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  • DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 11, 2008–SPECIAL ON CRIME AND PUNISHMENT IN JAPAN

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on May 11th, 2008

    Hi All. What with a March book tour, April semester starting at university, and a six-day Golden Week Cycletrek stretching 621 kms I did between Miyazaki and Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, a lot of stuff has piled up on my blog without compilation into a Newsletter. So over the next week or so I’ll put out some Newsletters with briefs and links in quick succession, hopefully organized behind a theme. The first:

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SUNDAY, MAY 11, 2008
    SPECIAL ON CRIME AND PUNISHMENT IN JAPAN

    Table of Contents:
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    JUDICIAL TREATMENT OF NJ VICTIMS OF CRIME
    1) Filipina allegedly killed by J man, let out of jail despite suspicion of killing another Filipina in past
    2) Japan Times et al on homicide of Scott Tucker: “likely to draw leniency”
    3) Tokyo Police apparently drop case of Peter Barakan’s assault
    4) Yomiuri and Japan Times on Matthew Lacey Case:
    Fukuoka Police dismiss NJ death by blow to the head as “dehydration”

    JUDICIAL TREATMENT OF NJ ACCUSED OF CRIME
    5) “Hostage Justice”: Swiss woman acquitted of a crime,
    but detained for eight months anyway during prosecution’s appeal
    6) Two articles from The Economist on bent Japanese criminal justice system, death penalty
    7) Rough Guide on what to do if and when arrested in Japan
    8) Yuyu Idubor’s Statement to High Court April 23, 2008, letters from prison parts five and six

    SYSTEMATIC POLICE TREATMENT OF NJ EVEN WITHOUT CRIME
    9) Japan Today: Male Shinjuku cops rough up Singaporean women during “passport check”
    (with link to Japan Probe site with information about possible police identity fraud)
    10) Hiragana Times July 2006 on NJ police brutality by Toyonaka, Osaka cops
    11) Potential Olympic torch problems in Nagano? All the more reason to target NJ!
    12) Asahi, Mainichi, and Yomiuri: Replacement “Gaijin Card” system, increasing police powers
    13) Japan Times: Critics deride future extra policing of NJ under new proposed registration policy

    WHY THIS IS UNJUST: JAPAN’S EXTREME POLICE POWERS
    14) Reuters: Study says immigrants and crime rate not linked
    15) Japan Times ZEIT GIST: G8 Summit and the bad “security” habits brought out in Japan
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
    Daily blog updates at http://www.debito.org/index.php
    Freely forwardable

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    JUDICIAL TREATMENT OF NJ VICTIMS OF CRIME
    1) Filipina allegedly killed by J man, let out of jail despite suspicion of killing another Filipina in past

    We have (insufficient) news reports about a case last month of a Filipina suspected of being killed by a Japanese man, and having her body parts stowed in a locker in Hamamatsu Station. Then it turns out this guy, Nozaki Hiroshi, had apparently killed a Filipina some years before, and tried to flush her body parts down a toilet.

    For that previous crime, Nozaki was convicted, but only sentenced to three years plus. It wasn’t even judged a murder. And he got out apparently to kill again. Oddly enough, Nozaki’s jail sentence was only a bit more than Nigerian citizen Mr Idubor’s (more below), and Idubor’s conviction was for alleged rape, not murder. Yet Nozaki was apparently caught red-handed, while there was no physical evidence and discrepant testimony in the Idubor Case.

    Ironically, that means that under these judicial litmus tests, the women involved could have been killed and it would have made no difference in the sentencing. That is, if you’re a Japanese criminal victimizing a foreigner, not the other way around. It’s getting harder to argue that the Japanese judiciary is color-blind towards judging criminals and victims. Read more:
    http://www.debito.org/?p=1633

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

    2) Japan Times et al on homicide of Scott Tucker: “likely to draw leniency”

    Here is another situation demonstrating differing judicial standards by nationality…

    Japan Times: “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…” Read more:
    http://www.debito.org/?p=1412

    These standards even apply when there are no allegations of provocation:

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

    3) Tokyo Police apparently drop case of Peter Barakan’s assault

    As reported before here, TV tarento Peter Barakan got maced last December in a premeditated assault before one of his speeches. In his words, they have done “absolutely zilch”, even though police found the getaway car, found somebody in the car, and found mace cans in it. Yet the suspect didn’t get the regular 23-day interrogation one would expect if a NJ had assaulted by a Japanese. I guess a lack of “100% certainty” means Japanese police can drop the case completely. Huh? Read more:
    http://www.debito.org/?p=1635

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

    4) Yomiuri and J Times on Matthew Lacey Case: Fukuoka police dismiss NJ death by blow to the head as “dehydration”

    This has appeared in a previous Newsletter, but I’ll rerun it since it’s germane. Two articles about a mysterious death of a NJ, found dead in his apartment 3 1/2 years ago, deemed not a product of foul play by Fukuoka police (with no autopsy performed). An overseas autopsy, however, revealed the cause of death to be a blow to the head. The Japan Times took the case up a full year ago, but no ripples.

    Now, thanks to the tenacity of the deceased’s brother, even the Yomiuri is taking it up. Yes, even the Yomiuri. Is this yet another case of when it’s a crime against a foreigner, the J police don’t bother with it? It’s happened before (see the Lucie Blackman and Australia Jane cases, for starters, from http://www.debito.org/?p=818)

    More on the Lacey Case: http://www.debito.org/?p=1204

    Now let’s put the shoe on the other foot…

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

    JUDICIAL TREATMENT OF NJ ACCUSED OF CRIME
    5) “Hostage Justice”: Swiss woman acquitted of a crime, but detained for eight months anyway during prosecution’s appeal

    Here’s another oddity of the Japanese judiciary–“hostage justice” (not my term, see below). The prosecution is so strong in this country that, in the extremely rare case (i.e far less than one percent of all cases that go to trial) where they lose a criminal case judgment (and the accused goes free), they can appeal.

    But here is no question that the rights of the accused differ by nationality. If you are a Non-Japanese, and even if you are judged innocent by a lower court, you are still incarcerated for however many months it takes for the higher court to deliver a verdict (in this case, innocent again). Because, you see, foreigners aren’t allowed bail in Japan.

    Unlike Japanese. When Japanese appeal guilty verdicts, they are not detained (see links to Horie Takafumi and Suzuki Muneo cases; the latter, now convicted of corruption twice over, is still on the streets, even re-elected to the Diet!). Read more:
    http://www.debito.org/?p=1447

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

    6) Two articles from The Economist on bent Japanese criminal justice system, death penalty

    Excerpts: “Article 34 of the Japanese Constitution guarantees the right to counsel and habeas corpus, but is systematically ignored. Police and prosecutors can detain suspects for 23 days. Interrogations are relentless and sometimes abusive. Prosecutors are reluctant to bring cases to trial without a confession. Indeed, it is considered a first step in a criminal’s rehabilitation. When asked about the country’s 99% conviction rate, Japan’s justice minister, Kunio Hatoyama, corrected your correspondent to state that it was actually 99.9%, because prosecutors only present cases that are watertight.”

    “The notion of being innocent until proven guilty is not strong in Japan. Mr Hatoyama calls it “an idea which I want to constrain”. But confessions are important and the courts rely heavily upon them. Apart from helping secure convictions, they are widely interpreted as expressions of remorse. A defendant not only risks a longer sentence if he insists he is innocent, he is also much less likely to be granted bail before trial–often remaining isolated in police custody, without access to counsel, for long enough to confess.

    “Toshiko Terada, a private lawyer, calls this hitojichi shiho–hostage justice. Perversely, where little supporting evidence exists, the system helps hardened criminals, who know that if they do not confess they are unlikely to be indicted. Innocents, on the other hand, may crack–as in the Kagoshima case, or in a notorious 2002 rape case when the accused confessed under pressure but was released last October after the real culprit came forward.” Read more:
    http://www.debito.org/?p=1426

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

    7) Rough Guide on what to do if and when arrested in Japan

    Anonymous Guide writer: “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.”
    http://www.debito.org/?p=1437

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

    8) Idubor’s Statement to High Court April 23, 2008, Summary letters from prison parts five and six

    The Idubor Case is where a Nigerian, Osayuwamen Idubor, was sentenced last December to three years for rape despite no physical evidence and flawed accuser testimony.

    From Mr Idubor’s statement: “I was coerced to sign deposition documents prepared by the police who promised me that they would not prosecute me if I would sign. Furthermore, the police intentionally hid or lost critical evidence. For example, they erased the phone number of the complainant’s friend from my cell phone address book as well as the record of threatening e-mail messages from the same person. Also, because of their failure to investigate the surveillance tape of the camera in my bar, subsequent data overwrote the tape automatically and erased the record for the day in question. The police never documented detailed description of the relationship between the complainant and her friend, effectively hiding the intent of the accusation.” Read more:
    http://www.debito.org/?p=1630

    Here are some more letters from Idubor, written in jail to tell about what happened in his view (link goes to part five, and links to the very beginning as well). Read more:
    http://www.debito.org/?p=1450

    Unfortunately, I just heard the High Court upheld his sentence on April 23, shaving a mere 80 days off his incarceration, with two years plus left to serve. I’ll write more on this later.

    Meanwhile, let’s turn to targeting of NJ in Japan even when there is no crime, or even the suspicion of crime–just policing for it’s own sake:

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

    SYSTEMATIC POLICE TREATMENT OF NJ EVEN WITHOUT CRIME
    9) Japan Today: Shinjuku cops rough up Singaporean women during “passport check”

    Japan Today: “A few burning questions that arose from this incident [of plain-clothes male policemen getting physical with female tourists in public]: 1) Are these police officers authorized to request our passports as they wish? 2) Under what circumstances can these officers exercise this authority? 3) Without any resistance in any way from us, other than just asking why they require our passports and trying to walk to the station control, where we feel safer, are they allowed to use physical restraint? 4) Are these male officers allowed to use physical restraint on females like us? Should they not have waited for a female officer? 5) In such a predominantly tourist area like Shinjuku, where these officers are checking for foreign passports, should they not have received some form of language training so that they can explain why they need to see my passport? I do not believe that expecting them to be achieve a basic level of communication skills in the English language which is spoken in most of the rest of the world is unreasonable in anyway. What kind of training DO these officers receive? 6) What in the world did my friend and I do that warranted the passport check and the physical restraint?” Read more:
    http://www.debito.org/?p=1643

    Especially since, according to the Japan Probe blog, there may be people masquerading as police to carry out identity theft. More on how you can recognize “real cops” on the beat here:
    http://www.japanprobe.com/?p=4376

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

    10) Hiragana Times July 2006 on NJ police brutality by Toyonaka, Osaka, cops

    Hiragana Times: “The [police at Toyonaka Police Station, Osaka,] all threw me down hard on the floor, and then ordered me to get up and sit on a chair. I was already in great pain all over my body. I held up my hand and said, ‘please help me stand up.’ One of the policemen was just shaking and spitting at me like a crazy person. He became angrier and then he pulled me up by the hair. He then began to hit the back of my head with his fist again. He kept on repeating ‘this is Japanese police system,’ at the same time he was yelling and laughing at me. I gave up all hope. I thought that they were going to kill me. Everything around me became black, I vomited and felt nausea, experienced double-vision, and coughed up blood. I cried for a doctor and a hospital, but they refused my emergency request.” Read more:
    http://www.debito.org/?p=1626

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

    11) Potential Olympic torch problems in Nagano? All the more reason to target NJ!

    Kyodo April 23: “The association of hotels and Japanese inns in the city of Nagano has requested that its members fully check the identifications of their foreign guests prior to the Beijing Olympic torch relay on Saturday as part of efforts to counter suspicious individuals, local officials said Tuesday.” Naturally, that follows–any protesters must be foreigners! Read more:
    http://www.debito.org/?p=1642

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

    12) Asahi, Mainichi, and Yomiuri on replacement “Gaijin Card” system, increasing police powers

    Asahi on new “Gaijin Cards” with greater policing powers over “NJ overstayers”

    “An advisory group to Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama has proposed changes to the alien registration card system to crack down on people overstaying their visas. The new registration card would make it easier for the authorities to keep track of foreign nationals staying in Japan.” Read more:
    http://www.debito.org/?p=1431

    Mainichi: MOJ delays decision on requiring Zainichi to carry ID, with abolition of old NJ Registry System

    “The Justice Ministry will postpone until next fiscal year a decision on whether to require special permanent residents such as Koreans to carry identification cards after the government abolishes the alien registration system, ministry sources said. Ministry officials have deemed that they need more time to carefully consider the matter as the human rights of permanent foreign residents are involved, according to the sources. An advisory council to the government on immigration policies will submit its final report to the justice minister by the end of this month, recommending that the alien registration system be abolished and a system similar to the basic resident register system for Japanese nationals be introduced for permanent residents.” Read more:
    http://www.debito.org/?p=1404

    Yomiuri: GOJ revising NJ registry and Gaijin Card system: More policing powers, yet no clear NJ “resident” status

    Yomiuri reports the change in the old “Gaijin Card” system, extending its validity for up to five years and somehow registering NJ with their J families. The bad news is that this measure, despite claims that it will make life “more convenient” for NJ living in Japan, is mainly a further policing measure. Registration will be centralized in the police forces (not the local municipalities any more), the replacement Cards will have more biometric data and tracking capability (RFID, anyone?), and the “zairyuu” (not “zaijuu”) cards, as labelled, are rhetorically old wine in new bottles. We still have to get beyond seeing NJ in Japan as “not really residents”, and all our protestations thus far clearly have not sunk yet in with policymakers at the national level. Read more:
    http://www.debito.org/?p=1415

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

    13) Japan Times: Critics deride future extra policing of NJ under new proposed registration policy

    Japan Times: “Foreigners living in Japan should be allowed five-year visas but kept under the eye of a new unified Justice Ministry-run nationwide identification system, a government panel on immigration control said in its report released Wednesday. The panel, made up of university professors and private-sector executives, said a new foreigner registration system and revision of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law should aim at creating “a symbiotic community” by providing a “pleasant environment for foreign residents in Japan.” While the report emphasizes that the proposed measures will enable the government to provide better services for foreign residents, critics view the new registry system as increased state control…” Read more:
    http://www.debito.org/?p=1432

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

    WHY THIS IS UNJUST: JAPAN’S EXTREME POLICE POWERS
    14) Reuters: Study says immigrants and crime rate not linked

    Reuters: “Contrary to common beliefs, rising immigration levels do not drive up crime rates, particularly in poor communities, and Mexican-Americans are the least likely to commit crimes, according to a new study.” Read more:
    http://www.debito.org/?p=1436

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

    15) Japan Times ZEIT GIST: G8 Summit and the bad “security” habits brought out in Japan

    Japan Times: “The point is, international events bring out bad habits in Japan. And now we have Tokyo bidding for the 2016 Olympics? Cue yet another orgiastic official fear-and-crackdown campaign foisted on the public, with the thick blue line of the nanny state the biggest profiteer.

    “Conclusion: I don’t think Japan as a polity is mature enough yet to host these events. Japan must develop suitable administrative checks and balances, not to mention a vetting media, to stop people scaring Japanese society about the rest of the world just because it’s coming to visit. We need to rein in Japan’s mandarins and prevent them from converting Japan into a police state, cracking down on its already stunted civil society.” Read more:
    http://www.debito.org/?p=1639

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

    I think that’s quite enough for today. Thanks for reading!
    Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
    Daily blog updates at http://www.debito.org/index.php

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SUNDAY, MAY 11, 2008
    SPECIAL ON CRIME AND PUNISHMENT IN JAPAN ENDS

    3 Responses to “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 11, 2008–SPECIAL ON CRIME AND PUNISHMENT IN JAPAN”

    1. Johnny Says:

      It’s hard to have much faith in Japan’s justice system as a non-J. The cases you mention here are almost certainly the tip of the iceberg.

    2. Dominic Says:

      Nice write-up. It’s amazing that this stuff goes on over there, but once again I am not surprised! Just confirms my notion, Japan is a nice place to VISIT. As always thanks for the updates.

    3. Black Tokyo » Blog Archive » Foreigner killed by Japanese DJ, DJ gets off easy Says:

      [...] made the case some months ago, in a special DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER on criminal justice and policing of NJ, that NJ get special (as in negative) treatment by courts [...]

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