Posted by debito on April 15th, 2008
Rough guide to police arrest in Japan
The real earthquake
In Japan, earthquakes can hit anyone, any time. They do not come announced. There are many guidebooks and government leaflets that prepare you for the big bang and tell you what to do if.
In Japan, police can arrest anyone, any time. They do not come announced. There are no government leaflets that prepare you for the catastrophe. So, I wrote this one instead, compiled from my own painful experience and those of many other foreigners in Japan.
The actual chances to be arrested in Japan are much higher than the chances to be hurt by an earthquake in Japan – especially if you are a foreigner. Don’t think that you will be able to deal with it just because “you know your rights” from back home or from Hollywood court movies. Japan is not about justice, it is about bustice. So prepare yourself for the real big bang – read this.
Advice in a nutshell
Do not get involved.
Memorize telephone numbers NOW.
Don’t talk, don’t sign – anything.
Insist on your rights to contact people.
You cannot make your situation worse – they already put you in the worst situation possible.
Do not get involved
Do not get involved with the police, or with other people’s problems. That is the golden rule to avoid being arrested in the first place. In Japan, police can arrest anybody without a reason, and if a foreigner is involved, they tend to arrest the foreigner.
Do not get violent: Many foreigners get arrested because they got violent, namely because they got mingled up in fights. So, even if some asshole provokes you; while in Japan: control your temper, give in and never get physical by any means. Instead, take some revenge in thinking how the small the other guy’s penis is.
Don’t call the police yourself. Think twice before calling or involving the police even if you are the victim of a crime. However clear the facts might seem to you – by your virtue of being non-Japanese, you are automatically a suspect, too.
Do not help strangers. This is a harsh advice for Western altruists. But again, keep in mind that in a suspicious situation, you as the foreigner, are the suspect by default. I once tried to intervene when I saw a guy who had the chutzpa to beat up his wife in the open street. When I interfered, they both suddenly started beating up me instead because it turned out they were both piss-drunk. This aroused the attention of the nearby koban police: they took all three of us to the koban and as it was 2:1, police ended up demanding that I apologize to the couple. So do not ask the cute, drunk girl, who is puking at the side of the street, if she is OK – her nearby friends might just take out their frustration on you and accuse you of trying to rape her, for example.
Avoid bad odds. Be especially careful, when you are just by yourself, and the other party consists of several people, who might afterwards give each other false alibis. Also, it goes without saying that if the other party is Japanese, police tend to believe them more.
Don’t be a good citizen. The police will ask you (politely) to do something only when they do not have (yet) the grounds to force you to do the same thing. They drag you by force to the koban as soon as they see you getting in trouble. On the other hand, they ask you to come to the koban “to talk about it” only when they have nothing yet justifying to drag you. They will come directly to your apartment and break the door if they have a warrant or a specific complaint. On the other hand, they will wait downstairs and ask you via interphone if they may come up only if they have nothing yet. Complying with their request does not mean you are proving to be a good citizen, but it means you are helping them to build a case against you. Never comply; instead ask them for the concrete reason “Go-you-wa nani-desu¬-ka?” and if they don’t tell you or just say, we will tell you at the koban, tell them you will not do shit unless they tell you here and now and walk away slowly (or don’t open the door) . They cannot hold you back, because if they had grounds for that, they would have dragged you to the koban in the first place.
Play the dumb gaijin, especially, when the situation seems to escalate: Smile broadly and constantly to all participants (police and adversaries), talk only English or your native language in a friendly tone, say “Sorry” or “Sumimasen”, at whatever they say or shout at you and bow every time. Police have been known to let gaijin go simply because of the hassle of dealing with them.
Film them. If you see the situation worsening and especially if you are on your own: Take out your mobile phone and film your conversation with the police. Ask them in front of the camera what they want, what the grounds are for hassling you and what their name and affiliation is. They will probably not answer any of this, but the presence of a camera has a controlling effect. As long as they don’t formally arrest you, they can’t touch (and take away your phone). Even if they do and then infallibly delete the video, IT geeks should be able recover that video once you get your phone back.
Memorize telephone numbers NOW.
Memorize telephone numbers NOW. Arrest will in most cases come over you as a complete surprise; sometimes, you will not even have the chance of taking out your cell phone and tell your partner or friends about it. Once in prison, obviously, you will not be able to access your phone’s address book, either. This said, the prison staff (not the investigators) normally do call people for you whenever you ask them to do so (nicely). But they don’t look up numbers for you. So you need to know telephone numbers by heart – memorize them TODAY.
The most important number is the number of a lawyer. If you don’t know one, get yourself acquainted with one right now. Most embassies provide a list of lawyers, for example.
Also, you should memorize the numbers of friends, partners, family – who live in Japan – among them preferably people who have landline telephones (staff sometimes refuses to call mobile phones), and who speak some Japanese. Being able to contact your friends is important from the very beginning because you need somebody outside who will pay the lawyer his initial fees (between 150.000 and 300.000 yen).
Don’t sign, don’t talk.
As soon as you are formally arrested, the main suspect is YOU. They are not questioning you to find out more about the truth, they are interrogating you only to gather more evidence against you. That is why the core rule is: Do not make any statements about the crime, and do not sign any statement (signing is done by your fingerprints, so don’t fingerprint anything). Despite what police or prosecutor or even your lawyer might tell you: Signing doesn’t get you out faster; it will help keeping you inside longer.
Signing is the grand prize for them
In most cases, the evidence the police have is ridiculously thin, even if your file seems to have a lot of pages (Typically, most of the pages are just filled with dozens or hundreds of photos of the so-called crime scene, one picture per page) So, in many cases, they have no “proof” at all, except for the statements of (Japanese) witnesses and “victims”.
This is why your signed statement is the grand prize to them. Even if you don’t confess explicitly to having committed the crime: In the Japanese justice system, you will be convicted of the crime as soon as you make a signed statement about it. No further “proof” will then be considered necessary.
On the other hand, it will be difficult for prosecution/judge to further detain you without having any statement of your side.
Just don’t talk at all. Even if you refuse signing what you said, the police officer and the prosecutor are writing down rough summaries of what you say during interrogation and will add that to your file. It is legally less relevant, but it will nevertheless be seen by the prosecutor and by the judge.
A second reason for you to keep your mouth shut tight: If you tell them about the loopholes in their reasoning, they will not let you go, but they will close the loopholes. So telling them convincing reasons or tell them about evidence that would prove that you are innocent, only makes them look harder for counter-evidence, or worse, invites them to alter the statement of the victim or tamper with the evidence they have.
What you sign is what they said, not what you said
What you sign will never be what you said anyway. Investigator or prosecutor do not bother writing down your statement word by word; they take notes while you talk and then reformulate (or reinterpret generously) what you “meant”, using their own wordings. It is this re-enactment of what you said that they will want to you to sign (and which will count in court). You can be sure that they will insert all the legal keywords to make sure you are busted. Add to that the language barrier, and you see how little your influence is on what you sign.
It is of course very difficult to stay silent and to not make any statements for the whole period of 20 days in detention. This is precisely the reason why detention in Japan is so long. They say it is so long to allow for “collecting additional proof” but in fact, it is so long to increase the pressure on you to make a statement day by day.
The whole situation can probably be compared to a playboy who is trying to absolutely get laid with a girl. He will alternate between being nice and threatening, he will say anything, promise anything, use every trick that has worked before. He won’t keep any of his promises after reaching the goal, of course. Now, this guy has not only a night in a club to convince the girl – he has three entire weeks. And in fact, he has kidnapped the girl and has her locked up in a dark room inside his house where nobody can hear her. He promises to release her if she just sleeps with him only once – this seems so easy a way out, but if she complies, he will just keep her locked up longer.
So, it is indeed very hard to keep your virginity (=not to sign a statement) in jail. It is said that more than 80% of arrestees in Japan end up signing a confession during detention. Here are some details of the psychological mechanics to prepare you for that. Many of them are well-advertised in TV and movies; you would be surprised how well they work in reality:
“Defend yourself against unfair accusations” trap. You have never dealt with a situation like this before. They have. And they know that your instincts will advise you to handle this as a “unfair accusations”-scenario, a familiar situation you have been through a thousand times in your life with your parents, teachers, partners, bosses. The natural human reaction to a reproach is to defend yourself, to justify your actions, to tell them how it really was – by discussing their arguments one by one, admitting to some of the facts but justifying it with moral means, counter-accusing the other party or trying to convince them of your good intentions… You see where this is going? All this means talking, cooperating and eventually signing. Never forget that your real and only crime is to be a foreigner. There is no way you can refute that. So stick with Nelson’s rule: Never admit, never explain.
Lies. Once you have started talking (what you should never do in the first place) they will constantly accuse you of lying and being contradictory. This again triggers the “unfair accusations”-reaction in most people, only making them talk more and more. In reality, it is them who are using lies, fake promises and false accusations as standard interrogation techniques. And they don’t feel bad about it a tiny bit.
Good cop, bad cop. Often the prosecutor will take the part of the good “cop”, as opposed to the (bad) police. On the third day after you arrested, you will meet the prosecutor for the first time. He often appears to be the first civilized person after you have been through what was probably the two most horrible days in your life. In my case, the prosecutor looked through my file and then gave me an astonished look and said: “I cannot understand why they had to lock you up for this!” smiling sympathetically and telling me about his close friend in my home country while afterwards it turned out he was the one who signed the arrest warrant in the first place. Still, you start thinking, after all those brute policemen, finally somebody who understands me, so you start explaining your point of view – and before you can say “chigau”, you will see him dictating “your” statement to his secretary.
Little treats. Most of the day you are locked up in a tiny cell lying on the carpet and staring at the yellow walls. You will start welcoming anything that gets you out of that monotony, including the interrogations by the police detective. Firstly, there is a person that speaks your language – even though it is only the interpreter! Then, the officer will offer you real coffee or tea (in prison, the only liquids you get are water and miso soup). And you may smoke as much as you want (in prison, only 2 cigarettes per day, after breakfast). So the interrogation puts you at ease – and some people will just keep on talking (=making statements) to be able to smoke another cigarette.
Feeling of guilt. You are being treated like scum – for a reason: They want you to start feeling like scum.
But it is them who are scum, by the way they are treating you. And even if you have indeed done something bad – their inhuman, brutal, unfair and undemocratic way annihilates any of their rights to superior morality – they are at least as bad as you are. Plus, in many cases, they wouldn’t lock up a Japanese national for the same “crime”, and, in a democracy, your case probably wouldn’t be considered a crime in the first place.
They sometimes remind you of your “promises” to tell them the truth – don’t feel obliged to your promises, don’t feel obliged to do anything. They do not deserve to be treated like a fellow human, because they don’t treat you like one.
Promises and threats. They have a standard catalogue of promises and threats all with one goal: To make you sing and sign. On the promise side they offer you: a quick release, a mild sentence, a “deal”, they will offer to talk in your favor to judge/prosecutor, or to let you see the evidence (in reality, they will never let a suspect see the evidence; not even your lawyer may see the evidence before you are formally charged),. On the threats side you will encounter: They make you think of your responsibilities to your people outside. They will tell you they can keep you locked up forever. They will tell you that they have new/stronger/undoubtable evidence (which, again, you will never be shown). Also, they notice immediately if you want or fear something specific and turn that into another vain promise or threat. Just ignore what they are saying from the start because they may sound dramatic but it is all just tactics and lies.
Cooperation. In short: Don’t cooperate. It is a long way from you being stubborn and refusing to talk at all to you signing the statement. This way is called “cooperation”, they have 20 long days to put you on the track, and they will infallibly ask you to cooperate (kyoryoku) fifty times a day. It starts with innocent things like “What is the profession of your parents?” where you might think, well telling him that cannot do me any harm. But keep in mind that every step of cooperation is a step towards making you sign the statement. It goes more or less like this: “Now that you have come this far, you might as well sign it, right?!”
In Japanese (justice system) eyes, cooperation means that you are showing signs of weakness, that they can lead you all the way up to the signing of the statement, and in the end, it means that you are guilty. This is why a very lenient judge might not even need a signed statement to find you guilty – any indication that you have cooperated with them will be interpreted as a hint that you are guilty.
Be a pain in the ass – it won’t harm you. So instead of being cooperative, be stubborn from the start. There is a lot of signing (=fingerprinting), especially at the beginning. Start being strong by not signing anything, not even the form that states the number and content of the belongings they take from you when they arrest you. They cannot force your thumb down and fake a sign because you might claim they hurt you and complain with your embassy (that’s precisely why they do things like that with Japanese prisoners who have no embassy).
On the second day, refuse what they will present as a “necessary” routine to you: Taking your mugshots and fingerprints. If you comply with that, the next thing they will present as a routine is asking for a sample of your DNA (which is absolutely voluntary).
After having refused to sign at least a dozen papers during my first 24 hours in jail, on the second day, they came up with a search warrant for my house and they said: “We will open it with your house key from the things that you had on you but you have to sign a release form to allow us to use it” – power play time.
I asked: “What happens if I don’t sign?” They said: “We will have to open the door by force and leave it like that” – openly threatening me that they would leave my apartment visibly open for the next weeks that I was not there. So I took the warrant, and I signed but I added, in Japanese, below the signature: “Forced to sign under threats”. As soon as the police officer saw me writing that, he took the paper away from me, tore it into pieces and yelled to the others: “Let’s go and break the door with without the key.”
When I was finally released, I expected the worst. Only then, they told me they had actually notified the janitor when they broke in. The janitor had set up a provisional door lock right away that was not distinguishable from a real door lock.
Right to remain silent. If you do not answer any of the interrogator’s questions, he will tell you that, in Japan, you only have the right to remain silent in case your statement would incriminate you. So he will infallibly ask you if the answer would actually incriminate you. This is a mean, double-bind game: you answer, you lose, you refuse to answer, you lose, too. So don’t play their game at all – just remain silent and there is nothing they can do about it. If you want to respond, respond every single time that you refuse to say anything because your human rights are violated, because you have no lawyer present or because Japan is no democracy or because he has bad breath.
Don’t be intimated by him scribbling or typing a lot while he has these one-way-conversations with you – if you don’t say anything, he will just have to copy-and-paste your refusal every single time. At the end of the “interrogation”, he will still ask to you sign the document (to confirm that you have said nothing). You will refuse that too (because, remember, never sign anything!), then he will ask you a last time why you refused to sign and you will just stay silent again to that.
Don’t apologize. You will be reminded countless times how much the so-called victim has suffered from the crime. And then you will be asked if you don’t feel sorry at all for the victim. Don’t feel sorry and don’t comment on that! The only person you have to care for at this moment is you and nobody else.
If you start showing the slightest pity for the victim, they will pressure you into signing or writing a letter of apology – both of which are, in the eyes of any Japanese judge, the next best thing to a “real” confession.
By the way, even lawyers get trapped in this ruse. Your lawyer might advise you with good intentions that for reaching a deal with the victim (and the victim subsequently withdrawing the complaint), you must first show that you feel sorry for your crime. It is true that reaching a deal with the victim is in most cases the best way out – but you have to stay one step ahead of the police. Check out the notes on “Getting out” below for details.
Slips of the tongue. It is definitely hard to refuse to say anything for three entire weeks – you will be questioned at least five or six full days from morning to evening out of that time.
The officer will sometimes start to deviate from the subject and start talking about your family, your life in Japan etc. Don’t be mistaken – he is the last person in the world who is interested in that (and who has a right to know about your private life). It is just a ruse to put you at ease and to make you talkative. Remember: He is not “actually a nice guy”, but he is your biggest enemy.
If you think your silence is going to crumble, you could deal with the situation and fill the time with asking HIM questions, how he feels working for such a shitty system, ask him about his grand-mother or hometown or just do small-talk. Just do never touch even remotely information about yourself.
But, even if you happened to say something about the crime: don’t panic. It still has almost no legal meaning until you sign it. So don’t start agonizing like “Now that I have already told him, I might just as well sign it.” For the prosecutor and even more for the judge, it is first and foremost a signed statement that counts. Of course, once something has slipped out of your mouth, the investigator will be furious to get you repeat it (and sign it). Don’t even say you lied. Just sit this out by getting back to remaining silent.
Stockholm syndrome. When people are kidnapped and suddenly deprived of their entire normal social environment, they tend to create ersatz relations with the people who surround them. So you, too, might end up “understanding” why and what the police or the prosecutor did to you ( “after all, they are just doing their job”). Don’t! If you are desperate for human relations with scum, become friends with the yakuza detainees in your cell instead. You will find out that they have more dignity than the cops – at least under these special circumstances.
Insist on your rights to contact people
They will strip you of almost any dignity, but you should by all means use your rights to contact people from outside. Insist on your rights – you don’t have to sign forms for that.
Vienna convention: Foreign prisoners have two exclusive rights that Japanese nationals don’t have. You are entitled to see embassy staff and to have an interpreter around. These rights are fixed in the Vienna convention which has been signed also by Japan. The words Vienna convention (Wiin-joyaku) and “human rights” (jinken) come in very handy throughout your stay. Mention them at liberty whenever you are unhappy with something; especially down in the detention cells. They don’t care about your private complaints, but they are afraid you could eventually report a violation of your rights to embassy people, who in return could complain about your treatment with their superiors (the Ministry of Justice via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
Embassy: Police have to notify your embassy or consulate of your arrest immediately, even if you do not explicitly ask them to. They are contacting them through official channels though: police authority → ministry of Justice → ministry of Foreign Affairs → your embassy. This takes up your first two days – during which they will try especially hard to pressure you into a statement. Tell them you will not say anything before you have seen your embassy people (and after embassy people have come to see you, continue your silence, because you are not bound to your promise)
People from the embassy or the consulate have to come and see you as many times as you ask them to, even if you are imprisoned in a remote police station in Aomori – consular assistance to nationals is one of their core tasks.
The embassy/consulate can do a lot for you – but they cannot get you out of prison. You are not important enough that your government will start an international conflict with Japan. But what they do for you is indeed of help;
- Provide a lawyer. Officially an arrestee is informed of his rights to an attorney on the 4th day in jail – and then you have to remember his telephone number. Embassy staff typically visits you on your 3rd day and will make sure you get a lawyer. asap
- Contact your friends and family. They will explain to them in a familiar language (i.e., not in Japanese) what happened to you. Again, probably the embassy is going to get faster to them than your lawyer so this route is especially useful for contacting the friends that are able to help you out with money necessary to pay the lawyer and the victim.
- Improve your prison condition. The conversation with embassy staff has to be in Japanese or has to be translated into Japanese, and it will be monitored by somebody of the prison staff. This might seem obnoxious in the first place, but it is actually the chance to improve your conditions. Just tell them frankly all the little humiliations police has inflicted on you so far – you can be sure the prison staff guy is listening carefully (Vienna convention!). In my case, I had been refused pen and paper – I mentioned that to my embassy representative in front of the prison staff guy, in Japanese. For the rest of my stay, I basically got my own pen for the whole day.
Interpreter. The Japanese police have registered interpreters for any language that is an official language in some country of this world. That is because the Vienna convention states that every official conversation has to be translated into (and from) your language by an interpreter. This starts right at the arrest – the arrest warrant has to be read to you in your language.
So, by all means, never waive your right to an interpreter, thinking you handle this on your level of Japanese. And don’t accept an English interpreter, either, if your native tongue is not English. You probably don’t know all those legal terms in your own language – how the hell should you be familiar with them in a foreign language?!
When I asked my interrogator once what he would do if he had to deal with a suspect from Iceland (only 300,000 native speakers), he said he was positive that they would find somebody for that too, somewhere in Japan, even, if the translation had to be conducted by telephone.
The presence of a third person (interpreter) also helps alleviating the aggressive atmosphere between you and your interrogator. And last but not least the lengthy translations take up some of your endless interrogation time.
Lawyer. Get one as soon as possible.
You have the right to a lawyer and your lawyer is the only person who is allowed to see you as often as he wants to, and, as opposed to the embassy people, without your conversations being monitored by prison staff. He is the only person who the police or prosecutor will accept as your official representative. And most importantly, he is the only person that can really get you out.
Insist loudly on having a lawyer from the minute you are arrested. Here it comes in handy if you remember your lawyer’s phone number – give it to the police or the prison staff and they will probably contact him just to make you shut your mouth.
You shouldn’t talk at all – but this goes especially for the time before you have seen your lawyer for the first time. So, while they are exerting special pressure on you to talk while you have no lawyer yet, tell them during that time that precisely because you have no lawyer, you will not make any statements. That will speed their efforts to get you one.
Just forget what you saw in the movies: In Japan, lawyers do not have the right to assist you or be present during your interrogations. They do not have the right to see the evidence before the prosecutor formally charges you (that’s when it is too late). And you will only be able to talk to them through a Plexiglas window
Doctor. Even if you have to take some medicine regularly, you are not allowed to take any of your pills with you into jail. The positive side is that they are obliged to take you to a doctor or the hospital as soon as you tell them that you really feel ill. You should consider playing this card as the ultimate resort, for example, when you think that you are going to crack (and talk and sing) during their endless interrogations. Tell them you feel terrible and that you have to see a real doctor. Make up fake health problems. They will take you to a normal hospital because of your Vienna convention rights – afterwards, they have no way of punishing you if the doctor finds you to be in good shape.
Friends and Partners. On foreign arrestees, the prosecutor will infallibly put a communication ban (sekkin-kinshi), which means that you may not see anybody from outside except for members of the group of people mentioned above.
There is a trick, however, to see your close ones, or at least one of them. He or she has to pose as an interpreter for your lawyer. The conversations with your lawyer are not monitored (as compared to those with embassy people), so they should be able to talk to you relatively freely.
Your friend/partner has to:
- Speak good Japanese (otherwise obvious that he/she doesn’t qualify as interpreter), or, if he/she is Japanese, speak your/a foreign language
- Preferably have some name card that shows that he is qualified to do translations
Of course, the lawyer must be willing to play along, and the police must not know about the prior connection between you and the “interpreter”.
There are two main ways to get out unharmed.
Alibi. You have got or know of convincing proof establishing that you have been far from the crime scene at the time of the crime, and that you can thusly not be connected to the crime. Or you have proof that the witnesses or victims lied. In any case, never tell the interrogators about this proof. They lose their face when you can prove their arrest was wrong from the start . Instead of releasing you, they might be tempted to tamper with their/your evidence.
Instead, tell your lawyer about the proof as soon as possible and make sure that your lawyer can provide the proof to the prosecutor (not to the police) while you are still detained. Even here, the lawyer should hand over only copies to the prosecutor, not originals. You cannot be too paranoid…
Victims withdraws complaint. Lighter crimes like assault or sexual harassment typically belong to the shinkokuzai type of crimes. This means that police/prosecutor only investigate the crime if the so-called victim of the crime officially files a complaint. On the other hand, it means that they have to stop the investigation – and release you– immediately if the victim withdraws his/her complaint before the prosecutor officially files charges against you.
Thusly, your lawyer has a time window of the 20 days the prosecutor detains you before deciding if he/she is actually going to file charges. In this time window, your lawyer should be able to contact the victim and convince her/him to withdraw. Most lawyers claim to be successful sooner or later in talking the victim into signing the magical withdraw form. Lawyers carry that form with them and will submit it instantly to the prosecutor once signed.
For succeeding with this strategy, your lawyer needs three things:
- Money (“apology money”). The going rate for a complaint withdrawal starts at 200,000 Yen and can reach 500,000 Yen or even a million. You need your friends to provide the lawyer with the money, he will not advance it at his own expense.
- Time. At first, most victims will be stubborn and even avoid contact with your lawyer. On the long run, a skilled lawyer can convince most people that you do not really deserve years in jail, that you have already been punished enough by the weeks in detention that you feel sorry and that money is nice. So the victim should be contacted as soon as possible – the withdrawal form has to be signed before the prosecutor files charges.
- Contact data of the victim. This is the tricky part. Don’t rely on getting it from the police or prosecutor; instead use the bumpy road and hire a private investigator.
Police and prosecutor will not release telephone number or address of the victim to your lawyer unless you show them that you feel sorry for the victim. However – that is the trap – they will not give it to your lawyer the victim afterwards, either. After all, they have gone through all this pain talking the victim into charging you with a crime – why should they help you talking the victim into withdrawing it again? In my case, after my lawyer had approached the police investigators about the contact data, it so turned out that the victim had “conveniently” gone abroad for vacation, by “coincidence”, he wouldn’t come back until the end of my detention period.
So do not write letters or make statements of apology (that prosecutor might use against you if the victim does not withdraw). Instead, your lawyer has to find the victim by himself. Even if you don’t know the victim’s full name, it will be on your arrest report. With the name and some circumstantial information provided by you, a private detective should be able to find out contact data of the victim in a few days.
Fascist Disneyland: Stay, leave, revenge?
Foreigners who get out of prison hell tend to reconsider the very base of their life: Is this country (Japan) still really the place where I want to live after all this wrong has been done to me?
Unfortunately, it appears that police are watching you twice as hard as they did before that, when you were just “one of those foreigners”.
Regardless of what you decide to do, consider this after getting out of jail:
- Write down your story.
- Post it on the net and/or send it to civil right groups. The Japanese justice system is definitely fucked up, and the more people talk about it, the better.
- Legal action. It is close to impossible to sue Japanese police or prosecutors in Japan. It is also difficult to (counter-)sue a Japanese national (for example, accusing the victim of perjury) if you are a foreigner. However, there are three more convenient ways to take revenge in court:
➢ Sue them in your home country. If they have been ignoring some fundamental rights during your detention, there might be a chance police-prosecution-victim are liable of a criminal offense against you in your home country.
➢ Start a class action in Japan: In Japan, more than elsewhere, it is the number of plaintiffs that makes a case. If you discover that a number of people have experienced the same unfair treatment, consider gathering those people and suing the responsible parties together. Again, for this, you should be getting in touch with civil rights groups first.
➢ Sue them in a civil court. The Japanese justice system is much more balanced and advanced on the civil side than it is on the penal side. Check with your lawyer.
Whatever your actions are – inform friends and public about what you are doing.