hateful invective. Since Japan’s outdoor public gatherings need police and community approval (ZG March 4, 2003), even an official frown on hatred can be powerful.

Official frowning spread. The National Police Agency advised prefectural police departments to respond to hate speech demos. A court banned a rally in a Korean area of Kawasaki for “illegal actions that infringe upon the personal rights for leading a personal life.” Another court ordered hate group Zaitokukai to compensate a Zainichi Korean for public slurs against her. Both judges cited the United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination, which has been ignored in lawsuits against “Japanese only” establishments.

These are remarkable new outcomes in a society loath to call “No Foreigners Allowed” signs discriminatory, let alone order police to take them down. Progress to build upon.

Bubbling under the top 10

11 Population of registered NJ residents reaches record 2.23 million despite significant decreases in recent years.

12 “Special economic zones” expand to the aging agriculture sector, and want “skilled foreigners” with college degrees and Japanese-language ability to till fields on three-year visas. Seriously.

13 The Nankai Line train conductor who apologized to passengers for “too many foreigners” on an airport-bound train is officially reprimanded, not ignored.

14 Osaka sushi restaurant Ichibazushi, which was bullying foreign customers by deliberately adding too much wasabi, is forced by social media to publicly apologize.

15 Debito.org’s archive of human rights issues in Japan celebrates its 20th Anniversary.

——————–
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Tangent: Michener’s “Presidential Lottery” (1969) on dangerous US Electoral College

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Hi Blog. On this fateful day in American history, where an utterly unqualified person has just been chosen by the US Electoral College to be the next POTUS, I went to the local library to take out one of James Michener‘s least-read books, “Presidential Lottery: The Reckless Gamble in Our Electoral System” (Random House, 1969).  The points he raised back then are just as important now, if not more so.

The opening paragraphs, as always, pull you right in:

=============================

“On election day 1968 the United States once again played a reckless game with its destiny.  Acting as if it were immune to catastrophe, we conducted one more Presidential election in accordance with rules that were outmoded and inane.  This time we were lucky.  Next time we might not be.  Next time we could wreck our country.

“The dangerous game we play is this.  We preserve a system of electing a President which contains so many built-in pitfalls that sooner or later it is bound to destroy us.  The system has three major weaknesses.  It places the legal responsibility for choosing a President in the hands of an Electoral College, whose members no one knows and who are not bound to vote the way their state votes.  If the Electoral College does not produce a majority vote for some candidate, the election is thrown into the House of Representatives, where anything can happen.  And it is quite possible that the man who wins the largest popular vote across the nation will not be chosen President, with all the turmoil that this might cause.

“In 1823 Thomas Jefferson, who as we shall see had long and painful experience with this incredible system, described it as, ‘The most dangerous blot on our Constitution, and one which some unlucky chance will some day hit.’  Today the danger is more grave than when Jefferson put his finger on it.” (3-4)

=============================

The book goes on to describe Michener’s own experience as a chosen Electoral College member in his state of Pennsylvania, how the process worked for him, and how the tumultuous 1968 Presidential Campaign (Nixon (R) vs. Humphrey (D) vs. George Wallace (I)) could have caused the chaos he described.  And for those who remember, Alabama Governor Wallace was that bigot who famously stood in front of the University of Alabama and other school zones in protest of the forcible integration of African-Americans into the segregated South.

As Michener describes in his book, the “winner take all” nature of the Electoral College meant that all Wallace would have had to do is secure 67 Electoral College votes, and neither Nixon nor Humphrey (locked in a close race) would have secured the 270 minimum votes for the Presidency.  Then Wallace could assign his votes as he pleased, saying to either candidate, “What will you give me for my votes?”  In essence, one would have been able to choose the next President.

Fortunately, that did not come to pass, as Wallace wound up not doing that well.  And this time, it’s not a matter of Electoral College voters refusing to follow state electoral outcomes, but rather an election this time where yet again, another popular vote victory is stymied by the Electoral College (the last one being in 2000, with Bush vs. Gore).  And there, by dint of the outcomes in few counties in a few battleground states (again, thanks to the “winner take all” nature of the vote, not votes assigned as a proportion of the vote), one man can lose overall by nearly three million votes and still win.

Michener goes on in his book to talk about what happens in the rare cases when the Electoral College is inconclusive, where the vote goes to the House of Representatives; the debacle there pitted American historical icon Thomas Jefferson vs. Aaron Burr, a man so amoral (Michener:  “a man without principle …mercurial and undependable… who would later be charged with betrayal of his nation” (27, 30)) that he was essentially the Donald Trump of his day.  Jefferson won, but after the House had more than 30 times voting.  Again, the right man was chosen, so the Electoral College got let off the hook.

With today’s result, I bet that Michener would be as dismayed to see what little effect the protests about electors “voting their conscience” nationwide had in the end.  As Trump himself said, the election was rigged.  Perhaps Michener would say that the dangerous vestige of the Electoral College has finally managed to create the catastrophe.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

=========================
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Japan Center for Michigan Universities: Report and video interview of Muslim Lawyer Hayashi Junko on issues faced by Muslims in Japan (surveillance by police, including of Japanese kith and kin)

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JCMU Resident Director Benjamin McCracken says:

Dear Debito, Thank you so much for your promotion of this lecture a few weeks back. We had some people come all the way from Tokyo to see it. Amazing! This is a link to an interview I did with Junko before her lecture. We focused on her recent court case finding no constitutional violation for the surveillance of Muslims in Japan. Scary stuff indeed. https://jcmuofficialblog.com/2016/08/08/issues-faced-by-muslims-in-japan/
Please feel free to post the link to Debito.org along with any of the commentary from article on the blog.

//////////////////////////////////////

Excerpt: On July 23, 2016 the Japan Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU) in Hikone welcomed Junko Hayashi, Japan’s first female Muslim attorney, to speak about Islam and the issues faced by Muslims in Japan. In a recent court battle, Mrs. Hayashi represented Japanese Muslims that were being observed by the Japanese government for no reason other than the fact that they were Muslims. Their surveillance came to light after information gathered by police was accidentally leaked to the public on the internet. Despite this, Japanese courts ruled that there was no constitutional violation and that the threat of international terrorism outweighed any right to privacy held by the plaintiffs. […]

In the interview, Mrs. Hayashi lamented that “all Muslims are equal to criminal suspects” in Japan. She noted that because of prejudice against practitioners of Islam, she and the rest of the Japanese Muslim community are denied personal and privacy rights enjoyed by most other citizens. “Their rights are violated and they can’t do anything about it,” Mrs. Hayashi explained. The stereotypes of Muslims have little factual support, as no acts of terrorism have been carried out by Muslims in Japan to Mrs. Hayashi’s knowledge. To redress this discrimination and support those affected by the government’s continued surveillance, she hopes to start a human rights organization.

Rest at https://jcmuofficialblog.com/2016/08/08/issues-faced-by-muslims-in-japan/

//////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT: And from this, it’s but a few steps until approving surveillance of Non-Japanese residents as “criminal suspects“. And from that their kith and kin. Japan’s Police State is returning. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

================================

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Asahi: Japan’s Supreme Court approves police surveillance of Muslim residents due to their religion: Next up, surveilling NJ residents due to their extranationality?

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Hi Blog. Article first, then comment:

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It’s OK to snoop on Muslims on basis of religion, rules top court
By RYO TAKANO/ Staff Writer
The Asahi Shinbun, August 2, 2016, courtesy of RD
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201608020076.html

Muslims can still be monitored in Japan solely based on their religion, while in the United States courts are cracking down on granting such approval.

An appeal by 17 Muslim plaintiffs accusing police of snooping on them was dismissed by the Japanese Supreme Court in late May, which upheld lower court decisions.

The plaintiffs argued that “carrying out surveillance of us on grounds of our religion amounts to discrimination and is a violation of the Constitution” in the lawsuit filed against the Tokyo metropolitan and the central government.

Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department had been keeping close tabs on Muslims solely because of their religion, reasoning it was pre-empting possible terrorism.

The tide changed in the United States after the leak in 2013 of global surveillance programs and classified information from the National Security Agency by U.S. computer expert Edward Snowden, said Ben Wizner, attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Snowden, a former CIA employee, revealed that U.S. intelligence agencies had secretly collected personal information and communications from the Internet.

The leak revealed the extent of clandestine surveillance on the public by the government for the first time.

The recent Japanese case came to light in 2010 after 114 articles from internal MPD documents containing personal information on Muslim residents in Japan were leaked online. Data included names, photos, addresses, employers and friends.

The leaked data showed that the documents were compiled in a style of a resume on each individual, along with a record of tailing them.

Compensation of 90 million yen ($874,000) was awarded to the plaintiffs by the Tokyo District Court and the Tokyo High Court, which ruled there was a “flaw in information management.”

However, the plaintiffs appealed because the courts stated “surveillance of Muslims” was “unavoidable” in order to uncover terror plots.

The top court sided with lower court rulings, declaring the surveillance was not unconstitutional. A Moroccan man, one of the 17, said he was upset by the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“I am disappointed with the Japanese judiciary,” said the man in his 40s.

He said he was terrified by the sarin gas attack of 1995 on the Tokyo subway system, which he himself experienced. The attack left 13 people dead and thousands injured.

“Has there been a terror attack by Muslims in Japan?” he said. “Surveillance is a breach of human rights.”

After the 9/11 attacks in the United States in 2001, investigative authorities heightened their surveillance of Muslim communities.

But recent U.S. court rulings have seen the judiciary move against the trend.

Two lawsuits were filed in the state of New York and New Jersey after The Associated Press news agency in 2011 reported on the wide-ranging surveillance of Muslim communities in the two states by the New York Police Department.

Last October, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit handed down a decision in favor of the plaintiffs, sending the lawsuit in New Jersey back to the district court for further proceedings.

New York police reached a settlement with plaintiffs in January, banning investigations solely on the basis of religion.

In 2006, the German Constitutional Court delivered a ruling restricting surveillance.

Masanori Naito, a professor of modern Muslim regions at Doshisha University’s Graduate School in Kyoto, blasted the Supreme Court’s decision as a manifestation of its “sheer ignorance” of Islam.

Although Muslims account for more than 20 percent of the global population of 7.3 billion, only a fraction reside in Japan.

“As a result, Japanese tend to think that all Muslims are violent,” he said. “Conducting surveillance will only stir up a feeling of incredulity among Muslims and backfire. What police should do is to enhance their understanding of Muslim communities and make an effort to gather information.”
ENDS

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COMMENTS:

MAYes, I remember how it was a Muslim who slashed forty throats in the night last week…no, wait, that was a Japanese lunatic with no religion…I got it, it was a Muslim who attacked people in [Akihabara] with knives…no, not Muslim…OK, it was a Muslim who killed several elementary school children in ….no, hang on, not Muslim…

Debito:  The obvious extension of this legitimization of racial profiling (defined as using a process of differentiation, othering, and subordination to target a people in Japan; it does not have to rely on phenotypical “looks”) is that for “national security reasons” the next step is to target and snoop on all foreign residents in Japan.  Because they might be terrorists.  The National Police Agency et al. have already been justifying the targeting of NJ as terrorists (not to mention as criminals, “illegal overstayers“, holders of “foreign DNA”, and carriers of contagious diseases).  And Japan’s Supreme Court has now effectively given the green light to that too.  The noose further tightens around NJ residents in Japan.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Suraj Case: Tokyo High Court rules Immigration Bureau not responsible for killing him during deportation

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Hi Blog. Continuing the farcical Suraj Case, where Immigration authorities were once held responsible for using “illegal excessive force”, asphyxiating a Ghanian deportee with forcible restraint during deportation procedures. The Tokyo High Court has just ruled that nobody is responsible for killing him.

In the ultimate blaming of the victim, the judge, named Takizawa Izumi, essentially ruled it all an issue of heart failure. Just an accident. It was even, quote, “necessary.”  Despite the Japan Times calling his death “brutal” back in 2011.

Clearly human life is cheap if it’s foreign in a Japanese Gaijin Tank.  Once again, NJ in Japan can be killed with impunity (more in “Embedded Racism”, Chapter Six). Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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In reversal, Tokyo High Court rules government not responsible for Ghanaian deportee’s death
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI
THE JAPAN TIMES, JAN 18, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/01/18/national/crime-legal/reversal-tokyo-high-court-rules-government-not-responsible-ghanaian-deportees-death/

In a reversal, the Tokyo High Court determined Monday that the government was not responsible for the 2010 death of a Ghanaian alledgedly subjected to excessive force by immigration authorities while being deported.

In overturning a lower court’s ruling, presiding Judge Izumi Takizawa said the level of physical force used by officials to restrain Abubakar Awudu Suraj, who was 45 years old at the time of his death, was “not illegal” and even “necessary.”

“Immigration authorities’ effort to subdue him was necessary to ensure his deportation would go smoothly,” Takizawa said.

“They are not culpable” for his death, the judge concluded.

The ruling overturns an order by the Tokyo District Court in March 2014 that the government pay a combined ¥5 million in compensation to his widow, who is a Japanese citizen, and his mother, who lives in Ghana.

The earlier ruling, which also held immigration officials responsible for Suraj’s death, was believed to be the nation’s first-ever court decision subjecting government officials to damages payments in connection with the death of a non-Japanese they mistreated.

[…]

In its 2014 ruling, the Tokyo District Court determined that, contrary to claims by authorities, Suraj had suffocated as a result of being forced into a crouching posture.

Citing the results of an autopsy that revealed the man had a minor heart condition called a cystic tumor of the atrioventricular node, immigration officials had originally blamed his death on a heart attack stemming from the tumor. They said Suraj had “happened to” suffer an attack at precisely the moment he was restrained.

Monday’s ruling said that although it is possible authorities’ use of force triggered an erratic heartbeat that led to his death, the tumor is so rare that there is no way officials could have predicted his death.

Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/01/18/national/crime-legal/reversal-tokyo-high-court-rules-government-not-responsible-ghanaian-deportees-death/

ENDS

Asahi: Supreme Court backs stripping children of Japanese nationality if parents lapse in registering their births abroad

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Hi Blog.  I just found this in my “drafts” folder, and I apologize for not getting to it sooner.

Debito.org has mentioned before how creative judicial interpretations of Japan’s Nationality Law Article 12

(which states, in toto: “A Japanese national who was born in a foreign country and has acquired a foreign nationality by birth shall lose Japanese nationality retroactively as from the time of birth, unless the Japanese national clearly indicates his or her volition to reserve Japanese nationality according to the provisions of the Family Registration Law (Law No.224 of 1947))

are a) systematically stripping children born to mixed-nationality couples of their Japanese citizenship simply for bureaucratic expedience (for if both parents were Japanese nationals, Article 12 did not apply); and b) effectively absolving Japanese men from taking responsibility for sowing their wild oats abroad (item 8).

Now according to the ruling reported to below, it looks like Article 12 now does apply even if both parents are Japanese nationals — you have three whole months to get registered, otherwise you clearly aren’t a real Japanese.  Except that in the case cited, the exclusionism is again being enforced on mudblood kids simply because their parents slipped up with proper procedure.

It remains unclear if a Japanese mother who gives birth overseas (and would hitherto automatically retain Japanese nationality for her child) and does not register her child would void the Japanese citizenship, but the intent of the interpretation below is basically to prevent dual nationality, not honor jus sanguinis ties under the law.  So this looks to be an affirmation and expansion of the 2012 Tokyo District Court case, a reversal of the 2008 Supreme Court case, moreover expanded to both parents regardless of nationality.

This is what can happen if you dare give birth outside of the motherland and legally acquire a suspicious second passport.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Top court backs repeal of Japanese nationality due to parents’ lapse abroad
Asahi Shinbun March 11, 2015 By TAKAAKI NISHIYAMA/ Staff Writer
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201503110080

The Supreme Court confirmed that authorities can revoke the Japanese nationality of children born outside Japan whose parents fail to submit the proper paperwork within three months of their babies’ births.

The top court’s ruling on March 10 said Article 12 of the Nationality Law, which defines the procedures to maintain Japanese nationality, does not violate the Constitution.

As a result of the ruling, 15 female and male children born in the Philippines to Japanese fathers married to Filipino mothers have lost their Japanese nationality. They had argued that the article was irrational and discriminatory against Japanese born abroad.

The Nationality Law stipulates that if either parent of a baby born outside Japan is a Japanese national, the child will automatically acquire Japanese nationality and can also obtain the nationality of the country of birth.

But the parents must submit a notification to a Japanese administrative institution within three months of the baby’s birth to maintain the Japanese nationality, according to Article 12 of the law.

In the top court’s first ruling on the constitutionality of the provision, Takehiko Otani, presiding justice of the court’s Third Petty Bench, said, “The legislative purpose (of Article 12) designed to avoid dual nationality is rational and constitutional.”

According to the plaintiffs, their Japanese nationality was revoked because their parents did not know about the provision and failed to submit the documents to Japanese authorities within the designated three-month period.

The Supreme Court said Article 12 is “not irrational nor discriminatory against people born overseas” because it gives the parents three months to submit the notification.

The top court also noted another provision in the law, which allows such children to obtain Japanese nationality before they reach 20 years old if they notify authorities that have a permanent address in Japan.

ENDS

Honolulu Weekly Feb 9 1994: “Prints of Darkness”: Ronald Fujiyoshi, Hawaiian fighter of GOJ fingerprinting of NJ, 20 years ago says prescient things about future Japan

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Hello Blog.  Sorry for the delay — latest book revisions taking up a lot of time.  I thought we’d go back to the archives today and look at a twenty-year-old article that appeared in Honolulu’s late, great alternative newspaper (which folded only recently), that has as much to say about the present situation of human rights for NJ residents of Japan as it did when it came out about a generation ago.  In retrospect, it’s amazing how little has changed. Have a read.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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PRINTS OF DARKNESS

When civil-rights activist/missionary Ronald Fujiyoshi refused to be fingerprinted in compliance with Japan’s Alien Registration Law in 1981, he launched a personal attack on the Japanese government which still hasn’t ended.  

February 9, 1994. Honolulu Weekly magazine, by David Flack

For Ronald Fujiyoshi, the Japanese government’s abusive fingerprinting requirement for foreign residents is only part of a vast matrix of institutionalized racial discrimination and totalitarian social control.

PHOTO: Fujiyoshi holds a press conference during his 25-day hunger strike.

Perhaps few people in Hawaii are watching Japan as closely as Ronald Fujiyoshi. His primary interest is the way the new government is officially dealing with racism. On this issue Fujiyoshi is fervently and outspokenly critical of Japan, and he speaks from experience. Living there for 15 years, working as a missionary in Osaka in the Korean-Japanese community, he engaged in an act of civil disobedience when he refused to be fingerprinted — as all foreign residents were then required by the government to do. Compelled to leave Japan in 1988, he is allowed to return only to attend court hearings for his trial, which is still in progress.

Last summer Japan embarked on what may be its most important transition period in recent history. Fed up with the “business as usual” tactics that have led to rampant corruption in Japan’s political circles for the last several years, on July 18 the country’s voters deprived the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of its majority in the Japanese Diet for the first time since World War II. The resulting coalition, a curious collection of opposition parties from both the left and right of the political spectrum, took the helm of the world’s second largest economy with little more than high hopes as its guide. Many experts predict the alliance’s demise before the end of 1994.

Fujiyoshi is keeping his fingers crossed that real change is in the air. After waging his own personal battle against the Japanese government for the greater part of the last two decades, the 53-year-old Hilo resident is hopeful that the recent change in government is a sign that the Japanese people have at last begun to fight back against what he contends is a sinister system which has been unjustly subjugating them for centuries.

Fujiyoshi’s personal beef is Japan’s latent racism, which he maintains is knowingly cultivated by the country’s ruling circles in order to foster an “us vs. them” mentality. Japan’s alien-registration laws are widely known to be among the most rigid and strictly enforced in the world. It has long been a complaint among non-Japanese immigrants in Japan that the laws are also part of a greater government scheme to prevent them from feeling completely at ease in their adopted homeland, withhold full citizenship rights and relegate them to positions of permanent underclass status in the overall economic tapestry of the nation.

Especially onerous to Fujiyoshi was the Japanese government’s longstanding policy of insisting that all foreign residents and criminal suspects in Japan submit fingerprints for identification purposes.

Being grouped with criminals and thus treated as undesirables created acute resentment in the Korean-Japanese community, over 700,000 strong and representing roughly four out of five of Japan’s foreign residents. Many of them have lived in Japan for several generations; their relatives were originally brought there forcibly during World War II as military conscripts or factory workers. They are still treated as outsiders, and their “alien” status frequently denies them jobs, housing and scholarships. Fujiyoshi contends that the fingerprint policy is both unconstitutional by Japan’s own admitted standards and an abhorrent violation of the United Nations International Covenant of Human Rights, to which Japan is a signatory.

Bowing to pressure which Fujiyoshi helped to apply, the Japanese Diet finally dropped the controversial fingerprinting clause for those non-Japanese who were bom and raised in Japan.

Despite being widely recognized as a front man for the grass-roots movement to have the law overturned, Fujiyoshi is hesitant to claim much credit personally for the Diet’s decision to repeal the statute. “You must remember that I was not the only person who refused to be fingerprinted,” he says. “Since 1980 nearly 15,000 people have done it.” Neither was he the first to disobey the law; several Japanese of Korean ancestry preceeded him. Most will agree, however, that among those who did protest, Fujiyoshi was certainly among the most energetic — and, as a result, emerged as a leader and spokesman for the movement.

Fujiyoshi has long been involved with civil rights. Bom in Los Angeles and raised on Kauai, he moved to the Big Island with his family when his father was transferred to Hilo by his chuch. As a young man in his 20s, Fujiyoshi left Hawaii in 1963 to attend the Chicago Theological Seminary, the same institution that Jesse Jackson would join a year later. The two became good friends; Jackson visited him in Japan in 1986. Fujiyoshi spent much of his seminary service in Chicago working in a black ghetto on the city’s west side. “Can you imagine me,” he says, “a local boy fresh off the Big Island, going from here to a Chicago ghetto? That was a real baptism.”

Fujiyoshi first journeyed to Asia in 1968 on a fellowship in Singapore with the World Council of Churches. He remained in Southeast Asia for five years, working as a lay missionary and slowly gaining notoriety for his activist, hands-on approach to organizing and helping groups of industrial workers in economically distressed communities. “The Church was saying all the right things on Sunday mornings,” he says, “but the world was not changing. I became more interested in learning the skills necessary to actually solve some of the problems.”

His reputation for problem solving in the real world grew. In 1973 the Korean Christian Church asked him to relocate to Japan to help improve the living conditions of the sizable Korean population there. He took up residence in Osaka’s Ikuno Ward, home of Japan’s largest Korean community, where he spent the next 15 years living and working, voluntarily subjecting himself to the same long hours and low wages of the people he had come to help. Eventually he was able to earn their trust.

Fujiyoshi’s first open clash with the Japanese government came in 1981. Claiming that it was a violation of his basic human rights, he refused to comply with the fingerprinting requirement of Japan’s Alien Registration Law. He was indicted in 1982 and embarked on a civil-rights campaign within Japan’s court system which soon became a twisted game of cat-and-mouse. Four years after his initial indictment, Fujiyoshi was found guilty by the Kobe District Court but fined a mere $70. He faced another token fine after his appeal was rejected at the Osaka High Court. “It was just a slap on the wrist,” Fujiyoshi says of the fines, which were deliberately set at levels low enough for him to be able to afford. “They wanted to make sure that the decision was ‘guilty’ but also give the impression that the Japanese government is very benevolent.”

This face-saving charade was finally abandoned when the Japanese government refused to grant Fujiyoshi a permit that would have allowed him to re-enter Japan after returning to the U.S. to visit his ailing father-in-law. He responded to this action by embarking on a 25-day hunger strike aimed at publicly embarrassing the intransigent Japanese officials. He has since been given a special visa which allows him to return to Japan — but only to attend his own court hearings. Though he has been back in Hawaii since 1988, it is clear that his thoughts still lie in Japan. “I don’t feel like I ever left,” he says. “As long as my case is still being tried by the Japanese courts, I cannot separate myself from Japan.” Fujiyoshi has appealed his case to the Japanese Supreme Court, where it currently sits in quiet and secret deliberation. The process can take years, and a decision can come unannounced at any time. Feeling certain that his appeal will eventually be rejected by Japan’s highest court, he is already planning his next move. “If I lose this appeal,” he says, “then I will conclude that the Japanese judicial system cannot give me the justice I deserve. It is then my right to appeal the decision to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.” This might prove to be Fujiyoshi’s most powerful weapon. At a time when Japan is struggling with itself and the rest of the globe to find its appropriate niche in the world community, Fujiyoshi’s charges of racism and his refusal to be silenced could be a severe embarrassment to the Japanese government.

Those in power in Japan attempted to render the entire issue moot after the Showa emperor Hirohito’s death. In his honor an Imperial pardon was promulgated which granted amnesty to most of the defendants of fingerprinting cases still in litigation. It was purely a political move, Fujiyoshi asserts, a feeble effort to diffuse the issue before it could gain a measurable amount of publicity outside the country. With Fujiyoshi’s assistance and encouragement, other fingerprint refusers declined the offer and instead called a press conference to denounce the pardon. “The court’s acquittal of the refusers presumes that they are guilty and should be judged,” Fujiyoshi points out, “when it is the government and the emperor’s system that need to be examined.”

Fujiyoshi’s disdain for Japan’s governing institutions extends beyond the fingerprinting issue. The system in place in today’s Japan, he asserts, is the direct descendant of the nationalistic bodies that evolved following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when the country emerged from a prolonged period of political chaos with a reinvigorated sense of national identity and a perceived “divine right” to culturally convert other Asians and make them loyal citizens of Japan.

Fujiyoshi characterizes Japan’s approach to its minority peoples as one of “assimilation and control.” He has argued in court that the Alien Registration Law is part of a larger Japanese government policy of controlling other Asian and Pacific peoples by forcibly “Japanizing” them: compelling them both directly and indirectly to conceal their ethnicity. This system of assimilation and control results directly in the exploitation of Asians by relegating them to the lowest echelon of the country’s economic caste system, he contends. He sees it as a continuation of repressive prewar policies which forced colonial subjects to adopt Japanese names, speak Japanese exclusively in public, wear Japanese clothing and worship only at Shinto shrines.

Fujiyoshi lambasts the myth painstakingly cultivated by the government that the Japanese are descendants of a pure race. “The people in authority perpetuate the myth that Japan is a homogeneous society,” he claims. “It provides strong socialcohesiveness, and people can then be more easily controlled. And by keeping the people controlled, the government can also keep control of the economy.”

Therein lies the import of Fujiyoshi’s thesis, that the core issue is not merely a dispute between the central government and its peripheral minorities; the policy affects all of Japan’s citizens in equally disastrous ways. The Japanese nation can be compared to a crowded boat, the theory goes, and if too many more are allowed on board, the boat will capsize and everyone will drown. It stands to reason that the few who are permitted on board will be those whom the Japanese government deems to be of little threat to its fostered image of Japan as a single-race country. “Discrimination against the Korean people is not just a holdover of some misunderstandings of history, and it’s not a part of a modem ideology to control non-Japanese people,” Fujiyoshi warns. “It is an attempt to control the Japanese people themselves.”

For Fujiyoshi, state-sanctioned racism is bad enough, but even more repugnant is the denial of its existence by most Japanese. He maintains that the power structure, for its own purposes, is using its tremendous control over the media (and consequent influence on public opinion) to perpetuate the traditional notion that there are only three major races in the world. “According to this view, all there are are Caucasoid, Mongoloid and Negroid stocks,” says Fujiyoshi, recounting the argument he has heard more times than he cares to remember. This belief is worse than oversimplistic: It makes it possible for the Japanese government to exclude from the category of racial discrimination its dealings with other Asian and Pacific peoples living in the country. Japan can safely perceive itself as a country of only one race and sincerely believe that the racial conflicts plaguing the rest of the world can’t happen there.

According to Fujiyoshi, the primary flaw in this reasoning is that it completely disregards ethnicity: vast differences in culture, language and religion among peoples of the alleged three major racial stocks. And in the process it allows Japan to impose a bureaucratic system for other Asians living within its borders which, practically anywhere else in the world, would be denounced as institutionalized racial discrimination.

The Japanese government is a manipulative entity, Fujiyoshi asserts, which must be forced to confront the falsehoods it has been knowingly (and unknowingly) propagating. Sadly, the problem did not go away with the change in the country’s fingerprint laws. Now that Japan’s resident Koreans have had their burden partially lifted, the recent trend in the country has been to target South Asian peoples whose appearance is more easily discernible from their Japanese hosts. With the current economic slowdown proving to be stubbornly resilient, Fujiyoshi fears that these newer immigrants will become the scapegoats of the recession. “The assimilation and control policy attempts to stamp out the identity of long-term Asians and replace it with Japanese identity,” he says. “Until the Japanese government’s policy is ended, no real solution is in sight. Until their internal economic colony is eliminated, the other Asian and Pacific people in Japan will continue to be exploited because they are considered inferior. Until the national state ideology is exposed for what it is, the Japanese people will continue to be indoctrinated with a hidden racism toward other Asian and Pacific peoples.”

The coalition that assumed control of Japan a few months ago has the potential to effect profound changes rather than mere cosmetic modifications to enhance the government’s image. Fujiyoshi fears that even if his motives are genuine, the newly elected prime minister, Morihiro Hosokawa, may not be powerful enough to make a real difference. But his early actions show some promise. In an attempt to distance himself from past LDP bungles, Hosokawa has already delivered several sincere apologies for Japan’s controversial actions in World War II. Specifically mentioned were the “comfort women” of Asia who where forcibly conscripted and supplied to Japanese soldiers on the front lines during World War II. “Up until now the Japanese government wouldn’t admit its complicity,” Fujiyoshi says. “With the comfort women, once they admit what they are capable of, an entire can of worms is opened. Any official statement that relates to their attitude toward foreigners is significant. After that their treatment of all foreigners can then be called into question.” Now that the fingerprinting requirement has been abolished for permanent alien residents of Japan, does Fujiyoshi see a fundamental shift in the Japanese government’s way? “If the government was halfway repentant,” he says, “they would have done away with fingerprinting entirely.

If they were truly repentant, they would do away with the entire policy of assimilation.” Fujiyoshi’s brightest hope is the Japanese people. Now that Japan has emerged as one of the world’s most affluent nations, the Japanese are traveling abroad in record numbers. Young people are venturing overseas and experiencing other cultures. Many become exchange students. Fujiyoshi predicts severe conflict in the years ahead as the Japanese people become more accepting of other cultures on the one hand, and the government continues to espouse its hard-line stance on the other. “To be honest, I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out,” Fujiyoshi admits, “but if this new coalition can hold together, it will be very significant.” The leadership of the country, after all, will still be in control of education and the media. “Japanese history books refer to Korea as a dagger pointed at the heart of Japan. Just think how different it would be if Korea was instead viewed as a bridge connecting Japan to the wealth and riches of other Asian cultures.”

Now that he has all but exhausted his options in Japan’s legal system, Fujiyoshi’s passions are turning toward the recently formed United States-Japan Committee for Racial Justice, which assigned to itself as one of its first missions the daunting task of formulating a set of guidelines to help prevent potential future racist confrontations between the two countries from erupting into uncontrollable conflagrations of hate.

Despite these recent changes, Fujiyoshi still remains cautiously pessimistic about long-term prospects for United States-Japan relations. Racism is alive and well in both countries, he declares, evidenced by the lack of sensitivities on both sides of the Pacific during the 50th-anniversary observations of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. America exploited the anniversary as an opportunity to boost patriotism at a time when the U.S. government and economy had both come down with symptoms of terminal gridlock. Japan used the occasion to further alienate itself from America and the rest of Asia by not only refusing to apologize for the attack but even suggesting that Japan may not have been entirely responsible for the war in the Pacific. Fujiyoshi sees the possibility of an alarming increase of similar misunderstandings in the future as the once-solid friendship between the United States and Japan is further taxed by the economic slowdowns currently sapping both countries. “We need to adjust to the changes that are occurring,” he says, “and to join with others in dealing with some of the fundamental contradictions that remain in our societies. Only when people feel proud of what they are can they work well with others.”

ENDS

Postscript:  Ronald Fujiyoshi now lives on Big Island and continues his human rights work there.

Kyodo: Summary Court overturns fine levied on Filipino-Japanese man after Osaka police botch assault probe — that punished him for defending himself against drunk Japanese assailants!

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Hi Blog. Check this article out, followed by a comment by Debito.org Reader and submitter JDG:

///////////////////////////////////////////

NATIONAL / CRIME & LEGAL
Filipino-Japanese exempt from fine after Osaka police botch assault probe
KYODO NEWS/JAPAN TIMES APR 24, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/04/24/national/crime-legal/filipino-japanese-exempt-from-fine-after-osaka-police-botch-assault-probe/

OSAKA – The police investigation into a street brawl in Osaka in 2013 that resulted in a fine for a Filipino-Japanese man was superficial and should never have caused charges to be filed, a court in Osaka has ruled.

In a rare ruling, the Osaka Summary Court decided to exempt the 23-year-old defendant from punishment despite finding him guilty of assault, after hearing that the police failed to provide him with a Tagalog interpreter. The man can only speak limited Japanese.

According to the ruling, two drunken men began a quarrel with the defendant on a street in Osaka in June 2013. When one of them grabbed his collar, the Philippine-Japanese man punched him in the face, causing a broken bone.

Neither of the drunks was indicted. But the court initially ordered the Filipino-Japanese man to pay a ¥300,000 ($2,500) fine in January 2014. The defendant filed a complaint and sought a formal trial, leading to a ruling that effectively canceled the fine on Feb. 26.

The ruling was finalized on March 13 after the appeal period expired.

“This is de facto innocence,” said Masanori Matsuoka, the defendant’s lawyer. “It’s an excellent ruling that criticized the investigation of a man who cannot speak Japanese sufficiently.”

Judge Akinori Hatayama said it is unfair to punish only the Filipino-Japanese man, given that the drunken man was not indicted for assault.

The judge criticized the prosecutors for charging the defendant without properly considering the case and based purely on the degree of physical injury that resulted from the scuffle.
ENDS

///////////////////////////////////////

JDG: Well, this is an interesting case. Now, if we take the poor reporting to mean that ‘Filipino-Japanese’ = naturalized Japanese citizen of NJ descent, this story is quite telling.

Naturalized Japanese citizen is stopped in Osaka by two drunk Japanese guys, who grab his shirt collars whilst shouting at him. The naturalized Japanese punches one in the face in self-defense and is arrested, charged, goes to court, and is fined.

The Japanese assailants, since they are ‘victims’ of their own victims self-defense, are not apprehended, and win compensation from their victim!

Thankfully, this was over-turned at a [summary] court. But the fact that it played out like this clearly shows the intense institutional racism of the Japanese police and legal system. In effect, if you are Japanese, you can commit assault (by western standards) on NJ (well, anyone who was not born Japanese), and the legal system recognize you as the victim if you are injured whilst attempting assault!

============================

Quite.  And, I might add, if he hadn’t taken it outside the criminal justice system (I assume) into Summary Court, he would have never gotten this ruling on the record either.

Clearly somebody had to go down for this incident in the cops’ eyes.  And since they saw what they considered to be a NJ involved (naturalized or not), they charged and convicted him.  Wrongly so, as this court ruling demonstrates — nearly two years later!  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Kyodo: Ryukoku U exchange student denied “No Foreigner” Kyoto apartment in 2013; MOJ in 2015 decides it’s not a violation of human rights!

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Hi Blog. I’m sorry for taking some time to get to this: I’ve been rather busy recently, and I was hoping that an English-langauge article would take this issue up and save me the need to carve out some time translating from the vernacular press. Found a couple references (a passing one here and a more elaborate contextualizing in the Japan Times here), but they’re missing a couple of important nuances, so here goes:

47News.jp (article below) reports that the Ministry of Justice Legal Affairs Bureau has refused to acknowledge a “No Foreigners” apartment as a violation of human rights.  This is the outcome of a case back in 2013, where an exchange student at Ryuukoku University was denied a flat despite going through the Student Union, and he took it to the Bureau of Human Rights for the official word on the subject.  Now more than two years later (presumably the poor chap wasn’t living on the street in the interim), the MOJ determined that the foreigner-averse landlord had not violated anyone’s human rights, refusing to elaborate further.  Great.  Job well done and great precedent set, BOHR.

Two things of note before I get to the article:  One is a media bias.  Note how once again the 47News.jp article portrays the issue incorrectly in its sidebar illustration:

foreignerdiscrim47Newsjp033015

(from 47News.jp, March 30, 2015)

It’s not “Foreigner Discrimination” (gaikokujin sabetsu no jirei). It’s racial discrimination, because the first case they cite (the Otaru Onsens Case in 1999) eventually has a Japanese being refused too.  Yet the Japanese media will almost always refuse to undermine the incorrect narrative that racial discrimination never happens in Japan.

Second thing is that Japan’s generally ineffective Potemkin Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu) has a long history of blind-eyeing the very thing it’s charged with protecting against.  As further evidence of its ineffectuality – even complicity with discriminators – here is an example where the Sapporo BOHR advised a local government (Otaru) that it has no legal obligation to pass ordinance against racial discrimination, only suggesting that the city make such an ordinance if it considers it necessary.  This from my book “Japanese Only:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan” (Tokyo: Akashi Shoten) , pg. 347 in the English version:

jinkenyougobu112999

(Annotations within the document by the Sapporo BOHR.)  Further, the BOHR has denied information to claimants on the pretext of protecting claimants from their own privacy, so I wholeheartedly agree with the exchange student’s complaints about the lack of transparency.  So this latest event of saying a blanket exclusionary policy as not a violation of human rights is but one more example to record on Debito.org for posterity.

Translation of the article without footnotes follows, with full article in Japanese. Any errors are mine.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

////////////////////////////////////////////

(Foreigner Apartment Refusal) Ministry of Justice on “No Foreigners” apartments:  not acknowledged as a violation of human rights.  Student Union that introduced the apartment apologizes to student.

47News.jp, from Kyodo, March 30, 2015, provisional translation by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

A European exchange student in his twenties who wished to rent an apartment in Kyoto could not get a rental contract because the apartment was “No Foreigners”.  He asked for recourse from the Ministry of Justice’s Legal Affairs Bureau in Kyoto for discrimination against foreigners, but the Legal Affairs Bureau refused, stating, “We cannot determine that the facts constitute a violation of human rights.”

The Student Union at Ryukoku University in Kyoto, who acted as the interlocutor to the realtor, apologized to the student, and has ceased introductions to places that refuse foreigners.  The university has advised the Student Union to improve its services.  The student’s supporters have voiced the need for seeing how the Legal Affairs handled the issue as a problem.

Lack of Transparency

The Ministry of Justice has called for the end of street demonstrations expressing discrimination against foreigners that may be called hate speech [sic].  On its online home page it introduces a case of “a barber who refused customers on the basis of them being foreigners” as a violation of human rights.  As to this case of the refused student, the Ministry of Justice refused to explain further why this was not acknowledged as the same.  The student criticized the situation, saying “the Legal Affairs Bureau’s handling lacks transparency.”

The student attempted to rent the apartment in Kyoto through the Student Union in January 2013, but was told at the Union that the landlord refused. In September 2014, the Bureau notified him that “We decided that it was unclear that there had been a violation”.  “We admonished (keihatsu, or “enlightened”) the Student Union.”  According to Ministry of Justice guidelines, even in cases where there has not been a violation of human rights, admonition can be carried out.  

However, the exchange student raised the question, “Wouldn’t most Japanese think that this is discrimination?  Would only admonishing without any legally-binding force actually stop this from happening again?”  He repeated, “I had the chance to learn and grow from learning Japanese culture, but I was quite hurt by this problem.”

Easing the Unease

Ryuukoku’s Student Union leader Doumen Yuuko sees that this landlord’s refusal to rent to foreigners is but a “vague feeling of unease” (bakuzen to shita fuan).  Thanks to this case, the Student Union no longer refers students to renters that have “no foreigners” policies.  She said that recently the Union is politely explaining to landlords that the former will handle any troubles that result from unpaid rents and differences in lifestyles.  Ms. Doumen added, “As a university, we accept many kinds of people.  It’s important that we see diversity not only in regards to foreign exchange students.”

When contacted by Kyodo News for a comment, the representative for the Bureau, a Mr. Ohyama Kunio, responded, “We cannot comment on that case, or on whether we took up that case.”  For the sake of preserving privacy, the Bureau does not publicly speak as a matter of principle on cases that have been raised for relief.

Ms. Moro-oka Yasuko, a lawyer that takes on cases of foreigner discrimination, suggested, “They probably are thinking that because the landlord refused the exchange student before it got to the contract stage, that’s why it didn’t become an explicit violation of human rights.”  

The Japanese Government, a signatory to the UN Convention for the the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, has the duty to forbid discrimination.  However, Japan’s human rights organs have a deep-rooted image of having “insufficient enforcement power”.  Ms Moro-oka charged, “As agreed to in the treaty, Japan must make a law to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.”

MAIN ARTICLE ENDS.  (Footnotes untranslated.)

////////////////////////////////////////////

【外国人入居拒否】 法務局、人権侵犯認めず アパートの「外国人不可」 仲介の大学生協は謝罪
47News.jp 2015/03/30 Courtesy of HT
http://www.47news.jp/47topics/e/263652.php

入居を希望した京都市のアパートが「外国人不可」のため、賃貸契約できなかった欧州出身の20代の留学生が、法務省の京都地方法務局に外国人差別だとして救済措置を求めたところ、法務局は「人権侵犯の事実があったとまでは判断できない」と退けた。

不動産相談窓口でアパートを仲介した龍谷大(本部京都市)の生協は留学生に謝罪し、「外国人不可」の物件紹介を中止。大学側も生協に改善を促した。留学生の支援者らから、法務局の対応を疑問視する声があがっている。

▽透明性欠く
法務省はヘイトスピーチ(憎悪表現)と呼ばれる外国人差別の街頭宣伝をなくそうと呼び掛けており、ホームページでは「外国人であることを理由に理容店が客を拒否した」というケースを人権侵害として紹介している。救済を求めた留学生に対しては、申し立てを認めなかった理由の説明を断った。留学生は「(法務局の対応は)透明性を欠いている」と批判している。

留学生は2013年1月、生協の窓口で京都市内のアパートを借りようとしたが、外国人を拒む家主側の意向を生協で伝えられた。法務局は14年9月、「侵犯事実不明確の決定をした」と留学生に通知。「生協には啓発を行った」とも伝えた。法務省の規定では「啓発」は人権侵犯がない場合も実施できる。
だが、留学生は「多くの日本人はこれが差別だと思っていないのではないか。法的拘束力もない啓発だけで再発が防げるのか」と疑問を投げかけ、「日本文化を学んで成長の機会を得られたが、この問題では傷ついた」と振り返った。

▽不安解消
龍谷大生協の 堂免裕子 (どうめんゆうこ) 専務理事は、家主側は部屋を外国人に貸すことに「漠然とした不安」を感じているとみている。今回の問題をきっかけに、「外国人不可」の賃貸住宅の仲介をやめた。最近は、未払い家賃の補償制度や生活習慣をめぐるトラブルへの対応を、家主側に丁寧に説明しているという。堂免さんは「大学はいろいろな人を受け入れる。留学生に限らず多様性(ダイバーシティ)という観点が重要だ」と話す。

法務省人権擁護局は共同通信の取材に対し「そうした事案を取り扱ったかどうかも含めてお答えできない」( 大山邦士 (おおやま・くにお) 調査救済課長)と答えた。同省はプライバシーの保護などを理由に、人権救済の申し立てへの対応は原則として公表していない。

外国人差別問題に取り組む 師岡康子 (もろおか・やすこ) 弁護士は「留学生に対し家主が契約の段階で断るといった行為がないと人権侵犯には当てはまらない、と考えているのではないか」と推測する。

日本政府は「人種差別撤廃条約」に加入し、政府は差別を禁止し終わらせる義務を負っている。だが人権団体の間では「実行が不十分」という見方が根強い。師岡氏は「条約に合致するよう、あらゆる差別行為を禁じる『人種差別撤廃法』をつくるべきだ」と訴えている。 (沢康臣)

◎人種差別撤廃条約

人種差別撤廃条約 人種差別をなくすため、日本を含む170カ国以上が結んでいる。あらゆる人種差別を撤廃する政策をとり、差別を禁止することを義務付けている。1965年に国連総会で採択され、69年に発効。日本は95年12月に批准した。しかし留保条件を付け、人種差別思想の流布や差別の扇動を罰する法律をつくる義務については、憲法の表現の自由との関係で履行しない余地を残した。
◎人権侵犯

人権侵犯 各地の法務局は差別などの訴えを受け付けると、「人権侵犯(侵害)」に当たるかどうか調べ、救済や再発防止をはかる。調査や救済措置に強制力はない。人権侵犯があったと認定した場合、加害者を対象にした「勧告」「説示」や、関係機関への「要請」などの救済措置をとる。悪質な場合は警察に告発する。人権侵犯がなければ「不存在」、有無を確認できなければ「不明確」と決定する。
(共同通信)

NYT Opinion: Mindy Kotler on “The Comfort Women and Japan’s War on Truth”, an excellent primer on the issue

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Hello Blog. One more post on the “Comfort Women” (since my last two publications here and here dealt with it) and then we’ll start getting back to regular topics. The Opinion Page on the NYT last November offered an excellent primer on the issue, including motives for why Japan’s ruling elites would seek to rewrite history (e.g., to sanitize their family honor and complicity in a dark past), both within and outside of Japan: Political subterfuge at the expense of history, all re-empowered by Japan’s rightward swing, in order to destabilize the region and re-aggravate the wounds of past conflicts, and to project deceitful historical revisionism worldwide.  How dishonest and selfish of a select powerful few.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

///////////////////////////////////////////

The Comfort Women and Japan’s War on Truth
By MINDY KOTLER
The New York Times, NOV. 14, 2014
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/15/opinion/comfort-women-and-japans-war-on-truth.html

WASHINGTON — In 1942, a lieutenant paymaster in Japan’s Imperial Navy named Yasuhiro Nakasone was stationed at Balikpapan on the island of Borneo, assigned to oversee the construction of an airfield. But he found that sexual misconduct, gambling and fighting were so prevalent among his men that the work was stalled.

Lieutenant Nakasone’s solution was to organize a military brothel, or “comfort station.” The young officer’s success in procuring four Indonesian women “mitigated the mood” of his troops so well that he was commended in a naval report.

Lieutenant Nakasone’s decision to provide comfort women to his troops was replicated by thousands of Imperial Japanese Army and Navy officers across the Indo-Pacific both before and during World War II, as a matter of policy. From Nauru to Vietnam, from Burma to Timor, women were treated as the first reward of conquest.

We know of Lieutenant Nakasone’s role in setting up a comfort station thanks to his 1978 memoir, “Commander of 3,000 Men at Age 23.” At that time, such accounts were relatively commonplace and uncontroversial — and no obstacle to a political career. From 1982 to 1987, Mr. Nakasone was the prime minister of Japan.

Today, however, the Japanese military’s involvement in comfort stations is bitterly contested. The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is engaged in an all-out effort to portray the historical record as a tissue of lies designed to discredit the nation. Mr. Abe’s administration denies that imperial Japan ran a system of human trafficking and coerced prostitution, implying that comfort women were simply camp-following prostitutes.

The latest move came at the end of October when, with no intended irony, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party appointed Mr. Nakasone’s own son, former Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, to chair a commission established to “consider concrete measures to restore Japan’s honor with regard to the comfort women issue.”

The official narrative in Japan is fast becoming detached from reality, as it seeks to cast the Japanese people — rather than the comfort women of the Asia-Pacific theater — as the victims of this story. The Abe administration sees this historical revision as integral to restoring Japan’s imperial wartime honor and modern-day national pride. But the broader effect of the campaign has been to cause Japan to back away from international efforts against human rights abuses and to weaken its desire to be seen as a responsible partner in prosecuting possible war crimes.

A key objective of Mr. Abe’s government has been to dilute the 1993 Kono Statement, named for Japan’s chief cabinet secretary at the time, Yohei Kono. This was widely understood as the Japanese government’s formal apology for the wartime network of brothels and front-line encampments that provided sex for the military and its contractors. The statement was particularly welcomed in South Korea, which was annexed by Japan from 1910 to 1945 and was the source of a majority of the trafficked comfort women.

Imperial Japan’s military authorities believed sex was good for morale, and military administration helped control sexually transmitted diseases. Both the army and navy trafficked women, provided medical inspections, established fees and built facilities. Nobutaka Shikanai, later chairman of the Fujisankei Communications Group, learned in his Imperial Army accountancy class how to manage comfort stations, including how to determine the actuarial “durability or perishability of the women procured.”

Japan’s current government has made no secret of its distaste for the Kono Statement. During Mr. Abe’s first administration, in 2007, the cabinet undermined the Kono Statement with two declarations: that there was no documentary evidence of coercion in the acquisition of women for the military’s comfort stations, and that the statement was not binding government policy.

Shortly before he became prime minister for the second time, in 2012, Mr. Abe (together with, among others, four future cabinet members) signed an advertisement in a New Jersey newspaper protesting a memorial to the comfort women erected in the town of Palisades Park, N.J., where there is a large Korean population. The ad argued that comfort women were simply part of the licensed prostitution system of the day.

In June this year, the government published a review of the Kono Statement. This found that Korean diplomats were involved in drafting the statement, that it relied on the unverified testimonies of 16 Korean former comfort women, and that no documents then available showed that abductions had been committed by Japanese officials.

Then, in August, a prominent liberal newspaper, The Asahi Shimbun, admitted that a series of stories it wrote over 20 years ago on comfort women contained errors. Reporters had relied upon testimony by a labor recruiter, Seiji Yoshida, who claimed to have rounded up Korean women on Jeju Island for military brothels overseas.

The scholarly community had long determined that Mr. Yoshida’s claims were fictitious, but Mr. Abe seized on this retraction by The Asahi to denounce the “baseless, slanderous claims” of sexual slavery, in an attempt to negate the entire voluminous and compelling history of comfort women. In October, Mr. Abe directed his government to “step up a strategic campaign of international opinion so that Japan can receive a fair appraisal based on matters of objective fact.”

Two weeks later, Japan’s ambassador for human rights, Kuni Sato, was sent to New York to ask a former United Nations special rapporteur on violence against women, Radhika Coomaraswamy, to reconsider her 1996 report on the comfort women — an authoritative account of how, during World War II, imperial Japan forced women and girls into sexual slavery. Ms. Coomaraswamy refused, observing that one retraction did not overturn her findings, which were based on ample documents and myriad testimonies of victims throughout Japanese-occupied territories.

There were many ways in which women and girls throughout the Indo-Pacific became entangled in the comfort system, and the victims came from virtually every settlement, plantation and territory occupied by imperial Japan’s military. The accounts of rape and pillage leading to subjugation are strikingly similar whether they are told by Andaman Islanders or Singaporeans, Filipino peasants or Borneo tribespeople. In some cases, young men, including interned Dutch boys, were also seized to satisfy the proclivities of Japanese soldiers.

Japanese soldiers raped an American nurse at Bataan General Hospital 2 in the Philippine Islands; other prisoners of war acted to protect her by shaving her head and dressing her as a man. Interned Dutch mothers traded their bodies in a church at a convent on Java to feed their children. British and Australian women who were shipwrecked off Sumatra after the makeshift hospital ship Vyner Brooke was bombed were given the choice between a brothel or starving in a P.O.W. camp. Ms. Coomaraswamy noted in her 1996 report that “the consistency of the accounts of women from quite different parts of Southeast Asia of the manner in which they were recruited and the clear involvement of the military and government at different levels is indisputable.”

For its own political reasons, the Abe administration studiously ignores this wider historical record, and focuses instead on disputing Japan’s treatment of its colonial Korean women. Thus rebuffed by Ms. Coomaraswamy, the chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, vowed to continue advocating in international bodies, including the United Nations Human Rights Council, for Japan’s case, which is to seek to remove the designation of comfort women as sex slaves.

The grave truth about the Abe administration’s denialist obsession is that it has led Japan not only to question Ms. Coomaraswamy’s report, but also to challenge the United Nations’ reporting on more recent and unrelated war crimes, and to dismiss the testimony of their victims. In March, Japan became the only Group of 7 country to withhold support from a United Nations investigation into possible war crimes in Sri Lanka, when it abstained from voting to authorize the inquiry. (Canada is not a member of the Human Rights Council but issued a statement backing the probe.) During an official visit, the parliamentary vice minister for foreign affairs, Seiji Kihara, told Sri Lanka’s president, “We are not ready to accept biased reports prepared by international bodies.”

Rape and sex trafficking in wartime remain problems worldwide. If we hope to ever reduce these abuses, the efforts of the Abe administration to deny history cannot go unchallenged. The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — all of whom had nationals entrapped in imperial Japan’s comfort women system — must make clear their objection to the Abe government’s perverse denial of the historical record of human trafficking and sexual servitude.

The United States, in particular, has a responsibility to remind Japan, its ally, that human rights and women’s rights are pillars of American foreign policy. If we do not speak out, we will be complicit not only in Japanese denialism, but also in undermining today’s international efforts to end war crimes involving sexual violence.

======================
Mindy Kotler is the director of Asia Policy Point, a nonprofit research center.

Suspicious recent death of NJ after being “restrained” on the street by Tokyo Police in daytime warrants more investigation and attention

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Hi Blog. As several Debito.org Readers have been digging around and submitting to this forum under the aegis of a similar but separate event (start from here), there has been a suspicious death of a Non-Japanese (NJ) that warrants more investigation and attention. So let’s promote it to its own blog entry.

First, the Tokyo Weekender of March 5 reports tersely:

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English Teacher Dies after Being Restrained by Police
Tokyo Weekender, News & Views – March 5th, 2015
http://www.tokyoweekender.com/2015/03/english-teacher-dies-after-being-restrained-by-police/

A short article reporting the death of a 29-year-old English teacher who fell into a coma after being restrained by the police raises more questions than it answers.

The Jiji Press reported that the teacher, who was from the US, died in a hospital following a February 11 incident in the Akasaka area of Minato Ward. The Jiji article, reprinted on the Japanese version of the Wall Street Journal, is scant on details, aside from the following: At around 5:30 pm on the Foundation Day holiday, police received a call about a foreigner behaving violently . When police approached the man, who was reported as a resident of Setagaya Ward, he responded violently. A total of six officers restrained the American by his arms and legs. In the struggle, the man went into cardiac arrest and was taken to a nearby hospital.

The man did not regain consciousness after the incident, and died on March 1. Police stated that the man did not seem to have suffered any external injuries.

No other information —- the man’s name, his home town, employer, or additional details about the conflict—has been provided thus far.  ENDS

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Here are the quoted sources in Japanese, also glib:

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保護した米国人男性死亡=2月路上で暴れ、病院搬送—警視庁
Wall Street Journal Japan 2015 年 3 月 2 日 16:30 JST 更新
http://jp.wsj.com/articles/JJ12415624575840664012717795297010215212790

警視庁は2日、2月に東京・赤坂の路上で暴れて保護され、病院に搬送された米国籍の男性が死亡したと発表した。同庁赤坂署によると、男性を解剖したが死因は不明。

死亡したのは東京都世田谷区に住む英会話教師の米国人男性(29)。

赤坂署によると、2月11日午後5時半ごろ、港区赤坂の路上で「外国人が錯乱して暴れている」などと110番があった。駆け付けた署員が話し掛けると、男性が暴れ出したため署員6人で両手両足を押さえ付けるなどして拘束。男性は心肺停止状態となり、病院に搬送された。

男性は意識が戻らないまま、今月1日に病院で死亡した。同署によると、目立った外傷はないという。
[時事通信社]

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This has occasioned much cynical comment and even public protest. But we still don’t know much more than this.

However, we can speculate with some certainty on the following:

  1. This happened on a Wednesday afternoon before it was fully dark, meaning the chances of this person being drunk and disorderly were pretty low.
  2. This happened in a part of Tokyo that sees NJ as a public-security threat, with cops trained to racially-profile potential perps and carry out legally-questionable search activities.
  3. This happened on National Foundation Day, a day where there were nationalistic demonstrations by Japanese celebrating the accession of Japan’s first emperor.  While demonstrations on a day like this are not newsworthy enough to indicate that there was a concurrent demonstration in Akasaka, it is not a stretch to imagine this person being targeted by violent xenophobic elements, and the NPA taking the side of the rightists and targeting the NJ.
  4. The NPA not only has a record of lethally subduing NJ in custody, but also of covering it up.
  5. We don’t even have the basic information on who he is or even if international officials have gotten involved in the investigation. All we have is the deceased’s age, nationality, and occupation. That is insufficient, and the fact that more details are not forthcoming suggests a mishap or a coverup on the part of the NPA.  (It’s happened before.  Many times.)
  6. There have been cases of police arresting people for looking “suspicious”, but whose only apparent crime was standing around looking foreign in the eyes of local busybodies who called the cops (we know about this because these involved cases where persons arrested were Japanese citizens who just looked “foreign”).  So the accusation of violence on the part of the NJ is also not taken when Japanese cops have a history of overreaction towards NJ (those six cops sure got there in a hurry).

We simply don’t have enough information for a more informed assessment.  And we should.  Were there no witnesses?  With this much commotion and no doubt an ambulance called, didn’t anyone see anything in this densely-populated part of Tokyo?  Or is this just another case of another unknown fungible NJ winding up as the Dead Gaijin on a Gurney?

One speculation is that the lack of press investigation and scrutiny is because this case has somehow come under Japan’s newly-enacted Special Secrecy Law.  Seems a bit of a stretch, as this doesn’t seem to be something that ought to be fodder (how does the case one dead NJ qualify as an issue of national security?).  But if it did, this would really be the acid test that demonstrated just how far this law will be abused, and thus warrants further investigation.

If you have any friends in the Japan news media, point them towards this site and see if we can pique their interest and get them investigating.  I will too.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan Times: UK inspectors say Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers are like “prisons”. In fact, they’re worse.

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Hi Blog. Getting back to another issue in Japan that has long needed fixing — the judiciary (see also here) — here are some overseas experts talking in a comparative perspective about Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers (aka Gaijin Tanks) that they liken to “prisons”.

In fact, they’re worse than prisons, because they don’t come under the same judicial oversight for minimum standards that Japanese prisons do, and detainees, unlike the criminally-incarcerated, do not have a “prison sentence” with a limited time-frame attached to it. Not to mention Gaijin Tanks add a second layer of incarceration for NJ only, where even the NJ exonerated of a criminal offense get released from prison only to wind up in a Gaijin Tank for “overstaying” the visa they couldn’t renew because they were incarcerated. For people in Gaijin Tanks, detention can be perpetual, and that’s before we get to the horrible (even lethal) treatment they suffer from while in custody. Read on. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Immigration detention centers like prisons, U.K. inspectors say
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, STAFF WRITER
The Japan Times, FEB 6, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/06/national/immigration-detention-centers-like-prisons-u-k-inspectors-say/
Courtesy of SA

When British incarceration inspection expert Hindpal Singh Bhui last month paid his first visit to a Japanese immigration detention center, his overriding initial impression was that it looked like a prison.

“The fact that if someone comes to visit detainees, the starting point is that you’re behind a glass screen and you can’t touch someone — that feels quite restrictive,” Bhui, team leader for London-based Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, told The Japan Times during a recent visit to Japan.

“It’s something which perhaps is a prison-style approach and which was surprising to see in immigration detention centers,” Bhui said of his visit to the government facility in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Established in 1982, HMIP is an independent inspectorate with unchallenged authority to probe state-run institutions, from prisons to immigration and military detention centers.

The British system stands in contrast with Japan’s immigration inspectorate, which is poorly funded and regarded as having little independence from the government, Japanese lawyers say.

The HMIP’s underlying philosophy that detainees should enjoy “as much openness as possible” also sends out an important message to a nation where neglect is suspected in the successive deaths of two immigration detainees in recent years.

Although funded significantly by the British government, HMIP is nonetheless granted full autonomy to carry out “independent, rigorous” inspections, Bhui said.

Its team members can arrive at target institutions unannounced, go anywhere within the premises and speak to anyone they encounter. The organization also has “unfettered” ability to publish its findings and make recommendations both to center managers and the government entities in charge to urge them to rectify malpractice.

The group’s inspections over the years have led to significant changes in policy and “general improvement in treatment and conditions” at British immigration facilities, according to HMIP inspector Colin Carroll.

Unlike the past, the Home Office, which overseas immigration policies in Britain, no longer tolerates the use of physical force to deport pregnant women and children, Carroll said.

Also, detainees in Britain now can freely chat with visiting family members in an open lounge and hug and kiss them, Bhui said. They are also permitted to carry mobile phones and surf the Internet to stay in touch with their lawyers and keep abreast of developments in their home countries.

Some even watch movies, work on art projects or practice music with fellow detainees.

“People in immigration centers tend to be far more frustrated and dislocated, physically or mentally. They’re away from family, away from support. So the opportunity to make phone calls to the family makes a big difference,” Bhui said.

“Detention centers in the U.K. understand it’s better for the safety of their own center if detainees can contact people outside. Because (that way) they’re less frustrated, and if they’re less frustrated, they’re less likely to misbehave within the center.”

Detention inmates, Bhui continued, haven’t committed specific criminal offenses and are often trying to enter the country to make a better life for themselves and their families, which he said is a “laudable positive sentiment.”

“They’re not there to be punished. They’re not there because they’re criminals,” he said.

This notion of openness, however, appears nonexistent in Japanese immigration centers, where detainees frequently go on hunger strikes or attempt suicide to protest what critics describe as their almost inhumane living conditions behind closed doors.

The lack of adequate medical services, in particular, has taken a tragic toll on detainees in recent years, highlighting the nation’s doctor shortage.

In the past two years, a man from Sri Lanka and another from the persecuted Rohingya ethnic minority in Myanmar who were detained at the Tokyo Immigration Regional Bureau in Shinagawa Ward died in separate incidents after staff failed to respond promptly to their medical emergencies. Two others died at the immigration center in Ushiku last March.

Bhui declined to comment directly on each of these cases, but added: “We have a system in the U.K. where if there is any death in detention, there will be an inquest by a coroner, who can call witnesses. Also, the ombudsman will do its own separate investigation into any death,” he said.

Bhui further noted that HMIP will follow up with detention centers to see if they have implemented preventive measures as recommended by the ombudsman. He called it a system to “identify problems, see why death happened in the first place and try to prevent that from happening in the future.”

“I think if there were system like that (in Japan), that would be good.”

Shortly after the death of the Sri Lankan man, the Tokyo Bar Association issued a statement in which it condemned the Justice Ministry’s repeated failure to identify the cause of detainees’ deaths and stressed the need for a third-party inquest system to prevent them.

Japan’s own inspectorate, or “nyuukokusha shuuyoshoto shisatsu iinkai” in Japanese, is under the jurisdiction of the Justice Ministry, despite its purported third-party status. Every aspect of its visits to immigration centers is rigidly controlled and pre-arranged by the ministry, according to Koichi Kodama, a lawyer well-versed in foreigners’ rights.

Rest of the article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/06/national/immigration-detention-centers-like-prisons-u-k-inspectors-say/
ENDS

My Japan Times JBC 83 Jan 1, 2015: “Hate, Muzzle and Poll”: Debito’s Annual Top Ten List of Human Rights News Events for 2014

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

A TOP TEN FOR 2014
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
JUST BE CAUSE Column 83 for the Japan Times Community Page
Published January 1, 2015 (version with links to sources)

Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/01/01/issues/hate-muzzle-poll-top-10-issues-2014/

 | 

Hate, muzzle and poll: a top 10 of issues for 2014

BY DEBITO ARUDOU, The Japan Times, January 1, 2015

As is tradition for JBC, it’s time to recap the top 10 human rights news events affecting non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan last year. In ascending order:

10) Warmonger Ishihara loses seat

This newspaper has talked about Shintaro Ishihara’s unsubtle bigotry (particularly towards Japan’s NJ residents) numerous times (e.g. “If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on,” JBC, Nov. 6, 2012). All the while, we gritted our teeth as he won re-election repeatedly to the National Diet and the Tokyo governorship.

However, in a move that can only be put down to hubris, Ishihara resigned his gubernatorial bully pulpit in 2012 to shepherd a lunatic-right fringe party into the Diet. But in December he was voted out, drawing the curtain on nearly five decades of political theater.

About time. He admitted last month that he wanted “to fight a war with China and win” by attempting to buy three of the disputed Senkaku islets (and entangling the previous left-leaning government in the imbroglio). Fortunately the conflict hasn’t come to blows, but Ishihara has done more than anyone over the past 15 years to embolden Japan’s xenophobic right (by fashioning foreigner-bashing into viable political capital) and undo Japan’s postwar liberalism and pacifism.

Good riddance. May we never see your like again. Unfortunately, I doubt that.

9) Mori bashes Japan’s athletes

Japan apparently underperformed at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics (no wonder, given the unnecessary pressure Japanese society puts on its athletes) and somebody just had to grumble about it — only this time in a racialized way.

Chair of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics committee Yoshiro Mori (himself remembered for his abysmal performance as prime minister from 2000 to 2001) criticized the performance of Japanese figure skaters Chris and Cathy Reed: “They live in America. Because they are not good enough for the U.S. team in the Olympics, we included these naturalized citizens on the team.” This was factually wrong to begin with, since through their Japanese mother, the Reeds have always had Japanese citizenship. But the insinuation that they weren’t good enough because they weren’t Japanese enough is dreadfully unsportsmanlike, and contravenes the Olympic charter on racism.

Mori incurred significant international criticism for this, but there were no retractions or resignations. And it isn’t the first time the stigmatization of foreignness has surfaced in Mori’s milieu. Since 2005 he has headed the Japan Rugby Football Union, which after the 2011 Rugby World Cup criticized the underperforming Japan team for having “too many foreign-born players” (including naturalized Japanese citizens). The 2012 roster was then purged of most “foreigners.” Yet despite these shenanigans, Japan will host the 2019 Rugby World Cup right before the Tokyo Olympics.

8) ‘Points system’ visa revamp

In a delicious example of JBC SITYS (“see, I told you so”), Japan’s meritocratic Points-based Preferential Treatment for Highly Skilled Foreigners visa failed miserably in 2013, with only 700 people having even applied for the available 2,000 slots six months into the program.

JBC said its requirements were far too strict when it was first announced, predicting it would fail (see last year’s top 10, and “Japan’s revolving door immigration policy hard-wired to fail,” JBC, March 6, 2012). Policymakers arrogantly presumed that NJ are beating down the door to work in Japan under any circumstances (not likely, after Japan’s two economic “lost decades”), and gave few “points” to those who learned Japanese or attended Japanese universities. Fact is, they never really wanted people who “knew” Japan all that well.

But by now even those who do cursory research know greater opportunities lie elsewhere: Japan is a land of deflation and real falling wages, with little protection against discrimination, and real structural impediments to settling permanently and prospering in Japanese society.

So did the government learn from this policy failure? Yes, some points requirements were revamped, but the most significant change was cosmetic: The online info site contains an illustration depicting potential applicants as predominantly white Westerners. So much for the meritocracy: The melanin-rich need not apply.

Good luck with the reboot, but Japan is becoming an even harder sell due to the higher-ranking issues on our countdown.

7) Ruling in Suraj death case

This is the third time the case of Ghanaian national Abubakar Awadu Suraj has made this top 10, because it demonstrates how NJ can be brutally killed in police custody without anyone taking responsibility.

After Suraj was asphyxiated while physically restrained during deportation in 2010, for years his kin unsuccessfully sought criminal prosecutions. Last March, however, the Tokyo District Court ruled that immigration officials were responsible for using “illegal” excessive force, and ordered the government to pay ¥5 million to Suraj’s widow and mother.

The case is currently being appealed to the Tokyo High Court. But the lesson remains that in Japan, due to insufficient oversight over Immigration Bureau officials (as reported in United Nations and Amnesty International reports; four NJ have died in Immigration custody since October 2013), an overstayed visa can become a capital offense.

6) Muslims compensated for leak

In another landmark move by the Tokyo District Court, last January the National Police Agency was ordered to compensate several Muslim residents and their Japanese families, whom they had spied upon as suspected terrorists. Although this is good news (clearly noncitizens are entitled to the same right to privacy as citizens), the act of spying in itself was not penalized, but rather the police’s inability to manage their intelligence properly, letting the information leak to the public.

Also not ruled upon was the illegality of the investigation itself, and the latent discrimination behind it. Instead, the court called the spying unavoidable considering the need to prevent international terrorism — thus giving carte blanche to the police to engage in racial profiling.

5) ‘Japanese only’ saga

If this were my own personal top 10, this would top the list, as it marks a major shift in Japan’s narrative on racial discrimination (the subject of my Ph.D. last year). As described elsewhere (“J.League and media must show red card to racism,” JBC, March 12, 2014), the Japanese government and media seem to have an allergy when it comes to calling discrimination due to physical appearance “discrimination by race” (jinshu sabetsu), depicting it instead as discrimination by nationality, ethnicity, “descent,” etc. Racism happens in other countries, not here, the narrative goes, because Japan is so homogeneous that it has no race issues.

But when Urawa Reds soccer fans last March put up a “Japanese only” banner at an entrance to the stands at its stadium, the debate turned out differently. Despite some initial media prevarication about whether or not this banner was “racist,” J.League chair Mitsuru Murai quickly called it out as racial discrimination and took punitive action against both the fans and the team.

More importantly, Murai said that victims’ perception of the banner was more important than the perpetrators’ intent behind it. This opened the doors for debate about jinshu sabetsu more effectively than the entire decade of proceedings in the “Japanese only” Otaru onsen case that I was involved in (where behavior was ruled as “racial discrimination” by the judiciary as far back as 2002). All of this means that well into the 21st century, Japan finally has a precedent of domestic discourse on racism that cannot be ignored.

4) Signs Japan may enforce Hague

Last year’s top 10 noted that Japan would join an international pact that says international children abducted by a family member from their habitual country of residence after divorce should be repatriated. However, JBC doubted it would be properly enforced, in light of a propagandist Foreign Ministry pamphlet arguing that signing the Hague Convention was Japan’s means to force foreigners to send more Japanese children home (“Biased pamphlet bodes ill for left-behind parents,” JBC, Oct. 8). Furthermore, with divorces between Japanese citizens commonly resulting in one parent losing all access to the children, what hope would foreigners have?

Fortunately, last year there were some positive steps, with some children abducted to Japan being returned overseas. Government-sponsored mediation resulted in a voluntary return, and a court ruling ordered a repatriation (the case is on appeal).

However, the Hague treaty requires involuntary court-ordered returns, and while Japan has received children under its new signatory status, it has not as yet sent any back. Further, filing for return and/or access in Japan under the Hague is arduous, with processes not required in other signatory countries.

Nevertheless, this is a step in the right direction, and JBC hopes that respect for habitual residence continues even after international media attention on Japan has waned.

3) Ruling on welfare confuses

Last July another court case mentioned in previous top 10s concluded, with an 82-year-old Zainichi Chinese who has spent her whole life in Japan being denied social-welfare benefits for low-income residents (seikatsu hogo). The Supreme Court overturned a Fukuoka High Court ruling that NJ had “quasi-rights” to assistance, saying that only nationals had a “guaranteed right” (kenri).

People were confused. Although the media portrayed this as a denial of welfare to NJ, labor union activist Louis Carlet called it a reaffirmation of the status quo — meaning there was no NJ ineligibility, just no automatic eligibility. Also, several bureaucratic agencies stated that NJ would qualify for assistance as before.

It didn’t matter. Japan’s xenophobic right soon capitalized on this phraseology, with Ishihara’s Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations) in August announcing policies “based on the ruling” that explicitly denied welfare to NJ. In December, in another act of outright meanness, Jisedai made NJ welfare issues one of their party platforms. One of their advertisements featured an animated pig, representing the allegedly “taboo topic” of NJ (somehow) receiving “eight times the benefits of Japanese citizens,” being grotesquely sliced in half.

You read that right. But it makes sense when you consider how normalized hate speech has become in Japan.

2) The rise and rise of hate speech

Last year’s list noted how Japan’s hate speech had turned murderous, with some even advocating the killing of Koreans in Japan. In 2014, Japanese rightists celebrated Hitler’s 125th birthday in Tokyo by parading swastika banners next to the Rising Sun flag. Media reported hate speech protests spreading to smaller cities around Japan, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered little more than lukewarm condemnations of what is essentially his xenophobic power base. Even opportunistic foreigners joined the chorus, with Henry Scott Stokes and Tony “Texas Daddy” Marano (neither of whom can read the Japanese articles written under their name) topping up their retirement bank accounts with revisionist writings.

That said, last year also saw rising counterprotests. Ordinary people began showing up at hate rallies waving “No to racism” banners and shouting the haters down. The United Nations issued very strong condemnations and called for a law against hate speech. Even Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto confronted Makoto Sakurai, the then-leader of hate group Zaitokukai (which, despite Japan’s top cop feigning ignorance of the group, was added to a National Police Agency watch list as a threat to law and order last year).

Unfortunately, most protesters have taken the tack of crying “Don’t shame us Japanese” rather than the more empowering “NJ are our neighbors who have equal rights with us.” Sadly, the possibility of equality ever becoming a reality looked even further away as 2014 drew to a close:

1) Abe re-election and secrets law

With his third electoral victory in December, Abe got a renewed mandate to carry out his policies. These are ostensibly to revitalize the economy, but more importantly to enforce patriotism, revive Japan’s mysticism, sanitize Japan’s history and undo its peace Constitution to allow for remilitarization (“Japan brings out big guns to sell remilitarization in U.S.,” JBC, Nov. 6, 2013).

Most sinister of all his policies is the state secrets law, which took effect last month, with harsh criminal penalties in place for anyone “leaking” any of 460,000 potential state secrets. Given that the process for deciding what’s a secret is itself secret, this law will further intimidate a self-censoring Japanese media into double-guessing itself into even deeper silence.

These misgivings have been covered extensively elsewhere. But particularly germane for JBC is how, according to Kyodo (Dec. 8), the Abe Cabinet has warned government offices that Japanese who have studied or worked abroad are a higher leak risk. That means the government can now justifiably purge all “foreign” intellectual or social influences from the upper echelons of power.

How will this state-sponsored xenophobia, which now views anything “foreign” as a security threat, affect Japan’s policymakers, especially when so many Japanese bureaucrats and politicians (even Abe himself) have studied abroad? Dunno. But the state secrets law will certainly undermine Japan’s decades of “internationalization,” globalization and participation in the world community — in ways never seen in postwar Japan.


Bubbling under:

a) Jisedai no To’s xenophobic platform fails to inspire, and the party loses most of its seats in December’s election.

b) Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Japan’s biggest drugmaker, appoints Christophe Weber as president despite the Takeda family’s xenophobic objections.

c) Media pressure forces Konsho Gakuen cooking college to (officially) repeal its “Japanese only” admissions process (despite it being in place since 1976, and Saitama Prefecture knowing about it since 2012).

d) All Nippon Airways (ANA) uses racist “big-nosed white guy” advertisement to promote “Japan’s new image” as Haneda airport vies to be a hub for Asian traffic (“Don’t let ANA off the hook for that offensive ad,” JBC, Jan. 24, 2014).

e) Despite NJ being listed on resident registries (jūmin kihon daichō) since 2012, media reports continue to avoid counting NJ as part of Japan’s official population.

ENDS

JT: Ishihara and Hiranuma’s conservative party to submit bill halting welfare for needy NJ a la July Supreme Court decision

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Hi Blog.  In a show of xenophobia mixed with outright meanness, Japan’s political dinosaurs (we all know what a nasty person Ishihara Shintaro is, but remember what kind of a bigot Hiranuma Takeo is too) will propose legislation that will officially exclude NJ taxpayers down on their luck from receiving the benefits to social welfare that they have paid into.  Put simply, they are seeking to legislate theft.  Oh, and just in case you think “if you want equal rights in Japan, you should naturalize“, they’ve thought of that too, and according to the article below are calling for naturalization to become more stringent as well.

This is on the heels of a dumbfoundingly stupid Supreme Court decision last July that requires Japanese citizenship for access to public welfare benefits.  I’ve heard people say that all this decision did was clarify the law, and that it won’t affect the local governments from continuing to be more humanitarian towards foreign human residents.  But you see, it HAS affected things — it’s now encouraged rightists to codify more exclusivity, not leftists more inclusivity.  In this currently far-right political climate in Japanese politics and governance, more exclusionism, not less, will become normalized, as long as the mindsets and actions of these horrible old men are allowed to pass without comment or critique.

Well, that’s one reason Debito.org is here — comment and critique — and we say that these old bigots should have their legacy denied.  But remember, it’s not as simple as waiting for the Old Guard to die off (Nakasone Yasuhiro, remember, is still alive and pretty genki at age 96), because a new generation of conservative elites are waiting like a row of shark’s teeth to replace the old.  Be aware of it, and tell your voting Japanese friends about how this affects you.  Because no-one else can with such conviction.  You must do all that you can so your legacy, not theirs, wins.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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THE JAPAN TIMES: NATIONAL
Conservative party to submit bill halting welfare for needy foreigners
BY MIZUHO AOKI, STAFF WRITER
AUG 26, 2014, courtesy of john k and pku
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/08/26/national/conservative-party-submit-bill-halting-welfare-needy-foreigners/

Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations) said Tuesday it plans to submit a revised bill to the extraordinary Diet session this fall to exclude poverty-stricken non-Japanese residents from receiving welfare benefits.

The opposition party, launched this month by conservative lawmakers including former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, said the public assistance law should be revised in accordance with the recent landmark ruling by the Supreme Court that permanent residents of Japan are not entitled to welfare benefits for financially needy people.

“Based on the ruling, it is (our duty) to revise the public assistance law,” Hiroshi Yamada, the secretary-general of the party, told a news conference in Tokyo.

Regardless of whether foreign residents pay taxes in Japan or not, the public assistance law is only for “Japanese nationals,” he stressed. Another law should be created to deal with foreigners, he said.

The Supreme Court ruled in July that permanent foreign residents of Japan are ineligible for welfare benefits, in response to a lawsuit filed by an 82-year-old Chinese woman with permanent residency.

The public assistance law stipulates that only Japanese nationals are eligible to receive the welfare payments. Even so, municipalities have been providing welfare benefits, such as monthly stipends for living expenses and housing, to financially needy foreigners with permanent or long-term residency status for years.

This practice was based on advice issued by the central government in 1954 to accept applications from foreigners in dire need of aid from a “humanitarian” point of view.

The conservative opposition party, headed by Takeo Hiranuma, was officially established on Aug. 1 after breaking from Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party). Its basic policies, unveiled in July, include denying non-Japanese residents the right to vote in national or local elections as well as introducing stricter standards for foreigners to obtain citizenship.

ENDS

In a stunning decision, Japan’s Supreme Court overturns Fukuoka High Court, rules that NJ Permanent Residents (etc.) not automatically eligible for social welfare benefits

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Hi Blog. There has already been an enormous outpouring of outrage at Friday’s Supreme Court decision in Japan’s NJ communities, so Debito.org will echo those sentiments and provide a forum for them to also be expressed here.

In an event sure to make my year-end top ten most important human rights issues of 2014, Japan’s highest court just overturned the Fukuoka High Court’s 2011 decision, ruling that an octogenarian granny who, despite being born in Japan, living her life here as a Zainichi Special Permanent Resident, and contributing to Japan’s social welfare systems, has no right to the benefits of her contributions because she’s foreign (i.e., not “kokumin”).  More comment after the articles:

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NATIONAL / SOCIAL ISSUES
Foreign residents can’t claim welfare benefits: Supreme Court
Japan Times/KYODO JUL 18, 2014, Courtesy lots of people
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/18/national/social-issues/top-court-rules-non-japanese-residents-ineligible-welfare-benefits/

The Supreme Court ruled Friday that foreigners with permanent residency status are ineligible for welfare benefits, overturning a decision by the Fukuoka High Court that had acknowledged their eligibility under the public assistance law.

The decision by the top court’s Second Petit Bench concerned a lawsuit filed by an 82-year-old Chinese woman with permanent residency who was born and grew up in Japan.

The woman applied for welfare benefits with the Oita municipal office in Oita Prefecture in December 2008 but was denied the benefits on the grounds she had some savings.

The woman then filed a suit demanding that the city’s decision be repealed. She is now receiving the benefits because the municipality accepted her welfare application in October 2011.

While the recipients of welfare benefits are limited to Japanese nationals by law, the government issued a notice in 1954 saying foreigners should be treated in accordance with the public assistance law.

Since the government limited recipients to Japanese nationals and foreigners with permanent residency in 1990, municipalities have exercised their discretion in doling out the benefits.

In October 2010, the Oita District Court rejected the plaintiff’s suit, saying that denying the public assistance law to foreigners was within the discretion of a municipal government.

In November 2011, however, the Fukuoka High Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, saying that foreigners with permanent residency have been protected under the public assistance law.
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最高裁が初判断「外国人は生活保護法の対象外」
NHK 7月18日 17時49分, Courtesy PKU
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20140718/k10013123601000.html

日本に住む外国人が生活に困窮した場合、法的に生活保護の対象になるかどうかが争われた裁判で、最高裁判所は「法律が保護の対象とする『国民』に外国人は含まれない」とする初めての判断を示しました。

生活に困窮した外国人への生活保護費の支給は、永住資格を持つ人や難民認定された人などを対象に、人道上の観点から自治体の裁量で行われています。
これについて、永住資格を持つ大分市の中国国籍の女性が起こした裁判で、外国人が法的にも保護の対象になるかどうかが争いになり、2審の福岡高等裁判所が「法的な保護の対象だ」と判断したため、国が上告していました。
18日の判決で最高裁判所第2小法廷の千葉勝美裁判長は「生活保護法が保護の対象とする『国民』に外国人は含まれない」とする初めての判断を示しました。
そのうえで「法的保護の対象を拡大するような法改正もされておらず、外国人は自治体の裁量による事実上の保護の対象にとどまる」と指摘して、2審の判決を取り消しました。
今回の最高裁判決はあくまで法律の解釈を示したもので、自治体が裁量で行っている外国人への生活保護には直ちに影響を及ぼさないものとみられます。

原告弁護士が判決を批判
判決について、原告の弁護士は会見で「法律の中の『国民』ということばだけを見て、実態に踏み込んでいない形式的な判断だ。外国人に生活保護を受給させるかどうかは行政の自由裁量だと最高裁がお墨付きを与えるもので問題だ」と批判しました。
さらに「外国人は日本で生活してはいけないと言っているのと同じで、安倍内閣は成長戦略の一環として外国人の受け入れを拡大するとしながら、一方でセーフティネットは認めないというのなら日本にこようとする外国人はいないだろう。なんらかの形で外国人の受給について法律の改正をしなければならない」と指摘しました。

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COMMENT:  The implications of this are pretty obvious:  NJ can be taxed and exploited at will, but if there’s ever a question of the local government not thinking that NJ deserve social welfare benefits, too bad, because they’re not guaranteed.  We’ll just take your money and deprive you of any guarantee that you’ll ever any equal benefit from it.

I’ve written about this case numerous times before.  Excerpts:

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Kyodo: Court overrules Oita Pref who tried to deny a 78-year-old NJ welfare benefits

Kyodo: A Japanese court repealed on Thursday a decision by Oita Prefecture in southwestern Japan not to examine a request from a 78-year-old Chinese woman to look into a decision by Oita City that rejected her application for welfare benefits.

A three-judge panel at the Oita District Court acted on a suit filed by the woman, who has obtained permanent residency status in Japan, against the Oita prefectural government decision that turned away the woman’s request, filed in February last year, to examine the Oita municipal government decision not to provide welfare benefits to her.

The prefectural government dismissed the woman’s request without examining it, saying she was not eligible to seek benefits because she does not have Japanese nationality.

In Thursday’s ruling, the district court said the prefectural government must review the municipal government decision in line with the woman’s request, and decide whether she should be given benefits.

Presiding Judge Kenji Kanamitsu brushed aside the prefectural government’s argument that the city’s decision not to provide her with benefits was a ”unilateral administrative action” against a foreigner who has no right to seek welfare benefits, and not an ”administrative decision” as she claimed, whose appropriateness can be reviewed under the administrative appeal law.

Judge Kanamitsu said the woman is ”obviously” eligible to ask the prefectural government to review the municipal government decision.

”An application for welfare benefits has been rejected, and it means the same to the applicants, regardless of their nationalities,” the judge said…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7563

BUT

17) Mainichi: “NJ have no right to welfare payments”, rules Oita District Court two weeks later. Gee that was a quick kibosh.

After a half-month interlude of light and reason (as in September 30 to October 18), where it actually looked like a Japanese courtroom was actually going to be nice to somebody and rule against The State, another court has come along and put things back to normal:

Mainichi: The Oita District Court ruled on Oct. 18 that foreigners with the right to permanent residence but without Japanese citizenship are not entitled to welfare benefits, rejecting the claims of a 78-year-old Chinese woman who sued after being denied benefits by the Oita city government…

According to the ruling, the woman has Chinese nationality but was born in Japan and holds the right to permanent residence. In December 2008, the woman applied to the welfare office in Oita city for welfare payments, but was turned down with the reason that she had “a comfortable amount of money” in her savings.

The main issues of the trial became whether the woman held the right as a foreigner to receive welfare payments and whether her financial status justified her receiving aid…”

COMMENT: Gee, that was quick by Japanese judicial standards! I guess they know the value of putting the kibosh on something before the floodgates open: Can’t have all the goddamn foreigners expecting to have rights to something like our social welfare benefits, especially at an advanced age.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7639

=================================

Then, as the clock continues to run out for this superannuated NJ, we now have another flip, fortunately in the more inclusive direction:

=================================

Court rules noncitizens are eligible for welfare

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 17, 2011), courtesy of lots of people
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T111116006297.htm

FUKUOKA–The Fukuoka High Court ruled Tuesday that permanent residents in in Japan with foreign nationalities are eligible to receive public welfare assistance, overturning a lower court ruling.

The high court accepted an appeal by a 79-year-old woman who is a permanent resident in Japan with Chinese nationality. She filed the lawsuit, claiming that the Oita city government illegally rejected her request for public welfare assistance.

Presiding Judge Hiroshi Koga said in the ruling, “Foreign citizens with permanent residency [in Japan] are legally guaranteed the same status as Japanese citizens who receive the same treatment.”

The high court overturned the Oita District Court’s ruling and nullified the Oita city government’s decision not to grant the woman public welfare benefits.

According to a lawyer for the plaintiff, it is the nation’s first court ruling to present a legal basis for foreign permanent residents in Japan to receive public welfare benefits.

According to the ruling, the woman applied for the public welfare at the Oita city government in December 2008, but the city government rejected her request.

The point at issue in the lawsuit was whether the Daily Life Protection Law can be applied to noncitizens.

Full blog entry at http://www.debito.org/?p=9658

/////////////////////////////////////////

And as I wrote in my Japan Times column of January 3, 2012, where I was ranking the Top Ten Human Rights Issues of 2012 for NJ in Japan:

=================================

6.  Oita denial of benefits overturned

News photo

In 2008, Oita Prefecture heartlessly rejected a welfare application from a 78-year-old Chinese (a permanent resident born in Japan) because she is somehow still a foreigner. Then, in a shocking ruling on the case two years later, the Oita District Court decreed that NJ are not automatically eligible for social welfare. Finally, in November, this stubborn NJ, in her 80th year, won a reversal at the Fukuoka High Court — on the grounds that international law and treaty created obligations for “refugees (sic) (to be accorded) treatment at least as favorable as that accorded to their nationals.”

What caused the confusion was that in 1981, the Diet decided that revising the public welfare law to eliminate nationality requirements was unnecessary, since practical application already provided NJ with benefits. Three decades later, Oita Prefecture and its district court still hadn’t gotten the memo.

Bravo for this NJ for staying alive long enough to prize her case away from xenophobic local bureaucrats and set congruent legal precedents for all NJ.

Full article at http://www.debito.org/?p=9837

/////////////////////////////////////////

And now the pendulum has swung again, with a great big Bronx Cheer for all NJ in Japan.

My final thought on this for now is how the online commenters (who consistently blame NJ for anything bad that happens to them) spin this one against the plaintiff?  It’s a challenge:  She’s an 82-year-old granny Zainichi living her entire life in Japan trying to get her tax benefits back, for heaven’s sake.  Still, the reflexes are kicking in.  We’ve already had one person commenting at the Japan Times about how this ruling was a means to deal with “illegal immigrants” somehow (the JT immediately spotted this as trolling and deleted it; wish they would be more proactive with my columns, as trolls keep derailing any meaningful debate).  Any more gems out there, go ahead and quote them in the Comments section below.  A ruling this egregiously anti-NJ becomes an interesting psychological experiment to see how far the self-hating gaijin will go to deny they have any rights to anything whatsoever in Japan.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////

UPDATE JULY 25, 2014: THIS VERY BLOG ENTRY GETS CITED IN THE SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST.  THANKS!

Anger erupts over court denial of welfare to foreign permanent residents of Japan
Japanese Supreme Court rules that a Chinese permanent resident is not entitled to payouts even though she has paid taxes all her life
SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST : Monday, 21 July, 2014,
Julian Ryall in Tokyo
http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1557063/anger-erupts-over-court-denial-welfare-foreign-permanent-residents-japan

Activists, analysts and foreign residents of Japan have reacted with dismay to a decision by the Supreme Court that foreigners with permanent residency are not entitled to welfare benefits.

Friday’s ruling by the highest court means that even foreign nationals born in Japan, who have spent all their lives in the country and paid their taxes, national insurance premiums and state pension requirements are still not guaranteed to receive financial support when they need it.

The Supreme Court’s decision overturned an earlier ruling by the Fukuoka high court that granted welfare to an 82-year-old Chinese woman who was born and raised in Japan.

The woman had applied for assistance to the municipal office in Oita prefecture in December 2008, but her request was refused because she had savings. The woman launched a legal case demanding that the decision be reversed on the grounds that she had paid taxes to the national and prefectural governments throughout her life.

In the first ruling of its kind, the Supreme Court stated that, from a legal standpoint, permanent foreign residents do not qualify for public assistance because they are not Japanese.

The ruling apparently gives local authorities across Japan the legal right to halt financial assistance to non-Japanese residents. The fact that many municipalities across the country are facing economic hardship may increase the risk of city governments seeking to exercise that right.

“It’s shameful,” said Eric Fior, a French national who owns a language school in Yokohama and who has lived in Japan for more than a decade.

“It’s bad enough that foreign residents do not have the right to vote at any level in Japan, but when you pay your taxes and contribute to the pension scheme, it’s something of an insult to be told that you have no right to get some of that money back when you need it,” he said.

“I imagine that many foreign residents will be asking themselves why they have to pay their taxes.”

The Oita case has been followed closely by Debito Arudou, a naturalised Japanese who was born in the United States and has become a leading rights activist after being refused access to a public bath in Hokkaido because he is “foreign”.

“The implications of this are pretty obvious,” Arudou wrote in his most recent blog posting. “Non-Japanese can be taxed and exploited at will, but if there’s ever a question of the local government thinking that nonJapanese deserve social welfare benefits, too bad because they’re not guaranteed,” he wrote.

“We’ll just take your money and deprive you of any guarantee that you’ll ever get any equal benefit from it.”

The post has generated heated comment. One person wrote: “The sheer pettiness and nastiness of the court’s decision just disgusts me.”

Other posters said the decision would have an impact on the government’s campaign to attract skilled foreign nationals to work in Japan in an effort to combat the dramatically shrinking population.

Conservatives have applauded the court’s decision.

“The state cannot provide benefits to all the poor people who come to Japan,” said Yoichi Shimada, a professor of international relations at Fukui Prefectural University.

“The problem in this particular case is that the woman chose not to take Japanese nationality and chose to remain Chinese,” he said. “If Japan allowed all foreign residents unlimited access to welfare, then the country would go bust.”

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Foreigners riled over welfare ruling
ENDS

Scholar Majima Ayu on how the racial discrimination inherent in America’s Japanese Exclusion Act of 1924 caused all manner of Japanese craziness

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Hi Blog.  Today’s post is a history lesson, about a very different Japan that took racial discrimination very seriously.  Especially when Japanese were the victims of it overseas.  Let me type in a section from Majima Ayu, “Skin Color Melancholy in Modern Japan”, in Rotem Kowner and Walter Demel, Eds., Race and Racism in Modern East Asia: Western and Eastern Constructions. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2013, pp. 398-401.  Quick comment from me follows (skip to it if you think this text is a little too academic for your tastes).

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Pathos of the Glorious “Colored”

Japan’s Racial Equality Clause was denied by the Western powers, and racial discrimination such as the Japanese exclusion in California still remains, which is enough insult to raise the wrath among the Japanese. — Emperor Showa, 1946.

Although Japanese exclusion was largely caused by racial discrimination, some elites tried to deny this by replacing the issue with class issues, similar to the interpretation of physical grooming. According to the minister of war, Terauchi Masatake (1852-1919), the Anti-Japanese movement arose because Japan had sent “bottom-class workers” who looked like “monkeys in the zoos” to the United States. In fact, the Japanese government encouraged workers from farming villages to emigrate because these villages were so impoverished and their population continued to grow. Terauchi’s view towards the Japanese immigrants to the United States was shared among elites since racial issues originally emerged as labor issues. However, the Japanese Exclusion Act of 1924 did not support the Japanese elites’ interpretation of existing class issues but made obvious the racial distinction between Japan and the United States.

As cited, the Emperor Showa (1901-1989) saw the Exclusion Act as “a remote cause of the Pacific War” (Terasaki & Miller 1995: 24). When President Woodrow Wilson met Ambassador Chinda Sutemi (1857-1929) in 1913, he was shocked by Chinda’s grave reaction to the Law, and knew then that war was more than a possibility. As a letter on 8 February 1924 from Secretary of State Charles E. Hugues to Chairman of the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization Albert Johnson stated, “The Japanese are a sensitive people, and unquestionably would regard such a legislative enactment as fixing a stigma upon them.” It also aptly used the term stigma used before by Taguchi. In fact, opinions against the Japanese Exclusion Act were an immediate reason for public outcry in Japan. The population had become exasperated by the weak-kneed diplomacy that brought national dishonor amidst the emotional bashing from the mass media. This manifested in extremely emotional and near mass-hysteric situations, such as the suicides near the American Embassy on May 31, the follow-up suicides, the events for consoling the spirits of the deceased, and the countless letters sent to the Naval Department calling for war against the United States (Matsuzawa 1980: 363-4).

While the situation heated up rapidly, it quickly subsided. However, the elites’ reaction against the Act remained strong. On the 15th of January 1924, Hanihara Masano, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States, stated in a memorandum that to “to preserve the self-respect” of Japan, “the sole desire of the Japanese Government was to relieve the United States Government of the painful embarrassment of giving offense to the just national pride of a friendly nation”. Three months later on April 10th, Hanihara sent another letter to Secretary of State Hughes:

To Japan the question is not one of expediency, but of principle. To her the mere fact that a few hundreds or thousands of her nationals will or will not be admitted into the domains of other countries is immaterial, so long as no question of national susceptibilities is involved. The important question is whether Japan as a nation is or is not entitled to the proper respect and consideration of other nations. In other words, the Japanese Government asks of the United States Government simply that proper consideration ordinarily given by one nation to the self-respect of another, which after all forms the basis of amicable international intercourse throughout the civilized world.

Some criticized Japan’s contradiction in terms of its pressure on Asia, but their anger only focused on Japan’s national dishonor and on the insults to its reputation. According to Hanihara’s correspondence with Secretary of State Hughes, the Exclusion Act “would naturally wound the national susceptibilities of the Japanese people.” It would also bring the “possible unfortunate necessity of offending the national pride of a friendly nation… stigmatizing them as unworthy and undesirable in the eyes of the American people” and “seriously offend the just pride of a friendly nation.”

Even Kiyosawa Kiyoshi (1890-1945), known as a liberal journalist, also took a critical stance of this. “Discrimination from the United States,” he wrote, “was due to regarding the Japanese as colored people. This is a disgrace to the most delicate matter of the Japanese ethnic pride.” On the 2nd of July at the Kokumin Shinbun, Tokutomi Sohou designated the 1st of July 1924 — the day the Anti-Japanese Immigration Law had passed — as the “Day of National Dishonor”. He explained the significance of the day to be one of “cutting ties with the United States”, and embracing their Asian brothers.” Tokutomi explained that the Anti-Japanese Law had caused “the Japanese to suffer unprecedented insult.” He also stated, “The immigrant issue is not simply a matter of US-Japan relations, it is the issue [lying] between the United States and the colored races” In the meantime, Nitobe Inazo (1862-1933) wrote in his 1931 correspondence on the night before the Manchurian Incident that the Exclusion Act was “a severe shock which came completely out of the blue… my heart was deeply wounded and I felt strongly insulted as if we Japaense were suddenly pushed down from our respected status to being the wretched of the earth.”

American’s racial categorization aggravated Japan’s anger, which turned to anxiety as a result of Japan’s diminishing sense of belonging in the world; “the world being limited to the Western powers,” as Tokutomi cited earlier, even if Japan earned a status equal to that of the Western powers, there would still be a great “distance” between them, namely one of racial and religious differences, and the whole difference between the East and West. The sentiment of being a “solitary wanderer” rejected by the West contradicts the manner in which Japan brought about its own isolation. Tokutomi also asserted that the express “Asian” had no other meaning beyond the geographical, and thus Japan’s self-perceptions and identity no longer belonged to Asia. The sense of isolation was actually based on the denial of “Asia”, and it came from Japan’s own identification built upon the idea of “Quit Asia and Join Europe”. It could be said that Japan’s contradictory identification came to reveal Japan’s inability to identify with either the East or the West, a situation that came about through the emergence of a consciousness of the racial distance, especially from 1919 to 1924.

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COMMENT:  There is a lot here to parse and analyze, and I’ll leave space for Debito.org Readers to tell us their reads.  But mine on the most topical level is this:

Look at how crazy racial discrimination makes people.  Mass hysteria?  Suicides?  Rumors of war?  Feeling rejected by the West after the elites had taken a risk and turned the national narrative away from the East?  Thereby laying the groundwork for Postwar Japan’s narrative of uniqueness and exceptionalism that fuels much of the irrational and hypocritical behavior one sees in Japan today (especially vis-a-vis racial discrimination towards anyone NOT “Japanese”).  Yet during Prewar Japan (when Japan was colonizing), the GOJ denied that it could even ideologically PRACTICE racial discrimination, since it was liberating fellow members of the Asian race (Oguma Eiji 2002:  332-3); and now we get denials that it exists in Japan, or that Japanese even understand the concept of racial discrimination because Japanese society allegedly has no races.  After all, racial discrimination is something done to us Japanese by less civilized societies.  It couldn’t happen in Japan.  Yet it does.  And when that is pointed out, then the denialism comes roaring back intertwined, as the above passage demonstrates, with the historical baggage of victimization.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

AFP: Asylum-seeker dies after collapsing at J detention center while doctor at lunch

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Hi Blog.  Here’s another long-standing issue within Japan’s criminal justice system — the two-tiered system of incarceration for foreigners only.  When one is being detained for a violation of Japan’s criminal code, you have prison for those convicted and the daiyou kangoku interrogation centers for those awaiting conviction (and almost everyone (95%) who is indicted under this system confesses to a crime, thanks to the unsupervised and harsh interrogation techniques).  Almost everyone who confesses to a crime (the most-cited figure is >99%) gets convicted and probably goes to prison.  Don’t get arrested in Japan or else this will happen to you.

But then there are the detention centers for foreigners with visa issues who can be incarcerated indefinitely.  This is unlike Japan’s prison system where 1) there are international standards for incarceration, and 2) there is a maximum limit — as in a prison sentence — to the duration for inmates.  Not so Japan’s foreigners.  And not so, as you can see below, Japan’s asylum seekers, where yet another NJ has died in custody due to, the article notes below, lax oversight over the health of their detainees.

I bring this up because this case will no doubt soon be forgotten.  Like the other issues of violenceunsanitary food leading to hunger strikes and suicidesImmigration brutality leading to an uncharged murder of a detainee, and more.  No wonder some people would prefer an overseas refugee camp than come to Japan to languish and perhaps die in a Gaijin Tank.  Best to archive it here as yet another brick in the wall.  Arudou Debito

SEE ALSO:  Johnson, The Japanese Way of Justice (2002), pg. 243.

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Asylum-seeker dies after collapsing at detention center while doctor at lunch
By Harumi Ozawa. AFP/Japan Today NATIONAL OCT. 25, 2013, courtesy of JK

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/asylum-seeker-dies-at-detention-center-while-doctor-at-lunch

See also http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/10/27/national/asylum-seeker-dies-in-japan-so-doctor-can-have-lunch-ngo/

An asylum-seeker collapsed and died after staff at a Japanese immigration center failed to call for a medic, allegedly because the doctor was having lunch, a pressure group said Thursday.

Anwar Hussin, a member of Myanmar’s Rohingya ethnic group, fell ill shortly after he was detained on Oct 9, according to People’s Forum on Burma, a Japan-based NGO headed by a Japanese lawyer.

Citing the 57-year-old’s cousin, the group said Hussin had been complaining of a headache all morning and fell unconscious as he began eating lunch in his cell.

Fellow detainees—seven people of different nationalities—called for help because he was vomiting and having spasms, the NGO said.

Detention center staff rejected their requests that a doctor be called, saying Hussin was just “having a seizure” and that the duty medic was on his lunch break, the group said, citing detainees who had spoken to the dead man’s cousin.

A doctor was summoned 51 minutes after Hussin’s collapse, according to a timeline given to his cousin by the center.

Staff made an emergency call four minutes after the doctor’s arrival and 55 minutes after being made aware of the problem, the timeline showed.

Hussin died in hospital on Oct 14, it said.

A spokeswoman for the Tokyo Immigration Bureau said a man in his 50s from Myanmar died of subarachnoid haemorrhage—a stroke—after collapsing in the detention center, confirming the dates given by the pressure group.

But she declined to confirm or deny the claims made by the NGO over how long it took for the doctor to be called.

“We refrain from disclosing details because it concerns private matters,” said the spokeswoman.

“We are aware that some people have complained the man was neglected for some time,” she said, adding the bureau believes staff handled the case appropriately. She said officials had explained the situation to the man’s surviving family in Japan.

The People’s Forum on Burma, which supports democratization of Myanmar and aids refugees from the country when they arrive in Japan, disputes this.

“The bureau did not inform the family of (Hussin’s) hospitalization. It was learnt from other detainees,” said a spokeswoman.

Immigration officials gave few details until two days after Hussin’s death, the spokeswoman said, and then only when his cousin repeatedly pressed them.

Hussin came to Japan in 2006 and made two applications for asylum, both of which were rejected, according to the group, which said he was waiting for the result of his second appeal when he was detained.

The Rohingya—described by the UN as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities—face travel restrictions, forced labor and limited access to health care and education in Myanmar, rights groups say.

Myanmar views its population of roughly 800,000 Muslim Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and denies them citizenship.

It was not immediately possible to independently verify the NGO’s claims over Hussin’s death.

But Shogo Watanabe, the lawyer who leads the NGO, said detention centers were frequently slower than they should be in emergency medical situations.

“This is the result when the country has failed to protect people who need to be protected,” he told AFP.

Hiroka Shoji, of Amnesty International Japan, said it was worrying that immigration staff apparently had power of veto over whether or not a sick detainee should see a doctor.

Japan tightly restricts the number of immigrants and asylum-seekers it accepts.

According to Justice Ministry figures for 2012, 2,545 people applied for asylum, of whom 368 were from Myanmar—the second largest nationality group after the Turkish.

Japan accepted 18 refugees during the year.

Human rights activists, lawyers and migrant communities in Japan have complained for years about harsh treatment by immigration officials and about conditions at detention centers.

A Ghanaian died in 2010 while he was being restrained allegedly by up to 10 immigration officials as they tried to deport him.

Rights activists have claimed he was gagged with a towel, recalling a similar but non-fatal case in 2004 when a female Vietnamese deportee was handcuffed, had her mouth sealed with tape and was rolled up in blankets.

(c) 2013 AFP

New eBook: “JAPANESE ONLY: The Otaru Onsens Case”, 10th Anniv Edition with new Intro and Postscript, now on Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook $9.99

eBooks, Books, and more from ARUDOU Debito (click on icon):
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Hi Blog.  I am pleased to announce the eBook release of my book “JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan” Tenth Anniversary Edition, available for immediate download for Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble NOOK.

The definitive book on one of Japan’s most important public debates and lawsuits on racial discrimination, this new edition has a new Introduction and Postscript that updates the reader on what has happened in the decade since JO’s first publication by Akashi Shoten Inc.  A synopsis of the new book is below.

You can read a sample of the first fifteen or so pages (including the new Introduction), and download the ebook at either link:

Price:  $9.99 (a bargain considering JO is currently on sale on Amazon Japan used for 3100 yen, and at Amazon.com used for $390.93!), or the equivalent in local currency on all other Amazons (935 yen on Amazon Japan).

If you haven’t read JO yet (as clearly some media presences, like TV Tarento Daniel Kahl or decrier of “bathhouse fanatics” Gregory Clark, have not; not to mention “My Darling is a Foreigner” manga star Tony Laszlo would rather you didn’t), now is a brand new opportunity with additional context.  Here’s the Synopsis:

SYNOPSIS OF THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY EDITION OF eBOOK “JAPANESE ONLY”

If you saw signs up in public places saying “No Coloreds”, what would you do? See them as relics of a bygone era, a la US Segregation or South African Apartheid? Not in Japan, where even today “Japanese Only” signs, excluding people who look “foreign”, may be found nationwide, thanks to fear and opportunism arising from Japan’s internationalization and economic decline.

JAPANESE ONLY is the definitive account of the Otaru Onsens Case, where public bathhouses in Otaru City, Hokkaido, put up “no foreigners allowed” signs to refuse entry to Russian sailors, and in the process denied service to Japanese. One of Japan’s most studied postwar court cases on racial discrimination, this case went all the way to Japan’s Supreme Court, and called into question the willingness of the Japanese judiciary to enforce Japan’s Constitution.

Written by one of the plaintiffs to the lawsuit, a bilingual naturalized citizen who has lived in Japan for 25 years, this highly-readable first-person account chronologically charts the story behind the case and the surrounding debate in Japanese media between 1999 and 2005. The author uncovers a side of Japanese society that many Japanese and scholars of Japan would rather not discuss: How the social determination of “Japanese” inevitably leads to racism. How Japan, despite international treaties and even its own constitutional provisions, remains the only modern, developed country without any form of a law against racial discrimination, resulting in situations where foreigners and even Japanese are refused service at bathhouses, restaurants, stores, apartments, hotels, schools, even hospitals, simply for looking too “foreign”. How Japan officially denies the existence of racial discrimination in Japan (as its allegedly homogeneous society by definition contains no minorities), until the Sapporo District Court ruled otherwise with Otaru Onsens.

JAPANESE ONLY also charts the arc of a public debate that reached extremes of xenophobia: Where government-sponsored fear campaigns against “foreign crime” and “illegal foreigners” were used to justify exclusionism. Where outright acts of discrimination, once dismissed as mere “cultural misunderstandings”, were then used as a means to “protect Japanese” from “scary, unhygienic, criminal foreigners” and led to the normalization of racialized hate speech. Where even resident foreigners turned on themselves, including Japan Times columnist Gregory Clark’s repeated diatribes against “bathhouse fanatics”, and future “My Darling is a Foreigner” manga star Tony Laszlo’s opportunistic use of activism to promote his own agenda at the expense of the cause. Where the plaintiffs stay the course despite enormous public pressure to drop the lawsuit (including death threats), and do so at great personal risk and sacrifice. Remaining in print since its first publication in 2003, JAPANESE ONLY remains a testament to the dark side of race relations in Japan, and contains a taut story of courage and perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Now for the first time in ebook format, this Tenth Anniversary Edition in English offers a new Introduction and Postscript by the author, updating the reader on what has changed, what work remains to be done, and how Japan in fact is reverse-engineering itself to become more insular and xenophobic in the 2010s. Called “a reasoned and spirited denunciation of national prejudice, discrimination, and bigotry” (Donald Richie, legendary Japanologist), “clear, well-paced, balanced and informative” (Tom Baker, The Daily Yomiuri), “a personal and fascinating account of how this movement evolved, its consequences and how it affected those who participated in it” (Jeff Kingston, The Japan Times), and “the book of reference on the subject for decades to come and should be required reading for anyone studying social protest” (Robert Whiting, author of You’ve Gotta Have Wa), JAPANESE ONLY is a must-read for anyone interested in modern Japan’s future direction in the world and its latent attitudes towards outsiders.

More reviews at http://www.debito.org/japaneseonly.html
ends

“From the Shadows” documentary on Japan’s child abductions debuts in Philly Film Festival Oct 23 & 27, tickets on sale now

Books etc. by ARUDOU Debito (click on icon):
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Hi Blog.  Great news.  A movie that has been close to a decade in the making is finally hitting the silver screen:  A documentary on child abductions after divorce in Japan (something I have personal experience with; I was interviewed regarding the Murray Wood Case six years ago; the documentary project has since expanded into something much, much bigger and my interview got cut.  Ah well, DVD extras…?).  Directors David Hearn and Matt Antell have this to say:

////////////////////////////////////////////

From The Shadows, a documentary film about Parental Child abduction in Japan, will premiere at the Philadelphia Film Festival on October 23rd and October 27th. This film follows the lives of 5 “Left Behind Parents” trying desperately to reconnect with their children after having their child-parent relationship cut by the other parent. Through their individual stories we examine why this situation is so common in Japan and hear opinions from an array of experts on the situation. The film has had work-in-progress screenings on Capitol Hill (Nov. 2011) and in Tokyo (Apr. 2012) that was attended by the foreign ministry and several embassy reps.
The screening venues and times for the Philadelphia Film Festival are:

1. Tuesday October 23rd, 5:00 pm  – Prince Music Theater – 1412 Chestnut Street  Philadelphia, PA 19102
2. Saturday October 27th 7:35 pm  – Ritz East – 125 South Second Street  Philadelphia, PA 19106

First go to this link: http://filmadelphia.festivalgenius.com/2012/films/fromtheshadows0_mattantell_filmadelphia2012
 
Then go to the bottom of the screen and make sure you select the screening(s) you want to attend and proceed through to payment.

We hope you can attend one or both screenings. There will be a Q and A session after each screening and a reception after the 27th screening. More information on the film and the trailer can be seen at www.fromtheshadowsmovie.com

Please contact David at david@fromtheshadowsmovie.com for more information.

//////////////////////////////////
Congrats, guys.  I’m nowhere near Philly, but those who are, please consider attending!  Wish I could be there!  Hope it gets picked up by a distributor!  Arudou Debito

Suraj Case: Chiba prosecutors decide not to indict 10 Immigration officers in whose custody he died

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Hi Blog. Sad news. The Suraj Case, which has been covered in various media reproduced here on Debito.org, has wound up as predicted: With the Immigration officers getting off with no indictment and the GOJ getting away with murder (if not negligence leading to homicide while in official custody). Even the Japan Times called his death “brutal”. It’s bad enough when you have a criminal justice system where even citizens are victims of “hostage justice”.  It’s another when you can get away with killing somebody during deportation just because they’re foreign.  One more brick in the wall to demonstrate that once the Japanese police get your hands on you as a NJ, you don’t stand a Chinaman’s Chance, be it in Japan’s criminal investigations, incarceration systems, jurisprudence and standards of evidence, criminal court, or civil court afterwards. In a word, disgusting. Arudou Debito

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Chiba prosecutors decide not to indict 10 immigration officers over death of Ghanaian man
Mainichi Shimbun July 4, 2012, courtesy of MD
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120704p2a00m0na006000c.html

CHIBA — The Chiba District Public Prosecutors Office decided on July 3 not to indict 10 officers of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau on charges of assault and cruelty resulting in a Ghanaian man’s death when they overpowered him aboard an aircraft.

In deciding to drop the case, the Chiba District Public Prosecutors Office said, “There is no causal relationship between the action (by the immigration officers) and the death (of the Ghanaian man), and the action was legitimate.”

According to Chiba Prefectural Police and other sources, Ghanaian national Abubakar Awudu Suraji, who had overstayed his visa, became violent when he was taken aboard a plane for deportation at Narita Airport on March 22, 2010. The 45-year-old man passed out when immigration officials tried to restrain him with handcuffs, towels and other means. He was taken to a hospital at the airport but died shortly thereafter. The cause of his death remained unknown as a legal autopsy showed no noticeable bodily injuries.

The man’s Japanese wife filed a complaint with the Chiba District Public Prosecutors Office in June 2010, arguing that “there is a high possibility that (her Ghanaian husband) died from a violent assault while being escorted.” In December 2010, the Chiba Prefectural Police sent papers on the case to the Chiba District Public Prosecutors Office.
ENDS

////////////////////////////////////////
Original Japanese article

強制送還中に死亡:入管警備官10人 不起訴処分に
毎日新聞 2012年07月03日 22時41分
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20120704k0000m040091000c.html

成田空港で一昨年3月、強制送還中のガーナ人男性(当時45歳)が東京入国管理局の入国警備官の制止を受けた後に死亡した事件で、千葉地検は3日、特別公務員暴行陵虐致死容疑で書類送検された警備官10人を容疑なしで、いずれも不起訴処分とした。地検は「行為と死亡の因果関係はなく、行為は適法だった」と説明している。

千葉県警などによると、不法滞在していたアブバカル・アウドゥ・スラジュさんは10年3月22日、強制送還のため旅客機に搭乗した際に暴れ、警備官が手錠やタオルなどで制止した後に意識を失い、空港内の病院に搬送されたが死亡した。司法解剖の結果、目立った外傷もなく、死因も不明だった。

男性の日本人妻が「護送中の暴行で死亡した可能性が高い」として同年6月に地検に告訴。同12月、県警が書類送検していた。【黒川晋史】

The Govinda (Mainali) miscarriage of justice murder case ruled for retrial after 15 years, so Immigration deports him. But there’s more intrigue.

Books etc. by ARUDOU Debito (click on icon):
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Hi Blog. Making headlines this past week has been the Govinda Mainali Murder Case, a cause celebre I’ve known about for years (thanks to a very active domestic support group with regular mailings in Japanese). It’s come to a head, where DNA evidence has finally cast enough doubt on the evidence behind the conviction (see Yomiuri article immediately below), and it’s come to light (see Japan Times editorial below) that the prosecution withheld (or didn’t bother to have tested) vital evidence from the court (yes, they can do that in Japan) that would have exonerated him. It also put him in double jeopardy, meaning trying him more than once for the same crime (technically illegal, but yes, they can do that in Japan), reversing a not-guilty decision in lower court. As if that wasn’t enough, note the date of the Yomiuri article below stating the negative DNA test (July 2011) — meaning it only took Japan’s criminal justice system about a year for him to finally get his retrial, on top of the 15 years he’s been incarcerated. And after all that, now that it looks like Govinda is going to have his name cleared, Immigration is just going to deport him. The police in Japan are sore losers.  (At least Sugaya Toshikazu, in a very similar situation to Govinda, got an apology in 2009 from public prosecutors, not deportation.)

Now, check out the details in Terrie’s Take below, where the plot really thickens because the murder victim, a prostitute in her off-hours, was an employee with TEPCO (yes, that TEPCO) with names of some high-level clients in her address books…

As Terrie Lloyd notes below (as have I in the Japan Times), the already prosecutor-heavy criminal justice system in Japan is even more so if the suspect is a NJ.  More and more it looks like Govinda Mainali was actually a patsy for the powerful because he was a convenient foreigner for the Japanese police to pin this on. I’ve already discussed in detail before how Japan’s criminal investigation system is fully stacked against NJ victims (start here with the Scott Kang and Matthew Lacey Cases, then progress to the Suraj Case, where the police have still gotten away with murder). The Govinda Case is yet another case study for everyone to remember for when the NJ are potential perps.  Can’t win either way once the Japanese police get their hands on you. Arudou Debito

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東電OL事件、再審の可能性…別人DNA検出
読売新聞 2011年7月21日(木)3時1分配信
Courtesy of CJ
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20110721-00000090-yom-soci

東京都渋谷区で1997年に起きた東京電力女性社員殺害事件で、強盗殺人罪により無期懲役が確定したネパール国籍の元飲食店員ゴビンダ・プラサド・マイナリ受刑者(44)が裁判のやり直しを求めた再審請求審で、東京高検が、被害者の体から採取された精液などのDNA鑑定を行った結果、精液は同受刑者以外の男性のもので、そのDNA型が殺害現場に残された体毛と一致したことがわかった。

「(マイナリ受刑者以外の)第三者が被害者と現場の部屋に入ったとは考えがたい」とした確定判決に誤りがあった可能性を示す新たな事実で、再審開始の公算が出てきた。

この事件でマイナリ受刑者は捜査段階から一貫して犯行を否認。同受刑者が犯人であることを直接示す証拠はなく、検察側は状況証拠を積み上げて起訴した。

2000年4月の1審・東京地裁判決は「被害者が第三者と現場にいた可能性も否定できない」として無罪としたが、同年12月の2審・東京高裁判決は逆転有罪とし、最高裁で03年11月に確定した。

マイナリ受刑者は05年3月、東京高裁に再審を請求した。

同高裁は今年1月、弁護側からの要請を受け、現場から採取された物証についてDNA鑑定の実施を検討するよう検察側に求めた。これを受け、東京高検が精液などのDNA鑑定を専門家に依頼していた。
最終更新:7月21日(木)3時1分

///////////////////////////////////

The Japan Times Friday, June 8, 2012
Mainali granted retrial, is let out of prison
DNA evidence of another man looks set to clear Nepalese
By MINORU MATSUTANI, Staff writer
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120608a1.html

The Tokyo High Court said Thursday it will retry Govinda Prasad Mainali, 45, a Nepalese man serving life in prison for the 1997 robbery-murder of a 39-year-old woman, because a DNA test in July contradicted the justification for its guilty verdict.

The high court also said Thursday Mainali’s sentence will be halted. He was later released from a Yokohama prison. He is expected to soon be placed in immigration custody for deportation, as he has been convicted of visa violations.

“We would like to express respect to the high court’s prompt and appropriate decision even though there was no room for doing otherwise,” Mainali’s attorneys said in a prepared statement.

“Prosecutors should comply with the decision, for doing so is in compliance with prosecutors’ philosophy: ‘Prosecutors must not regard guilty verdicts as their purpose and heavy punishments as their achievement.’ “

The Tokyo High Public Prosecutor’s Office immediately filed an objection to the court’s decision, with deputy chief Toshihiko Itami saying the decision was “totally unacceptable.”

One of his lawyers quoted Mainali as saying, “I am glad I found a judge who believes my innocence and truth.”

His wife, Radha, 42, expressed her gratitude at a news conference in Tokyo. His daughter, Alisha, 19, said the past 15 years were “very long and dark.” They came to Japan with another of Govinda’s daughters, Mithila, 21.

The victim, a Tokyo Electric Power Co. employee whose name was withheld and who engaged in prostitution at night, was found dead March 19, 1997, in a vacant apartment in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo. Mainali, who lived nearby, was arrested four days later on suspicion of overstaying his visa. He was later charged with murdering and robbing the woman, after police learned that Mainali was an acquaintance of hers, had a key to the flat and because a used condom found in the toilet at the scene contained semen that matched his DNA.

The district court acquitted Mainali in April 2000 because prosecutors failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A urologist also testified that the semen in the condom greatly predated the day of the slaying. The court added there were several unclear points, including two strands of hair found on the victim that came from a third party.

However, when prosecutors appealed his acquittal, the Tokyo High Court found Mainali guilty in December 2000 and sentenced him to life behind bars even though no new evidence was presented. The high court said “it is difficult to think someone other than” Mainali brought her to the vacant apartment where she was slain and called his testimony unreliable.

The Supreme Court finalized the sentence three years later.

Mainali’s coming retrial is based on DNA tests carried out on semen found in and on the victim. It was that of another man and matched the hair fibers.

Prosecutors often appeal lower court-meted acquittals because they imply the case will be brought before a high or the Supreme Court, and thus do not violate the law against double jeopardy.

Japan, like many nations, bans double jeopardy, but the judicial system considers district court, high court and Supreme Court trials of the same party for the same alleged offense to be separate trials, unlike in other countries where the verdict in the trial of first instance stands.

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120608a1.html

///////////////////////////////////

The Japan Times Tuesday, June 12, 2012

EDITORIAL
Don’t delay justice any longer
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/ed20120612a1.html

The Tokyo High Court on June 7 decided to retry a Nepalese man serving a life sentence for the 1997 robbery-murder of a 39-year-old woman in Tokyo on the strength of new evidence and he was released at the court’s order. But the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office immediately filed an objection. The prosecutors office should refrain from any further moves to delay the start of the retrial because the high court decision is based on DNA evidence that suggests that the perpetrator was not Mainali.

A female employee of Tokyo Electric Power Co. was found dead in a vacant apartment in Maruyama-cho, Shibuya Ward, on March 19, 1997. Govinda Prasad Mainali, now 44, living nearby, was arrested four days later based on the fact that he had a key to the apartment and that semen left in a condom found in the apartment’ toilet matched his DNA. Mainali has consistently denied the charges.

The Tokyo District Court in April 2000 found him innocent. It said that it was not clear whether the condom was used at the time the crime was committed and that two strands of hair found on the victim came from a third party. But the Tokyo High Court in December the same year found him guilty primarily on the grounds that a notebook owned by the woman, who meticulously kept records on men she had sexual intercourse with, contained no reference to the condom in question.

Semen was also found inside the woman’s body. Its blood type matched that of another man, but the prosecution did not carry out a DNA test on the grounds that the amount was so small, and given the technological limits at the time, a DNA test was impossible.

In hearings to request a retrial for Mainali, his defense counsel called for a DNA test on the semen. A DNA test in July 2011 found that it did not match Mainali’s DNA, but that it did match the DNA of a strand of hair left on the carpet at the scene and a blood stain on the victim’s coat. These findings suggest that a different man was in the apartment when the crime was committed. The high court said that the findings constitute enough new evidence for a court to overturn the original guilty ruling against Mainali and render a not-guilty ruling.

Long after Mainali was found guilty, it was revealed that the prosecution had withheld critical evidence concerning the semen, the bloodstain and saliva found on the victim’s breast. A law should be enacted that requires the prosecution to reveal all its evidence to the court and the defense lawyers, and to punish all public prosecutors who do not comply. A system also should be devised to preserve evidence indefinitely for future testing if needed.

ENDS

///////////////////////////////////

Order issued to deport Nepalese man granted retrial over 1997 Tokyo murder
TOKYO, June 11, 2012 Kyodo, courtesy of JK
Order issued to deport Nepalese man granted retrial over 1997 Tokyo murder
http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2012/06/163137.html

Immigration authorities on Monday issued an order to deport a Nepalese man who has been granted a retrial after the Tokyo High Court decided last Thursday to reopen the case of the murder of a Japanese woman in Tokyo in 1997.

Godinda Prasad Mainali, 45, who arrived in Japan in 1994, was convicted of overstaying his visa in 1997. Ongoing deliberations for a retrial will continue even with his absence from Japan.

On the order issued by the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, Mainali is expected ot soon leave Japan along with his wife Radha, 42, and their two daughters Mithila, 20, and Alisha, 18, who came to Japan from Nepal last week.

///////////////////////////////////

Mainali to be deported soon

NHK World June 12, 2012, courtesy of JK

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/20120611_24.html

A Nepalese man who was granted a retrial in the murder of a Japanese woman 15 years ago will leave for home soon.

Japan’s Immigration Bureau issued a deportation order for Govinda Prasad Mainali on Monday.

Mainali was released from prison and sent to an immigration facility in Yokohama after a Tokyo court granted his retrial. He had been serving a life sentence for the 1997 murder that took place in the capital.

Sources say Mainali wants to return to Nepal at his expense together with his wife and 2 daughters. The three came to Japan last week.

The Immigration Bureau plans to deport Mainali as soon as he is issued a passport by the Nepalese Embassy and his plane tickets are ready.

///////////////////////////////////

Nepalese Man Granted Retrial Ordered to Leave Japan

http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2012061100400

Tokyo, June 11 2012 (Jiji Press)–The Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau’s Yokohama branch issued a deportation order Monday to a Nepalese man who was granted a retrial and released Thursday after being jailed for the murder of a Japanese woman in 1997.
Govinda Prasad Mainali, 45, has been in custody at the immigration office as his prison sentence for the killing of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. <9501> employee was halted. [sic]
Mainali is expected to return to Nepal on Tuesday at the earliest.
The office decided to deport Mainali, convicted of violating the immigration control law, as he wished to return home in an interview, officials said.
He is to return to Nepal after the Nepalese embassy in Tokyo issues a passport which he has sought.
(2012/06/11-13:40)

=========================

Japan Times Monday, June 11, 2012
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120611a3.html

Mainali faces difficult readjustment after 15 years in prison
Kyodo
KATHMANDU — The elder brother of a Nepalese man granted a retrial in Japan after serving 15 years in prison for the 1997 murder of a Japanese woman expects his sibling’s rehabilitation to be a challenge.

Indra Mainali, 54, who is waiting for Govinda Prasad Mainali’s return to Nepal, said while the Tokyo High Court’s decision on Thursday to grant a retrial has ended a chapter in Govinda’s suffering, another chapter of less tangible suffering is about to begin.

Govinda’s daughters felt during conversations with their father last week that 15 years of imprisonment have inflicted heavy psychological and emotional damage on their father, Indra said.

Mithila, 20, and Alisha, 18, met their father twice last week, the first time in prison and the second time at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau’s Yokohama office, where he is currently in custody awaiting deportation. Including these meetings, the daughters have met their father only three times over the past 15 years.

After his long imprisonment, Govinda, 45, seemed very worried about how he will adjust to his family and social life, said Indra, who took over responsibility of Govinda’s family after his arrest and conviction in Japan.

Indra said his brother had not expected that he would leave prison the day he was granted a retrial.

According to Indra, prison security personnel suddenly told Mainali late afternoon on Thursday to pack his things and get ready.

They did not allow him time to say goodbye to other inmates.

They did not tell him that he was being released. Later, a police officer arrived at the prison and drove him to the immigration office.

“We expect in him a number of psychological (problems) and problems related to his rehabilitation in family and society…We will just try our best to bring him back to normalcy,” Indra said.
Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120611a3.html

=========================

TERRIE’S TAKE

TT-665 — Govinda Mainali – Justice 15 Years Too Late, ebiz news from Japan
http://www.japaninc.com/tt665_Govinda_Mainali–justice_15_years_too_late

Last week something happened that we never expected to see:
the release of Govinda Prasad Mainali, a Nepalese who has
been in prison on and off since 1997. Mainali was released
to Immigration authorities, who are going to deport him for
overstaying his visa back in 1997, because the Tokyo High
Court finally agreed to a retrial of Mainali after new DNA
evidence.

Japan has an extremely high conviction rate for many
reasons, including some not to be proud of. One of these is
the willingness of the courts to hear prosecution testimony
with greater belief than anything the defense may say.
Particularly problematic is the acceptance of “induced”
confessions as if they were fact, even if the other
evidence is not sufficiently supported by actual facts.

Further, the conviction rate of foreigner suspects (you
definitely don’t want to be one) is a foregone conclusion,
with seemingly little or no interest by the courts about
who actually committed the crime when a foreigner is offered
up as the perp. There are a number of recorded cases where
the courts have actually SAID there has been insufficient
evidence for an ordinary conviction, but none-the-less
have convicted the defendant anyway, simply because the
prosecutors said they did it.

Unfortunately the Japanese police, immigration, and
prosecutors have the ability to “disappear” suspects for
days or even months while they mercilessly interrogate them
so as to extract a confession. This is not just a foreigner
thing. The abuse of this system became so bad that several
years ago new laws were pushed through that now require
prosecutors to record their interrogation interviews.
However, this doesn’t force them to treat the suspect
humanely and there are still lots of ways for them to
induce a confession outside of the actual interrogation.
And, well, the recorder could always just run out of
batteries…

The case of Govinda Mainali is particularly distressing,
and reminds all foreigners that through seemingly innocent
circumstances we could just as easily be caught up in a
similar situation. Reading about his case makes you feel
like we’re living in an emerging economy in the Middle East
rather than a first-world country like Japan. In
particular, we feel that his is a case where his race and
foreignness played a large part in how he was treated. At
the same time we concede that Japan does not have a
monopoly on unfair treatment by the courts. There are
plenty of examples in the UK and USA to compare.

The background to his case is that he was a restaurant
worker in Shibuya and who shared an apartment with four
others. Unfortunately for him, he started seeing a local
hooker, Yasuko Watanabe, and struck up a relationship with
her. By all accounts they didn’t see each other often, but
at some point he helped her get access to a vacant
apartment near his, and she used to take her customers
there — four men a night, virtually every night. What is
weird is that she was leading a double life and by day was
a highly paid researcher for Tokyo Electric Power Co.
(TEPCO). When she was found murdered in the vacant
apartment, Mainali became the prime suspect by virtue of
the fact that he had a key to the apartment and that his
name was in her diary.

The problem for Mainali is that he lied initially, saying
he didn’t know her, which of course made the police
suspicious. At some point he changed his story and agreed
that he’d slept with her, but the damage was done. The fact
that he lied wasn’t surprising, considering he was an
overstayer and was no doubt fearful of what might happen to
him, but once he started down that slippery slope, the
prosecutors pieced together all the circumstantial evidence
and decided they had their man.

Mainali had good lawyers, however, who decided there was
an injustice being done and made a crusade out of getting him
freed. In 2000 his case was thrown out by the Tokyo
District Court for lack of evidence. At that point, if he
was a Japanese he would have been let go, but because the
outstanding deportation order, the Prosecutor’s office
successfully had him kept in jail while they appealed to a
higher court. With the second trial he was found guilty and
sentenced. A subsequent Supreme Court appeal also failed.

It was only after 15 long years of appeals by Mainali’s
lawyer and a change of judge, that the prosecutor’s office
was forced to admit they had untested sperm samples in
a freezer. Just recently they reluctantly and finally
tested the DNA from the victim and they found — guess what
— the DNA wasn’t his.

What is interesting is that Yasuko Watanabe kept meticulous
records of her customers, and on that list was one of her
bosses at TEPCO, where she worked. Who else was she seeing?
Was Mainali a fall-guy for something deeper and darker?
There are various Japanese websites that speculate that
Watanabe in her day job, having written a number of damning
internal reports about nuclear power risks at TEPCO,
coupled with an affair with one of her bosses (possibly the
current Chairman of the company), meant that she was
silenced by the Yakuza on the behalf of “someone”.

Another key point, and the reason for Mainali’s release was
the fact that the Prosecutor’s office seemingly never
revealed to several appeal courts (the High Court and the
Supreme Court) that they didn’t do a DNA test on sperm
inside the victim’s body. Given how crucial it was to the
case, how is that even possible?

Anyway, Mainali is now going to be deported. No word yet on
whether he is going to be allowed back to represent himself
at the re-trial, and certainly if we were him, we wouldn’t
be planning to come back to Japan, ever. However, at that
hearing, if he is found not guilty through lack of
evidence, as he was back in 2000, then there is the small
issue of compensation. If he was in some other countries,
he might be able to claim hundreds of thousands of dollars
in mental anguish, physical hardship, and lost earnings.

But this is Japan, and in one case a South American woman
who was arrested by the Chiba Prefectural Police was
illegally confined at a hotel for 10 days until they got an
arrest warrant (god knows what actually went on at the
hotel). She was awarded JPY2m in compensation for wrongful
detention. It didn’t do her much good, though, as the court
still imprisoned her on her hotel confession even though
she retracted it once they properly charged her. She got 8
years and has no doubt been deported by now…

We wish Mainali the best of luck with the rest of his life,
and hope that his case knocks some sense into the Japanese
courts and the Prosecutor’s Office, since it’s apparent
that they were highly embarrassed by the turn of events.
But the fact is that a foreigner falling afoul of the
Japanese legal system doesn’t have a hope in hell of
getting a fair trial. In our opinion, the first step in
getting Japan to address the obvious inequalities towards
foreigners in the legal system is to pass a law making
prosecutors who hide/withhold evidence open to legal
charges themselves.

Secondly, racial discrimination against non-Japanese should
be illegal, especially by law enforcement bodies. According
to a book from Mainali’s supporters, in 1997, 76.1% of
Japanese suspects were held in custody, whereas for
foreigners the number was 99%. Apart from being a overdue
concession to human rights, equal treatment would also give
overstayers a foothold to appeal on the grounds that they
should get the same level of legal consideration that any
Japanese would expect.

Thirdly, Japan also needs to recant the death penalty.
We’re not sure why Mainali wasn’t put on the death row, but
he did get the second most harsh sentence — that of
indefinite life imprisonment. If he had been on death row,
it’s possible that after the 2003 Supreme Court appeal
failed, that he would have been hanged. Too late, then, for
apologies later.

Lastly, it is also obvious that Japan needs stricter
suspect detention rights rules, such as giving prisoners
access to legal advice and protection from abusive law
authorities, and habeus corpus procedures that require the
police and immigration to prove that they actually have
legal right to hold someone. These are obvious and simple
rights that most first-world citizens and residents take
for granted. Many people would be shocked if they knew just
how primitive the system is in Japan, and how easy it is
for foreigners in particular to fall into the legal
system’s maw.

References:

* Background to the case — http://bit.ly/KbSqwv
* Defense group’s indictment of the pathetic decision made
by the Supreme Court in the face of fresh evidence —
http://bit.ly/Kcb2wj
* Wikipedia account by Japanese — http://bit.ly/MwCPDe

ENDS

Mainichi: JHS teacher arrested for defrauding insurance companies by repeatedly claiming his luggage was stolen by foreigners!

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
Novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

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Hi Blog. Chalk this one up to the idiocracy that springs up whenever unquestioned hegemonic discourse (i.e., “foreigners commit crime”) in a society leads to too much giving the benefit of the doubt. We have some Japanese guy (a junior high school teacher, no less) repeatedly “losing” his luggage while traveling and then successfully getting insurance paid out on it due to claims of “thefts by foreigners”. (The idiot did it with enough frequency that cops became suspicious because they remembered his claims.)

Frauds and blaming foreigners are nothing new. I wrote a whole Japan Times column in 2007 on how foreigners have been targets of a “Blame Game” for many years now. But often it goes beyond comical. We have a trucker in 2004 who overslept his appointment and then formally blamed it on being kidnapped by foreigners. We have a bosozoku biker gang that same year who killed somebody and tried to blame it on a foreign gang.  And we have murder suspects in 2006 who tried to blame a homicide on a lurking “blond man” (in a city with very few foreigners to boot).

Clearly the “foreign crime wave” which was fabricated by Tokyo Gov. Ishihara from 2000 has cast a long shadow. As submitter Becky says, “No wonder they get microaggressive, look at all the crime we commit!” Arudou Debito

//////////////////////////////////////////

Police nab man for allegedly claiming theft of non-existent luggage
Mainichi Japan April 05, 2012, courtesy of Becky
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120405p2a00m0na011000c.html
(no Japanese version found)

OSAKA — A man was arrested here on April 4 for allegedly reporting a non-existent bag stolen at Kansai International Airport and claiming insurance money for it.

Satoshi Kita, a 39-year-old junior high school teacher, received a 236,433-yen travel insurance payout after claiming his bag containing a laptop computer and other items had been stolen by a foreign couple near the airport train station on Aug. 4 last year, when he returned from a trip to Taiwan. An officer with the Osaka Prefectural Police’s Kansai airport station who remembered Kita’s original theft report became suspicious of his claims after reviewing airport security camera footage that showed Kita had not been carrying the bag in question.

“It’s absolutely true that I submitted a fake theft report,” Kita was quoted as telling police.

Police also suspect Kita may have pulled the same trick on four other occasions, including an August 2006 incident in which he claimed his overnight bag had been stolen from a bench while he was giving directions to a foreigner, for which he claimed 320,000 yen in insurance benefits. He has also filed theft claims at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and in Seoul.
ENDS

Asahi: Tokyo District Court rules denying J citizenship to children born overseas with one J parent constitutional

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
Novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

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Hi Blog. In an important decision regarding how Japanese nationality is granted, the Tokyo District Court ruled constitutional on March 23, 2012, that if a person with Japanese blood is born overseas and has another nationality, and if the parents have not registered the child with Japanese authorities within three months of birth, Japanese nationality will be denied.

This fruity ruling is in contrast to the Supreme Court’s June 2008 landmark ruling regarding Japanese-Filipina plaintiffs in a similar situation, where their Japanese nationality would be recognized despite similar bureaucratic registry snafus (as in, Japanese paternity not being recognized within a certain time frame, and if the child was born out of wedlock). That ruling was justified in part by the judges candidly admitting that lack of Japanese nationality would mean clear and present discrimination in Japan towards these people.  (In a related note, the GOJ months later declared a “false paternity” panic, and declared countermeasures were necessary; wheels turn slowly within the Japanese judiciary — perhaps this ruling is a countermeasure to keep the Half riffraff out.)

The possibility of discrimination seemed to make no difference in this ruling, as paternity and wedlock don’t seem to be an issue.  Place of birth is, meaning this ruling erodes the primacy of Japan’s jus sanguinis (citizenship by blood) conceits in favor somehow of jus soli (citizenship by birthplace).

Granted, Japanese judges are a fruity lot, and District Court rulings are often overturned for their fruitiness (see the McGowan Case, where an African-American plaintiff was refused entry to an eyeglass store by a manager who expressly disliked black people, and the judge said it was unclear that refusal was due to him being black; and the Oita Zainichi Chinese Welfare Case, which tried to rule that foreigners were not eligible for social welfare, despite it being made legal by the Japanese Diet since 1981! — see here also under item six). Let’s hope there is an appeal and this gets taken before a less fruity court. Arudou Debito

////////////////////////////////////////////////

Court rules nationality law on foreign country-born children legal
Asahi Shimbun March 25, 2012, courtesy of JK
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201203250003

A Tokyo court ruled as constitutional March 23 a clause in the nationality law which stipulates that children of Japanese nationals born overseas who have acquired foreign nationality cannot get a Japanese passport unless their parents take steps to obtain nationality within three months of birth.

The district court was ruling in a lawsuit filed against the Japanese government by 27 Philippine nationals who were fathered by Japanese between 1986 and 2007.

They were unable to gain Japanese nationality because their parents were unaware of the requirements in the nationality law.

The clause on stating intentions within three months of birth was added to Article 12 of the revised nationality law in 1985.

The decision was the first concerning the law’s clause, according to the Justice Ministry.

The plaintiffs argued that the stipulation was discriminatory because it amounted to reserving nationality based on birthplace, thereby going against the spirit of Article 14 of Japan’s Constitution, which guarantees equality for all.

In the ruling, Presiding Judge Makoto Jozuka explained the legislative purpose of the clause was to prevent individuals from holding dual nationality without a legitimate reason to claim Japanese nationality.

However, the court granted the request of one plaintiff on grounds that the individual had taken steps to acquire Japanese nationality.

One of the plaintiffs, Hiroko Ishiyama, 21, broke down in tears at a news conference after the ruling.

“My father is Japanese,” she said. “I have the right to become Japanese.”

She said her father did not know of the provision in the nationality law and missed the three-month deadline to file for Japanese nationality by one week.

Her younger sister has Japanese citizenship, as her parents filed the request within the prescribed period.

“I want to work and live in Japan,” Ishiyama said. “If there is a chance to acquire Japanese nationality, even if it is 1 percent, I want to get it.”
ENDS

////////////////////////////////////////////////

国籍確認訴訟:国籍法12条「合憲」 外国生まれ、留保3カ月以内に--東京地裁初判断

毎日新聞 2012年3月24日 東京朝刊

http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/news/20120324ddm041040084000c.html

外国で生まれ、外国籍と日本国籍を持つ子供が3カ月以内に日本国籍留保の意思表示をしないと日本国籍を喪失すると定めた国籍法12条は憲法に違反するとしてフィリピン生まれの男女27人が国に日本国籍の確認を求めた訴訟の判決で、東京地裁(定塚誠裁判長)は23日、「立法目的は合理的で違憲とは言えない」として合憲判断を示した。その上で26人の請求を棄却した。同12条に対する憲法判断は初めて。(3面に「質問なるほドリ」)

原告はいずれも日本人父とフィリピン人母の間の嫡出子で4~25歳。国籍が確認された1人は日本在住の21歳の男性で、国籍喪失後、再取得の届け出をした事情が考慮された。

判決は同12条の立法目的を「形骸化した国籍との重国籍を防止することにある」と指摘。日本と結びつきの薄い人に国籍が与えられると、国内法で定められている義務や権利の実効性が確保されなかったり、外交上の保護権を巡り国際的摩擦が生じる恐れがあり、立法目的は合理的と判断した。

原告は国内出生者との不公平を主張したが、定塚裁判長は「出生地に国との結びつきを見いだすことは、不合理ではない」とした。

また原告は、08年の国籍法改正で未婚の日本人父と外国人母との子は、父親の認知があれば20歳まで、「出生から3カ月」などの期限にかかわらず国籍取得が可能になった規定と比べて不均衡と主張した。だが、判決は「認知の時期を制限していない以上、非嫡出子の国籍取得時期を制限しないのは当然」と述べ、不合理な差別はないと判断した。【野口由紀】

////////////////////////////////////////////////

国籍法:フィリピン人原告「どうして認められないの」

http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/news/20120324k0000m040073000c.html

判決後、記者会見で涙を流すヒロコ・イシヤマさん(左端)。左から2人目は父親の石山博美さん=東京・霞が関の司法記者クラブで2012年3月23日、竹内幹撮影

判決後、記者会見で涙を流すヒロコ・イシヤマさん(左端)。左から2人目は父親の石山博美さん=東京・霞が関の司法記者クラブで2012年3月23日、竹内幹撮影

国籍法12条を合憲とした東京地裁のフィリピン人の日本国籍確認訴訟で、原告2人と日本人の父親たちが判決後の23日午後、東京・霞が関の司法記者クラブで記者会見した。

原告の一人でマニラ在住のヒロコ・イシヤマさん(21)は判決日に合わせて父親の石山博美さん(73)と来日した。石山さんは長女のヒロコさんの出生時に規定を知らず国籍留保の届け出をしなかったが、次女は届け出をしたため姉妹で国籍が違う。ヒロコさんは「父を責めることはできない。私の父は日本人なのに、どうして私には国籍が認められないのか」と涙を流した。

同法では国籍を喪失した人も、20歳未満であれば「日本に住所を有する」という条件で再取得できるが、ヒロコさんは「フィリピンで通う学校を長期間休み、日本で生活するのは無理だった」とハードルの高さを指摘した。

日本国籍確認の判決を受けたマニラ出身のマサミ・ツネタさん(21)も「27人で闘ってきたのにみんなで勝てずに残念」と肩を落とした。【野口由紀】

毎日新聞 2012年3月23日 20時56分(最終更新 3月23日 21時00分)

////////////////////////////////////////////////

質問なるほドリ:外国生まれの日本人の国籍は?=回答・伊藤一郎

 <NEWS NAVIGATOR>

http://mainichi.jp/select/wadai/naruhodori/news/20120324ddm003070121000c.html

 ◇紛争避け重国籍排除 22歳までに選択、外国では例外も

なるほドリ 父親が日本人なのに外国で生まれて3カ月以内に届けないと日本国籍を失うという規定を巡る判決があったけど、なぜそんな規定があるの?

記者 日本と外国の国籍を両方同時に持つことを「重国籍」といいます。生地の外国で生活し、日本に戻るつもりもないのに日本国籍を持っていても意味がないですよね。そうした形だけの日本国籍を持っている人を増やさないようにすることが規定の目的の一つとされます。また、重国籍は、さまざまな弊害を起こす恐れがあるため、そうした人を増やしたくないという考え方もあるようです。

Q 重国籍だとどんな弊害があるの?

A 例えば国家間の紛争を招く恐れがあるとされます。重国籍者が一方の国で迫害を受けた際、もう一方の国が保護に乗り出そうとすれば国同士の争いに発展しかねないという指摘があります。また重国籍者が二つの国に異なる名前を登録することで、本名以外の偽名を用いるように、犯罪などの不正行為に悪用する恐れもあるとされます。

Q 出生3カ月以内に届け出ずに日本国籍を失った場合、二度と取得できなくなるの?

A いいえ、20歳未満で日本に住所があることを証明できれば、改めて日本国籍を取得できる制度があります。ただし、観光や親族を訪ねる目的で一時的に日本に滞在しただけでは住所があるとは認められません。再取得するためには「生活の本拠が日本にある」ことを証明する必要があります。

Q 重国籍の状態になった人は一生そのままなの?

A 日本の国籍法は原則として22歳までにどちらかの国籍を選択する義務があると定めています。正当な理由もなく期限までに選択せず、さらに法相による催告にも応じなければ、最終的に日本国籍を失います。ただし、外国には例外的に重国籍を認めている国もあります。

Q 国籍取得の考え方って、日本と外国で違うの?

A 日本は親の国籍が子の国籍になるという「血統主義」と呼ばれる考え方を基本とし、多くの国も血統主義を採用しています。一方、親の国籍にかかわらず生まれた国の国籍を取得する「生地主義」を採用している国もあります。ただ、どちらの主義の国で生まれても、一方の親が日本人、もう一方が外国人の場合、原則的にどちらかの国籍を選択しなければなりません。(社会部)

==============

◆国籍取得に関する各国の考え方◆

<血統主義>

日本、中国、韓国、フィリピン、ドイツ、フランス、ロシアなど

<生地主義>

米国、カナダ、ブラジル、英国(条件付き)など

==============

なるほドリコーナーへの質問をお寄せください。〒100-8051(住所不要)毎日新聞「質問なるほドリ」係 naruhodori@mainichi.co.jp

毎日新聞 2012年3月24日 東京朝刊

Levin: J citizens of empire stripped of Japanese nationality in 1952, made into Zainichi by bureaucratic fiat — by a simple MOJ office circular (kairan)!

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
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Hi Blog.  While doing research two days ago, I ran across this curious footnote in journal article (Levin, Mark, “Essential Commodities and Racial Justice”; Journal of International Law and Politics (NYU, Winter 2001) 33:419, at 500, footnote 288), which tells us a lot of something quite remarkable about how much extra-parliamentary legislative power is invested in Japan’s bureaucracy:  The power to strip entire peoples of their Japanese citizenship (despite their colonial contributions and experience, including fighting and dying in the Imperial Army) by fiat.  By kairan, even.  Read on:

////////////////////////////////

288. The involuntary de-naturalization [of hundreds of thousands of Koreans and Taiwanese persons resident in Japan] was accomplished by administrative fiat, interpreting the Nationality Lw under an implicit association with the 1951 Peace Treaty between Japan and the Allied Powers.  “In 1952, nine days before the Peace Treaty came into force, the Director-General of the Civil Affairs Bureau in the Ministry of Justice issued a Circular Notice [an internal government document] to the officials concerned, announcing that all Koreans, including those residing in Japan, were to lose their Japanese nationality.” IWASAWA, [“International Law, Human Rights, and Japanese Law” 52, 299 n. 35 (1998)], at 130-31…; see also MORRIS-SUZUKI [“Reinventing Japan: Time, Space, Nation” 11 (1998)], at 190; Foote, [“Japan’s ‘Foreign Workers’ Policy: A View from the United States”, 7 Geo. Immigr. L.J. (1993)] at 724-25.  Although Japanese courts, including the Supreme Court, have consistently upheld the legality of this act, Iwasawa persuasively argues that the court rulings were analytically unsound, that Japan’s action violated international standards regarding nationality, and that the action was unconstitutional because the act “runs counter to Article 10 of the Constitution, which provides, ‘The conditions necessary for being a Japanese national shall be determined by hōritsu [statutes].’ The question should have been settled by a statute enacted by the Diet.”  See IWASAWA… at 131-34; see also cases [Port, “The Japanese International Law ‘Revolution’: International Human Rights Law and Its Impact in Japan”, Stan. J. Int’l. L. 139 (1991)].  Iwasawa’s work is not scholarship from the radical fringes.  Professor Iwasawa belongs to the law faculty at Tokyo University and is one of the leading authorities on international public law in Japan.

////////////////////////////////

This degree of extralegal power — to the point of a simple office memo to disenfranchise for generations an entire minority in Japan — shows just how abusive and capricious Japan’s mandarins can be.  And the judiciary will back them up!

Another more recent (and no less capricious) example of this, once again involving a very elderly Zainichi (with implications for denying all foreigners in Japan their right to seikatsu hogo, a basic living allowance), can be found here and here (item 6 in my January Japan Times column).  As a procedural note, look how the judiciary once again tried to correct their mistake in favor of the mandarins again within weeks by reversing a lower court decision supporting the Zainichi plaintiff.  If the plaintiff hadn’t stayed alive long enough and taken it to another court, the bureaucrats would have won and there would have been legal standing to deny NJ their welfare payments because it would have been, insultingly, “a form of charity“.

Another interesting anecdotal case of bureaucratic attitudes to the laws that should be governing them (“That’s just a law,” my correspondent claims the bureaucrats said when arbitrarily denying him Permanent Residency under “secret guidelines”), can also be found here.

Be aware.  As evidenced above, the rule of law in Japan is quite weak, especially regarding the control by and the control of Japan’s bureaucracy.  This will not be news to any Japanese lawyer, but for laypeople thinking that Japan (and the treatment of NJ) is not in fact governed by anonymous bureaucrats, FYI.  Arudou Debito

Mainichi: NJ held by immigration sharply down after reviewing rules

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

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Hi Blog. Speaking of incarceration of NJ under unreviewed circumstances (start here), here is what happens when the GOJ suddenly starts, as encouraged by the United Nations and even domestic think tanks such as JIPI, to actually REVIEW its own rules:  They discover that not as many NJ need to be incarcerated.  Quite a few of not as many.  Very high percentages, even.

Well, how about that.  Glad this happened, and got some press too.  May it happen more often, so that the NPA and Immigration realize that there are some boundaries to their power of interrogation and incarceration, even if (and especially if) the incarcerated happen to be NJ (who are even, according to here as well as the article below, committing suicide rather than take any more of this inhumane treatment).  Arudou Debito

///////////////////////////////////////
Foreigners held by immigration sharply down after reviewing rules
(Mainichi Japan) February 4, 2012, courtesy of JK
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20120204p2g00m0dm013000c.html

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The number of foreign nationals detained one year or longer by Japanese immigration officials dropped significantly after a review of procedural rules for a more flexible approach in response to criticisms about the treatment of long-term detainees, data for last year showed.

As of August 2011, a total of 167 foreign nationals were held for at least six months at immigration facilities in Ibaraki, Osaka and Nagasaki prefectures, according to the Justice Ministry.

Many of them are believed to have overstayed their visas and were waiting to be deported to their native countries or undergoing procedures to seek asylum in Japan.

Those who were held for at least one year totaled 47, down sharply from 115 at the end of 2009. The Justice Ministry said it has been actively releasing those who are subject to deportation but it sees no need for holding in custody since July 2010.

The Japanese government came under fire for its long-term detentions in 2007 by the United Nations, which recommended that detention periods should be limited.

A large number of detainees staged hunger strikes as well, as a string of suicides ensued apparently over their dissatisfaction with how they were treated while in detention.

Support groups and lawyers’ associations have repeatedly called on the government to make improvements on the treatment of detainees.

Faced with claims that it was taking too long to conduct asylum reviews, the Justice Ministry has since adopted a policy to process them within six months in principle.

As a result, the number of cases without any decision to grant asylum after six months dropped to 35 as of March 31, 2011, a whopping drop from 612 at the end of June 2010.

Immigration officials also took an average 12.6 months to review asylum cases between July and September 2010 and 14.4 months between October and December 2010.

The periods were curtailed to 4.7 months and 5.2 months in the same periods the following year.

(Mainichi Japan) February 4, 2012
ends

Debito interview with Asia Times: “Overcoming the ‘Japanese Only’ factor”, on human rights and Japan’s future

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

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Hi Blog.  Last month I had an extensive interview with Victor Fic of the Asia Times on me, the Otaru Onsens Case, human rights in Japan, and the future.  It went up last week.  While long-term readers of Debito.org might not find much they haven’t heard before, it’s a good “catch-up” and summary of the issues for interested newbies.  Excerpt follows.  Arudou Debito

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

INTERVIEW
Overcoming the ‘Japanese only’ factor
By Victor Fic.  Asia Times, January 12, 2012, courtesy http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Japan/NA12Dh01.html

When US-born Dave Aldwinckle became a Japanese citizen named Arudou Debito in 2000, two Japanese officials told him that only now did he have human rights in Japan. Such prejudice galvanized him into becoming a crusader against anti-gaijin(foreigner) discrimination after braving death threats to him and his family. Is Arudou throwing the egg of morality and legality against the rock of ancient bias? In this exclusive interview with Asia Times Online contributor Victor Fic, he sees Japan turning inward. 

[…]

TO  David “foolish” Aldwinkle [sic]
GET OUT OF JAPAN
YOU ARE A FUCKING GAIJIN
NOT A JAPANESE
FUCK YOU!!
GAIJIN LIKE YOU ARE RUINING THIS COUNTRY
WE WILL KILL YOUR KIDS
YOU CALL THIS DISCRIMINATION?
YOU WANT MONEY THAT MUCH?
GO HOME YANKEE CUNT!
— Death threat in English and Japanese, postmarked February 5, 2001, from Asahikawa, Hokkaido, with a fake name that literally means “full of sperm”, and a fake organization called “Friends of Onsen Local 2”.  Reproduced in “Japanese Only: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan” (Akashi Shoten, Inc. 2006), page 305. [NB: This was the original opening to the interview that Mr. Fic filed with the Asia Times.  It was removed by the editors, which is a pity.  Racial discrimination is an ugly thing, and the content and tone of this death threat is but one symptom.]

Victor Fic: Did you ever think that you would become a Japanese citizen? 

Arudou Debito: Hell no! I wasn’t even interested in foreign languages as a child. But I moved from my birthplace, California, to upstate New York at age five and traveled much overseas, learning early to communicate with non-native English speakers. I’d lived a lot of my life outside the US before I graduated from high school and wasn’t afraid to leave home. But changing my citizenship and my name, however, was completely off the radar screen. I didn’t originally go to Japan to emigrate – just to explore. But the longer I stayed, the more reasonable it seemed to become a permanent resident, then a citizen. Buying a house and land was the chief reason that I naturalized – a mortgage means I can’t leave. More on me and all this on my blog [1].

VF: The contrast with your earlier life is dramatic because you started life as an above average American guy in the northeast …

AD: How do you define “average?” I certainly had opportunities. I grew up in a good educational district and had high enough grades to get into Cornell University, where I earned a degree in government. I springboarded into a quality graduate program at the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at the UC San Diego, and availed myself of excellent Japanese studies programs, including a mentor relationship with the late East Asia expert Chalmers Johnson. I then did the hard slog of learning the language and culture and it set me up my life as an academic, writer, commentator, and educator about issues Japanese.

VF: Why do you insist that prejudice towards foreigners in Japan is severe? 

AD: It’s systematic. In my latest Japan Times column [2] I discuss the lack of “fairness” as a latent cultural value in Japan. Japanese tend to see foreigners as unquestionably different from them, therefore it follows that their treatment will be different. Everything else stems from that. My column gives more details, but for now let me note that a 2007 Cabinet survey asked Japanese, “Should foreigners have the same human-rights protections as Japanese?” The total who agreed was 59.3%. This is a decline from 1995 at 68.3%, 1999 at 65.5% and 2003 at 54%. Ichikawa Hiroshi, who was a Saga Prefecture public prosecutor, said on May 23, 2011, that people in his position “were taught that … foreigners have no human rights ” [3]. Coming from law enforcement, that is an indicative and incriminating statement.

VF: When immigrants to the West naturalize, they hear “congratulations!” But when you became Japanese, you were greeted with another statement … what was it? 

AD: On October 11, 2000, I naturalized. And yes, I heard “congratulations”. But I was also visited at home by two representatives of Japan’s Public Safety Commission to tell me that they would now take action against the threats and harassment I had been getting during the Otaru Onsens case. They said clearly, “Now that you are a Japanese citizen, we want to protect your human rights.” Meaning rights to protect when I became a citizen – not before.

VF: Can you cite practical examples from daily life? 

AD: Sure…

Interview continues at

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Japan/NA12Dh01.html

Movie about Ichihashi Tatsuya, convicted killer of Lindsay Ann Hawker, already in the works — based upon his book. Ick.

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE, on child abductions in Japan, by ARUDOU Debito

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Hi Blog. Here’s some ghoulish news. According to Yahoo News below in Japanese, there is a biopic in the works on Ichihashi Tatsuya, convicted killer of Lindsay Ann Hawker, coming out next year based upon his book (which we lambasted here on Debito.org last January as publisher profiteering) about his 2 1/2 years on the lam as a fugitive from justice.

Now, movies about killers are nothing new (including ones with overtones of hero worship; consider NATURAL BORN KILLERS), and biopics about Japanese killers (the very good VENGEANCE IS MINE, starring a lean and mean Ogata Ken, I saw back in college) are also out there (even though VENGEANCE, although it tries to analyze the killer’s motivations and mother complex, did not spare the audience of the horrific detail of his murderous activity).

Maybe this movie will do the same (even though many of the details of what Ichihashi did to Hawker’s corpse have not been made public).  But the article below says that the contents will focus on his life as a fugitive and offer insights into Japan’s low life (such as the day-laborer sector of Airin Chiku; cue sympathy for the killer’s hardships?).

In any case, I for one see this as just more profiteering.  It looks as though this story will be depicted through Ichihashi’s eyes, and there is apparently already quite an online hero cult out there for this creep that the studios would love to cash in upon.

Again, this sort of media event has happened before, but this is altogether too soon — still seems like moviemakers trying to make a fast yen (and an unknown actor trying to make a directorial debut; he talks briefly below about his “feeling of responsibility” towards the victims, but mostly about how the killer’s account fascinates him, so methinks that’s what the flick will focus upon) before Ichihashi fades from public memory. Ick. Arudou Debito

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市橋被告逃亡記を映画化 初監督&主演にディーン・フジオカ大抜てき
スポーツ報知 2011年11月23日(水)8時2分配信
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20111123-00000020-sph-ent
Courtesy of SL

2007年、千葉県市川市で英会話講師の英国人リンゼイ・アン・ホーカーさん(当時22歳)が殺害された事件が初めて映画化されることが22日、分かった。殺人罪などで無期懲役の判決を受けた市橋達也被告(32)が逃亡生活の様子、心境をつづった手記「逮捕されるまで 空白の2年7カ月の記録」をもとに、香港、台湾で活躍する日本人俳優ディーン・フジオカ(31)が初監督、主演に抜てきされた。タイトルは「I am Ichihashi~逮捕されるまで~」で、来年公開。

映画「I am Ichihashi―」は、市橋被告の手記「逮捕されるまで―」(幻冬舎刊)が原作。前例のない逃亡犯の手記として、公判前の1月に出版され話題になった。

米アカデミー賞外国語映画賞の「おくりびと」を手掛け、今作も製作するセディックインターナショナルの中沢敏明プロデューサーは「映画の題材として際立っている。本来、映画は影があった方がおもしろい。そんな時にこの題材を見つけた」と説明。07年3月に千葉県警の職務質問から逃れ、09年11月に逮捕されるまでの2年7か月間、23都府県を転々とした市橋被告。映画では、4度の自給自足生活を送った沖縄・オーハ島、作業員として寮に住み込みで働いた大阪での生活を軸に人間の業を描く。

監督、主演のディーンは香港、台湾で活躍する日本人俳優。日本での実績はゼロ、今作が初メガホンという異例の抜てきとなる。中沢氏が注目したのは、ディーンが高校卒業後、米、香港、台湾を10年以上渡り歩いてきた異色の人生経験だった。「長い間、外から日本を見ていたからか、日本人であって俯瞰(ふかん)的に日本を見られるまれな存在。独特の感性、考え方に強烈なインパクトを感じた」と起用を即決した。

ディーンは原作を繰り返し読み、担当弁護士を取材。実際に、市橋被告の足跡をたどる旅をして役へのイメージを膨らませた。「オーハ島は平常心を保てない、地の果てのような場所。(大阪)あいりん地区は日本の社会の縮図を見た気がした。体に染み込んだ感覚を作品に反映させたい。今は取りつかれたくらいに四六時中、市橋被告のことを考えている」

日本中を騒がせた殺人犯役だが「迷いはなかった」と言い切る。「自分の生まれた国で初めての仕事。努力次第だが、先に広がっていくチャンス」ととらえ、強い覚悟で挑む。「覚悟がなければやる意味がないし、やり切ることはできない。遺族の方、事件で悲しい思いをした人たちに責任感を感じる。命の尊さを伝えたい」と力を込めた。

クランクインは来年1月を予定。市橋被告との接見を望むディーンに、関係者は「被告次第だが、どこかでチャンスを作りたい」と話している。

◆リンゼイさん殺害事件 07年3月26日、千葉・市川市の市橋被告のマンションのベランダに置かれた浴槽から英会話講師リンゼイさんの遺体が見つかった。市橋被告は直前に、捜査員の職務質問を振り切り逃走。翌27日、県警に死体遺棄容疑で指名手配される。沖縄・オーハ島での自給自足の生活、顔の整形手術を受けるなどして2年7か月逃亡。09年11月10日、大阪市のフェリー乗り場で逮捕された。死体遺棄のほか、殺人と強姦致死の罪で起訴され、今年7月21日に無期懲役の判決。市橋被告は控訴している。

◆ディーン・フジオカ 1980年8月19日、福島県生まれ、千葉県育ち。31歳。高校卒業後、米シアトル留学。現地の大学を卒業後、香港でモデルとして活動。05年に映画「八月的故事」で俳優デビュー。06年から台湾を拠点にドラマ、映画に出演。12月2日に映画「The Road Less Traveled」、来年1月に「BLACK&WHITE」が台湾で封切られる。日本語、英語、中国語を話す。身長180センチ。体重60キロ。血液型A。

ENDS

Japan Times: More NPA behavioral oddities re alleged murders of Scott Kang and Matthew Lacey Cases

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

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Hi Blog.  Speaking of odd Japanese police behavior towards NJ in criminal cases:  We’ve talked about the Scott Kang and Matthew Lacey Cases here on Debito.org before.  Fortunately, these cases have gathered traction thanks to caring family members, and tenacious reporters who don’t accept the NPA’s line that both of these deaths of NJ were mere accidents (while refusing to cooperate promptly and clearly on autopsy reports).  I have argued before that Japanese justice operates on a different (and subordinate) track for NJ victims of Japanese crime (i.e., Japanese perps get off the hook, foreign perps get thrown the book).  These articles in the Japan Times help to fortify that case (not to mention further illustrate how the USG’s missions abroad are woefully inadequate in providing service and protections to their own citizens).  Arudou Debito

==================================

Japan Times, Tuesday, Sep. 6, 2011
THE ZEIT GIST
Kang family takes fight for justice to Tokyo (excerpt)
Father of young Korean-American who died in murky circumstances in Kabuki-cho feels let down by both the police and U.S. Embassy
By SIMON SCOTT
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20110906zg.html, courtesy of the author

…Sung Won, the father of Hoon “Scott” Kang, the Korean-American tourist who died in mysterious circumstances in Shinjuku last year, arrived in Tokyo this week to continue his fight to seek justice for his son…

The Kang family is upset by the news that the official investigation into their son’s death has now been closed after the police concluded his death was accidental.

“I feel very angry and heartbroken,” says Scott’s father.

The Kangs and their supporters strongly reject the police finding of accidental death and want to see the case re-opened. They are also deeply unhappy with the way the Japanese police carried out the investigation and their failure to inform the family when they closed the case.

“Not only did they not tell my family, but we heard the news five months late. I was furious,” Kang says.

Nineteen-year-old Scott Kang was found lying unconscious in a pool of his own blood in the early hours of Aug. 26, 2010, in the sixth-floor stairwell of Collins Building 15, an eight-story high-rise of small hostess bars and clubs located near Shinjuku City Hall in Kabuki-cho. He remained in a coma for five days before dying of his injuries, his mother by his side, at the Kokuritsu Kokusai Iryo Kenkyu Center in Shinjuku.

The police investigation into his death was officially closed on Feb. 22, but the family was not informed of the fact until July — five months later…

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police say they notified the consular section of the American Embassy in Tokyo that the investigation had been closed on Feb. 22, and thought the information would be passed on to the Kang family.

But according to Mr. Kang, he received no communication from the U.S. authorities about the investigation’s closure until early July when an officer from the U.S. State Department telephoned.

Kang says that the failure of the embassy to pass on such critical information in a timely fashion shows the embassy is not taking the case seriously. “I feel the U.S. Embassy acted as if Scott was not a U.S. citizen.”…

The Kang family don’t just believe the police’s decision to close the investigation into Scott’s death was premature; they also think the police are withholding critical evidence from them that could prove Scott’s death was not accidental. One such piece of evidence is the autopsy report.

When Mr. Kang and Wozniak met with the Shinjuku police in October they requested a copy of the autopsy report into Scott’s death, but the police refused…

The refusal by police to give the next-of-kin of a deceased person a copy of the autopsy is common in Japan, but it is an approach that has attracted increasing criticism over the years. No one is more familiar with the difficulty of getting the police to release an autopsy than 50-year-old U.S. citizen and Japan resident Charles Lacey.

Lacey’s younger brother, Matthew Lacey, tragically died in Fukuoka in 2004 in suspicious circumstances. On Aug. 17 of that year, while Charles was staying in New York, he got a call from the Fukuoka Police informing him that they had found his brother’s body at the apartment where he lived and that he had died from dehydration and diarrhea…

Despite the unusual circumstances of his brother’s death, Lacey says the police initially had no plans to perform an autopsy, and it was only at his own behest that they reluctantly agreed to carry one out.

After Charles signed the necessary papers, an autopsy was performed on Aug. 19, two days after he was told of his brother’s death, at Kyushu University Hospital. Later the police told Charles that the autopsy showed a 20-cm fracture on his brother’s skull, and that based on this, their determination of cause of death had changed from death by sickness to an accident…

Lacey added that in his home country, it is standard procedure for a copy of the autopsy to be given to the next-of-kin of a deceased person when requested. In Japan, as Lacey discovered, things are not so simple, and it took him almost three years to get a copy of the report.

Full article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20110906zg.html

========================================

Earlier article by the same author:

The Japan Times Tuesday, May 31, 2011
THE ZEIT GIST
Family slams stalled probe into Kabuki-cho death
Questions linger nine months after teenage American tourist was found unconscious in a Shinjuku stairwell
By SIMON SCOTT, courtesy of the author

Nine months after their only son, Hoon “Scott” Kang, a Korean-American tourist, died from severe head injuries sustained in the stairwell of a building in Kabuki-cho, his family and friends are still no closer to understanding how he died.

Although the Shinjuku police have officially opened an investigation into Scott’s death, the family has been told only that the investigation is “not complete.”

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20110531zg.html

===========================================

Earlier article on Matthew Lacey Case, by Eric Johnston:

The Japan Times, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2007
BUNGLED POLICE PROBE; UNCOOPERATIVE PROSECUTORS
U.S. man on quest to find cause of brother’s death (excerpt)
By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer, courtesy of the author
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20070206f2.html

OSAKA — Charles Lacey’s brother died mysteriously 2 1/2 years ago in Fukuoka and he’s still trying to learn the cause.

He believes police bungled the investigation, wrongly concluded the death was due to an accident and are, like prosecutors, purposely withholding key information that could suggest foul play…

At the time, the family was told by police the preliminary cause of death was thought to be severe diarrhea and dehydration. Feces stains had been found on the toilet seat and the carpet, and Matt, who suffered from irritable bowel syndrome, had recently received a prescription to treat diarrhea. Robbery did not appear to be a motive, as Japanese and U.S. currency worth nearly $1,000 was found in plain view.

But once the Lacey brothers arrived in Fukuoka, the cops changed their story. The autopsy had revealed a 20-cm crack in Matt’s skull, and “cerebral hemorrhage” was now listed as the cause of death.

The English translation of the postmortem, which was prepared by Fukuoka police and not by the doctor who performed the exam, attributed the death to an “unknown external cause” and “it is suspected the subject was hit on the head.”

To the family’s surprise, foul play was ruled out.

“We were told by police that Matt must have fallen down in the kitchen, striking his head, and that the fall resulted in the skull fracture, despite the fact there were no signs in the kitchen of a fall,” Lacey said. “Our family felt something was wrong and that the police weren’t doing their job. There were too many unanswered questions to believe this was just an accident, as the police wanted us to believe.”…

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20070206f2.html
ENDS

Suraj Case of police brutality and death during Immigration deportation in Japan Times Nov 1, 2011

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New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

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Hi Blog. Sorry to take a day or two to get to this. Here we have more reported (thanks to assiduous folks at the Community Page at the Japan Times) on the Suraj Case, a mysteriously underinvestigated case we’ve mentioned here before of police brutality and death of an African during deportation. What gets me is that even some of the veto gates at the Japan Times, according to the editor of this article on his facebook entry, took issue with the use of the word “brutal” in the headline; given what finally came to light regarding the condition of Mr. Suraj’s corpse below, “brutal” is obviously appropriate. And it would not have come to light at all had not Mr. Suraj’s widow and these reporters not pursued this case with such tenacity. Keep it up, Japan Times. Who else in a milquetoast Japanese media that is generally unsympathetic to NJ issues would give a toss? Arudou Debito

///////////////////////////////////////////

The Japan Times Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011

PHOTO CAPTION: Immigration policy on trial: Abubakar Awudu Suraj died after being restrained by immigration officers with hand and ankle cuffs, a rope, four plastic restraints and a towel gag before a flight to Cairo from Narita airport. Below: An illustrated note that Suraj passed to his wife during her visit to an immigration center during one of his periods in detention. COURTESY OF ABUBAKAR AWUDU SURAJ’S WIDOW

THE ZEIT GIST
Justice stalled in brutal death of deportee
Autopsy suggests immigration officers used excessive force in restraining Ghanaian
By SUMIE KAWAKAMI and DAVID MCNEILL
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20111101zg.html, thanks to lots of people

Abubakar Awudu Suraj had been in Japan for over two decades when immigration authorities detained him in May 2009. The Ghanaian was told in Yokohama of his deportation to Ghana at 9:15 a.m. on March 22 last year. Six hours later he was dead, allegedly after being excessively restrained by guards.

Jimmy Mubenga also died last year while being held down by three private security guards before takeoff on a British Airways flight from London to Angola. The father of five had lost his appeal to stay in the U.K. and was being deported. Mubenga put up a struggle and died after the guards sat on him for 10 minutes, say witnesses.

But the details of the deportations of two men from rich countries back to their native Africa, and their aftermath, are strikingly different. Mubenga’s death is already the subject of a vigorous police inquiry, front-page stories and an investigation by The Guardian newspaper. The case has been discussed in Parliament, where security minister Baroness Neville-Jones called it “extraordinarily regrettable.”

Suraj has received no such honors. The 45-year-old’s case has largely been ignored in the Japanese media and no politician has answered for his death. An investigation by Chiba prosecutors appears to have stalled. There has been no explanation or apology from the authorities.

His Japanese wife, who had shared a life with him for 22 years, was not even aware he was being deported. She was given no explanation when she identified his body later that day. His body was not returned to her for nearly three months. Supporters believe he put up a struggle because he wanted to tell his wife he was being sent home.

An autopsy report seen in a court document notes abrasions to his face, internal bleeding of muscles on the neck, back, abdomen and upper arm, along with leakage of blood around the eyes, blood congestion in some organs, and dark red blood in the heart. Yet the report bizarrely concluded that the cause of death is “unknown.”

Any movement in the Suraj case is largely down to his wife, who wants to remain anonymous. She won a lawsuit against the Justice Ministry, which oversees immigration issues, demanding it disclose documents related to his death. The documents were finally released in May, more than a year after he died…

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20111101zg.html

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UPDATE: — Economist (London) reports on Suraj Case, and NPA not allowing journalists to investigate, courtesy CR. Debito
==============================

Justice in Japan
An ugly decision
The Economist Nov 4th 2011, 8:05 by K.N.C.
http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2011/11/justice-japan?fsrc=scn%2Ffb%2Fwl%2Fblanuglydecision

BOUND and gagged, a man dies in the custody of immigration officers while being forcibly deported. The police investigate slowly. Prosecutors mull the case. The wheels of justice barely turn.

Now, it looks like the case will be dropped completely—and a man’s death go unpunished. Prosecutors in Chiba prefecture, where Tokyo’s Narita airport is located, have decided not to indict the ten officers who carried Abubakar Awudu Suraj’s unconscious body onto an Air Egypt flight in March 2010 before he was declared dead, according to a new report in the Yomiuri Shimbun.

Two official autopsies at the time could not determine the cause of death, though Mr Suraj’s widow saw injuries to his face when she identified the body. A new autopsy however purports to reveal that he had suffered heart disease and says the cause of his death was illness.

This is hard to swallow at face value. Three days after the incident an immigration official told Mr Suraj’s widow “It is a sorry thing that we have done.” Officialdom dragged its heels to such a degree that she had to file criminal charges and later civil charges. The kind of gag that was used to restrain him is prohibited, though its use is said to be commonplace.

Mr Suraj was a Ghanaian national who arrived in Japan in 1988, learned the language, worked odd jobs and married a Japanese woman. He was arrested for overstaying his visa and the courts didn’t accept his requests to remain. The March 2010 deportation was the immigration bureau’s second attempt—after Mr Suraj made such a rumpus the first time round that it had to be stopped. So perhaps officers used a bit of extra force to make sure it didn’t fail.

It is an ugly situation. The authorities surely didn’t mean for Mr Suraj to die in custody. But since he did, the people responsible should be held legally accountable. The Chiba prosecutors, by suggesting they may drop the case, look as complicit as the ten officers themselves.

Addendum, 5 November 2011: When The Economist requested an interview with the Chiba prosecutor’s office, the answer was a firm no. An employee said that interviews are only allowed for members of the prosecutors’ “Kisha Club,” the quasi-formal groups that control the flow of news to major Japanese news organisations (and which tend to turn journalists into stenographers for officialdom, by neutering independent reporting). The employee said that the only time The Economist can prosecutors questions is during an annual “press registration”—whose application deadline is long past. Must every Japanese institution be designed to keep out outsiders?
ENDS

=============================

RE: Civil suit mentioned above:

Japan’s immigration policy
Gone but not forgotten
The Economist Aug 5th 2011, 9:45 by K.N.C. | TOKYO
http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2011/08/japans-immigration-policy

WRISTS cuffed, ankles bound and with a rolled towel shoved in his mouth, Abubakar Awudu Suraj died in the custody of nine Japanese immigration officers on March 22nd 2010 while being deported to Ghana for overstaying his visa. Since then his widow and friends have sought information—and justice—from the authorities, but have been ignored. On August 5th 2011 they filed a civil suit against the government.

The Chiba prefectural prosecutors have received the results of an investigation but have yet to act. None of the officers have been sanctioned at all, explains Koichi Kodama, a lawyer working on Mr Suraj’s case. He argues that the authorities are trying to cover up misdeeds. For example, restraining a person by using ankles cuffs and a towel is not permitted, he says. And in a videotape of the botched deportation, the supervisor tells the cameraman to stop filming as things get hot, says Mr Kodama.

The civil suit seeks compensation of ¥136m (around $1.5m) from the government for wrongful death. But the real motivation is to hold the authorities to account, explains Mr Suraj’s widow. “I want to reveal the truth without concealing anything,” she says. “They were carrying a human being. I don’t understand why they had to treat him like that. I feel very powerless,” she says.

The Japanese mainstream media have largely ignored the case. (We reported it May 2010 and followed up in December 2010.) The head of the immigration bureau left out unflattering facts about his officers’ conduct when he was called to the Diet (parliament) to explain what happened. A criminal case was filed as well, naming the officers involved, but it has barely budged on the court’s docket. The ministry of justice looks hampered by rather obvious conflicts of interest. The ministry’s agents hold the evidence of wrongdoing that their colleagues are alleged to have committed. The ministry stands responsible for penalising officials within its own ranks.

One small change is that since Mr Suraj’s death, there apparently have not been any other forced deportations. But that only sharpens the question. As long as Mr Suraj’s case is ignored by officialdom, it is Japan’s institutions of justice that fall under suspicion. Every day that the officers who were present when Mr Suraj died don their uniforms and walk into their offices is another day in which the Japanese state looks complicit in a cover-up.
ENDS

Japan Times: Ichihashi trial bares translation woes: Courts refuse to admit that interpreters often lack the necessary skills

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  Getting back to business, here’s an older article on how people who are not native speakers of Japanese are at a disadvantage in the Japanese judiciary due to things lost in translation.  Yes, the killer of Lindsay Ann Hawker got his, thank goodness, but not without a degree of unprofessionality unbecoming a purportedly modern justice system, as the JT gets into below.  This is not the first time this has been pointed out, yet we still hear of no particular movement to standardize training and certify translators.  This lack of prioritization couldn’t be due to allegations that the Japanese judiciary thinks “foreigners”, like yakuza, “have no human rights” (despite, as I have argued, Japan’s clear double standard in criminal jurisprudence depending on nationality).  Surely not.  Arudou Debito

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The Japan Times, Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ichihashi trial bares translation woes
Courts refuse to admit interpreters often lack the necessary skills
By SETSUKO KAMIYA Staff writer
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110721f1.html

The lay judge trial of accused rapist and murderer Tatsuya Ichihashi, whose verdict is expected Thursday, has captured a lot of media attention since it started July 4, but one element that has escaped notice is the quality of the language translation.

Many errors by a court interpreter, from slight differences in nuance to the loss of a few details, have so far been observed during the high-profile case.

This has prompted concerned legal professionals and linguistic experts to call on the courts to face up to the quality of interpretations when foreign nationals are involved in court cases and to improve the training and status of interpreters.

The errors may not have been crucial for the lay and professional judges to decide the facts of the case and Ichihashi’s fate. But experts say having too many mistakes is a major problem because the accuracy of the interpretation is crucial to ensure a fair trial for everyone involved, from defendants, accusers and witnesses to victims and their families.

Several interpretation errors, for example, were made during the fifth session of the trial on July 11 when Julia Hawker, mother of the 22-year-old British victim, Lindsay Ann Hawker, testified as a witness for the prosecution.

The prosecutors’ goal in calling her to the stand was to establish that the consequences of the crimes were grave and that the family wanted Ichihashi severely punished for raping and taking Lindsay’s life and leaving her body in a soil-filled bathtub on his apartment balcony.

When questioned about the impact of her death on the family, the mother said she blamed herself for allowing her daughter to come to Japan. “I couldn’t take a bath for two years,” she said, apparently because of how her daughter was found.

But the court interpreter translated the phrase into Japanese as “I cannot take back the two years.”…

Rest of the article at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110721f1.html

BAChome.org: Official correspondence re nonfeasance and negligence by US Consulate Osaka regarding the Mary Lake Child Abduction Case (allegations of USG refusing assistance to US citizen child)

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE, on child abductions in Japan, by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

Hi Blog. Today’s entry is regards to the Mary Lake Case, which was covered on Debito.org some weeks ago, and caused some controversy (including trolling emails) regarding differing accounts of treatment of a US citizen minor who unsuccessfully asked for protection and sanctuary from US Consulate Osaka.  Here is a followup series of emails between concerned Left-Behind Parents at BAChome.org and the US State Department. Reproduced with permission. Arudou Debito

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From: Paul Toland [mailto:pptoland@…]
Sent: Friday, August 26, 2011 8:04 AM
To: Campbell, Kurt M; Loi, James L; Jacobs, Janice L; Kennedy, Patrick F; Burns, William J; Steinberg, James B; spower@nss.eop.gov; sduncan@nss.eop.gov; Posner, Michael H; Busby, Scott W; cpowell@nss.eop.gov; MacLeod, Margaret G; Payne, Beth A; vvause@state.gov; Eye, Stefanie B; Jacobs, Susan S
Subject: Incident at Osaka Consulate

Two days ago, a kidnapped child in one of the most high-profile Japan abduction cases (Mary Victoria Lake) showed up at a US Consulate in Japan asking to be rescued and sent home to her lawful parent in the United States. The consuate denied her request and sent her back to her kidnapper. This action was beyond incompetent. It was reprehensible, disgraceful,disgusting,and un-American.

This is the third time State has failed this parent. Twice previously, State illegally issued passports for his daughter without obtaining the father’s signature, even after it had been established that her father was the lawful parent and the mother was a wanted kidnapper.

I am at a loss for words. I can only say that it is very clearly apparent now to all parents victimized by the crime of parental child abduction that the State Department clearly places relations with foreign nations over the safety, well-being and lives of American citizen children. Absolutely sickening.

Paul Toland
Commander, US Navy
Only living parent of Erika Toland, Abducted to Japan 2003.

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From: Jacobs, Janice L
Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate
To: “Paul Toland” Cc: “Campbell, Kurt M” , “Loi, James L” , “Kennedy, Patrick F” , “Burns, William J” , “Steinberg, James B” , spower@nss.eop.gov, sduncan@nss.eop.gov, “Posner, Michael H” , “Busby, Scott W” , cpowell@nss.eop.gov, “MacLeod, Margaret G” , “Payne, Beth A” , vvause@state.gov, “Eye, Stefanie B” , “Jacobs, Susan S”
Date: Friday, August 26, 2011, 8:12 AM

Dear Commander Toland:
We have received your e-mail regarding the Lake case. The information you are reporting regarding recent events at Consulate Osaka is factually incorrect. While we cannot provide details to you due to statutory requirements in the Privacy Act, we have been in contact with the child’s father, who is aware of what actually transpired. I can assure you that U.S. Consulates in Japan, along with all other consular facilities around the world, stand ready to assist any child wrongfully removed from parental custody and do so on a regular basis.
Sincerely,
Janice L. Jacobs
Assistant Secretary
Bureau of Consular Affairs
SBU
This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

//////////////////////////////////////////////

From: Paul Toland [mailto:pptoland@]
Sent: Friday, August 26, 2011 1:02 PM
To: Jacobs, Janice L
Cc: Campbell, Kurt M; Loi, James L; Kennedy, Patrick F; Burns, William J; Steinberg, James B; spower@nss.eop.gov; sduncan@nss.eop.gov; Posner, Michael H; Busby, Scott W; cpowell@nss.eop.gov; MacLeod, Margaret G; Payne, Beth A; vvause@state.gov; Eye, Stefanie B; Jacobs, Susan S
Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate

Assistant Secretary Jacobs, My information comes from the father. I have emails from him and have spoken to him. I would tend to believe his story. While I was not actually at the Consulate, I tend to believe what William is telling me, because he has not lied to me before.

Here is the email from Mr. Lake:

Wednesday Morning I got a email from Virginia Vause my newest case worker (#7 so far.) She told me that Mary had showed up at consulate and asked to be sent home. She also told me that Mary had asked them to put her up in a hotel. They refused. They apparently called my ex and got some sort of agreement that Mary could spend the night with her and then return to the consulate the next morning. Ms Vause said that the Osaka consulate had tried to call me. They called my land line instead of my cell. They didn’t leave a message because I only had a generic message on the machine and they were worried about so called privacy issues. So they sent Mary home. They also failed to send me an email.

I had several calls from Ms Vause and State that day. I was upset about Mary being sent home. I was worried that her mother had gotten physical with her again and that she might run away. I mean they must have some sort of accommodations at these places. Ms Vause informed me that the consulate could not get Mary a room because she was a minor. She also stated that the State department could not legally take custody of Mary without my written permission and that if they had taken Mary in someone from the consulate would have to be with her at all times. Her voice gave me the impression that this would have been an outrageous imposition to the consulate staff. According to her this is the law regarding these situations. At no time during the 4 plus years I have had a case with OCI has anyone, including the 7 different case workers I have had, ever told me that I need to give them written permission to take custody of my daughter.

In the afternoon the cost of the ticket became an issue. Apparently NCMEC is out of money for tickets. Then there was an issue raised by the consulate in Osaka, that the cost of a one way ticket was more than the guidelines allowed them to spend and that they couldn’t purchase a ticket without permission of Washington.

Note 1, I was asked to write a form letter saying that I was unable to afford the cost of the tickets. That is true. I have been unemployed since early June.

Note 2, The consulate was looking at the cost of a one way ticket. Approximately $3500. That is what their guidelines dictate and the maximum they could spend is $3000. However the cost of a roundtrip ticket is $2500.

Note 3, there was never any discussion about sharing the cost. It was over there guidelines so no ticket.

Now all this occurred between 0830 am and 900pm Wednesday. There were other calls to and from NCMEC. I got the Pensacola Police involved. Sgt Donohoe PPD is a wonderful man that alerted NCMEC and other law enforcement agencies. 845 pm Ms Vause called and said that Mary had not shown up at the consulate but had called and asked for a week to think about coming back. There was also the issue of the cost of the tickets which I could not afford. She suggested that I contact friends and relatives to see if I could round up the money for a ticket.

Today Thursday she called to talk to me about a repatriation loan. That I would have to submit these forms to State and that once they were processed they would be on file and that if Mary EVER DID THIS AGAIN then the forms would be in my file and the ticket could be bought with no problem. She told me that it would take a week or more to process this. She did mention that I should keep my receipts and that there was a chance NCMEC would reimburse me at a later date.

This is just another example of how the State department has mishandled my case.

ENDS

//////////////////////////////////////////////

From: Payne, Beth A Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate and RE: You sent my daughter back to her abductor
To: “Paul Toland” , CAPTLAKE@MCHSI.COM
Cc: “Campbell, Kurt M” , “Loi, James L” , “Kennedy, Patrick F” , “Burns, William J” , “Steinberg, James B” , spower@nss.eop.gov, sduncan@nss.eop.gov, “Posner, Michael H” , “Busby, Scott W” , cpowell@nss.eop.gov, “MacLeod, Margaret G” , vvause@state.gov, “Eye, Stefanie B” , “Jacobs, Susan S” , “Jacobs, Janice L” , Allison.Hollabaugh@mail.house.gov, bac-home@googlegroups.com, Ariana_Reks@boxer.senate.gov, brianna.keilar@cnn.com, RoosJV@state.gov, Sarah.M.Netter@abc.com, Sharon.Santurri@mail.house.gov, JDonohoe@ci.pensacola.fl.us, dbergsan@gmail.com
Date: Thursday, September 1, 2011, 5:25 AM

Dear Mr. Lake and Cdr. Toland:

Thank you for your emails of August 26 regarding your concerns about Mary Lake and the Department of State’s response to her request for assistance last week in Osaka. While our policy is to discuss case-specific questions and concerns only with the parent and his or her designated representatives, Mr. Lake’s most recent Privacy Act Waiver allows us to speak about his case with other people and we can, therefore, respond simultaneously to your inquiries in order to clarify the status of this case. We regret that Mr. Lake has misunderstood many of the facts concerning the events of last week, and we hope this email helps to clarify what took place, and reassures you both that consular staff in Osaka and in the Office of Children’s Issues responded to Mary’s requests and offered to provide her the assistance she initially requested.

I reiterate that the Consular Officer in charge of American Services in Osaka and the Office of Children’s Issues together report a very different version of what happened. I have examined the steps and action taken since Mary first contacted the Consulate, and I can confirm that all action was proper, thorough, and responsive.

To ensure that I address all of your stated concerns, I am responding below with interlinear comments to the email that Mr. Lake wrote ([formatted in bold and] in italics) and which Cdr. Toland forwarded to me on August 26:

Wednesday Morning I got a email from Virginia Vause my newest case worker (#7 so far.) She told me that Mary had showed up at consulate and asked to be sent home. She also told me that Mary had asked them to put her up in a hotel. They refused. They apparently called my ex and got some sort of agreement that Mary could spend the night with her and then return to the consulate the next morning.

Mary called the Consulate at 5:00 p.m. on August 24 and requested that a consular officer contact her father to ask him to either fly her home or pay for long-term hotel accommodations in Japan. She did not visit the consulate. A consular officer in Osaka spoke with Mary at length and confirmed that she felt safe with her mother for the evening, that she was not in danger, and that she did not wish to leave her mother’s house that evening. Mary told the consular officer she would call again in the morning. The Consulate immediately notified the Office of Children’s Issues and began coordinating travel arrangements for the next day. The next morning, Mary called the consulate to report she would remain in Japan with her mother for the time being.

I had several calls from Ms Vause and State that day. I was upset about Mary being sent home. I was worried that her mother had gotten physical with her again and that she might run away. I mean they must have some sort of accommodations at these places. Ms Vause informed me that the consulate could not get Mary a room because she was a minor. She also stated that the State department could not legally take custody of Mary without my written permission and that if they had taken Mary in someone from the consulate would have to be with her at all times. Her voice gave me the impression that this would have been an outrageous imposition to the consulate staff. According to her this is the law regarding these situations. At no time during the 4 plus years I have had a case with OCI has anyone, including the 7 different case workers I have had, ever told me that I need to give them written permission to take custody of my daughter.

As soon as Ms. Vause in the Office of Children’s Issues received word from the Consulate that Mary was trying to reach her father, she called Mr. Lake and relayed Mary’s message. At that point, Mr. Lake stated that he could not pay for her airline ticket and that he would soon depart the country for a six-week work assignment. In her phone call with Mr. Lake, Ms. Vause was focused on the primary objectives of passing Mary’s message, determining if someone would be available to receive her in Florida, and determining if Mr. Lake could purchase her ticket home. The question of hotel lodging and/or refuge was not her focus because Mary did not request refuge or an alternative place to stay that evening. We are very concerned with Mary’s well-being and if there had been any indication that Mary’s welfare was in jeopardy, I assure you both that the Consulate would have taken immediate action to protect her. When necessary, consular officials will allow U.S. Citizen children in need of protection to stay at our facilities until appropriate lodging can be arranged.

In the afternoon the cost of the ticket became an issue. Apparently NCMEC is out of money for tickets. Then there was an issue raised by the consulate in Osaka, that the cost of a one way ticket was more than the guidelines allowed them to spend and that they couldn’t purchase a ticket without permission of Washington.
Note 1, I was asked to write a form letter saying that I was unable to afford the cost of the tickets. That is true. I have been unemployed since early June.
Note 2, The consulate was looking at the cost of a one way ticket. Approximately $3500. That is what their guidelines dictate and the maximum they could spend is $3000. However the cost of a roundtrip ticket is $2500.
Note 3, there was never any discussion about sharing the cost. It was over there guidelines so no ticket.

Upon learning that Mr. Lake was unable to pay for his daughter’s travel home, both Consulate and Children’s Issues officers began searching for alternate funding sources, including funding from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and a possible repatriation loan. While we were moving forward on this request in order to facilitate travel that day, Mary called the Consulate and reported that she wished to remain in Japan with her mother for the time being. Ms. Vause relayed this message to Mr. Lake immediately and continued to discuss funding options and procedures in case Mary did decide that she wished to travel to Florida.

Please allow me to clarify how the repatriation loan program works. The cost of a child’s travel to the United States, even in abduction cases, is the responsibility of the parent. In the event that a parent cannot cover the cost of the airline ticket, the U.S. government is able to provide a repatriation loan through a program that includes certain criteria that must be met in order to demonstrate need and to ensure eventual repayment. I regret that a repatriation loan cannot be set up in advance. Ms. Vause suggested to Mr. Lake, after Mary decided not to travel, that she’d check in after a week, and that Mr. Lake proceed with the paperwork required for a repatriation loan so that it could be quickly issued if Mary changes her mind again, thus enabling us to act very quickly to provide a plane ticket. Please let me emphasize that a repatriation loan is intended to provide emergency financial assistance when no other funds are available. We did consider Mary’s desire to return home to be an emergency and were prepared to assist Mr. Lake with obtaining such funds. We would also be happy to facilitate a transfer of funds if Mr. Lake is able to cover the costs of a plane ticket.

Now all this occurred between 0830 am and 900pm Wednesday. There were other calls to and from NCMEC. I got the Pensacola Police involved. Sgt Donohoe PPD is a wonderful man that alerted NCMEC and other law enforcement agencies. 845 pm Ms Vause called and said that Mary had not shown up at the consulate but had called and asked for a week to think about coming back. There was also the issue of the cost of the tickets which I could not afford. She suggested that I contact friends and relatives to see if I could round up the money for a ticket.

Today Thursday she called to talk to me about a repatriation loan. That I would have to submit these forms to State and that once they were processed they would be on file and that if Mary EVER DID THIS AGAIN then the forms would be in my file and the ticket could be bought with no problem. She told me that it would take a week or more to process this. She did mention that I should keep my receipts and that there was a chance NCMEC would reimburse me at a later date.

We feel we must reiterate at this point the fact that a repatriation loan was offered, and would have been available if Mr. Lake had been unable to pay for Mary’s return flight home.

This is just another example of how the State department has mishandled my case.

While we regret that Mr. Lake does not feel that he has been well-served by the Department of State, the U.S. Consulate in Osaka and Children’s Issues continue to have Mary’s well-being at the top of our priorities. At this point, the Consulate in Osaka strongly wishes to facilitate a phone call between Mary and Mr. Lake, as they have done in the past, to allow for further discussion about Mary’s future. As always, we stand ready to assist any child wrongfully removed from his or her home of habitual residence. I trust this information is useful to both of you.
Sincerely,

This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

//////////////////////////////////////////////

From: Paul Toland [mailto:pptoland@]
Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2011 5:20 PM
To: CAPTLAKE@MCHSI.COM; Beth APayne
Cc: Kurt MCampbell; James LLoi; Patrick FKennedy; William JBurns; James BSteinberg; spower@nss.eop.gov; sduncan@nss.eop.gov; Michael HPosner; Scott WBusby; cpowell@nss.eop.gov; Margaret GMacLeod; vvause@state.gov; Stefanie BEye; Susan SJacobs; Janice LJacobs; Allison.Hollabaugh@mail.house.gov; bac-home@googlegroups.com; Ariana_Reks@boxer.senate.gov; brianna.keilar@cnn.com; RoosJV@state.gov; Sarah.M.Netter@abc.com; Sharon.Santurri@mail.house.gov; JDonohoe@ci.pensacola.fl.us; dbergsan@gmail.com
Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate and RE: You sent my daughter back to her abductor

Ms. Payne, We are very disappointed with the answers provided in your email below and have prepared the attached response. We hope you and everyone else you included on this email string will read it. We look forward to your response. Sincerely, Commander Paul Toland, US Navy

ATTACHED RESPONSE

===========================================
September 15, 2011
Beth Payne, Director Office of Children’s Issues U.S. Department of State, SA-29 2201 C Street NW, SA-29 4th floor Washington, DC 20520-2818

Ms. Payne,
Mr. Lake has indicated that he is willing to provide a sworn affidavit that Ms. Vause told him his daughter Mary appeared in person at the Osaka consulate. However, even taking you at your word that Mary Lake called the consulate, we are simply distraught that the consulate employees did not do more to facilitate her rescue and return to her lawful parent.

Imagine that William Lake’s wife had abducted their daughter from Florida to Arizona instead of from Florida to Japan, and Mary Lake had called the authorities in Arizona asking them to “fly her home.” Those authorities would have kept Mary on the phone until they facilitated her rescue and brought the felon criminal abductor to justice. Now we understand that in an overseas environment, the State Department does not have the authority to physically go to the child in Japan to facilitate the rescue, but the State Department certainly had both the DUTY and OBLIGATION to obtain the same end result… to facilitate the rescue Mary Lake by asking the child victim of this felony crime to come to the consulate so they could then coordinate her rescue, yet this was never done.

You state that Mary “did not request refuge or an alternative place to stay that evening.” Are you seriously trying to place the burden and responsibility of having to request refuge upon a minor child who has been kidnapped and held in a foreign country for six years? She may not even understand such a concept. She called and reached out to the only American refuge she could find at the US Consulate, and they burdened her with an adult responsibility, eventually turning her away back to her captor?

And how, exactly, did you “confirm that (Mary) felt safe” with her felon kidnapper, and that she “was not in danger”? Your own Foreign Affairs Manual, Chapter 7, states “children involved (in abduction) have almost always been subjected to a traumatic experience.” What mental health worker counseled Mary Lake to determine her mental and emotional well being following six years of being held captive as a kidnapped child in a foreign land? If no mental health worker was available, then it was the State Department’s duty and obligation to err on the side of caution for Mary’s protection and proceed as if she was subjected to severe mental and physical trauma until a professional could determine otherwise. The consular officer was in no position to act as a medical provider in determining Mary’s physical and emotional state over the phone.

The State Department’s inability (or unwillingness) to try to talk Mary Lake into traveling to the consulate appears to be a failure of the State Department to acknowledge that the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA) makes parental child abduction a felony crime and makes the perpetrator of that crime a felon criminal. The very fact that Mary is a child victim of a felony crime being held in a foreign land by a felon criminal is, in and of itself, enough to put Mary Lake “in danger.”

The State Department’s failure to act during the brief window of time available to rescue Mary allowed her to disappear again into the black hole abyss of Japan, to join the other 374 children abducted to Japan since 1994, none of whom has ever been returned.

We ask you to answer one simple question…if Mary Lake were kidnapped by a STRANGER and held in Japan for six years, and then contacted the US Consulate asking them to “fly her home”, would the consulate actions have been any different, and if so, why? The State Department’s DUTY to Mary Victoria Lake is no different than to any other victim of a felony crime, and for you to treat it otherwise is simply a flagrant disregard for the law.

We notice you also cc’d some of the press on your email response, yet you did not address our concerns about the fact that the State Department illegally issued a passport to William’s felon criminal wife, without obtaining William’s signature in violation of Public Law 106-113, Section 236. This, at least, tells us that IPKCA is not the only law that the State Department is in the habit of ignoring when it suits your purposes.

The State Department has conducted years of meetings, talks, meetings, talks, meetings and talks, but not a single parent has been able to even see their child as a result. This latest incident with William Lake’s daughter only further exacerbates the left-behind parent community’s total and complete loss of confidence in the State Department’s ability to protect our children. What happened to Mary Victoria Lake could have happened to any of our children, and this incident fills us with fear and anxiety that if a window of opportunity someday opens for the rescue of our children, State Department will simply shut that window, as they did with Mary Lake, rather than actually try to return our children.

Sincerely,
Paul Toland, National Coordinating Director
Douglass Berg, Eastern Regional Director
Randy Collins, Southwest Regional Director
Jeffery Morehouse, Pacific Northwest Regional Co-Director
Brett Weed, Pacific Northwest Regional Co-Director
Dr. Christopher Savoie, Midwest, Regional Director
P.O. Box 16254, Arlington, VA 22215 • www.BAChome.org • BAChome@BAChome.org
ENDS

//////////////////////////////////////////////////

UPDATE:

From: Payne, Beth A (payneba @state.gov)
Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate and RE: You sent my daughter back to her abductor
To: “Paul Toland” (pptoland @)
Date: Friday, September 30, 2011

Dear Commander Toland:

Thank you for your letter of September 15, on behalf of the BACHome organization, expressing your disappointment with the information I provided to you on September 1, regarding the Department of State’s actions in the active abduction case involving Mary Lake. I regret that our response left you unsatisfied.

The Office of Children’s Issues, in coordination with U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide, is committed to protecting the welfare of abducted children. Facilitating their return to the United States is one of our top priorities. We recognize the emotional pain that left-behind parents face while separated from their children, and we will be ready to discuss additional details of Mary’s case with her father, should he wish to resume contact with our office.

For more information about the Department of State’s role in International Parental Child Abduction, please visit our website at http://www.travel.state.gov/abduction/abduction_580.html .

Yours Sincerely,
Beth Payne
Director, Office of Children’s Issues

ENDS

BAChome: US Consulate Osaka refuses to aid American citizen child abducted in Japan who came to them for help

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  Here’s the USG demonstrating how much it cares for the welfare of its American citizens abroad (despite being one of the few countries that taxes its citizens abroad).  One might make the case that the USG’s missions abroad are basically to project hegemony and maintain weapons sales.  I wouldn’t, though, never ever.  But this case is a nonsense and the State Department’s negligent Office of Children’s Issues should hang its head in shame and make people accountable for refusing to help.  Arudou Debito

////////////////////////////////////

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

U.S. Consulate in Japan Gives Kidnapped Child Back To Her Captor
Osaka, Japan – August 31, 2011 BAChome.com, courtesy EK and TK
Different version at http://www.crnjapan.net/The_Japan_Childrens_Rights_Network/itn-mltabsd.html

On August 24, 2011, 14 year-old Mary Victoria Lake, a U.S. citizen, who was kidnapped by her mother and taken to Japan in 2005, in one of the most high-profile international kidnapping cases in the United States, walked into the U.S. consulate in Osaka, Japan. She asked to be rescued from her kidnapper, an act of enormous bravery by a teenager who has been cut off from her father and held captive overseas for the past six years. Indifferent and incompetent U.S. Consular officials refused to aid or rescue her and instead sent her back to her kidnapper.

Her father, William Lake, was later informed of his daughter’s attempted return by caseworker Virginia Vause from the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues (OCI). During the multiple conversations with Ms. Vause that day, he learned that the consular officials had made a single attempt to call him at his residence. They did not to leave him a voicemail nor did they attempt to contact him on his cell phone or send an email. When Mr. Lake brought up the issue of why his daughter was turned away from the consulate, he was told that the consulate would not assist in his daughter’s rescue because they needed to have his written authorization to take her into custody. Furthermore, if Mary was taken into custody the Consulate would have to assign a staff member to stay with her until her return to the U.S., an inconvenience that the State Department refused to accept. They also needed him to sign an agreement, in advance, to repay any airline costs. These documents would take at least a week to process once OCI sent and received them.

None of the other parents we have checked with, who have been fighting for the return of their children for years, were aware of these consular requirements. State Department caseworkers had failed to inform them either out of negligence or purposeful deception, which leaves all internationally abducted children exposed to the same risk.

According to U.S. Department of State figures there are 268 cases involving 374 American citizen children who have been kidnapped to Japan since they started keeping track in 1994. OCI Division Chief Stefanie Eye has acknowledged “that our data is based entirely on proactive reporting and that because our database was designed primarily as a case management tool, it is difficult to provide statistical data with complete accuracy.”

Based on our statistical analysis, Bring Abducted Children Home (BACHOME.org) has estimated 4,417 American children have lost significant, meaningful access to their parent after divorce in Japan and by international abduction. Each one of these is a human rights violation.

This is third and latest episode of gross negligence by the Department of State toward Mr. Lake and his daughter. Twice previously, they illegally issued passports for his daughter without obtaining the father’s signature, even after it had been established that her father was the lawful parent and the mother was a wanted kidnapper.

Almost all of the existing cases involve at least one parent who is Japanese. This case however is a clear exception. Neither one of the victims nor the kidnapping mother are of Japanese ancestry. There is simply no reason for Mary to be held in Japan. However, no one from the White House or The State Department is publicly demanding the return of Mary Victoria Lake or any of the other 374, and more realistically, thousands of American children held captive there.

It has become starkly apparent to the parents victimized by the crime of parental child abduction that the Department of State clearly values the relations with foreign nations over the safety, well-being and lives of U.S. citizen children being held captive in Japan.

Bring Abducted Children Home
BACHOME.org

Contact:
Paul Toland
ptoland@BAChome.org
ENDS

NCN: Stunning revelation from former prosecutor on the real situation of initial training, “We were taught that yakuza and foreigners have no rights”

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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Hi Blog.  Dovetailing with yesterday’s post regarding two Japanese who were finally declared innocent 44 years after being suspected, then convicted, of a crime (spending 30 years behind bars for it), here’s why Japan’s criminal justice system is particularly dangerous when it comes to non-Japanese.

Niconico News cites a former prosecutor who said his training was to deny human rights to organized crime members and foreign suspects.

Level3, Mark in Yayoi, and Sora amend an original translation, featured below.  More commentary follows the translation:

===============================

Stunning revelation from former prosecutor on the real situation of initial training, “We were taught that yakuza and foreigners have no rights”

Niconico News, May 23, 2011 (updated May 31, 2011)

The chief prosecutor in the Saga City Agricultural Co-op case, now known to be a frame-up, spoke at a symposium held in Tokyo on May 23, 2011, offering a revealing discussion of the surprising reality of the training he received when he joined his department.  “We were taught that yakuza and foreigners have no human rights,” he disclosed, and “public prosecutors were taught to make up confessions and then have suspects sign them.” Describing how terrifying this warped training system is, he added that “after being trained in that way, [he] began to almost believe that this was natural.”

The person making the statements about his erstwhile workplace was former public prosecutor Hiroshi Ichikawa.  Appointed to handle the 2000 Saga City Agricultural Co-op case, he coerced a confession from the former union leader that he was interrogating, using violent language such as “Bastard! I’ll kill you!” The union leader had been indicted on suspicion breach of trust.  His confession was deemed not to have been voluntary, and he was acquitted. As a result, Mr. Ichikawa was severely reprimanded and resigned his post as public prosecutor.

Mr. Ichikawa took the podium as a panelist at the symposium
“Prosecution, Public Opinion, and False Convictions,” sponsored by the Graduate School of Communications at Meiji University.  “I have done things that no public prosecutor should do,” he said.  “I want to tell the truth about how it is that a prosecutor could say such things.”  This was a shocking statement.

Mr. Ichikawa was appointed to the Yokohama District Public Prosecutor’s Office in 1993.  He said that in his first year, a superior prosecutor taught him that “yakuza and foreigners have no human rights.” Describing his experiences, he mentioned that that superior said, “Foreigners don’t understand Japanese, so you can use whatever threatening language you like if it’s in Japanese.”  The same superior also said that when investigating one foreign suspect, he held a pointed awl in front of the suspect’s face and shouted abuse at the suspect in Japanese. “‘That’s how you get them to confess,’ the superior said.”

In his third year, a superior taught him how to obtain a confession; this consisted of the prosecutor taking a document filled with whatever the prosecutor chose to say, threatening the suspect with it, and obtaining the suspect’s signature. What if the suspect refused to sign?  “If the suspect resisted, my boss said, I should say that the document was my [investigation], not his [confession form],” said Mr. Ichikawa.

“As I continued to be educated this way, I began to think that these methods were natural.  By my eighth year, I was saying things I definitely shouldn’t have; the [Saga] case resulted in an acquittal, and I ended up quitting.”

Mr. Ichikawa quit his post in 2005 and is currently practicing as an attorney. On May 22, the day before the symposium, he drew attention by offering a televised apology to the family of the union head that he had verbally mistreated, appearing on the TV Asahi program “The Scoop – Special”.  This Meiji University symposium was also broadcast on Nico Nico Douga, where Mr. Ichikawa explained why he made these statements in public: “I think it is my role now to tell about what I have seen and heard in order to atone for the terrible mistakes I have made.”
ENDS

===============================

COMMENT:  Good that this came out, and bravo for Mr. Ichikawa.  Mark in Yayoi offers the best comment by looking at the Twitter reactions to this article (also reproduced below), where a number of posters sought to justify the status quo.  In Mark’s words:

“The Twitter comments that follow it are dispiriting — nobody seems to notice the fundamental incongruousness of discussing members of a criminal organization and people who happen to have different nationalities in the same breath. And then there are the other commenters who support the idea of certain people not having human rights. Others claim that foreign embassies should be the ones to guarantee the rights of immigrants. They miss the fundamental meaning of ‘human’ rights: rights are inherent aren’t handed down by the government! The government can restrict certain people’s rights, but the default state is not ‘zero rights’.”

That is very insightful about the public awareness and understanding of human rights in Japan, including at the highest levels of law enforcement.  Bear this in mind in future discussions.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE AND TWITTER COMMENTS FOLLOW:

===============================

「ヤクザと外国人に人権はないと教えられた」 元検事が暴露した驚くべき「新人教育」の実態
NCN 2011年5月23日(月), courtesy lots of people, but especially Fucked Gaijin
http://news.nicovideo.jp/watch/nw66300

市川寛氏(元検事) 冤罪事件として知られる佐賀市農協事件に関与した元主任検事が2011年5月23日、東京都内で開かれたシンポジウムに出演し、検察内部の驚くべき新人教育の実態を生々しく語った。「ヤクザと外国人に人権はないと教えられた」「検事が勝手に自白をしゃべって、それを被疑者に署名させるよう指導された」と過去の経験を暴露したうえで、「このような教育を受ける間にそれが当たり前だとなかば思うようになる」と、ゆがんだ教育の恐ろしさを語った。

古巣を告発する発言をしたのは、元検事の市川寛氏。2000年に発生した佐賀市農協事件に主任検事として関わった際、事情聴取した元組合長に対して「ぶち殺すぞ!この野郎!」と暴言を吐いて自白を強要。元組合長は背任容疑で起訴されたが、自白調書の任意性が否定されて無罪となった。その結果、市川氏は厳重注意処分を受け、検事を辞職することになった。

この日は、明治大学大学院情報コミュニケーション研究科が主催する「検察、世論、冤罪」と題するシンポジウムにパネリストの一人として登壇。最初に「私は検察官にあってはならない過ちを犯した輩で、幾度もお詫びをしなければならない立場にあることは承知している」と断りながら、「いかにして暴言を吐くような検事ができあがるのかについて、すべて事実として申し上げたい」と衝撃の証言を口にした。

市川氏は1993年に横浜地検に任官したが、1年目のとき、先輩検事から「ヤクザと外国人に人権はない」と教えられたという。「その先輩が言うには『外国人は日本語が分からないから、日本語であればどんなに罵倒してもいい』ということだった」。さらにその先輩検事は「ある外国人の被疑者を取り調べたときに、千枚通しを被疑者の目の前に突き付け、日本語で罵倒した。こうやって自白させるんだ」と、市川氏に自らの経験を語ったという。

また3年目には、ある上司が自白調書の取り方を伝授してくれたが、それは検事が勝手にしゃべって調書にしたものを被疑者に突き付けて、署名させるという方法だったという。もし被疑者が署名を拒否したら、どうするのか。「被疑者が抵抗したら『これはお前の調書じゃない。俺の調書だ』と言え、と上司に教えられた」と、市川氏は当時を振り返った。

「このような教育を受ける間にだんだん、それが当たり前だとなかば思いそうになる。そして8年目のとき、自ら絶対にあってはならない暴言をはき、事件が無罪になり、辞職することになった」

2005年に検事をやめ、現在は弁護士として活動している市川氏。シンポジウムの前日の22日には、テレビ朝日系の報道番組「ザ・スクープ スペシャル」で、かつて暴言を吐いた元組合長の家族に謝罪する様子が放映され、話題を呼んだ。ニコニコ動画でも中継された明大のシンポジウムでは「大変な過ちを犯したつぐないとして、私が見てきたことや聞いてきたことを伝えていくのが、私の役割ではないかと考えた」と、公の場で証言した理由を述べた。

◇関連サイト
[ニコニコニュース]記事内の元検事・市川寛氏による発言 全文書き起こし(1)
http://news.nicovideo.jp/watch/nw66706
[ニコニコニュース]記事内の元検事・市川寛氏による発言 全文書き起こし(2)
http://news.nicovideo.jp/watch/nw66710
[ニコニコ生放送]元検事・市川寛氏の「新人教育」実態暴露から視聴 – 会員登録が必要
http://live.nicovideo.jp/watch/lv50486600?ref=news#1:31:53

(亀松太郎)

===============================

TWITTER COMMENTS AS OF MAY 26, 2011:

  • @Engravingkira02売国奴と糞チョンに人権はないの間違いじゃなくて?
  • @WH04HLいつの間にこんなフォーラムやってたんだ、と思ったら情コミか。法学部にもアナウンスしてくれたら見に行ったのに・・・
  • @lenawashこういうことが正々堂々と行われてる中でよく死刑を認められるんだね。
  • productまあヤクザに人権はいらないなw
  • @riagyoちから と かね が すべてです それ いがいは なんの いみも ありません
  • @wkwk2500今さら何しても免罪符にはならない。先輩がどうとか関係無いですから。
  • @help_99最初から色眼鏡か?
  • @rietmm「外国人って行っても特定の国だろうなwww」今はそうかもしれんが昔はなぁ
  • @than25先輩にこういう価値観を植え付けられたのでこうなりました?それでいいと思ってるの?元々そういう人間だとしか思えん…
  • @yuki_takamori正論ではどうにもならないことがある。この元検事の意見は正しいし間違いだ。
  • @hoshimorisubaru犯罪者の国籍見たら外国人にむかつくのは分かる。犯罪者の人権を擁護しようとする議論に持っていこうとするのはどうなんだろうか。
  • @babanred外国人って行っても特定の国だろうなwww
  • @hakutyuumu検察ってこわいな。
  • @kakusanheiki外国人犯罪が多いなか鵜呑みにする人間がいるの?そっちのほうが怖いんだけど。因みに日本で起きてる事件の8割が外人関与
  • @hirossann1行政の人に知り合いがいるんだが、その人によると行政から見れば警察は『たかり』だと言っていたのを思い出した。
  • @harudrr66他人に迷惑をかけていてそれに気が付いていない人間に人権を与える必要があるのか。
  • @Angelan_HKこの国の刑法や、他人の人権を守れない人間は、人権あるない以前に、普通に犯罪者だから。
  • @milk_mia極論過ぎるけどそういう認識も間違ってはいないでしょ、リスクの統計取れば、そう身構える割合高くなるだろうしね。
  • @lm767この手の記事が新聞に載る日は来るだろうか?
  • @akisugarはいはい。実際には外国人(の多くを占める東アジア出身者)の人権は過剰に保護されてるけどね。日本人よりもね。
  • @johan1414g893に人権なんて与えたくない、日本に害のある外人(日本人になりすましてる奴らも)にも日本国内での人権なんてやる必要ない。
  • @absent_mindedneやくざに人権が必要だっていうの?
  • @OPUSKENヤクザと外国人(シナ、朝鮮人)に人権が無いのは当たり前
  • @fullbocco_bokkoいや、その教えは正しい。ただし「冤罪でない」という一言が入る
  • @hibiiikagenいや、ヤクザに関しては本当に人権が無くていい
  • @samxxchihまぁ、人権以前に、日本語普通にできる外国人としてその先輩と上司が言ってることは喧嘩売ってるしか思えないなヽ(`⌒´♯)ノ
  • @alan_mai外国人は極論だと思うけど893に人権はないには大賛成!
  • @nagamatsu88市川さんの言ってることもわかるけど「ヤクザと外国人に人権はない」とまでは言わないがそれに近い考え方はありと思う!駄目?!
  • @yukianpanまあ外人だからって甘くみるのは間違っている
  • @ninjajournalistよくカミングアウトしたなー。それにしても検察は恐ろしい。
  • @SANNGATUUSAGINO昨日から、TLに検察の文字が並んでいたのはこのことなのね。RT@shinichiroinaba……。
  • @mo198112ヤクザにはなくていいな。 RT @shinichiroinaba: ……。
  • @shinichiroinaba……。
  • @syokenngorosiこの発言をする勇気はすごいと思うが、外人はともかくヤクザは罵倒してもいいとおもうが。
  • @Gabicyouワーオ!RT@unbalance_x @yuuzarmeiがリツイート「ヤクザと外国人に人権はないと教えられた」 元検事が暴露した驚くべき「新人教育」の実態 一般市民でもそう思ってる奴は多そうである。
  • @FPS5不法外国人と罪人の人権が著しく制限されるのは当然のことだろ
  • @gallu検察屋さんの面目躍如 B-p :
  • @tomystina日本国に属しない者(母国に利する者)や反社会的勢力に温情を持って対応しろと教育されてる方が逆に怖いだろ。基本はかくあるべし
  • @Meilin23外国人だからといって甘く見るような流れになるのはいかがなものか。犯罪をしに来日する輩もいないわけではないしな。
  • @Miki_Jonnyとりあえずこの人は電車で移動したり人の多いエスカレーターに乗らないほうが良いだろうな
  • @hottokokoa1027そういうのを暴露して改善していこうとする人がいるのがいいことだと思う。
  • @myossy5「犯罪を犯した」を最初に付けるのなら、それでいいじゃない。人権を盾に居直る連中だっているんだから。
  • @yao_tomi小佐古さん(元内閣官房参与)もそうだったけど、ドロップアウトした後の内部告発って威力あるよな。この方には期待してます。
  • @Trapiche何を今更といった印象。
  • @tolyicこいつは自衛の為に責任転嫁してるだけ。こんな事で検事が委縮して外人被疑者に配慮しなきゃいけない風潮になれば冤罪以上に恐い
  • @tolyicその上で行き過ぎや間違いがあれば今回のようにきちんと責任を取らされる社会にしていけば良い
  • @tolyicこういう仕事が何のために存在するのか、犯罪者を野放しにせず善良な市民を守る為。そこが何より優先されるべき
  • @nananananasi警察や政治家と深く繋がりがある代表例がヤクザと朝鮮系の在日なわけで。警察のバック=公明=創価=朝鮮
  • @solar_grass89人権の話はおいといて「検事が勝手に自白をしゃべって、それを被疑者に署名させるよう指導された」こっちの方が問題では?
  • @b7af213b非国民としてまとめて扱うのは正しい 人種差別は良くないからな
  • @UMAnoHONEnicoヤクザは、ともかく外人は極論だろ・・・、たしかに問題のある外国人も多いけどさ(‘A`)
  • @Bleed_Kagaだいたいの893は在日中国・朝鮮人。犯罪をする外国人は中国or朝鮮人。あとは・・・わかるな?
  • @taka_19682002俺も大した事を呟いていないが、ここはUstで見た呟きと大分色が異なる。
  • @drkinokoru家畜に神はいない!を連想する名セリフだな…。検察改革というか一度潰して作り直さなければだめなんじゃないかとすら思う。
  • @annwfn666893に人権がないのは当然だが、さすがに外国人と一括りにするのはどうかと
  • @Meisou_AKつぶやきの履歴も見れるんだけど、コメントの6割方を見てると程度の低さに頭が痛くなる。
  • @fuzita2003スパイ訓練されている特亜人に普通の事情聴取するほうがおかしいと思うけどね?暴露した理由が想像できる
  • @dd182…まあ、少なくとも『日本人』では無い事は確か。…別の見方をすれば、そのくらいの気迫で挑まないとだめという事だ。
  • @kakusanheikiなんか自分を解雇した検事に対する復讐にしか見えない。こいつの眼を見てまともだと思うならおかしい。蹴ったりしないよ。机蹴る
  • @kakusanheiki生放送見てきたが・・・こいつ程度で怖いとか言う人間はマルボウにであったら死んじゃうんだるな
  • @SENKICHI71これは生々しいし怖い話。市川氏の勇気ある発言を見よ。
  • @mushokuchuunenヤクザには当然人権はないでしょ?不良外国人も同様です。
  • @sunakuzira999こういう事もあるのか
  • @ilovejpn1941犯罪者の人権は法で保護されてるのに被害者の人権は保護されないのはおかしい。
  • @tomox_ht「こういうやつがいるから日本が差別の国に」って間違ってはいないが果たしてあっているのだろうか
  • @moritania2009そりゃヤクザは既に犯罪者だし(でもなぜか存在する)、人権はその国の政府が国民に保証してるものだから、外国人はまた別だしな。
  • @ossannzzヤメ検の言う事も当てにはならんけどな
  • @Death13Zaitsev悪い事してる奴はゆるせんがみんな同じ人間なんだけどな
  • @masaki_ntamパスポート見るといいよ。自分たちが外国で自分たちの安全を保障してくれているのは日本の外務省の圧力だよ
  • @masaki_ntam外国人の人権を日本人が守ってやる必要はない。その国の外務省が圧力で保障するべきモノ。
  • @kanenooto7248これも現実の話。
  • @RICHIPPOだろうね。一朝一夕で捜査機関のこんな体質が出来上がるわけがない。そういうことは思ってもいいが言ってはいけない。
  • @moringo1988なるほど、裁判官だけでなく検察官すら公正とは程遠かったわけか・・・。それを知るのに23年かかるとは思わなかったよ。
  • @Nmdmnヤクザと外国人に人権はない。正解
  • @kakusanheiki信じてる奴ってなんなの?自分こいつにすごまれてビビルと思う?気持ち悪くはあるがビビラないだろ人選ミス
  • @nullpo8NETの情報管制と検察叩きはリンクしてます。 何より怪しげな証言だけで弾圧する姿勢はおかしい。
  • @mattareコメント履歴とか見てて思うのは「裁判受ける権利」も人権だからな、と。
  • @jone_uytoいや当たり前なんだが・・・
  • @YoU_verTwまー。そんなもんやろ
  • @han_org変わってないなあ。70年代に警察の内部資料でそういうのが表面化したことがあったけど…。 /
  • @tazuna9これを聞いてもさして驚かない自分がいる。ネットが今ほど普及する以前なら「また左翼の妄言か」と一笑に付してたんだろうな・・・
  • @LIQUITEX2245こいつの言ってる事が本当かどうかは怪しいけどね
  • @kakusanheiki8年目のとき、自ら絶対にあってはならない暴言をはき、事件が無罪になり、辞職することになった。はい、ここ注目
  • @kakusanheikiよく考えナ。外国人がだよ。こいつに脅されて恐れると思う?どうせ馬鹿にされ発狂して解雇されたから復讐に検事潰そうとしてるだけ
  • @5hingo891外国人云々は取って付けたんだろう。てかこいつなんか変な宗教に染まってそうな顔つきだな
  • @yossikawこれが日本です
  • @kojiprohairitaiこんなのがホントにあるのか。アホすぎる。
  • @applebingo0710この教育ははたしてあっているのだろうか
  • @zako2kai検事「容疑者様本当の事をおっしゃって頂けませんか?」外国人はともかく犯罪の疑いがある人には、それなりの態度で臨むべきでは?
  • @cyber_omame思想が差別の多かった戦中と変わらないなと思ったら顔のタイプも古かった。
  • @anabisuよくやってる手口だよな、悪質な人権侵害だとTV等では言いつつも決して法的手段には出ないという本当に遭ったなら訴えろよ
  • @deltastyleその教育自体もはや「正義」じゃないどころか罪があるかないかも定かではない人間に脅迫染みた自白をさせる「悪」の組織だな。
  • @pomspomヤクザはともかく外国人には人権がある。ただし参政権は全く別の話しだけどね。
  • @anabisuこいつは謝罪をするのに何故TVで報道されながらやったんだ?本当に詫びるつもりだったならメディアなんか要らないはずだよな
  • @sayokusinjaこんな連中がいるから日本が差別国と叩かれるんだ、正しい国に戻るまで断固たたかう
  • @yuel_え?当たり前のことじゃない?
  • @phycho_break犯罪者の人権が被害者の人権より優遇されていいはずがない。 でも、歪んだ形での正義は冤罪を誘発するだろうね。
  • @whiteboxtest「韓国の国会議員3人北方領土入り」日本政府は何してるんだ?侵略行為受けて守りもできないとは。外国人保護法だ?ふざけるな
  • @unbalance_x「ヤクザと外国人に人権はないと教えられた」 元検事が暴露した驚くべき「新人教育」の実態 一般市民でもそう思ってる奴は多そうである。
  • @watanabe0221関連ツイートがまた極端だなあ・・・犯罪者にだって人権はある。ただ、被害者より加害者の権利が優先されて良い訳は無い。
  • @nyanyaaaaaaan犯罪者に人権が無いのは理解できなくないけどこんな教え方じゃそりゃ冤罪とかも発生するわ。
  • @furisker僕は10年前から公安警察に人権を踏みにじられています。「人権侵害日記」で検索
  • @bullz1213犯罪起こしたなら日本人だろうが外国人だろうが人権なんてあるわけない。至極もっともな意見だと思うけど、この人は何をいってるのENDS

 

Kyodo: 2 men acquitted in retrial after serving nearly 30 years in prison

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

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Hi Blog.  This is a bit of a tangent, but what affects citizens will also affect non-citizens as well (especially so, actually), so here goes:

The Mainichi reported yesterday that two men who were wrongfully committed of a crime were finally released.  The problem is that it was a 44-year ordeal for them, thirty years of it spent in prison.  And they are not the only examples of this lack of due process.  As the article says, “The case has become the seventh in postwar Japan involving the acquittal in a retrial of defendants previously sentenced to death or life imprisonment.”

I’ve said before (after experiencing now six civil court cases that have all been riddled with absolute illogic) that the Japanese judiciary is pretty fucked up.  So this is an example of how fucked up the Japanese criminal justice system is.  This deserves to be known about. So know about it.  (You can also read about it in my novel IN APPROPRIATE.)

NB:  Before all you relativists start looking for examples of wrongful convictions in other countries that were later overturned, don’t even bother.  For a) it doesn’t justify it happening here, and b) How much of this rigmarole and unaccountability will happen in other healthy judiciaries?  Thirty years is a sizeable chunk of a person’s life lost!

Is the Japanese justice system more concerned about looking like it never makes mistakes than about rectifying past ones and avoiding future ones?  Arudou Debito

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2 men acquitted in retrial after serving nearly 30 years in prison
Mainichi Daily News, May 24, 2011, Courtesy of CP
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110524p2g00m0dm052000c.html

TSUCHIURA (Kyodo) — A district court in a retrial Tuesday acquitted two men convicted in a 1967 murder-robbery case who each served nearly 30 years in prison.

The Tsuchiura branch of the Mito District Court delivered a not guilty verdict for Shoji Sakurai and Takao Sugiyama, both 64.

They had been sentenced to life imprisonment in 1970 for the August 1967 robbery and murder of Shoten Tamamura, a 62-year-old carpenter, and were freed on parole in 1996.

The case was dubbed the Fukawa murder case, after the crime site in the town of Tone, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Presiding Judge Daisuke Kanda said in the decision that there was no objective evidence to link the defendants to the crime, noting that hairs and fingerprints detected at the crime scene did not match those of the defendants.

The judge also said witness accounts placing the two men at the victim’s home lacked credibility.

The two were arrested in October 1967, indicted in December that year and sentenced to imprisonment for life in October 1970 as suspects in the Fukawa murder case.

The case has become the seventh in postwar Japan involving the acquittal in a retrial of defendants previously sentenced to death or life imprisonment.

Sugiyama, who earlier in the day spoke to reporters at his home in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, said he was unhappy with a mere not-guilty decision and hoped the court would look into prosecutors’ effort to conceal evidence that may have helped acquit the defendants.

Sakurai said a not-guilty decision was natural.

The three-judge panel at the court’s Tsuchiura branch held six rounds of hearings in the two men’s retrial starting in July 2010, when the two pleaded innocent.

In the hearings, the defense counsel played a tape recording of investigators interrogating Sakurai and argued that the tape was found to have been edited. The defense contended that investigators apparently coerced Sakurai into confessing.

A 78-year-old woman, who saw a man on the day of the crime at the crime scene, testified in a retrial hearing that the man was not Sugiyama.

During the original trial, the two pleaded innocent to the charges, arguing that police investigators had forced them to confess.

But the district court’s Tsuchiura branch, citing their confessions and witnesses’ accounts, found the two men guilty and sentenced them to life imprisonment in October 1970 — a decision upheld by the Tokyo High Court in 1973 and later by the Supreme Court in 1978.

They were released on parole in November 1996.

The two first filed for a retrial in 1983 when serving in prison but were rejected. They again filed for a retrial in 2001 after being freed.

In September 2005, the district court’s Tsuchiura branch accepted the two men’s second petition and decided to launch a retrial — a decision upheld by the Tokyo High Court in July 2008 and then by the top court in December 2009.

In the retrial, prosecutors again sought life imprisonment for the pair, arguing that the defendants had confessed voluntarily and their depositions were credible, urging the court to find them guilty.

The prosecutors called for conducting a DNA test on four items of evidence including underwear found wrapped around the victim’s neck. But the court turned down the prosecutors’ request.

The court was initially scheduled to give its decision on March 16.

But the court put off the date to Tuesday in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan and parts of the Kanto region and crippled railways and other mass transit in the region.

One of the two, Sakurai, worked as a volunteer at shelters in the quake-hit city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, after the March disaster.

Toshikazu Sugaya, also 64, who spent 17 years in prison after being sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly killing a kindergartener in 1960 and was acquitted in a retrial in 2009, was among the audience at the courtroom Tuesday.

Sugaya told reporters he would work with Sugiyama and Sakurai to wipe out unjust convictions.

(Mainichi Japan) May 24, 2011

ENDS

Mainichi: “Many foreign residents wish to stay in Japan despite disaster: survey”

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Related to the debunkable claims of “Fly-jin” NJ deserting Japan in its time of need, here is an article in the media with a survey of how NJ are actually by-and-large NOT wanting to be “Fly-jin”.  Good.

The problem is, it seems (after a short search) that this article has come out in English only — there is no link to the “original Japanese story” like many Mainichi articles have.  So this may sadly may not be for domestic consumption.  Or it may be available on Kyodo wire services (but again, not in Japanese for Mainichi readers).  Sigh.  Arudou Debito

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Many foreign residents wish to stay in Japan despite disaster: survey

Greg Lekich, far left, and other volunteers are pictured in Tagajo, Miyagi Prefecture, on April 20. (Photo courtesy of Greg Lekich)

Greg Lekich, far left, and other volunteers are pictured in Tagajo, Miyagi Prefecture, on April 20. (Photo courtesy of Greg Lekich)
(Mainichi Japan) May 7, 2011, Courtesy of JK

TOKYO (Kyodo) — More than 90 percent of foreigners studying or working in Japan expressed willingness to continue staying in the country despite the March 11 disaster, according to a recent online survey by a supporting group for them.

The International Foreign Students Association conducted the survey between March 22 and 26, to which 392 people responded. Of the respondents, 60 percent were students and the remaining 40 percent were graduates, while more than 90 percent of them were from China, Taiwan and South Korea.

Those who are willing to stay in Japan said, “Because I like Japan,” or “At a time like this, I think I want to work together (with Japanese) to help the recovery,” according to the Tokyo-based nonprofit organization.

The survey also showed that 73 percent of the respondents saw information gaps between Japan and their home countries on the earthquake, tsunami and the subsequent nuclear emergency, with some saying overseas news on the nuclear crisis was “excessive.”

Some respondents also pointed out that the Japanese government does not fully disclose information on the nuclear disaster.

Foreign volunteers help clear mud from a shopping street in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, on April 14. (Mainichi)

Foreign volunteers help clear mud from a shopping street in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, on April 14. (Mainichi)

Around 60 percent said they have not been preparing for disasters, while some voiced the need for multilingual information on disasters.

ENDS

Japan Times et.al: Suraj Case of death during deportation sent to prosecutors

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

Hi Blog. It’s taken nearly a year, but the Suraj Case has finally been sent to prosecutors, for what it’s worth. Somebody dies in your custody and you can’t determine the cause of death? Joudan ja nai. Let’s see if anyone is held accountable. (Suraj’s wife certainly was — she was fired from her job for making a fuss about her husband’s death!) More on the Suraj Case at Debito.org here. Arudou Debito

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Japan Times Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010
Prosecutors get case of deportee’s death
By MINORU MATSUTANI Staff writer

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20101229a3.html

Chiba police have turned over to prosecutors their case against 10 immigration officers suspected of being involved in the death of a Ghanaian deportee they had restrained and physically placed aboard a jetliner last March at Narita International Airport.

The action Monday came six months after the man’s Japanese widow and her lawyers filed a criminal complaint demanding that prosecutors take action against the airport immigration officers who overpowered Abubakar Awudu Suraj to get him on the jet, where he subsequently died of unknown causes while handcuffed in his seat.

The police turned their case against the 10 men, aged 24 to 48, who are still working, over to the Chiba District Public Prosecutor’s Office. They could face charges of violence and cruelty by special public officers resulting in death, a Chiba police officer said.

“This has taken way too long,” lawyer Koichi Kodama, who is representing Suraj’s widow, said Tuesday. “I just hope prosecutors handle the case appropriately.”

An official of the Immigration Bureau’s Immigration Control Division, to which the 10 officers belong, said, “We will continue to cooperate in the investigation, try to find out the truth and take appropriate action.”

Mayumi Yoshida, assistant general secretary of Asian People’s Friendship Society and a supporter of the widow, had quoted a Chiba police officer as saying the immigration officers carried Suraj, who was acting violently, aboard an Egypt Air jet on March 22. Handcuffed and his mouth covered with a towel, Suraj was found unconscious in the aircraft and confirmed dead at a hospital, Yoshida had quoted the officer as saying.

The police were unable to pinpoint the cause of death…

Rest of article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20101229a3.html

///////////////////////////////////////////

Domestic articles:

送還のガーナ人死亡、入管職員10人書類送検
(2010年12月28日11時35分 読売新聞)
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20101228-OYT1T00303.htm

成田空港で今年3月、不法滞在で強制送還されることになったガーナ国籍の男性(当時45歳)が出発直前の航空機内で動かなくなり、搬送先の病院で死亡した問題で、千葉県警が、送還にかかわった東京入国管理局の職員10人を特別公務員暴行陵虐致死容疑で千葉地検に書類送検したことが28日、分かった。

県警によると、書類送検されたのは、24~48歳の男性職員。3月22日、男性を収容先の東京入管横浜支局から成田空港へ護送し、カイロ行きの航空機に乗せる際、暴れた男性を取り押さえるなどしたことで死亡させた疑いが持たれている。司法解剖の結果、死因は不明だった。

男性の妻が6月、男性が死亡したのは、職員がタオルでさるぐつわをするなどしたため窒息死した可能性が高く、特別公務員職権乱用等致死の疑いがあるとして千葉地検に告訴していた。

県警は書類送検について「告訴案件で、刑事手続きの一環」としている。東京入国管理局成田空港支局は「引き続き捜査には協力する」とコメントしている。

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入管警備官10人書類送検 強制送還のガーナ人死亡
2010/12/28 11:56 【共同通信】
http://www.47news.jp/CN/201012/CN2010122801000293.html

成田空港から強制送還中のガーナ人男性、アブバカル・アウデゥ・スラジュさん=当時(45)=が3月、航空機内で東京入国管理局の警備官に取り押さえられた後に死亡した問題で、千葉県警は28日までに、特別公務員暴行陵虐致死容疑で警備官10人を書類送検した。

送検容疑は3月22日午後、成田発カイロ行きの航空機にスラジュさんを搭乗させた際、強制送還を拒否して暴れたため数人で制圧、死亡させた疑い。

県警によると、当時の司法解剖で外傷や骨折、内臓疾患などは見つからず、死因は不明だった。

スラジュさんの日本人妻(49)が6月、特別公務員職権乱用致死容疑で千葉地検に告訴した。

/////////////////////////////////////////////

成田で強制送還中にガーナ人男性急死で、取り押さえた入管職員10人を書類送検
産経ニュース 2010.12.28 11:17
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/crime/101228/crm1012281120006-n1.htm

成田空港で3月、不法滞在により強制送還中だったガーナ国籍の男性=当時(45)=が、入管職員に取り押さえられた直後に急死した問題で、千葉県警は特別公務員暴行陵虐致死の疑いで、護送にかかわった東京入国管理局の24~48歳の男性入国警備官計10人を千葉地検に書類送検した。

男性の日本人の妻(49)が6月、特別公務員職権乱用等致死の疑いで、氏名不詳のまま千葉地検に告訴していた。

送検容疑は3月22日午後、護送中に成田空港から航空機に搭乗させる際、男性が暴れたため、警備官ら数人で体を押さえるなどし、同日午後3時半ごろに死亡させたとしている。

県警によると、司法解剖の結果、目立った外傷や骨折、内臓疾患なども見つからず、死因は不明だった。県警は「暴行と死亡の因果関係についてコメントは差し控える」としている。

関係者によると、男性が護送中に暴れたため、入管職員が手錠とタオルを使って機内に搭乗させた後に意識を失い、搬送先の病院で死亡が確認されたという。

///////////////////////////////////////////////

ガーナ人の強制送還中死亡、入管職員10人を書類送検
朝日新聞 2010年12月28日11時13分
http://www.asahi.com/national/update/1228/TKY201012280141.html

ガーナ国籍のアブバカル・アウドゥ・スラジュさん(当時45)が今年3月、成田空港から強制送還される際、搭乗した機内で死亡した問題で、千葉県警が護送にかかわった東京入国管理局の男性入国警備官10人を、特別公務員暴行陵虐致死容疑で千葉地検に書類送検していたことが、捜査関係者への取材でわかった。

県警によると、警備官らは3月22日午後、スラジュさんを強制送還させるため、収容先の東京入国管理局横浜支局から護送し、成田空港でカイロ行きの航空機に搭乗させる際、スラジュさんが暴れたため、数人で体を押さえるなどして死亡させた疑いがある。

スラジュさんの妻が6月、千葉地検に告訴していた。

県警は「制圧と死亡との因果関係ははっきりしない」としており、書類送検については「告訴案件であり、刑事手続きの一環だ」と説明している。東京入国管理局は「今後も捜査に協力し、事実解明に努めるとともに、安全な護送業務を実施したい」と話している。

ends

Economist London on corrupt public prosecutors in Japan

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. Here’s an article I spotted last week in my issue of The Economist. Not sure I’ve ever heard of 官尊民卑 referred to below, but I certainly have heard of how skewed towards the prosecution Japan’s criminal justice system is. Here’s one symptom of the problem — falsification of evidence by prosecutors — which came to light only because the judge did the unusual step of bucking the system. Arudou Debito

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Japan’s judiciary on trial
Prosecutors or persecutors?
A legal scandal may spark reform of the Japanese judicial system
The Economist London, Oct 14th 2010 | TOKYO

http://www.economist.com/node/17259159

AMONG the four-character idioms that all Japanese schoolchildren must learn is kan son min pi (“respect officials, despise the people”). It defines the traditional relationship of individuals as subservient to the state—among whose representatives none is accorded more authority than the public prosecutor. The great privilege this confers on the role, however, can lead to its abuse.

A run of recent legal scandals, including wrongful convictions and brutal incarcerations, has tested respect for Japan’s criminal-justice system. The latest example, alleged evidence-tampering by a high-flying prosecutor and a cover-up by his bosses, has rallied many who want to see more regard for individual rights and greater checks on state power. The prosecutor in question, Tsunehiko Maeda, allegedly changed the date of a file on a computer disk that was being used as evidence against a woman accused of involvement in a massive benefit fraud. When Mr Maeda admitted this to his superiors, they are said to have ordered him to produce a report explaining how it happened “unintentionally”. On October 11th the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office dismissed Mr Maeda, the chief prosecutor in Osaka’s special investigative unit, and pressed charges against him.

The scandal has hit a nerve. Japan takes pride in one of the world’s lowest crime rates. But it also has a fishily high conviction rate, at 99.9%. That matches China’s and is far above rates in the West (see chart). In their defence, Japanese lawyers say that the country’s under-resourced state prosecution service is only able to bring the strongest cases to trial. Fear of failure, with which all Japan’s bureaucrats are imbued, reinforces a reticence to test weaker cases in court. According to a former Tokyo district court judge, a single courtroom loss can badly damage a prosecutor’s career. A second can end it.

Yet the recent scandals suggest that miscarriages of justice are all too common. So do several quirks of the justice system, which weigh the scales against the accused. Suspects can be held for up to 23 days without charge, for example. They often have little access to a lawyer and none during questioning. Police interrogations commonly last up to ten hours and are rife with mental and verbal abuse. On October 7th a businessman in Osaka produced a surreptitious recording of his seven-hour “voluntary” questioning, in which the police threaten to hit him and destroy his life.

Part of the problem is that Japan has too few lawyers; one tenth the number per head of Britain (see chart, again). That is largely because the government makes it remarkably difficult to become one. For years it set the bar exam pass-rate at around 3%, though it has recently increased it to 25%. This reflects a fear, in a conflict-shy country, that more lawyers will make society more litigious, not more just.

Recent reforms have improved matters a little. A sort-of jury system, introduced last year, has a panel of six citizens review cases alongside judges, who ultimately pronounce on them. This system produced its first acquittal in June. A more important change, says Kazuko Ito, a lawyer specialising in wrongful-conviction cases, would oblige prosecutors to disclose any mitigating evidence. Former prosecutors also urge judges to be more skeptical about the word of prosecutors and the police.

In Mr Maeda’s shabby case, the court threw out much of the evidence and acquitted the accused. Mr Maeda’s supervisors have also been arrested. Now a titillated Japanese public looks forward to prosecuting the prosecutors.
ENDS

Mainichi: “NJ have no right to welfare payments”, rules Oita District Court two weeks later. Gee that was a quick kibosh.

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Hi Blog. After a half-month interlude of light and reason (as in September 30 to October 17), where it actually looked like a Japanese courtroom was actually going to be nice to somebody and rule against The State, another court has come along and put things back to normal. Read on below.

Gee, that was quick by Japanese judicial standards! I guess they know the value of putting the kibosh on something before the floodgates open: Can’t have all the goddamn foreigners expecting to have rights to something like our social welfare benefits, especially at an advanced age.  Arudou Debito

/////////////////////////////////////////////////

Foreigners have no right to welfare payments, rules Oita District Court
(Mainichi Japan) October 18, 2010, Courtesy of KS, JK, and lots of other people

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/news/20101018p2a00m0na013000c.html

OITA — The Oita District Court ruled on Oct. 18 that foreigners with the right to permanent residence but without Japanese citizenship are not entitled to welfare benefits, rejecting the claims of a 78-year-old Chinese woman who sued after being denied benefits by the Oita city government.

In the ruling, Presiding Judge Yasuji Isshi said, “The Livelihood Protection Law is intended for Japanese citizens only. Welfare payments to non-citizens would be a form of charity. Non-citizens do not hold a right to receive payments.”

The court rejected the woman’s requests that it overturn the city’s decision and order the commencement of payments. The woman intends to appeal. The ruling is the first in the country to deal with the issue of welfare payments to people with foreign citizenship and permanent residency in Japan.

According to the ruling, the woman has Chinese nationality but was born in Japan and holds the right to permanent residence. In December 2008, the woman applied to the welfare office in Oita city for welfare payments, but was turned down with the reason that she had “a comfortable amount of money” in her savings.

The main issues of the trial became whether the woman held the right as a foreigner to receive welfare payments and whether her financial status justified her receiving aid.

“Excluding foreign citizens from the protection of welfare benefits is not unconstitutional,” said Isshi. He did not say anything about the woman’s financial status in the ruling, effectively indicating that any such discussion was overruled by the issue of nationality.

ENDS

——————————–

Original Japanese story

大分・生活保護訴訟:永住外国人、受給権なし 地裁が初判決
毎日新聞 2010年10月18日 東京夕刊
http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/archive/news/2010/10/18/20101018dde041040058000c.html
外国籍であることなどを理由に大分市が生活保護申請を却下したのは違法として、同市の中国籍の女性(78)が処分取り消しや保護開始決定を求めた訴訟の判決が18日、大分地裁であった。一志泰滋裁判長は「生活保護法は日本国籍者に限定した趣旨。外国人への生活保護は贈与にあたり、受給権はない」として女性の請求をいずれも退けた。永住外国人の生活保護受給を巡る判決は初めてという。女性側は控訴する方針。

判決によると、女性は日本生まれで永住資格を持つ中国人。08年12月、大分市福祉事務所に生活保護申請をしたが「女性名義の預金が相当額ある」として却下された。

外国人の受給権の有無と、経済状態などからこの女性が要保護者に当たるかが争点だった。

一志裁判長は受給権について「永住外国人を保護対象に含めないことが憲法に反するとは言えない」と述べ、女性の経済状態についての判断まで示さず、事実上の門前払いとした。【深津誠】
ENDS

Japan Times “Richard Cory” on child custody woes part 2: Who abducts wins

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As part two to yesterday’s excerpt, here’s how Richard Cory managed to save one of his children from a cheating, insane, abusive mom — by simply abducting her. Too bad for the other two. Godspeed. Arudou Debito in transit

THE ZEIT GIST
Behind the facade of family law
Having been reunited with his daughter, Richard Cory faces a tougher battle for custody of his sons
By Richard Cory
The Japan Times Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010

(excerpt): Look at my case (and what the judge wrote in her custody ruling in July). My wife had admitted to the following:

• More than three years of ongoing adultery (“The reason for the breakup of the marriage was the respondent’s adultery”); Giving large sums of money (¥7.7 million) to her lover to help him pay off his gambling debt (“Respondent lent a large sum of money to her colleague”);

• Taking my children on dates to bet on horse racing;

• Being currently on medication for various disorders (“Respondent became mentally ill and started seeing a doctor in or around January 2010 and worried about her insufficient communication with the children”);

• Physically abusing her own spouse and children (“Respondent attacked petitioner . . . and used physical power that cannot be justified as discipline against the children”).

Her own daughter fled from her after being abducted, and then testified against her. Moreover, my wife did not even petition for custody of the children until four months after I filed for divorce and custody. I even submitted a video showing my wife with not one of the bruises or injuries she claimed to have sustained the day before the video was taken. And we even had eyewitness testimony of her trying to injure herself. Could my case be any stronger?

Nevertheless, when the judge awarded me physical custody of my daughter, she also awarded physical custody of the boys to their mother. The reason: “There’s no big problem (with the boys staying where they are).”

Based on such reasoning, you can bet the bank that this judge would have awarded custody of all three children to my wife had I not been able to rescue one. And the judge would probably have given me custody of them all had they all been able to get free.

Japan’s family court is simply a facade designed to make an unevolved system appear civilized.

Let’s not kid ourselves. In Japan, “possession of the children” trumps the “best interests of the children” every time, particularly when the “best interests of the children” are never even addressed. And when you have a country that is pouring great sums of money into a system that shuffles children off to hidden locations whenever a parent makes an unverified DV claim, the state, in essence, becomes complicit in the abduction of the children…

Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100928zg.html

Japan Times “Richard Cory” updates us on child custody woes and systematic bias against NJ fathers

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Hi Blog. Here’s the first part of a sad story from a friend whose marriage broke down, and how the system is geared against NJ (particular fathers) who want custody of and access to their children.  This came out last week, and part two came out today.  You can also read about it in Japanese here.  Wow.  May more stories like these get into print and offer cautionary tales.  Arudou Debito in Calgary.

////////////////////////////////////////////////

The Japan Times THE ZEIT GIST
Battling a broken system
A left-behind father tells the story of his fight to find and win custody of his lost daughter
By RICHARD CORY
September 21, 2010

(excerpt) In December 2009, shortly after I detailed my fears in this column (Zeit Gist, Nov. 3, 2009) about my wife’s ongoing affair potentially resulting in me losing custody of my children, family life got even worse as she became increasingly physically abusive toward our children. In fact, the police visited my home after one incident in December and recommended that I take my daughter to the Child Guidance Center (jidosodanjo) so that we could determine how to best handle her mother’s violent behavior. Over the next few months, my daughter was interviewed twice at the Child Guidance Center and a few times at her public elementary school.

Unfortunately, as we neared the abduction date, bias against her American father started to become evident. Exactly two weeks before her abduction, her female school principal met privately with my daughter, who summarized her principal’s comments as follows: “Your mother might be violent, but we know she’s a very nice mother on the inside. She will change one day. She’s just stressed right now.”

Two days before the abduction, the school principal and two child welfare officers met with my daughter in the principal’s office, and just hours after returning home, my daughter reported the following exchange between her and one of the welfare officers, an older Japanese woman: “And then she said, ‘Who are you going to choose?’ And I said, ‘Because Mama beats me, I want to go to Daddy’s side. I’m going to choose Daddy.’ Then she said, ‘Your mother does all the stuff at home, like cooking and doing the clothes and stuff like that, so I think it would be better if you choose your mother.’ “

Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100921zg.html

Japan will apologize for Korean Annexation 100 years ago and give back some war spoils. Bravo.

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Hi Blog. In another big piece of news, Japan is taking another step closer to healing the wounds around Asia of a cruel colonial past by saying sorry to South Korea. Good. Bravo. Sad that it took a century for the apologies and return of some war spoils, but better now than never. Let’s hope it further buries the ahistorical revisionist arguments that basically run, “We were invited to Korea, and did them a favor by taking them over.” — arguments that help nobody get over the past or help with neighborly Asian cooperation. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Japan To Voice Remorse Tues. Over Annexation of Korea 100 Years Ago
Kyodo World Service in English 1211 GMT 09 Aug 10 2010, courtesy Club of 99.

http://home.kyodo.co.jp/modules/fstStory/index.php?storyid=516523

Tokyo, Aug. 9 Kyodo — Prime Minister Naoto Kan is scheduled to release a statement for South Korea on Tuesday regarding the centenary later this month of Japan’s annexation of the Korean Peninsula, ruling party lawmakers said Monday.

The statement will include a phrase expressing deep remorse and apologizing for Japan’s colonial rule, stating also that Japan will return cultural artifacts taken from the peninsula that South Korea has been demanding, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The expressions used closely follow those of past prime ministerial statements — one by Tomiichi Murayama in August 1995 and another by Junichiro Koizumi in August 2005, the sources said.

The government told the Democratic Party of Japan that Kan is planning to release a statement in connection with the centenary after securing approval from the Cabinet on Tuesday, Goshi Hosono, acting secretary general of the DPJ, told reporters after attending a ruling party meeting.

While apologizing for the annexation, the statement will also be aimed at deepening future-oriented ties with South Korea, the sources said.

Kan is hoping to turn the page on bilateral historical issues, while enhancing cooperation with South Korean President Lee Myung Bak’s government in addressing challenges related to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and its past abduction of foreign nationals, the sources said.

On the transfer of cultural artifacts, the items in question are believed to be held by the Imperial Household Agency, including the Joseon Wangsil Uigwe, a meticulous record of Korean royal ceremonies and rituals.

The statement to be released Tuesday will only be directed at South Korea, whereas the Murayama statement apologized to Asian victims of Japan’s past aggression, the sources said.

The statement does not refer to Japan-North Korea relations, the sources said.

The release will take place before Aug. 15, when South Korea celebrates its liberation from Japanese colonial rule.

Kan’s Cabinet had been considering releasing the statement either before Aug.15 or Aug. 29, the day the annexation treaty was proclaimed 100 years ago.

Kan is slated to hold a news conference on Tuesday afternoon and is expected to explain his reason for issuing the statement.

Opposition to releasing such a document remains among conservative lawmakers within and outside the DPJ, with some expressing concern over renewed claims for financial compensation for the suffering inflicted during Japan’s colonial rule in some Asian countries.

DPJ Secretary General Yukio Edano said at a news conference that the party did not make any special request regarding the release.

Edano also said he has no concerns about reigniting the issue of compensation in Asia because of the release.

ENDS

Shame on Berlitz Japan for its court harassments, firing teacher for having cancer

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Hi Blog. Shame on Berlitz Japan for its harassment of employees in court, and for firing people for their union activities (illegal under labor law) and for having cancer. This sort of thing should not be allowed in a civilized labor union market. But of course, especially in Japan’s Eikaiwa market, that’s assuming a lot. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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The Japan Times Tuesday, July 27, 2010
ZEIT GIST: UPDATE
Talks drag on, teachers fired in Berlitz case
By JAMES McCROSTIE, courtesy of Kevin (excerpt)

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100727a1.html

After 20 months of legal wrangling, neither side has managed to snag a win in Berlitz Japan’s ¥110 million lawsuit against five teachers and their union, Begunto.

On the recommendation of the case’s lead judge, the company and union have been in court-mediated reconciliation talks since December. The agreement to enter the talks came after a year of court hearings into the suit…

Louis Carlet, one of the union officials being sued, describes progress at the once-a-month, 30-minute negotiating sessions as “glacially slow.”…

The battle between Berlitz Japan and Begunto began with a strike launched Dec. 13, 2007, as Berlitz Japan and its parent company, Benesse Corp., were enjoying record profits. Teachers, who had gone without an across-the-board raise for 16 years, struck for a 4.6-percent pay hike and a one-month bonus. The action grew into the largest sustained strike in the history of Japan’s language school industry, with more than 100 English, Spanish and French teachers participating in walkouts across Kanto.

On Dec. 3, 2008, Berlitz Japan claimed the strike was illegal and sued for a total of ¥110 million in damages. Named in the suit were the five teachers volunteering as Begunto executives, as well as two union officials: the president of the National Union of General Workers Tokyo Nambu, Yujiro Hiraga , and Carlet, former NUGW case officer for Begunto and currently executive president of Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union (Tozen)…

Another of the teachers named in the suit, Catherine Campbell, was fired earlier this month after taking too long to recover from late-stage breast cancer cancer. In June 2009, Campbell took a year of unpaid leave to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Because Berlitz Japan failed to enroll Campbell in the shakai hoken health insurance scheme, she was unable to receive the two-thirds wage coverage it provides and had to live with her parents in Canada during treatment. The company denied Campbell’s request to extend her leave from June to Sept. 2010 and fired her for failing to return to work.

Berlitz Japan work rules allow for leave-of-absence extensions where the company deems it necessary.

“If cancer is not such a case, what would be?” Campbell asks. “On one hand, I’m lucky to be alive and healthy enough to even want to go back to work, so everything else pales in comparison,” she explained. “But on the other, the company’s decision does seem hard to understand. The leave is unpaid, and I don’t receive any health benefits, so it wouldn’t cost Berlitz anything to keep me on; and for me, it’s that much harder to restart my life without a job.”

Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100727a1.html

Yomiuri: New “lay judges” in J judiciary strict about demanding evidence from prosecutors, give ‘benefit of doubt’. Well, fancy that.

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Hi Blog.  Here’s an article (I can’t find in Japanese) regarding what’s happening in Japan’s “Lay Judge” system (i.e. generally bringing six common folk to sit on Japanese juries as “saiban’in”, with three other real judges offering “legal guidance”, as in, keeping an eye on them).  Well, guess what, we have “Runaway Juries”, by Japanese standards!  They’re getting in the way of the public prosecutor (who gets his or her way in convicting more than 99.9% of cases brought to Japanese criminal court) and offering acquittals!  Well, how outrageous!  Given what I know about the Japanese police and how they arrest and detain suspects (particularly if they are existing while foreign), I doubt they are right 99.9% of the time.  And it looks like some of the saiban’in would agree.  But here’s a lament by the Yomiuri about how those darn lay judges (how belittling; why aren’t they just “jurists”?) are getting in the way.  Good.  Raise the standard for burden of proof.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Lay judges strict about ‘benefit of doubt’
Mariko Sakai, Takashi Maemura and Mayumi Oshige / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers
Yomiuri Jul. 21, 2010, Courtesy of TTB

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20100721TDY03T04.htm

Three complete or partial acquittals were handed down in lay-judge trials in June and July, in which the principle of giving the benefit of the doubt to defendants in criminal trials was strictly applied. As a result, some prosecutors believe it is becoming harder and harder to persuade lay judges that defendants are guilty.

There have been about 620 rulings rendered in trials involving lay judges since the launch of the system in May last year. Most were guilty rulings, as the facts of the cases were not in dispute. However, June and July saw sentences of not guilty in trials at the Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Court, Chiba District Court and Tokyo District Court.

Prosecutors have already appealed the sentence in the Chiba District Court case, in which the defendant was indicted on suspicion of smuggling stimulant drugs in three chocolate cans from Malaysia to Narita Airport in Chiba Prefecture.

This is the first appeal to be filed involving a lay judge trial.

In a case of arson, trespassing and theft tried at the Tokyo District Court, the prosecution has decided to appeal the ruling to a high court. The defendant was sentenced to 18 months in prison for trespassing and theft but acquitted of arson.

In both of these cases, prosecutors did not have confessions from the defendants or strong material evidence, and thus tried to prove the defendants’ guilt with circumstantial evidence.

===

Perception gap

According to lawyer Koshi Murakami, a former division chief of the Tokyo High Court, the sentences of not guilty were handed down in these cases due to professional judges and lay judges’ different understanding of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard for deciding whether a defendant is guilty.

“Even if they doubt a piece of circumstantial evidence, professional judges decide whether a defendant is guilty after a comprehensive review of other pieces of evidence,” Murakami said. “However, lay judges may consider a not guilty decision if they are suspicious of even one piece of evidence.”

The ruling in the Tokyo District Court case says there is a strong possibility the defendant committed the arson. However, a great deal of weight was given to the fact that there was a window of about five hours and 20 minutes in which the fire could have been set to the victim’s residence, and therefore it cannot be denied that a third person could have committed that crime.

In the smuggling case at the Chiba District Court, the ruling says, “The court acknowledges as a fact that the defendant thought the cans he received in Malaysia might have contained drugs.”

However, it also says, “It is going too far to say that he must have known the actual content of the cans,” focusing on the fact that the defendant agreed to a customs official’s demand for an X-ray inspection of the cans, among other things.

Given this tendency, a senior prosecution official said, “Prosecutors need to not only explain each piece of evidence at trials, but also persuade lay judges to decide guilty or not guilty based on the whole picture of material and circumstantial evidence.”

===

Selection of evidence

These three not-guilty rulings have senior prosecutors increasingly worried that the bar for achieving convictions in lay judge trials has been raised, according to a senior prosecution official.

The Supreme Public Prosecutors Office has begun studying what points lay judges consider important, and certain issues have already come to light.

In the Tachikawa case, which involved fraud and robbery resulting in injuries, the defendant was indicted on suspicion of robbing three women with a friend on separate occasions, injuring one woman seriously and buying a bracelet with a credit card they stole. He was convicted of the robberies, but acquitted of the fraud.

During the trial, the prosecution did not submit as evidence a security video that recorded conversations between a shop clerk and the defendant and his accomplice.

The prosecution decided it was unnecessary to submit the videotape and did not preserve it because of the consistent statements given by the defendant, the accomplice and the clerk in the course of the investigation.

However, one of the trial’s lay judges criticized the prosecution for its choice.

“I felt the prosecution was overly optimistic not submitting the security video record, which is very objective evidence,” said company employee Nanako Sugawara, 62.

“From now on, objective pieces of evidence such as video tapes must be preserved until all hearings related to a case are finished,” a senior official at the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office said, reflecting on the trial. “We have to improve our investigation methods so that we can prove our allegations regardless of who is chosen as lay judges.”

A man who was a lay judge at the Chiba District Court case had some advice for the prosecution.

“I felt the reward of 300,000 yen [the defendant was promised for transporting the drugs] was rather small. Prosecutors should have explained more about the standard rewards for drug mules,” he said.

A veteran judge said: “Prosecutors are choosing evidence based on standards like those they used for trials handled only by professional judges. They should reexamine their methods so they don’t overlook evidence that would particularly appeal to lay judges.”
ENDS

Yet another story of child-custody misery thanks to Japan’s insane family laws and enforcement

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Hi Blog.  Forwarding the below from a friend.  This is just another case of many where we have people (regardless of nationality, but thanks to the Koseki System NJ are in a particularly weak situation, particularly regarding international child abduction) doing awful things to their children after divorce simply because they can, and the authorities will do little or nothing to stop it.  I have of course written on the subject of divorce and post-divorce before (here and here, for example), but let me say at this juncture that for me it has gotten much, much worse over the past few years.  (I still myself have seen my kids maybe six times over the past six years, but now there is a development that someday I’ll tell you about, when I have drawn some conclusions and have some lessons from it.)

Meanwhile, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again because it is a harsh reality:

As Japan’s Family Laws stand now, nobody — regardless of nationality — should get married to a Japanese and have kids.  Because if you divorce — or even separate — somebody will quite likely lose them completely.

Read on for yet another example of that.  Even more examples and case studies at the Japan Children’s Rights Network here.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

//////////////////////////////////////

(日本語は英語の後)

(Please forward this message to everyone you know in Japan.)

On 25 March 2010, three children were abducted from their Tokyo home … by their own mother. All three were taken against their will.

Twenty days later, one child escaped, phoned for help, and was rescued. The abusive and mentally unstable mother immediately moved again and changed the remaining two children’s names … again.

The police consider this a family issue and will not help. The slow-moving family court has not made one ruling since this occurred, even though a petition for a return of physical custody was filed immediately after the children’s abduction.

More than 100 days has already passed, and your help is now being requested to find the abducted boys and return them to the home, neighborhood, school, friends, and family they have known their entire life –a  family that embraces all aspects of their mixed heritage.

Please look over the photos at the website below and keep an eye out for these two boys.

http://www.savetheboys.net

e-mail: Contact@savetheboys.net

If you are tired of these primitive grab-and-runs quietly sanctioned by Japan’s ineffective family court structure, help us stop this one by keeping an eye out for these boys so that they can be returned home.

You can help. We NEED your help.

Please.

======================

COLLATED PERSONAL NOTES FROM THE AUTHOR, A PERSON I MET IN PERSON YEARS AGO AND CAN VOUCH FOR HIS CHARACTER:

July 7 and 8, 2010

Dear Debito, I would like to request your help finding my two sons, who will be 10 and 7 this year.

Here’s a brief summary of what happened. I have been in Japan for nearly 20 years (married for 17), and I filed for divorce in January when I could no longer accept my wife’s increasing abuse of my three children (I have a daughter who just turned 13). My wife has also been in an ongoing affair since 2007. My wife and I began mediation, and at the end of March, she suddenly abducted all three children and disappeared.

After 20 days, my daughter was able to escape and phone for help, and I was able to rescue her. Her mother then immediately moved again. She has taken a leave of absence from work and even changed the boys’ names, but we do know that the boys are enrolled in a public school (1st and 4th grade) and are probably in or around Tokyo.

The family court has been incredibly ineffective (they won’t even interview the boys, and haven’t made any rulings), so after over 100 days of trying to go through the system to return these boys to their home, it appears that the only hope for doing so is to make this happen on our own…

The savetheboys website has been created, and I would like to ask for your help and the help of everyone possible to find these boys so that they can be safely returned to their home. Feel free to blog what I sent you in the initial e-mail or the text below. My only request is that you try to keep my family name out of it for the moment.

I certainly do appreciate your assistance.

Last weekend, my daughter and I saw “The Cove,” and the producer began the movie by announcing that their team initially desired to obtain footage by going through all the proper channels, but eventually had to resort to more extreme measures after encountering such staunch resistance.

That is the way I feel about this website and my actions now. I did not want to put that website up, and I resisted for quite a while. After nearly 20 years in Japan, I wanted to let this play out and give the system the opportunity to carefully examine this case and fix an obvious wrong. Instead, so many within the system have exhibited behavior that is unprofessional, biased, and outright dishonest. In particular, I find the dishonesty of so many “adults” to be troubling, and it leaves me with a really bad taste in my mouth.

If I did not actually go out and rescue my own daughter–against the advice of many, by the way–she would still be captive, even though she phoned begging for help.

Thank you again, Debito. Thank you so much. ENDS

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(これを日本に住んでいる人、誰でも良いので転送してください。)

お願いします。私の弟達を助けてください。

2010年3月25日、私達3人兄弟は母によって東京都の自宅・・・から連れさられ、私 達3人とも自らの意思で連れていかれたわけではありませんでした。

20日後、私1人は自宅に電話をし、助けてもらいました。その事を知った母親はすぐ に残りの2人・・・を連れて引越しました。

警察はこれを親の問題だと考え、助ける事はしませんでした。のんびりと進む家庭 裁判所は母が子供を誘拐したというのに何も進歩を遂げません。

子供達が消えてから長い3ヶ月が過ぎました。そした今、私の弟達を探してください という事を皆さんにお願いしています。あの弟達を彼らの思い出の家、近所、学 校、友達、それと家族のもとへ戻してあげるのを手伝ってください。

下のリンクから弟達の写真などを見てください。もしかしたら彼らを町で見かける かもしれません。もし見つけたら連絡してください。お願いします。

http://www.savetheboys.net

e-mail: Contact@savetheboys.net

もしあなたが今、この日本の家庭裁判所や日本国にウンザリしているのなら私の弟 達が家に戻れるように探す事で私達に力を貸してください。お願いします。

あなたが私達を助けられます。私達はあなたの助けが必要です。

お願いします。どうか助けてください。

(これを日本に住んでいる人、誰でも良いので転送してください。)

ENDS

Sunday Tangent: CNN: Activist Junichi Sato on International Whaling Commission corruption and GOJ/NPA collusion

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  For a Sunday Tangent, here is a hard-hitting article (thanks CNN) showing how activism against a corrupt but entrenched system gets treated:  Detention and interrogation of activists, possible sentencing under criminal law, and international bodies turning a blind eye to their own mandate.  Lucky for the author (and us) he is out on bail so he could write this.  He wouldn’t be bailed if he were NJ.  More on the IWC’s corruption in documentary The Cove — yet another reason why the bully boys who target people’s families (yet don’t get arrested for their “activism”) don’t want you to see it.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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IWC’s shame: Japan’s whale slaughter
By Junichi Sato, Special to CNN
CNN.com June 25, 2010 courtesy of SS

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/06/24/sato.iwc.whales/?fbid=c0Tcz4-EM8-

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Junichi Sato, colleague face charges after finding corruption in Japan’s whaling industry
Sato: He and Toru Suzuki were held, questioned, often taped to chairs, for 23 days
Sato says Japan uses guise of “scientific research” to slaughter whales
Sato: As IWC does nothing, Iceland, Norway and Japan kill 30,000 whales
Editor’s note: Junichi Sato is the Greenpeace Japan program director, overseeing advocacy efforts for the international environmental organization’s Japanese branch.

(CNN) — After just two days of closed-door negotiations, the leaders who had gathered at the International Whaling Commission in Agadir, Morocco, announced no agreement was reached on the IWC chair’s proposal to improve whale conservation.

Greenpeace did not support the proposal, but we had hoped governments would change it to become an agreement to end whaling, not a recipe for continuing it.

It is particularly disappointing to me, because my professional commitment to end the whale hunt in my country of Japan — which led to the exposure of an embezzlement scandal at the heart of the whaling industry — has come at significant personal cost.

The investigation I conducted with my colleague, Toru Suzuki, led to our arrests in front of banks of media outlets who had been told about it in advance.

The homes of Greenpeace office and staff members were raided. Seventy-five police officers were deployed to handcuff two peaceful activists. We were held without charge for 23 days; questioned for up to 10 hours a day while tied to chairs and without a lawyer present. We are now out on bail awaiting verdict and sentencing, expected in early September.

If I can risk my future to bring the fraudulent Japanese hunt to an end, if whaling whistle-blowers are prepared to risk their lives to expose the corruption, how can it be that the IWC has yet again failed to take the political risk to pressure my government to end the scientific whaling sham?

Since the IWC’s moratorium on commercial whaling came into force in 1986, Japan has continued to hunt whales under the guise of “scientific research,” making a mockery of the moratorium. By claiming that slaughtering thousands of whales, in waters designated a whale sanctuary no less, is a scientific experiment needed to understand whales, Japan has violated the spirit and intention of the moratorium as well as the Southern Ocean Whaling Sanctuary.

Iceland and Norway have simply ignored the moratorium. Those two nations, together with Japan, have killed more than 30,000 whales since then. I have always opposed my country’s hunt, which is why I decided to join Greenpeace. While it may be an emotionally charged political issue outside Japan, domestically it barely causes a political ripple. In 2006, Greenpeace decided to focus the bulk of its anti-whaling campaign in Japan to bring the issue home.

Wholly funded by Japanese taxpayers, the whaling program has produced no peer-reviewed scientific research and has been repeatedly told by the IWC that the so-called research is not needed or wanted. All it has produced is a massive bill for the taxpayers and tons of surplus whale meat that the Japanese public does not want to eat. It has also produced endless rumors and allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

Two years ago, following a tip from three former whalers turned whistle-blowers, my colleagues at Greenpeace Japan and I began a public interest investigation and discovered that indeed, corruption runs deep.

All three whalers claimed that whale meat was routinely embezzled, with the full knowledge of government and whaling fleet operator officials. Greenpeace eventually intercepted one of nearly 100 suspicious boxes coming off the ships.

Although its contents were labeled as cardboard, 23.5 kilograms of prime whale meat were inside, destined for a private address.

On May 15, 2008, we handed over the box to the authorities, with additional evidence of the crime. Initially the Tokyo district prosecutor began to investigate. But we were eventually charged with trespass and theft of the whale meat, valued at nearly 60,000 yen (about $550 at the time). We face from 18 months up to 10 years in jail for exposing the truth behind an industry that is financially, morally and scientifically bankrupt.

The U.N.’s Human Rights Council on Arbitary Detention has ruled that our human rights have been breached and the prosecution is politically motivated. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed her concern about our case. Amnesty International, Transparency International, two Nobel Peace Prize laureates, countless international legal experts, politicians and more than half a million individuals have raised their voices in opposition to the prosecution.

We will be tried and sentenced in September, more than two years after we first exposed the corruption. But the scandal does not end there. Just last week, more allegations emerged that Japan engages in vote-buying and bribery to keep its whaling fleet in the water.
But the truth is that Japan’s whaling program relies on secrecy and corruption to stay afloat.

And yet, the IWC continues to close its doors and ears to the reality of Japan’s commercial whaling. I came to Morocco in the hope that this, the International Year of Biodiversity, could mean an end to all commercial whaling, but I leave knowing that governments are only interested in taking strong public positions on whales but not in taking action to save them, not even behind closed doors.

Mine and Toru’s political prosecution is a clear sign that Japan has no intention of easily letting go of its debt-ridden whaling program. There are too many vested interests inside the government. That is not surprising. What is more disappointing is that those vested interests have gone unchallenged by the IWC, the body set up to conserve whales.

It may be surprising that in this day and age, and given the huge public interest in the issue, conversations about saving whales are held in secret. But the truth is that Japan’s whaling program relies on secrecy and corruption to stay afloat.

After two years of negotiations, this year’s meeting could have been an opportunity for the IWC to actually move forward and end the status quo. But its collective failure means that 24 years after the establishment of the moratorium on commercial whaling, Japan, Iceland and Norway will continue again to hunt whales with impunity.

I challenge the commission to throw open its doors and shine a spotlight on the corruption that is so evident, investigate all the allegations affecting the IWC that have been laid clearly before it on numerous occasions and realize that it is not only Japan’s international reputation that has been tainted by the failure in Agadir.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Junichi Sato.

ENDS

FCCJ No.1 Shimbun & Jiji on Japanese police’s extralegal powers, and how that power corrupts

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Hi Blog.  Further exploring the theme of the Japanese police’s extralegal powers and how power corrupts, here are two articles outlining cases where the Japanese police can arrest people they find inconvenient.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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6都府県の殺人現場に張り紙=「未逮捕おめでとう」男書類送検―軽犯罪法違反容疑
2010年6月24日13時51分配信 時事通信 Courtesy of XX
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20100624-00000099-jij-soci
東京都世田谷区の一家4人殺害事件などの現場付近に、「未逮捕おめでとう」などと書いた張り紙をしたとして、警視庁捜査1課は24日までに、軽犯罪法違反容疑で、会社員の男(29)=群馬県邑楽町=を書類送検した。
同課によると、男は「小さいころから警察が嫌いだった」と述べ、容疑を認めている。埼玉、千葉、東京、愛知、大阪、兵庫各都府県で「15件ぐらいやった」とも話しているという。
送検容疑は今月初旬から中旬、一家4人殺害事件(2000年12月)と板橋区の資産家夫婦殺人放火事件(09年5月)、江東区の質店夫婦殺害事件(02年12月)の現場付近に、「故一家に捧ぐ」「犯人未逮捕一周年おめでとうございます」などと書かれた紙を張った疑い。
同課によると、板橋の現場には「あ」と書かれた紙と線香を「ハ」の字の形に並べ、笑い声を模したものもあった。

XX notes: So golly, apparently it actually is a crime to criticize the police. In this news item a man who does not like the police has been putting up notices near crime scenes that say “Congratulations on not catching the killer.” He was arrested and prosecutored for violating the Minor Crimes Act. Interestingly, the Minor Crimes Act does not seem to have any offenses which cover what he did. Minor technicality, I guess. Interesting law to read though – it is a crime to cut in line, among other things…
http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/S23/S23HO039.html

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On the Wrong Side of the Law
by Julian Ryall
Japanese Police Branded as ‘Criminals’ by One of their Own

Number 1 Shimbun, June 2010
http://www.fccj.or.jp/node/5758

Haruhiko Kataoka is remarkably composed. For a man who has only recently been released from prison after completing a sentence of one year and four months for a crime that he is adamant he did not commit, his self-control is admirable. Even more so when one takes into account Kataoka’s insistence that he was framed by the police for the death of one of their officers, and that the legal system colluded in sending an innocent man to prison.

When he spoke at a press conference at the Club in April, there was no disguising Kataoka’s determination to continue the fight to clear his name.

There have been a number of high-profile cases that have gone against the police and judicial authorities in recent months – perhaps most famously the exoneration of Toshikazu Sugaya in March after he served more than 17 years in prison on the strength of inaccurate DNA evidence and a coerced confession to the sexual assault and murder of a girl aged 4 in Ashikaga in 1991. But Toshiro Semba, a former police officer who is supporting Kataoka’s claims, says these cases involving the Japanese police – which he describes as “a criminal organization” – are just the tip of the iceberg.

Kataoka’s head-on collision with the forces of law and order here began on the afternoon of May 3, 2006, as he was behind the wheel of a bus containing 22 students and three teachers on National Route 56 in Kochi City. After slowly pulling out of a restaurant parking lot – and observing all the appropriate safety precautions, he insists – a motorcycle being driven by a uniformed member of the Kochi Prefectural Police drove into the right side of his vehicle.

At the instant the accident happened, Kataoka says the bus was at a complete halt, a claim that he says has been backed up by the students and teachers aboard the vehicle as well as the principal of Niyodo Junior High School, who was in a passenger car following the bus.

As he tried to help the injured motorcyclist, another police officer who happened to be passing intervened and arrested Kataoka on the spot. When he reached the local police station, he was told that the officer on the motorcycle had died.

Taken back to the site of the accident later in the day, he was told to describe what had happened, but was not permitted to get out of the police patrol car. Kataoka says he could not even see the part of the road where the collision occurred. After being questioned for two days – and repeatedly told that the officer’s death was his fault – Kataoka was released.

“It was only eight months later that I was given an opportunity to explain what had happened, after I was summoned to the Kochi District Prosecutors’ office,” he said. “But the description of the accident they gave me then was beyond my belief.”

The prosecutors told Kataoka the accident had been entirely his fault due to his negligence to confirm that the road was clear, and that he was being charged with professional negligence resulting in death. To support their case, the police showed him photos of tire skid marks on the road.

“Since the bus was stopped, I told them, there was no way it could have made the skid marks,” he said. “It was then that I realized I was in a very problematic situation.

TESTIMONY DISMISSED

“From the moment the accident happened, the police had a scenario in which all the blame was put on me, and they didn’t even bother to carry out a proper on-site investigation.”

Kataoka had not given up the belief that his name would be cleared as, he reasoned, he would at least be able to explain what had really happened on Route 56 in court. He says he “had trust in Japan’s trial system.”

Instead, the testimony of the school principal and a teacher who had been aboard the bus were dismissed by Judge Yasushi Katata of the Kochi Local Court, on the grounds that their comments “lacked a realistic basis.” The testimony provided by the police officer who had been passing the scene of the accident on another motorcycle, however, was perfectly acceptable to the court because “testimony by a fellow officer is not necessarily unreliable.”

The court also accepted the tire skid marks put forward by the prosecution, which provided scientific analysis that the bus was moving at a speed of 14 kph while the motorcycle was traveling at between 30 kph and 40 kph. That contradicted another eye-witness statement that the police motorcycle was doing 60 kph. Judge Katata dismissed that suggestion as simply difficult to believe.

Kataoka was found guilty and sentenced to one year and four months in prison – with the judge taking a swipe at the defendant in his summing up by saying that he had failed to show feelings of remorse.

An appeal was immediately launched, with Kataoka’s lawyers carrying out exhaustive tests on an identical bus that revealed that even if the vehicle had been moving at the speed prosecutors insisted, it would only have left a skid mark measuring 30 cm long. Instead, police were presenting evidence of skid marks measuring 1 meter for the front right tire and 1.2 meters for the left tire. Kataoka says there are other discrepancies in the evidence, including the fact that the marks were not parallel. Fortunately for the police case, they claimed the marks had completely disappeared the day after the accident. And they refused to hand over the negatives of the photos of the skid marks, which could have been used to prove Kataoka’s innocence.

Even confronted with this evidence, the Takamatsu High Court dismissed Kataoka’s appeal.

“The judge said there was no reason to reopen the investigation,” Kataoka said. “He merely dismissed all the evidence that was unfavorable to the police and tried to cover up the criminal actions of the police against me.”

The Supreme Court reacted in the same way.

“I believe the courts have discarded the very principles of the judicial system and are only trying to cover up the wrongful actions of the police,” Kataoka said. “But I cannot allow that to happen. This case is not special at all and there have been many victims of criminal actions by the police and the failure of the powers that be to carry out full investigations.

“How can I put my faith in the justice system when the facts of a case are fabricated?”

JAPANESE MEDIA SLAMMED

And Kataoka reserves a healthy dose of scorn for the Japanese media.

“It is up to the media to follow up on cases such as this, but they looked away,” he said. “I was interviewed by the local media in Kochi, but no stories ever appeared.

“It is the responsibility of the Japanese media to report these events, but they cannot face up to the police,” he added.

Sitting alongside him, Semba nodded in agreement, adding that the system of kisha clubs “exists to conceal what is problematic for the police.” And he added that the media’s failure to report on these issues means that every day, more false charges are filed against innocent people.

Semba retired from the Ehime Prefectural Police in March, after 36 years on the force. At 24, he had been the youngest officer in the history of the prefectural force to be promoted to the rank of sergeant, but he says his refusal to falsify expenses forms that were funneled into a vast slush fund meant that he was never promoted again, was regularly transferred between unappealing assignments and had his handgun taken away on the grounds that he might kill himself or pose a danger to others.

“The Japanese police are a criminal organization and the senior officers of the force are all criminals,” Semba said. “Of all the companies and organizations in Japan, only the ‘yakuza’ and the police commit crimes on a daily basis. That includes building up slush funds and it was because I refused to participate in that that I stayed in the same position for all those years.”

Semba alleges that ¥40 billion is systematically racked up from falsified travel expenses and fictitious payments to individuals who assist the police in their investigations. Pretty much every officer in the country is involved in the scam, he claims, and they do not speak out because they are all too busy climbing the ranks to try to get their hands on a larger share of the pie.

“The money is spent by senior officer on purchasing cars, buying homes and entertainment,” he said, pointing to the example set by Takaji Kunimatsu, the former commissioner general of the National Police Agency who was shot by an unidentified assailant outside an apartment amid the Aum Shinrikyo cult investigations in 1995.

Even though Kunimatsu was on a civil servant’s wages, Semba alleges, he had two apartments worth a combined ¥80 million. And Semba says the gunman was able to get close enough to nearly kill him because Kunimatsu’s bodyguards had apparently been given the night off (for reasons that discretion prevents Number 1 Shimbun from mentioning).

“Japanese journalists all know this but they won’t report it,” Semba said.

Similarly, he said they know that the charges against Kataoka are based on falsified evidence, but the police are not held accountable.

Semba has written a series of books about police corruption and given 88 lectures around the country on his experiences, the vast majority of them while he was still a serving officer. He was never disciplined for his whistle-blowing, he believes, because the police do not want a court case in which all their dirty laundry can be aired in public.

Semba is still clearly a thorn in the side of the force – two plainclothes officers attended the press conference at the Club and took notes on what was said – and he half-joked that it is “a miracle that I am still alive.”

“If I was in a senior position in the police, I would definitely eliminate Semba,” he said. “I’m the police’s worst enemy. But it is those who have already given up their lives that are the strongest.” ❶

Julian Ryall is the Japan correspondent of The Daily Telegraph.

ENDS

Japan Times’ Colin Jones on Japanese enforcement of vague laws: “No need to know the law, but you must obey it”

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. In one of the best articles I’ve ever read in the Japanese media, here we have legal scholar Colin Jones finally connecting the metadots, laying bare how things work in Japanese jurisprudence and law enforcement.  It’s an excellent explanation of just how powerful the police are in Japanese society.  God bless the Japan Times for being there as an available forum (I can’t imagine any other English-language paper in Japan publishing this) for this research. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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The Japan Times Tuesday, June 29, 2010
THE ZEIT GIST
No need to know the law, but you must obey it
Colin P.A. Jones tells us why it’s hard to get clear answers when dealing with Japan’s legal system (excerpt)
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100629zg.html
By COLIN P.A. JONES (excerpt) courtesy of the author and John in Yokohama

A few months ago I met with some Western diplomats who were looking for information about Japanese law — in particular, an answer to the question, “Is parental child abduction a crime?” As international child abduction has become an increasingly sore point between Japan and other countries, foreign envoys have been making concerted efforts to understand the issue from the Japanese side. Having been told repeatedly by their Japanese counterparts that it is not a crime, some diplomats may be confused by recent cases of non-Japanese parents being arrested, even convicted for “kidnapping” their own children. I don’t think I helped much, since my contribution was something along the lines of “Well, it probably depends on whether the authorities need it to be a crime.”

Of course, the very question “Is x a crime?” reflects a fairly Western view of the law as a well-defined set of rules, the parameters of which people can know in advance in order to conduct themselves accordingly. However, there is a Confucian saying that is sometimes interpreted as “The people do not need to know the law, but they should be made to obey it.” This adage was a watchword of the Tokugawa Shogunate, whose philosophy of government was based in part on neo-Confucian principles.

It is also a saying that could provide some insights into why it sometimes seems difficult to get a clear answer about what exactly the law is in modern Japan. I am not suggesting that Japanese police and prosecutors have Confucian platitudes hanging framed over their desks, but knowing the law is a source of power. Being able to say what the law means is an even greater one, particularly if you can do so without being challenged. In a way, clearly defined criminal laws bind authority as much as they bind the people, by limiting the situations in which authorities can act. Since law enforcement in Japan often seems directed primarily at “keeping the peace,” laws that are flexible are more likely to serve this goal…

Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100629zg.html
ENDS

Suraj Case of death during deportation makes The Economist (London)

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Hi Blog.  Now here we have the Suraj Case making it out of Japan and being reported overseas.  The new twist is that the widow now has lost her job allegedly because of the fuss made over her husband’s death while being deported by Japan’s Immigration Bureau.  I’m fond of the title, with Immigration being depicted as “Japan’s Bouncers”, and pleased the reporter noted how little coverage this horrible incident got domestically.  But the unaccountability regarding the cause of death and a possible homicide at the hands of GOJ officials is no joke.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Japanese immigration policy

A nation’s bouncers

A suspicious death in police custody

May 13th 2010 | TOKYO | From The Economist print edition

http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=16113280

ABUBAKAR AWUDU SURAJ was already unconscious when the cabin crew of EgyptAir MS965 saw him on board, before the Tokyo-to-Cairo flight. Shortly later he was dead. A Ghanaian who had lived illegally in Japan, Mr Suraj was being deported on March 22nd, when he was lifted and forced onto the plane in handcuffs with a towel gagging him and knotted in the back to restrain him. An autopsy failed to determine a cause of death, yet his widow saw facial injuries when she identified the body. Three days later an Immigration Bureau official admitted: “It is a sorry thing that we have done.”

The death is putting Japan’s controversial immigration policy under a sharper spotlight. The country has long eschewed immigration. In recent months, however, its resistance has become even tougher. Families have been broken apart as parents of children born in Japan have been detained and deported. People who seemed to qualify for a special residency permit (SRP), designed for those who overstay their visa but wish to remain, have been denied. Forced deportations have become more frequent and rougher, according to the Asian People’s Friendship Society, a Japanese immigrant-support group. Japan’s Immigration Control Centres, where many illegal residents are detained, have faced special criticism. This year alone, two detainees have committed suicide, one has publicly complained of abuse, and 70 inmates staged a hunger strike demanding better treatment.

Around 2m foreigners live legally in Japan, which has a population of 128m; the justice ministry counted 91,778 illegal residents as of January. But the number, boosted by cheap Chinese labourers, may well be much higher. After a nine-day research trip last month, Jorge Bustamante, the UN’s special rapporteur on migrants’ rights, complained that legal and illegal migrants in Japan face “racism and discrimination, exploitation [and] a tendency by the judiciary and police to ignore their rights”.

The SRP system is an example of the problem. No criteria for eligibility are specified. Instead, published “guidelines” are applied arbitrarily. And people cannot apply directly for an SRP: illegal residents can only request it once in detention, or turn themselves in and try their luck while deportation proceedings are under way. So most illegal residents just stay mum. Mr Suraj fell into the SRP abyss after he was arrested for overstaying his visa. Although he had lived in Japan for 22 years, was fluent in the language and married to a Japanese citizen, his SRP request was denied.

Why the tougher policy now? Koichi Kodama, an immigration lawyer assisting Mr Suraj’s widow, believes it is a reaction to the appointment last year as justice minister of Keiko Chiba, a pro-immigration reformer; the old guard is clamping down. The police are investigating the incident and the ten immigration officers in whose custody Mr Suraj died, though no charges have been brought. As for Mr Suraj’s widow, she has yet to receive details about her husband’s death or an official apology. The topic is one Japanese society would rather avoid. The press barely reported it. Still, when her name appeared online, she was fired from her job lest the incident sully her firm’s name.

ENDS

Swiss woman acquitted of crimes yet denied bail due to being NJ, then barred as “visa overstayer” anyway

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Hi Blog.  Bringing this old article up as a matter of record:  I mentioned on Debito.org back in early 2008 about a Swiss woman who came to Japan as a tourist and was arrested on drug charges.  She got acquitted not once but twice in Japanese courts, yet was not released on bail because NJ and are considered more of a flight risk.  While actual convicted felons are released in the interim if they are Japanese.

Again, foreigners aren’t allowed bail in Japan. Unlike Japanese: When Japanese defendants appeal guilty verdicts, they are not detained (see Horie Takafumi and Suzuki Muneo; the latter, now convicted of corruption twice over, is still on the streets, even re-elected to the Diet!).

So despite being incarcerated as an innocent NJ since 2008, she finally gets booted out for “overstaying her visa” (oh, sure, she could have gone to Immigration any time and renewed, right?) and barred from reentry.  Rights of the defendant and “Hostage Justice” depending on your nationality.  What a swizz.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Held despite acquittal, now barred from re-entry, woman slams legal system
The Japan Times, Friday, Oct. 10, 2008, courtesy of MMT (excerpt)

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20081010a3.html

CHIBA (Kyodo) A Swiss woman who was detained by Japanese authorities for seven months after being acquitted of a drug charge expressed anger over the Japanese legal system in a recent written message to Kyodo News.

“I was put under continuous detention because of shortfalls in Japanese law and alien policies,” wrote Klaudia Zaberl. “I have been filled with despair and anger.”

Upon arriving in Japan from Malaysia as a tourist in October 2006, Zaberl, 29, was arrested for allegedly smuggling about 2.2 kg of amphetamines hidden in a suitcase into Narita airport.

She denied the allegation, saying she was not aware the suitcase she had been handed by a stranger in return for money contained the drugs, but was later indicted.

The Chiba District Court cleared Zaberl of the charge in August 2007, saying there was reasonable doubt she was aware of the drugs.

However, following the ruling she was transferred to an immigration facility instead of being freed, as her visa had expired during her detention.

Prosecutors soon appealed the ruling and obtained court permission to detain her again to block her deportation.

In April, the Tokyo High Court ruled that she was not guilty of the charges, leading prosecutors to drop the case. She returned to Switzerland later in April.

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