J Times et al on homicide of Scott Tucker: “likely to draw leniency”


Hi Blog. We have a situation here I’ve been waiting to draw conclusions on for some days now. But here are some articles which substantiate what I’ve been fearing all along. The indication of differing judicial standards for similar crimes based upon nationality.

When a NJ killed a J in 1984 (see the Steve Bellamy Case, where a NJ defending a woman against a drunk and disorderly Japanese wound up killing him with his advanced martial arts skills), he was exonerated, then convicted, then exonerated again for, colloquially, “yarisugi” (and it became a case that changed jurisprudence for kajou bouei in Japan).

Now we have the opposite circumstance–a J killing a NJ–and according to the Japan Times, leniency is expected.

Historically, America had the expression, “he doesn’t have a Chinaman’s chance” (the modern-day equivalent of “a snowball’s chance in hell”), showing how bent the American judiciary was towards Asians a century or so ago. In Japan’s judiciary, are we to say, “he doesn’t have a gaijin’s chance”? Mr Yuyu Idubor, convicted for a rape he says he never committed, Mr Valentine, crippled due to police medical negligence during interrogation and completely ignored in court, or Mr Steve McGowan, barred from an Osaka eyeglass store express ‘cos the owner “doesn’t like black people”, again ignored in lower court (tho’ awarded a pittance in High Court), just might.

Here are two articles on the Scott Tucker homicide, one with conclusions, the other with details. The relative silence within the Japanese media on this case is pretty indicative. Contrast that with all the sawagi that would probably ensue if the opposite happened, where a NJ (especially a Beigun) killed a Japanese in this way. Arudou Debito in Sapporo.

(PS: If you want to comment on this case, please do so within the next 24 hours. After that, I’m going to be on the road with the book tour and unable to approve comments promptly.)

Death of American in bar fight likely to draw leniency
Japan Times Thursday, March 13, 2008
By JUN HONGO Staff writer
Courtesy of Colin

The death of an American resident in Tokyo in a fatal bar fight late last month is not likely to result in any severe punishment being meted out due to the circumstances of the case, legal experts say.

Richard “Scott” Tucker, 47, died at Tokyo Metropolitan Hiroo Hospital after being punched and choked at Bullets, a nightclub in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, on Feb. 29. Police arrested Atsushi Watanabe, a 29-year-old disc jockey at the club, for the fatal assault.

While some media reports have suggested the West Virginian visited the club to complain about the noise, a police official told The Japan Times on Tuesday that Tucker appeared “heavily drunk and acted violently toward other customers,” at times striking a boxer’s pose, on the night of the incident.

Watanabe has told investigators he attempted to halt the disturbance in his club “because (Tucker) was picking a quarrel with everyone,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Legal experts suggest such circumstances would likely result in Watanabe receiving relatively minor punishment.

Tokyo killing of Charleston native ‘seeded in past events’
Tucker’s brother: Japanese bar’s noise led to fatal fight
The Charleston Gazette March 7, 2008
By Gary Harki Staff writer

A Charleston native killed in a Tokyo bar last weekend went there because he was angry about the noise, his brother said Thursday.

“Based on the information we have, Scott went into the bar with an attitude,” Chip Tucker said. “He was upset with the noise and commotion of what was going on, which was a routine. … He was not there for the party.”

Scott Tucker, 47, a Charleston native and West Virginia University graduate, died in a hospital after being choked and punched at a nightclub called Bullets in the Azabu section of Tokyo on Feb. 29, according to japantoday.com, an English-language news Web site.

Atsushi Watanabe, 29, a disc jockey at the club, is charged with killing Scott Tucker, according to the Web site.
“This was a specialized technique intended to do harm,” Chip Tucker said of how Watanabe allegedly killed his brother. “It’s a murder case. Everything points to that being the situation.”

The club was known for parties, noise and fights, Chip Tucker said. “His wife feels part of [Scott Tucker’s actions] were seeded in past events,” he said.

Tucker had been drinking and recently had developed a drinking problem, his brother said: “We are not sure if he had been home or was coming home when it happened.”

Chip Tucker said that based on Japanese law, the family will seek the maximum penalty for Watanabe. That won’t be determined until Watanabe is formally charged after the investigation has ended, he said.

“They determine punishment not only on a case-by-case basis but on the wishes of the family,” he said.
Some investigation records will be released in about 20 days, when police pull their records together and present the case to a judge, he said.

Tucker said it does not appear that Watanabe, who had no previous criminal record, intended to kill his brother. “It appears as though this was not premeditated, but he used force well beyond what he should have,” he said.

Scott Tucker lived in a building he had bought and – as is Japanese custom – named it after himself, said Chris Mathison, Scott’s former business partner.

Tucker had lived in the downtown Tokyo building, in an upscale section of the city, for at least 12 years, Mathison said. Two doors down was the jewelry studio of Tucker’s wife, Yumiko Yamazaki. Between the buildings was the Bullets club where Tucker was killed.

Mathison said he and Scott Tucker had traveled the world together in the early 1990s, working for various computer companies. The two still talked frequently, he said.

“He was rich. And not only did he do well, his wife is one of Japan’s leading jewelry designers,” Mathison said. “He had this career of closing enormous deals.”

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said he remembered the Tucker family when they lived in Charleston in the 1960s, particularly Jean Tucker, Scott and Chip’s mother. He remembered waiting on her when he worked at the Pure Oil station in South Hills, he said.

“They were very nice people. They lived on Oakmont Road,” he said. “I stayed friends with them until I was drafted in 1969.”

Scott Tucker moved to Japan about 24 years ago, shortly after graduating from WVU with a degree in foreign languages and linguistics.

Chip Tucker said he attended a private service for the family at a crematory in Japan on Thursday. He will bring part of his brother’s ashes back to the United States to be spread in San Diego.

On Thursday, he and Yamazaki went to a neighborhood bar frequented by his brother to pick up a picture of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards that he kept there.

“Scott loved music. He had a wide range of tastes,” he said.

There were a few regulars in the bar, Chip Tucker said.

“Everyone came over and showed their condolences to Scott’s wife. They couldn’t believe the situation. They had never seen Scott angry,” he said. “They all showed up at the funeral. They were overwhelmed.

“They had never seen Scott get in a fight. They couldn’t believe it.”

19 comments on “J Times et al on homicide of Scott Tucker: “likely to draw leniency”

  • Examples of such cases applied to Japanese –

    Some Japanese writing on the issue –

    If Japanese are given lenient treatment when the victim is also Japanese, is the Tucker case not being treated just like a “normal” Japanese case? In addition, you should also note that the Bellamy case resulted in no jail time.

    Also, why are you writing that a “drunk and disorderly” Japanese who was assaulting a woman was killed in the Bellamy case? The sources that you link to suggest that Bellamy misunderstood what was going on – that the man was trying to help the woman. On the other hand, you have a rather belligerent post from someone claiming to be Bellamy – is this to be accepted as true? Where did he get the detailed information about how many places her jaw was broken if that issue was never raised in court? Why did he consent to his defense lawyers not raising the issue? Sounds like bunk to me.

    Some court info here –

  • a police official told The Japan Times on Tuesday that Tucker appeared “heavily drunk and acted violently toward other customers,” at times striking a boxer’s pose, on the night of the incident.

    Gee, it’s convenient that a police officer who wasn’t there can describe the victim’s appearance and actions in such detail. A real reporter would get eyewitness sources, not a cop trying to minimize the death of a gaijin.

  • “Innocent until proven foreign,” as I’ve said before many times. Circle the wagons, protect your own, and blood is thicker than water, to mix metaphors.

    Related, the twenty-something Kita-Kyushu former municipal worker who killed three children on the bridge while driving drunk just got out on bail pending his appleal of conviction. The bail was four million yen. That’s a million apiece, and a million for the car. What an insult to the parents! I’ve never heard of a NJ being granted bail. (Just means I’ve not heard of it, it MAY have happened.)

    Like I said, “Innocent Until Proven Foreign.” Yokoso!

    –According to Mr Idubor’s lawyer Mr Tsurusaki, NJ aren’t allowed bail by Japan’s judiciary ‘cos they might flee the country. It’s systematic.

  • I just wish the journalists covering this story would do more research and actually do some reporting of actual information. After reading both of these articles so many questions come to mind that its hard to make sense of the matter:

    1) What was Tucker’s blood alcohol level? Seems like this would be the first thing to report because it answers the question of whether he was drunk or not. He’s either going to complain about noise or drunk and belligerent – probably not both. If the police refuse to give this information the article can report that – “The police refused to comment on Tucker’s state of sobriety.”

    2) If Tucker’s brother mentions that he recently developed a drinking problem, did he have a history of acting violent toward people when drunk?

    3) Where are the eye witness accounts? Did no reporters visit the scene of the crime? Was the club empty?

    Right now this seems like hearsay vs. hearsay. If anything we should be complaining that the state of journalism in this country – especially English language reports – is pretty sad.

  • I’ve had heavily drunk “sararimen” strike a boxer’s pose at me. Does this mean I can put a choke hold on them?

    Oh wait, I’m NJ.

  • The indication of differing judicial standards for similar crimes based upon nationality.
    No, it’s based upon RACE. David, stop being euphemistic about this; your RACE is the issue. Skin colour is all. (Granted that the Japanese authorities conflate nationality with race, but this is definitely a RACIAL issue. Let’s holler it from the rooftops; this is racism, pure and simple. I don’t expect much from the supine Japanese media, but if we make enough fuss–constantly drawing parallels to 1950s Mississippi, for example–then gaiatsu will ensue to right the wrongs. Don’t let up on the pressure. It’s RACISM.
    Some day, ask me about my own experiences, over a beer.

    –Okay, agreed, it’s race. Now if only everyone would buy into the paradigm whenever an Asian (such as a Chinese) goes down… Fortunately, the UN under definitions provided in the ICERD, does. It’s race. Debito

  • magnificently racist article on this here in japanese

    the murder gets a cursory line at the top and then article goes
    to seemingly explain away the murder as foreigners are crossing on red lights,stealing peoples women, and discriminating against japanese(on what basis -unclear).it then ends by most tolerantly claiming not all foreigners in japan cause these problems (cause problems like what – getting murdered???)

    酔って暴れたアメリカ人を撲殺 西麻布ではトラブル頻繁
    3月03日 10時43分 コメント(39) コメントする




  • Obviously on this one we have to wait to find out what really happened. The media just dropped the ball on this one. Obviously, there is something missing from the reports, the only thing that we all now know is that someone lost his life and that in itself is sad and unfortunate and we should all do what ever we can to prevent situations like this in the future regardless of nationality. My condolences go out to his family.

  • Maybe we foreigners need our own press. That way we don’t have to rely on some poor translations from japanese reporters who just ask for a police report. Y’know, “Investigative Reporting”? Knowledge is power.

  • Grant Mahood says:

    Many of us are waiting to hear the WHOLE story as we simply aren’t satisfied with the little bit that we read in the paper. It would be terrifying indeed if it were true that one person can kill another person simply because he FELT threatened by that person’s behavior, or worse, FELT that other people may FEEL threatened by that person’s behavior, and then only get a light punishment for it.

    The article doesn’t say that Mr. Tucker TRIED to kill anyone. It doesn’t say that he even THREATENED to kill anyone. He didn’t have any kind of weapon according to the report nor did he claim to have a weapon. The story says that according to police he was very drunk and was “acting violently” toward patrons and striking a boxer’s pose. Nowhere in the story was any reason given for anyone at the bar to feel that their lives were in peril.

    The only person who, according to the story, DID kill anyone was the DJ, Atsushi Watanabe. He wanted to put a stop Mr. Tucker’s rowdy behavior. The DJ punched and choked the man nearly twenty years his senior resulting in his death.

    The story doesn’t mention if Watanabe or anyone else at the bar called the police. This is a very important point. Did Watanabe start strangling Tucker because the police took too much time to respond? Did Watanabe neglect to call the police and attack Tucker in a fit of rage? If the murder occurred due to a slow response by the police, it would be very embarrassing to them and they may be called on to share the blame.

    Whether Watanabe alone is guilty for the death of Tucker or whether he shares guilt with the police, it seems plain that Tucker did little more than “act” belligerently, perhaps challenging people to fight or some other boorish thing that must happen routinely in bars everywhere. At the risk of repeating myself, the story mentions nothing specific about any attacks by Tucker against patrons, let alone life-threatening ones.

    If the punishment turns out to be a light one it will set a terrible precedent that effects everyone. Simply FEELING threatened by someone is reason enough to kill them (or punch and choke them until you feel safe).

  • Grant Mahood says:

    Correction to my post:

    If the punishment turns out to be a light one it will set a terrible precedent that AFFECTS everyone. Sorry.

  • Well Jean-Paul argued tirelessly with me some weeks ago that there is no difference in the treatment given to Japanese and NJ in criminal cases — not by the police, the media or the courts. I notice Jean-Paul was first man in on this story with the same argument (even before the facts were known). I await the selected news stories and stats that will “prove” that what we all see, is not what it seems.

  • DM, from the top of the post –

    “But here are some articles which substantiate what I’ve been fearing all along. The indication of differing judicial standards for similar crimes based upon nationality.”

    Debito concluded this based on the evidence that was available at the time (what you describe as “even before the facts were known”). I disagreed and presented evidence to back up what was a different opinion. That’s all.

    By the way, Debito, here’s what happened to that Japanese nightclub DJ who choked a gaijin to death in front of witnesses back in March:


    Sentenced to 5 years’ probation; no jail time. That was fine with the Japanese prosecutors, who decided not to appeal for a harsher sentence.

  • Bloody hell! So basically if you get the set-up right you can murder NJs with impunity? I used to think Japanese prosecutors were low-lifes – but now that’s not fair, as it gives low-lifes a bad name!

    I’m also shocked by the lack of publicity on this – no comments on even the US site in your post…

  • i wonder why when japanese are involved in a crime in america they are normally given bail, wouldnt they also be a flight risk to return to japan. again the damn double standards..

  • I actually worked with Scott at WVU. I remember his a kind of cool guy. He had a Japanese girlfriend and spoke fluent Japanese at the time. He did mention that he would move to Japan and live his life there. Not sure he intended to die there though. Hopefully, justice was served. Even if drunk, not sure you should be beat up and killed. Anyway, RIP Scott and family.


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