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  • CNN: Narita Customs spike HK passenger’s bag with cannabis

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on May 27th, 2008

    HANDBOOKsemifinalcover.jpgwelcomesticker.jpgFranca-color.jpg
    Hi Blog.  I think this is perhaps the most ridiculous story on Japan I’ve heard this decade.

    According to CNN, Narita Customs put a bag of marijuana in some visiting NJ’s bag to test their sniffer dogs.  Then they lose track of it!

    Now just imagine if that innocent NJ was later caught with it.  We’re talking Nick Baker (finally sent back to the UK after 6 years in Japanese jail) and other NJ judicial hostages (who can never leave custody or be granted bail until they go through years of slow Japanese jurisprudence, even when judged innocent).

    Of course, we make sure we cause meiwaku to none of our tribe (or to ourselves–think serious chances of a lawsuit from a native)–we use the Gaijin as Guinea Pig.  Yokoso Japan!  

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

    Customs slip cannabis into passenger’s bag

    CNN May 26, 2008 — Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)

    http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/05/26/tokyo.cannabis/index.html?iref=mpstoryview

    Courtesy of Chad Edwards

    (CNN) – A passenger who landed at Tokyo’s Narita airport over the weekend has ended up with a surprise souvenir courtesy of customs officials — a package of cannabis.

    art.jpg Unsuspecting passenger returns cannabis after sniffer dog test botched at Narita 

    Sniffer dogs failed to find the cannabis after it had been slipped into a passenger’s bag.

    A customs official hid the package in a suitcase belonging to a passenger arriving from Hong Kong as part of an exercise for sniffer dogs on Sunday, Reuters.com reported.

    However, staff then lost track of the drugs and suitcase during the exercise, a spokeswoman for Tokyo customs said.

    Customs regulations specify that a training suitcase be used for such exercises, but the official had used passengers’ suitcases for similar purposes in the past, domestic media reported.

    Tokyo customs has asked anyone who finds the package to return it. 

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

    You dumb shits!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    67 Responses to “CNN: Narita Customs spike HK passenger’s bag with cannabis”

    1. Chad Says:

      I always use TSA-approved locks on my luggage, but this story (combined with the Nick Baker saga), makes me want to use my own locks–and let them rip open the bag. At least there would be something to question.

      Now watch somebody *try* to return the package back to the police…

    2. John Says:

      Man, where can we go with this? [Astonished foreign traveler to immigration inspector] “No, really…someone put that in my luggage! Actually, it was you!”

      *Tokyo customs has asked anyone who finds the package to return it*
      “Yeah, sure…I’ll get right back to you on that. First, though, anyone seen the chips? I got the munchies in a big way.”

    3. debito Says:

      FEEDBACK FROM CYBERSPACE:

      Yeah, I’m still quite shocked about it. Actually, an NJ being caught
      with it in Japan is actually in a favorable situation — the media
      buzz here would make it easier to clear your name. What if, however,
      the passenger who had this stuff slipped into his/her bag continued on
      to, say, Singapore? Or Hong Kong? Or somewhere else where drug
      smuggling laws are extremely severe? The Japanese customs officials
      could easily ruin someone’s entire life with this kind of stunt. I
      hope everyone involved is fired immediately; this is just absolutely
      unacceptable.

    4. debito Says:

      FEEDBACK FROM CYBERSPACE

      I would like to imagine that on realising their mistake, Japanese
      authorities would have alerted authorities in other countries as to
      the specifics of the package that they lost, i.e. the exact weight,
      the type of container, the strain of leaf etc. as well as the exact
      time and flight it arrived on so that if it does turn up in somebody’s
      luggage they can identify it quickly and confirm that the passenger
      was indeed on that flight, and thus be free of the jail time and
      potential death sentence that would otherwise await them. That would
      assume a level of common sense though that is not consistent with the
      current circumstances.

    5. debito Says:

      MORE FEEDBACK…

      Heh, I just saw this story on Japan Today and came in here to post about it.

      If I was a more cynical man, I would suggest that the customs agent
      picked a suitcase with a foreign name on it, so that there was less
      chance of the victim being a well-connected Japanese society type, or
      someone making a stink in the newspapers, etc.

      But that’s if I was a cynical man. Realistically, I figure that
      “incompetence” is probably as good an explanation as any. Which is
      really just as sad.

      Planning on going on vacation in the next couple weeks, and don’t want
      to trust my luggage to the buffoons at Narita,

    6. debito Says:

      Unsuspecting passenger returns cannabis after sniffer dog test botched at Narita
      Japan Today Tuesday 27th May, 07:37 AM JST
      http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/sniffer-dog-fails-cannabis-test-at-narita-drug-goes-missing

      TOKYO –A visitor to Japan got a surprise when he checked into his hotel in Tokyo on Sunday night and discovered a small metal box containing cannabis worth 1 million yen tucked in a side compartment of his suitcase. The man called police who returned the cannabis to Narita airport where customs officials admitted Monday that a test involving a sniffer dog had gone wrong.

      According to customs authorities, an officer was supposed to pass through customs with the cannabis to see if the sniffer dog would detect it. Instead, the officer hid the metal box, containing 142 grams of the drug, in the black suitcase he had selected at random on the baggage carousel for passengers arriving on Cathay Pacific Flight 520 from Hong Kong at 3:30 Sunday afternoon. But he lost sight of who picked up the suitcase.

      “The dog couldn’t find it and the officer also forgot which bag he put it in,” a customs office spokeswoman said, adding they had put out an alert to the National Police Agency in case anyone handed it in.

      The 38-year-old customs officer was quoted by the spokeswoman as saying: “I knew that using passengers’ bags is prohibited, but I did it because I wanted to improve the sniffer dog’s ability.” He was reprimanded by the head of customs at Narita.
      ENDS

    7. Sean Says:

      Maybe they could put up a ‘Wanted’ poster of the suitcase at all the trains stations and Kobans in Japan.

    8. LB Says:

      “Realistically, I figure that “incompetence” is probably as good an explanation as any.”

      Indeed. “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” It is questionable, despite Debito’s usual tinfoil hat commentary, if the official in question knew whether the bag belonged to a Japanese or a non-Japanese – as evidenced by the fact the officer forgot which bag he put the hash in. If he knew it was a foreigner’s bag, you’d think he’d remember which one it was… In the event, it was a non-Japanese, as they discovered when the hashish was found.

      Much better coverage of this story has been on yahoo.co.jp, mainichi, etc. Why quote the news using barely adequate translations from CNN and Japantoday?

      –If you know of better articles, send us them or the links.

      In any case, why did Customs choose a Cathay Pacific flight (as opposed to a Japanese carrier)? Give these stupid authorities the benefit of the doubt if you want, but an argument can be made either way, and I’m happy to make it one way if only to get somebody to make a convincing argument to the opposite. Your just dismissing it as tinfoil-hat-ism (or a memory lapse) is not terribly convincing.

      Especially given the risk of potential arrest and even harsh penalty towards an innocent person if something went wrong–which it did. Your inconsolable need to portray the messenger uncharitably gets in the way of putting the blame and the criticism squarely where it belongs–on Customs.

    9. Frodis Says:

      This is so outrageous that if I didn’t live in-country I’d think it had to be a joke. The agent was ‘reprimanded’? “Baaad boy! Don’t do it again. Now go about your business as usual.” Could the ‘highly’ trained customs official not think far enough ahead to have even placed that package in an official suitcase and then have some unknown agent make the walk through with the bag? How did this get picked up to be reported? If I were the unsuspecting traveler, I’d be trying to figure out how and who to sue over this.

    10. Daniel J Says:

      I wonder if this has ever happened before and been covered up? Just thinking.

    11. debito Says:

      FEEDBACK FROM CYBERSPACE:

      To be honest, I can’t imagine that a person doing that
      would even consider the possibility that the luggage
      might end up getting lost. Otherwise they wouldn’t do
      it. It could be, however, that based on the assumption
      that a drug smuggler would be foreign, he chose a
      foreign suitcase to “habituate” the dog to this!

      It’s really incredible, because it can’t be that much
      trouble to “plant” a whole suitcase that doesn’t
      belong to any passenger.

    12. debito Says:

      MORE FEEDBACK:

      Really tough to divine motivations. Practically speaking though: they
      should probably put a GPS device in the target item, so they don’t
      lose it so easily.

    13. LB Says:

      –If you know of better articles, send us them or the links.

      Ask and ye shall receive:
      http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/news/20080526k0000e040065000c.html
      大麻樹脂:訓練で紛失、9時間後に発見 成田税関支署

       成田国際空港を管轄する東京税関成田税関支署(田中万平支署長)は26日、麻薬探知犬の訓練で一般旅客のスーツケースに隠した本物の大麻樹脂124グラムを紛失したと発表した。支署が旅客に問い合わせたところ、発表から約9時間後に東京都内のホテルに滞在していた男性のスーツケースであることが分かり、大麻樹脂もそのままの状態で発見された。

       支署によると、大麻樹脂は25日午後3時31分に香港から到着したキャセイパシフィック航空520便の旅客の黒色ソフトスーツケースのサイドポケットに、金属容器に入れて隠した。所有者は控えておらず、訓練があることも知らせていなかった。

       同支署の男性職員(38)ら4人が空港内の手荷物ターンテーブルで麻薬探知犬2頭に探させたが、発見できなかった。便の旅客は283人だった。

       税関の内部規定では、訓練用の手荷物などは通常、税関側が用意し、一般旅客の荷物を使うことは禁止している。職員は「探知犬の能力を向上させるため、過去にも複数回、同様の方法で訓練した」と話しているという。

       田中支署長は「このような事態を招いたことは遺憾。事実関係を調査して関係職員を指導し、厳正に対処したい」と話した。【黒川将光】
      (I wouldn’t bother with the Mainichi’s English version, it differs in several important ways from the Japanese original. Bad translation work).

      http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/crime/080526/crm0805261300019-n1.htm
      探知犬の訓練中に大麻紛失 成田空港で東京税関職員
      2008.5.26 12:58
      このニュースのトピックス:不祥事
      麻薬探知犬の訓練中に大麻樹脂を紛失し、謝罪する東京税関の田中万平成田税関支署長(右から2人目)ら=26日正午ごろ、成田空港
       成田空港で25日、東京税関職員が麻薬探知犬の訓練中、香港からの到着客のスーツケースに大麻樹脂約120グラム入りの金属製容器を勝手に忍び込ませ、スーツケースごと紛失していたことが26日、分かった。税関側でスーツケースを捜している。
       同税関成田税関支署によると、旅客手荷物の中に無断で麻薬類を入れることは内部規定で禁止されている。
       現場は、成田空港第2ターミナルの到着客の手荷物検査場。担当職員が25日午後3時半すぎ、香港からの到着客のソフトスーツケースのポケットに大麻樹脂を隠し、目を離したすきにスーツケースがなくなっていた。所有者が気付かず持って行った可能性が高いという。

      http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20080526-00000056-jij-soci
      税関職員、大麻樹脂を紛失=探知犬訓練で到着客荷物に−規則は禁止・成田空港
      5月26日14時1分配信 時事通信

       東京税関成田支署は26日、同税関の男性職員(38)が麻薬探知犬の訓練で使用していた大麻樹脂124グラムを紛失したと発表した。職員は、成田に到着した利用客の荷物に大麻樹脂を勝手に入れ、訓練に利用していた。
       同支署によると、男性職員は25日午後3時45分ごろ、成田空港第2旅客ターミナルの機内預託手荷物荷さばき場で麻薬探知犬の訓練をしていた。
       到着した搭乗客の黒色ソフトスーツケースのサイドポケットに、訓練用の大麻樹脂を差し込んだところ、所在が分からなくなった。樹脂は金属製の容器に入れられ、新聞紙を巻いた状態という。
       内部の規則では、訓練用のスーツケースを使用することになっており、客の荷物を使用した訓練は禁止されている。 

      I trust you’ll be able to work your way through these. Take your time – wouldn’t want you going off half-cocked again like you did over the Tsukiji sign just because your reading comprehension skills aren’t up to snuff.

      In any case, why did Customs choose a Cathay Pacific flight (as opposed to a Japanese carrier)?
      I’m not at all convinced they “chose” ANY flight. They were conducting screening and training on a Monday afternoon. While we will probably never know why they chose that particular batch of luggage to do training on, knowing government employees they probably chose that time slot as the luggage load would not be so large that it would make training difficult.

      Your inconsolable need to portray the messenger uncharitably gets in the way of putting the blame and the criticism squarely where it belongs–on Customs.
      Wrong as usual. I place the blame squarely on the customs official who made the boneheaded decision to use a passenger’s luggage as a training aid, instead of the bags he had been given expressly for that purpose. This could have turned out much worse than it did. Thankfully the immediate situation (hash gone missing) has been resolved. And the individual responsible has been identified and is being dealt with by his superiors.

      What I see here is your inconsolable need to portray every incident as some sort of anti-foreigner plot, and twist, mangle and spin every story to support that seriously flawed hypothesis, no matter what leaps of (il)logic are required to do so. In most cases, Hanlon’s (or Heinlein’s) Law will suffice to explain everything.

    14. chad Says:

      “Much better coverage of this story has been on yahoo.co.jp, mainichi, etc. Why quote the news using barely adequate translations from CNN and Japantoday?”

      I’m to blame for that. Debito posted the story within minutes after I contacted him (9:23 a.m.). I didn’t see the story anywhere else at the time. CNN may not be The Economist (jabbing at AD, here), but it works for me…

    15. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      Put a GPS in the “target item”? They shouldn’t even be tampering with the luggage of private individuals to being with! That’s a crime if another person were to do it.

      Regarding incompetence vs, malice, not sniffing out the target may be attributable to incompetence, but the malice is that they’re putting ordinary innocent people into massive amounts of danger just so that they can have some free guinea pigs for training their dogs.

      Baggage usually has a label on it indicating the owner. It’s inconceivable that the customs official didn’t have some idea that their free training dummy was non-Japanese.

    16. shodoman Says:

      It might not be an anti-foreigner plot. It might be worse than that.

      Beliefs can be so deep-rooted that the person who holds them often doesn’t even know they exist, even though they have a huge influence on perception. Maybe the guy chose a foreigners bag simply because to him it was inconceivable to choose a Japanese person’s bag…

      As for being dealt with by his superiors… This demands nothing less than dismissal, and would probably be the case in another country. And the owner of the suitcase would probably sue, and win.

    17. debito Says:

      FEEDBACK FROM CYBERSPACE:

      I can certainly understand your need to try and puzzle out why in the
      world customs would do such a thing and to point out how it could have
      been done better.

      However, I’d like to point out that the issue of motivations is
      insignificant to the issue of the horrendous abuse of rights that took
      place. I’ve been thinking about specifically what rights might have
      been abused, but unfortunately I’m not legally minded enough to know,
      but this has to be a right infringement of some sort. The person-in-
      question’s private possessions are not playthings for customs
      officials to play with, especially when the game can have such serious
      consequences for the owner of the luggage. Regardless of issues of
      ineptness, the attitude here is despicable. I’m truly speechless.

      So regardless of whatever the motivations were, or how well the
      procedure was or wasn’t carried out, first and foremost it should be
      recognized that this is extraordinary abusive behavior.

      What’s interesting in a tragic sort of way is the catch 22 the person
      who got the drugs is in. Should he turn himself in? What if the
      marijuana he has is not the marijuana they are looking for? Boy would
      that be bad? What would you do?

    18. Philip Adamek Says:

      Is there a missing story here?

      I would like to know exactly who grew that weed, and under what conditions? Is there a little greenhouse space set aside for such tests? And who is guarding that stash of reefer? How can we be sure that no security official or underling is not smoking a little on the side? And I would really like to know: Is Japanese government-grown grass good? Does it have a distinct flavor? Should it be called “wa-weed”? Will we ever get an answer to any of these questions?

    19. tornadoes28 Says:

      The article only states that the customs officials asked for it to be returned if found? If this happened in the US, the article would always state that officials are conducting an investigation into what happened or are taking measures to prevent it from happeneing or even that they will discontinue this type of exercise.

      Apparantly not in Japan. the only statement from customs is “please return it”.

    20. A Says:

      Debito,

      It turns out that it was indeed a foreigner’s bag used.

      The article below says that the bag belonged to a foreigner who was staying in a hotel in Tokyo. All 124 grams were recovered in their original packing. The foreigner was quoted as saying he did not notice the package at all. They apparently tracked him down through a declarations form.

      As LB quoted the Mainichi article in post #13, the trainer who did this said that he has done it several times before, even though he was aware that using private baggage for such training was forbidden by internal Customs policies. Although I doubt he will get more than a stern talking-to, I can’t imagine anything other than being fired as an appropriate punishment for this.

      We are all well aware of both the free hand that police have in Japan, with foreigners in particular, and of the steep penalties involved with the possession of drugs, by foreigners in particular. Had that foreigner been stopped by a police on the streets and his bag searched, or if the marijuana were found in some other way, he would have had to explain himself from the bad side of a holding cell and 18 hour interrogations. “It’s not mine” and “I’ve never seen that before” are famous last words for those accused of drug possesion/import.

      http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20080527-00000002-yom-soci

      探知犬訓練で紛失の大麻樹脂発見
      5月27日1時5分配信 読売新聞

       東京税関は26日夜、成田空港での麻薬探知犬の訓練中に紛失した大麻樹脂が見つかったと発表した。

       同税関によると、同税関は25日午後に紛失した後、携行品の申告書から、大麻樹脂を入れたスーツケースの行方を探索。26日夜になって、都内のホテルに宿泊している外国人客が持ち主とわかった。大麻樹脂は容器に入ったまま、約124グラムすべて回収された。

       この外国人客は「容器には全く気付かなかった」と話していたという。

    21. Ke5in Says:

      That is so unprofessional, inconsiderate, ridiculously stupid and exactly what I’ve come to expect of Japanese authorities. Aside from illegally going into the luggage, if we’re to believe this was NOT done out of malice, then the ‘highly trained’ officer obviously grossly incompetent and didn’t consider the ramifications of his actions!
      What really makes me angry is that there’s nothing we can do to stop these kind of idiotic situations and all the stress and hassle that goes with them … it really begs the question – how many people have they caught with ‘drugs’ that was simply an exercise like this that got out of the hands of the ‘highly trained’ Customs officer who was too proud or ignorant to admit he’d set them up?!?

    22. LB Says:

      Tornadoes28: The Mainichi article above says that customs is investigating what happened and is taking measures to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

      Customs also launched a search, contacting all 283 passengers (many if not most of them Japanese – whoops, another hole in the “they’re targeting foreigners” argument) trying to locate the bag. So they didn’t just do an all-call “please give it back” and hope for the best. They were actively trying to locate the bag.

      Try getting all the facts before going off on Japan.

    23. LB Says:

      “Baggage usually has a label on it indicating the owner. It’s inconceivable that the customs official didn’t have some idea that their free training dummy was non-Japanese.”

      And most people I know use labels with a flap that covers the name so that thieves don’t get your name and address from just a casual glance at the bag. Even the free tags airlines have at ticket counters fold over to conceal that info.

      So what you and Debito seem to be saying is that a Customs official deliberately chose a foreign airline flight, then checked over the bags to be sure to get a foreigner’s, hid the hash in that bag and then lost it.

      After which he reported the incident, prompting Customs to contact every passenger on that flight, including all the Japanese and therefore inconveniencing everyone, blowing their cover for this racist, anti-foreigner scheme and making themselves look like complete morons. Oh wait, contacting everyone was part of the cover! They’re concealing their racist plot by hiding it behind one idiot Customs officer, publicly announcing what they’ve done, conducting an investigation etc. etc. etc.

      And if it had been a JAL flight and a foreigner ended up with the stuff in his bag, well that would be proof that they carefully selected the bag so as to not inconvenience Japanese and were anti-foreigner….

      Of course, if it had ended up being a Japanese off the Cathay Pacific flight with the hash in their bag you all would still find a way to twist it into an anti-foreigner incident as they were clearly targeting foreigners by going after a foreign airline, but screwed up and got a Japanese instead….

      Jeezus H. freakin’ Keerist on a stick – do you guys hear yourselves? How do you get through the day with this level of paranoia? Do you freeze on the street everytime a Japanese approaches you, for fear they are part of some insidious trap to “make an example” of “the foreign devil”?

    24. debito Says:

      EXAMPLE OF OVERSEAS REPORTAGE AS THE STORY GETS OUT

      Airport bungle gives passenger $10,000 in drugs
      THE AGE (Australia) May 27, 2008
      http://www.theage.com.au/news/news/airport-slips-10000-drugs-in-bag/2008/05/27/1211653984557.html

      An unsuspecting passenger who flew to Tokyo is carrying one million yen’s worth of cannabis compliments of customs authorities after a bungled exercise involving sniffer dogs.

      An officer at Narita International Airport yesterday stuffed 142 grams of the drug into the side pocket of a randomly-selected black suitcase coming off an overseas flight so that the animal could detect it.

      “The dog couldn’t find it and the officer also forgot which bag he put it in,” a customs office spokeswoman said.

      “If by some chance passengers find it in their suitcase, we’re asking them to return it.”

      The 38-year-old officer was quoted by the spokeswoman as saying: “I knew that using passengers’ bags (for sniffer dog training) is prohibited, but I did it because I wanted to improve the sniffer dog’s ability.”

      He was reprimanded by the head of customs at Narita airport.

      “This case was extremely regrettable. I would like to deeply apologise,” said the airport’s customs chief Manpei Tanaka.

      The cannabis, which has a street value of one million yen ($A10,100), was in a metal box wrapped with newspapers.

      Japan strictly prohibits both hard and soft drugs, with people imprisoned for possession of even small amounts of cannabis.

      AFP

    25. adamw Says:

      the scariest thing is they say they have done this a number of times before-thats the scary thing..
      why isnt the guy sueing them ?

    26. Tony Says:

      Inspection Manual for the dog:

      i) check the luggage to see if has tags and stickers from the departed airport
      ii) Read the name on the tag to see that belong to a Non Japanese.
      iii) Sniff sniff sniff….

      That explains why they could not use dummy luggage

    27. shodoman Says:

      LB, calm down

      I agree that some of the comments have more than a whiff of paranoia about them. But I don’t think most people are saying it’s an “anti-foreigner scheme”. Most people seem to understand that the customs officer seemingly worked alone in this case.

      But the lack of a “scheme” doesn’t mean that events like this have no effect on foreign residents. It’s a fact that there is a certain amount of xenophobia in Japan, and when people in positions of power do things like this it brings up serious questions of accountability and the protection of the rights of foreign residents.

      We now have foreign residents being fingerprinted at airports and the records to be held by the police, a move which sends a message that all foreign residents are potential criminals. That database of fingerprints will probably be checked whenever a crime takes place, which means that foreigners might well be under suspicion by default. Now we find that a customs officer, apparantely unfettered by lack of controls, slipped a packaqe of dope into a passengers suitcase. The fact that this was not an “anti-foreigner scheme” notwithstanding, it still doesn’t sound like a good mix.

      Being wary of this type of situation could be called paranoia. It could also be called being aware that when you take an unaccountable bureacracy holding foreign residents fingerprints, a lack of legal safeguards for police detainees, and customs officers who knowingly break regulations to do their own bit of drug planting, you could easily end up with something not too tasty.

    28. Martin Says:

      It reminds me a story about a Frenchman who went to Canada, and found explosives in his bag. Same case as this one. It’s the dog’s fault… Explosive story.

    29. Kama Says:

      Dummy luggage don’t smell good as Cathay Pacific’s luggages…

    30. LB Says:

      “We now have foreign residents being fingerprinted at airports and the records to be held by the police, a move which sends a message that all foreign residents are potential criminals.”

      No. It sends the message that Japanese immigration is watching out for potential criminals, and using fingerprints in that process. More than a few other countries do the same thing. Some even fingerprint their own citizens – I was fingerprinted in the US military, and the US government doubtless still has those prints in the database, meaning when a crime is committed in the US, and fingerprints are checked against the national database, my prints are being “checked”, more than 20 years after I gave them.

      I was fingerprinted when I first arrived in Japan, and have no doubts that those prints are still in a database somewhere, and have probably been “checked” since I have been here when other prints have been run against the police database.

      Am I worried about this? No. Concerned? No. I have no reason to be. No more than any other non-criminal in the database who is also getting their fingerprints checked (I assume, but have not confirmed, that as in most countries police officers and military personnel are fingerprinted as part of the recruiting/training process). I also have little doubt that even after I naturalize my prints will still be in a database somewhere. So what?

      “But the lack of a “scheme” doesn’t mean that events like this have no effect on foreign residents.”
      Agreed. But it also has an effect on Japanese. This singularly stupid breach of procedure by one individual who apparently thought dogs could either read or else had very good memories and therefore he needed to use an unfamiliar bag to train them, affected everyone on that flight and on all previous flights where the same moron did the same thing. Which is how a responsible person would report it or discuss it – not starting off with “Of course, we make sure we cause meiwaku to none of our tribe–we use the Gaijin as Guinea Pig all over again. Yokoso Japan!” or saying “It’s inconceivable (I do not think this word means what you think it does….) that the customs official didn’t have some idea that their free training dummy was non-Japanese.” Such hyperbole adds nothing to the discussion. In fact, it drags it down several notches.

    31. shodoman Says:

      “No. It sends the message that Japanese immigration is watching out for potential criminals, and using fingerprints in that process. More than a few other countries do the same thing. Some even fingerprint their own citizens.”

      But Japan doesn’t fingerprint its own citizens. It fingerprints only foreign residents, even those married to a Japanese. It could watch out for criminals at its borders without fingerprinting foreign residents at all. Foreign residents have been legally granted a visa to live here, and any criminal backgound checks can be carried out when the visa is issued. That should be enough.

      No,the arguement for fingerprinting foreign residents doesn’t stand up. It can only mean that the government thinks foreign residents are more likely to commit crime. If the government was really worried about crime, it could fingerprint everyone, give everyone an ID card and have done with it.

      “Am I worried about this? No. Concerned? No. I have no reason to be. No more than any other non-criminal in the database who is also getting their fingerprints checked.”

      That’s fine if you’re not worried. And if Japan had an open and accountable legal system neither would most people be worried. But the fact is that Japan doesn’t have an open and accountable legal system. It has a legal system which enables the police to use psychological (and sometimes physical) torture to extract false confessions which are then often all that is needed to secure a conviction, even for an offence which can be punishable by death.

      Some people may be happy to have their fingerprints on a database controlled by that kind of legal system. Everyone has their own comfort level. The fact remains that since all foreign residents will have their fingerprints in a police database there is a much higher chance of a foreign resident being suspected of a crime if the prints were found at the scene. The foreign resident could have been there innocently. A Japanese could have committed the crime, but the prints won’t be on the database. What will the police do? Search for more evidence to see whether anyone else was involved except the person whose prints who were found at the scene?

      That’s why the drug planting fiasco is so appalling. There can be no other reason for fingerprinting foreign residents except that the Japanese government thinks they are more likely to commit crime, and the government has stated so. Foreign residents are already suspects, and protesting your innocence when you are already a suspect is much harder to do.

      Some people like Japan so much they are happy to put up with those inconveniences and loss of privacy. I’m not so attached to the place, and will probably leave in the next year or two. I don’t see why I should pay tax to a government which I don’t feel gives me basic respect of privacy.

      Everyone has their own agenda. Views on fingerprinting foreign residents probably reflect how much a particular person feels at home in the country and how much they will defend it regardless. Those who want to stay will stay. Those who don’t will go. It’s probably best to leave it at that.

    32. Grant Mahood Says:

      Some light commentary on the story:

      “High Times in Customs Office Reach New Low”
      High times in the Customs Office reached a new low today when the Customs Office spokeswoman BLAMED THE DOG when describing how 124 grams of cannabis, planted in a passenger’s bag by a customs officer, got out of the airport:”The dog couldn’t find it and the officer also forgot which bag he put it in.”

      Hold on just a minute. To hear her tell it, there was just one line with all the passengers filing past the dog, and the contraband was right under its nose! Woof-woof to that!

      No one knows exactly what happened. There is no way to prove that the dog was lying down on the job because Customs lost track of the bag and have no way of knowing how far away from the drug, one meter, 100 meters, or more the dog was.

      Shame on the spokeswoman and those who put her up to it. They all deserve to be in the doghouse over this, cheek by jowl with that bag-spiking boob.

    33. dumpmatsumotorevisited Says:

      “How do you get through the day with this level of paranoia? Do you freeze on the street everytime a Japanese approaches you, for fear they are part of some insidious trap to “make an example” of “the foreign devil”?”
      Yes, this used to be pretty much the case; I used to freeze and automatically be on my guard, then things slowly started to get better. Unfortunately, going into reverse gear seems to be the way it is now. How long have you been here, LB? I think not nowhere near as long as I have. History is definitely starting to repeat itself. You may not be concerned, due to lack of experience, but I am. Uncle-Tomming will get you nowhere, LB.

    34. J Says:

      LB, I WAS a frequent visitor of Japan; in fact, every year, I traveled to Japan to purchase goods not available in my home country. With the implementation of fingerprinting on foreigners only, I stopped going to Japan. Why travel to Japan and let them humiliate me?

    35. jim Says:

      i wonder why the idiot that put the dope in the suitcase wasnt fired, oops i forgot he was japanese thats why! its the we virsus the rest of the GAIJINS mentality, and i bet all the ojisans at the customs had a good laugh about it, then they gave the customs guy a slap on the wrist because he said the good old GOMENSAI trick, if it was me or you we would of already been fired or may have even faced criminal charges for such stupidity
      one final thought, why didnt he put it in a domestic bound suitcase? oops again

    36. STP Says:

      “But Japan doesn’t fingerprint its own citizens.”

      Shodoman:

      This is another classic case of “insert your country here”

      ” But (insert your country here) doesn’t fingerprint its own citizens”

      “The foreign resident could have been there innocently. A Japanese could have committed the crime, but the prints won’t be on the database. What will the police do? Search for more evidence to see whether anyone else was involved except the person whose prints who were found at the scene?”

      Again, seriously.

      Did you happen to read up on the recent murder of a 23 yr old woman in Koto-ku condominium? What did the police do?

      Agree with LB.

      How do you get through the day with this level of paranoia?

    37. LB Says:

      “But the fact is that Japan doesn’t have an open and accountable legal system. It has a legal system which enables the police to use psychological (and sometimes physical) torture to extract false confessions”
      Apparently you have missed the court cases where confessions extracted under duress have been thrown out for precisely that reason. Or the case down in Kyushu regarding alleged vote-rigging where the defendants were not only acquitted (most of them never confessed) but the police got a public slap-down in the decision for their heavy-handed attempts to extract confessions. Do the police get out of line? Yes. Is this “enabled” or “endorsed” legally? No. And if you think police coercion is a uniquely Japanese phenomenon than I suggest you haven’t been paying attention to the news from your own country, wherever that happens to be. I don’t even try to keep up, but have seen more than a few stories of abuse or alleged abuse by cops from the US, Canada, UK, Australia, etc. Does that make it right? Of course not. But you give people a badge and power and some will abuse that.

      “Uncle-Tomming will get you nowhere, LB.”
      Thank you for that insightful comment. It looks like I must have offended a Debitard. Not that it matters, but I have been here 14 years and counting, during which time Japan (officially and just in general level of people’s awareness) has steadily improved in its treatment of foreign residents. And you?

      STP: I was thinking the exact same thing when watching the news about the murder case this morning…

      –For what it’s worth, published articles (not written by me) regarding the problems (in specific) with the Japanese judicial system can be found from here:
      http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#arrested
      I guess the logic runs that if some of these things happen elsewhere too, or if occasionally these things are actually dealt with, we shouldn’t draw attention to or complain about things that happen in future… After all, things will get better and awareness will be raised by itself, as it has done over the past fourteen years…

    38. LB Says:

      “I guess the logic runs that if some of these things happen elsewhere too, or if occasionally these things are actually dealt with, we shouldn’t draw attention to or complain about things that happen in future”

      Damn, and you complain about my lack of reading comprehension skills. Where in the hell did I say we shouldn’t talk about these things? Show me that, would you?

      When and if the police overstep their bounds that needs to be brought out. And incidents are being brought out. Not just by activists, there have been an increasing number of reports in the mainstream Japanese media about the issue, which clearly shows an increase in awareness of the problem. That is level 1. Level 2 is an increase in judicial opposition to coerced confessions, and we have been seeing that too. Without increased or at minimum continued public discourse there is not likely to be increased or continued legal opposition to heavy-handed methods.

      Shodoman’s (and others’) claim that Japan’s legal system is not accountable and enables torture is, demonstrably, wrong.

    39. STP Says:

      “i wonder why the idiot that put the dope in the suitcase wasnt fired, oops i forgot he was japanese thats why! ”

      Japanese don’t fire their own kind???? Now that’s news to me.

      “one final thought, why didnt he put it in a domestic bound suitcase? oops again”

      Domestic bound meaning domestic flights? They do have Haneda for that.
      What’s the point of smuggling drugs from Sapporo to Tokyo when you have Kuroneko Yamato??

    40. Kakui Kujira Says:

      There was 142 grams and the value is quoted at a million yen. By my calculations, that’s 7,042.25 yen per gram. Isn’t this nearly double the actual value? Err, from what I’ve heard from friends of friends of friends of course…

      –Of course…! But we’re talking a serious public works project for procuring pot here.

    41. Stevie Says:

      Hello LB.

      “Shodoman’s (and others’) claim that Japan’s legal system is not accountable and enables torture is, demonstrably, wrong.”

      Could you demonstrate it for us please?

      –Quite. The UN Committee against Torture does not agree, either.
      UN body attacks Japan’s justice system
      By David Turner in Tokyo
      Financial Times, May 23 2007
      http://www.debito.org/?p=415

    42. Adam Says:

      What I found on posts and news is everyone is talking about officer who put this stuff to foreigner`s bag and a dog couldn`t find it. (let`s blame a dog). What I cannot see is question and answer:
      1. What would happen if dog did find drugs?
      2. What would happen to innocent foreigner?
      3. would he be excused and told about planned “training” or would be taken to custody and end up in jail as a drug smuggler giving press news?

      What do you think? Forget about officer who still keep his job, forget about this case, just think about consequences for that foreigner. It may be you next target.
      If you travel with Japanese spouse, be sure to put her name on name tag.

    43. Big B Says:

      “But Japan doesn’t fingerprint its own citizens. It fingerprints only foreign residents, even those married to a Japanese.”

      Much as it is regrettable that this discussion has conflated the weed incident with the foreign fingerprinting issue, LB was talking about his being fingerprinted by the military of his own nation. I’m not sure that the JSDF or the Japanese police force don’t fingerprint their recruits, and if they do, then “Japan” DOES fingerprint its own citizens, at least in the sense that LB was talking about.

    44. Andrew Smallacombe Says:

      I talked to a JSDF officer a few years back and he confirmed that they are fingerprinted – the sole exception to the rule that only suspected criminals and foreign nationals are fingerprinted.

      I am a bit curious as to how customs were able to track down the victim of their stupidity by using a declaration form. Did they contact everyone on that flight? Did they just go through the list of foreign nationals? What the media haven’t told us is more important than what they have.

      I would have liked to seen a personal apology for the incident – the idiot who hit the stuff in the passenger’s bag doing dogeza to the poor passenger.
      As it stands, all I can say is “Off with his head!”

    45. Si Says:

      LB are you being deliberately obtuse? The very reason this site exists and contains a large number of people with a similar mindset to how Japanese treats its foreign guests should be sufficient to assert the assumption that Japan rarely plays nice when it comes to non-Japanese. I notice you quoted one or two cases where wrongly accused came to justice, and you are using that as a basis for an argument. Do you not think it is ridiculous to do so? Consider for a moment how many cases go unmissed, how much corruption there is in Japan, how the Japanese mindset will instantly shift all blame and guilt and tuck it away where it will be found years later, if it is even found at all.
      Are you honestly under the impression that Japan is at all easy for foreigners to live without hassle and discrimination? Why do you bother even to post here?

      I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that its extremely likely our Japanese guy here wasn’t thinking straight because foreigners are not people. In all my years of living in Japan I have seen ‘stupid’ actions comitted by Japanese towards foreigners because they do not think we are the same as Japanese people. I imagine the person who planted it was unable to comprehend he was doing anything wrong because it was “only gaijin” – and not in a malicious way but simply in an oblivious one.

      “…Japan’s legal system is not accountable and enables torture is, demonstrably, wrong.”

      Yeah, I think you are just trolling for attention now…

    46. K.A. Says:

      Knowing Japan all I can say:

      A low ranking custom officer/officers in a highly hierarchic society such as Japan can not conduct series of such actions without the knowledge and approval of the supervisors.

      It would be unimaginable for a custom officer to repeatedly sneak in the closed luggage area without the knowledge and the permission of the luggage security area chief who orders all the employees and supervisors of that area to give green light to custom officers entering and “inspecting” suitcases.

      This has been going on for long time, was not a the first case and decision making on carrying out such actions in such a highly hierarchic society can only come from bosses and only after having reached the obligatory consensus with all the others who were involved, in order to escape responsibility and the consequences with the help of the pyramid type structure of their hierarchic system.

      The box containing the cannabis was neither sealed nor labeled by officials with a “for test by Narita custom authorities” tag that clearly indicates that they were aware of the gravity of the situation that they are committing a criminal offense and wanted to leave no evidences of their action behind them, also in order to give themselves a chance to act freely when the passenger is caught by holding the matter of life and death in their hand.

      The fact that it happened in the past too, and the sweeping of the issue under the rug by a simple “reprimand” is a warning sign that it will go on in the future in a more careful and sophisticated way and it would be a wise thing for everyone checking in or arriving at Narita to seal their own suitcases with their own homemade security sticker, seal or anything else and call the airport security immediately if they find the seal damaged before passing through the custom gate.

    47. Big B Says:

      “Knowing Japan all I can say:

      A low ranking custom officer/officers in a highly hierarchic society such as Japan can not conduct series of such actions without the knowledge and approval of the supervisors.”

      I think you have just proven that you don’t ‘know Japan’.* Aside from the fact that bureaucracies everywhere are ‘highly hierarchic’, the notion that a human being is incapable of making a rather silly mistake because he or she holds a position within the customs service is somewhat ludicrous. So officials within Japanese ‘hierarchies’ do not permit deviation from standard procedure? How, I wonder, do the powers that be achieve these rather draconian standards? Are all officials supervised all the time? Or are Japanese people automatons with no personality that don’t make “mistakes” unless they are “authorized” to do so? It seems to me that if you can’t acknowledge the possibility of (albeit boneheaded and reprehensible) human error in this instance, you are projecting what you “know” about Japanese people (i.e. they are out to get foreigners and they don’t ‘do’ independent action) onto a particular individual. I don’t know what you call the categorization of individual behavior into types determined by preconceived notions of ethnicity, but where I’m from, we call it racism.

      The customs guy was an idiot, and if there was any problem with the system it was that his behavior was not controlled adequately. What perhaps he needed was more supervision (i.e. more hierarchy) not less.

      *And in any case there is no such thing as “knowing Japan” (or “knowing the United States”, or any other nation for that matter).

    48. Big B Says:

      “This has been going on for long time, was not a the first case”

      Prove it.

    49. LB Says:

      Si, I would love to prove I am not “trolling”, but Dear Leader Debito seems to not want to allow me to post such proof. I suggest you all take it up with him as to why he gets to decide what the “truth” is.

      –That does it, Lance.

      I have always allowed your comments through–and that’s despite their nasty, ad hominem, and vituperative tone (calling people “Debitards”, calling me a “hatemongering racist” and the site “evil” etc.) because they were still trying to make a cogent argument, however much I disagreed with them.

      Now you’re trying to blame me for not allowing you to “post such proof”? That’s simply a lie. You really are a troll.

      You have been confronted with a UN Committee Against Torture report which criticized Japan’s judiciary regarding torture and accountability. As witnessed in this post two days ago:


      LB: “Shodoman’s (and others’) claim that Japan’s legal system is not accountable and enables torture is, demonstrably, wrong.”

      Stevie: Could you demonstrate it for us please?

      Debito: Quite. The UN Committee against Torture does not agree, either.
      “UN body attacks Japan’s justice system”
      By David Turner in Tokyo
      Financial Times, May 23 2007
      http://www.debito.org/?p=415

      You have chosen not to respond to this with a cogent argument back, demonstrating. Instead, you try to blame me? As I said, that does it.

      Trolls are not welcome here, and with this you have proven yourself to be one. Either give us a cogent counterargument or some form of capitulation/acknowledgment to this point raised, or I will never approve another one of your comments to this blog again, and your IPs will go into the spam bucket.

    50. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      Big B, I think the customs official himself said that this “technique” has been used in the past and that the dogs were able to recover the planted drugs before the person exited customs.

      KA makes a good point about the lack of labeling. Whether they’re planting these drugs on innocent people or not, it’s outrageous that the box isn’t labeled “Property of Narita Airport Customs” with a warning to customs officials that it’s not actually possessed by any passenger in whose bags it might be found during a search. That’s the least they could do.

      (The only photos I’ve seen show the outside of the box, so there might indeed be such a label on the inside, but if there were, it would have been mentioned in the media, so I think we can safely conclude that this little box was totally anonymous. And it’s not like the set-up passenger can demand that it be checked for customs officials’ fingerprints!)

      I still can’t get over how egregious this incident is, and how cavalier customs officials are with people’s trust. A private individual planting illegal drugs among an innocent person’s baggage would be in jail or worse, yet the government can do the same thing with only mild repercussions (including self-reporting of their transgressions!).

      Here again, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    51. K.A. Says:

      Cannabis do not lie on their shelves like sugar for coffee to be easily accessed and used for low ranking officers even for test without authorization and permission from their superiors. Unless he had his own supply that was acquired in an illegal way i.e. confiscated cannabis were not destroyed.
      Legally acquired cannabis for test and training purposes are kept safe, cannot be accessed by individuals without authorization as they are accountable for that.

      It is like ammunition for police officers for their handguns.

      It must be drawn in documented way by the officer signing a document, giving explanation about his purpose with it and must account for that in the end when the action is over. It must come in a well distinguishable standard security box or bag that bears the name of Narita airport etc. etc. He must have muster key or other tools to open the suitcase that takes time, draw attention thus he needs to give them security and luggage section staff explanation what he is doing there especially if it is not permitted and is happening for the first time.

      In addition, there are many more little things I really don’t think I need to detail them all.
      This cannot be an irresponsible individual action of an overzealous officer as it jeopardizes his superiors, all Narita airport and stuff, their international reputation and his own team which doesn’t go on like that in the strictly team-working Japanese environment. Never!

      The formal apology, the smooth and quick teaming up with all the security stuff and later with the police in order to get the stuff back and their walking away from further investigation and further publicizing of the case couldn’t have been done without if it was a simple individual blunder.

      There are more but this blog was not created for my private investigation it is enough to say I do not believe it was a clumsy individual action of a custom officer.
      But clumsiness is considered cute and a forgivable quibble in Japan therefore the case is widely publicized as if it was that. Too bad it doesn’t work out for me.

    52. icarus Says:

      I would suggest to anyone who feels this is some kind of conspiracy against foreigners to send a letter of complaint to the Narita officials to express your disapproval of how they handled the situation.
      We can all argue over intent until the end of time, but either way, without proof it’s a pointless debate. Trying to make generalizations about the behavior of Narita staff based on so-called ‘Japanese’ thinking is pretty ridiculous. This is like saying Americans are all fat and eat McDonalds every day and that all Irish people are alcoholics and spend all day drinking in pubs.
      There is no conspiracy. A mistake was made – a grievous one, at that – and just like any organization, the more people that complain, the more pressure they will feel to apologize and fix things.

      –Well put. I agree. Somebody track down their fax or email?

    53. Big B Says:

      I thoroughly agree with Icarus.
      The number for Tokyo Customs is 0476342128. The Narita sub-branch is 0476326020. You can also email the Customs Counselors Office of Tokyo Customs at sodankan@tokyo-customs.go.jp, and they have a variety of other contact numbers on their English website here. http://www.customs.go.jp/tokyo/english/zei/index.htm

      Mark, is this the quote you are referring to?

      “職員は「探知犬の能力を向上させるため、過去にも複数回、同様の方法で訓練した」と話しているという。”

      It’s ambiguous, but the customs employee seems to be referring to his own actions in the past not those sanctioned by the customs service. Maybe this smacks of lack of training or supervision, both of which are the fault of the service, but nothing here suggests a campaign to target foreigners or even widespread use of this tactic.

      KA

      “Legally acquired cannabis for test and training purposes are kept safe, cannot be accessed by individuals without authorization as they are accountable for that.”

      Unless, of course, the individual in question trains drug-sniffing dogs at an airport. This guy did have legal access to marijuana and he abused the conditions under which he was allowed to use it. He was caught out and is being held responsible.

      Debito, please don’t ban LB, although he is somewhat prickly, he has brought some valuable points and material to this discussion.

    54. K.A. Says:

      —-generalizations about the behavior of Narita staff based on so-called ‘Japanese’ thinking is pretty ridiculous.—–

      Sorry, but with due respect I don’t think so.
      For two decades, I have been living here all I can hear from Japanese, are “we Japanese do that, we Japanese have that or we Japanese don’t have that, we Japanese think the same way, we Japanese act in team spirit, do what we do and the way we do – yarikata – and no one hurts you even if you mess up things but if you act individually we don’t forgive you that even if you do the right thing”. My business partners from abroad say more and more frequently and more often to me “if you know one Japanese you know all of them”. The nightmare of a Japanese is to be different than the others or to be ostracized from the group where he belongs. Their life is to belong to a group to do the same thing together in consensus.That gives them a helluva lots of feeling of security. I remember many years back the big poster at Ueno a smiling businessman in sebiro said “read the Japanese mind”. It is not me who says “Japanese” it’s them.

      ———A mistake was made – a grievous one, at that ———

      No, it wasn’t a mistake, it was professional negligence and a criminal offense. The officer acknowledged he knew he did something that was prohibited by the law and the regulation and still did it. Mistake? Really? Try to do the same thing at Narita and tell them “A mistake was made” when you end up in police custody.

      Interestingly enough I still don’t see serious conspiracy against foreigners and I am closer to what Debito said

      “………………… I would suggest that the customs agent
      picked a suitcase with a foreign name on it, so that there was less
      chance of the victim being a well-connected Japanese society type, or
      someone making a stink in the newspapers, etc.”

      But, I can’t help worrying that it might as well be a rehearsal – and that might explain why the box was not labeled – to train not only the dogs but the custom officers’ interrogating abilities with foreigners.

      ————Unless, of course, the individual in question trains drug-sniffing dogs at an airport.———

      I don’t think he trains dogs. He was testing. The dog seemed to skip the suitcase probably because he made a huge mistake planting the cannabis in it. Qualified dog trainer wouldn’t make that mistake. (leastways I hope so). I train dogs from my childhood, mostly sniffing dogs, pointers and retrievers. My friends called me and asked why the dog failed to sniff out the drug and I said it happens sometimes that the dog sniffs out the hidden sample but fails to signal to his master or retrieve. It can happen if the officer/trainer makes a classic mistake, although dogs will still perform well retrieving the official test suitcases. How many real smugglers’ suitcases these dogs could have skipped? I think it was the question going on in their minds and that is why they did what they did. They just didn’t realize where they messed up. And my question is how many times in the past they did this?

    55. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      Big B, yes, it was the fukusuukai part that stood out. That implies a number more than, say, two, and also implies that he couldn’t be bothered to remember the exact number. If they were indeed owning up to their malfeasance, they should be giving details about how often they’ve done it, how things went well in those cases, and what differed about those successful cases. KA’s supsicion, which I had not thought of, is even more frightening.

      Back in the 1960s, there was an incident where police pulled over numerous cars and interrogated their drivers as practice for some upcoming event. (I wish I could remember the details; it’s in Reischauer’s book on Japanese society.) Today people like Debito and myself also get frequent interrogations while riding bicycles, not because the police think we’ve stolen them, but as free training for young officers. This cannabis case is infinitely more grave than either of those! What is stopping these officials from simply hiring people to assist in training exercises? Aren’t they afraid that by forcing the general public to serve as unpaid guinea pigs, it will eventually blow up in their faces in the form of bad press and lawsuits?

    56. K.A. Says:

      ———KA’s supsicion, which I had not thought of, is even more frightening.———

      Yes Mark, and I am afraid my worry is realistic. I read an interesting commentary in JT that explains a lot-.

      http://www.japantoday.com/category/shukan-post/view/wave-of-retirements-impairs-police-investigative-ability
      “Wave of retirements impairs police investigative ability.”

      But, crimes continue to happen, hash is brought in, sold and traded here, someone has to go to the jail. They have to show some nice results. This unfortunately happens all over the world.
      I just came back from Europe where I saw a documentary on TV about countries where planting hash in travelers’ suitcases by airport customs officers or police agents is common practice,although they mostly plant it in the luggage of known drug dealers or undesirable individuals whom otherwise would be impossible to catch. Until they change their mind.
      Japan is still much better than many of those countries although far from safe.

      The prime danger I see in Japan is their hypocrisy and highly ritual social life, which misguides
      too many foreigners – mostly newcomers to Japan – and they tend to relax and sweep aside their routine caution believing that they are at a safe place.
      No, No, just remember to seal your suitcase, use your own safe locks on your luggage and watch out and check it carefully before going to the customs just as if you were in some knowingly less safer countries!!

      I am not coming here to say Japan is evil but to try to highlight the specific Japanese aspects of things – things that may happen all over the world – to help unsuspecting people to prepare to deal with. At this time in my previous posts, I tried to make one point and I think I have raised a very valid point. Knowing how Japanese would team up in their highly secretive society is, special to Japan and is vital to know, as much as it is vital to know that e.g. you cannot even contact a lawyer while in police custody.
      I am surprised that basic information such as was mentioned above the lawyer or this present issue is not printed on travel agencies’ information sites. Should be.

      BTW. In the meantime, I have found it. I was lazy to look for it at first as I got this news through BBC and I knew what I was saying is right. An archive Mainichi file.

      http://mdn.mainichi.jp/national/archive/news/2008/05/26/20080526p2a00m0na032000c.html

      “NARITA — Customs officials have lost 124 grams of hashish they planted in an unknowing traveler’s luggage to train drug sniffing dogs, the head of Narita Customs said Monday. Customs officials are banned from using travelers’ luggage for training practices, but one worker said it was common practice.”

      So, it was going on for long, staff was involved and not just a single fumbling good-will gambatteiru officer as the said, they teamed up, consensus was reached, silence was maintained, the whole thing only came to light as their were forced into a race to get back a lost 1 million yen street value hash. The Japan trademark deep bow apology and the lie that it was just a fumbling officer worked.

      I don’t know how long this archive file will it be available.

      As for the rest for another other post.
      I am not going to get involved in challenging conversation that only veers off topic.
      I like discussions until we stay on target and help readers to find out about the truth, even if no poster is capable to present the whole truth. Nevertheless, readers will be able to find out and learn where to look for more or better information.
      It is not an expert opinion just a post through the eyes of an individual which is the best in the whole thing. I don’t ask anybody to believe me, I only ask them to consider what I say.

      Other kinds of discussions are not very inviting for me, as in kind of smart (off-target) discussions it is only the most skillful and strenuous debater is who wins and not the truth.
      ==========================

      Wave of retirements impairs police investigative ability
      http://www.japantoday.com/category/shukan-post/view/wave-of-retirements-impairs-police-investigative-ability
      In the past month, several serious crimes involving women victims have been reported nationwide. At the beginning of April, Kanako Ishida, 19, was kidnapped, drugged and confined in a car in Ome, Tokyo. Just after this kidnapping case, a female officer worker, 23, disappeared from her apartment. During Golden Week, student Manami Shimizu, 15, was killed on a street in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, and Miho Kosuzgi, 15, was found murdered in the woods in Maizuru City, Kyoto. Apart from the Ishida case, no suspect has been arrested yet in spite of witnesses and evidence left at the scene of the crime.

      Why are police having trouble solving these cases?

      “There has been a wave of retirement of skilled and experienced police officers from the baby boom generation, which is causing serious problems,” said Itsuo Tobimatsu, a former Hyogo prefectural police detective. “While the number of security cameras is increasing and investigative technology is being improved, the investigative skills and motivation of individual officers are declining. Manami Kosugi’s murder in Toyota City might have been prevented, in my opinion, because there had been reports of suspicious persons lurking in the area. At the very least, police patrols should have been stepped up, which is a basic security measure.”

      Journalist Akio Kuroki, a former Tokyo metropolitan police officer, says the morale of the police force is quite low in Toyota City. “When I visited the crime scene, I found abandoned shoes, covers and batteries which police had used. This is unbelievable. In the past, if such a crime scene investigation had been sloppily handled, the chief of the forensic science team would have been fired.”

      “Police officers cannot catch up with the high-tech investigative methods so quickly,” said another ex-cop. “When I talked with young police officers about a case concerning an anonymous online bulletin board, I found they didn’t even know how to contact the service provider so they could trace illegal posters, which would have made the investigation much easier. Even now, police are just starting to learn how to analyze mobile phones, but the gadgetry is getting more sophisticated all the time.” (Translated by Taro Fujimoto)

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

      Customs lose hash stash planted in traveler’s luggage to train sniffer dogs
      http://mdn.mainichi.jp/national/archive/news/2008/05/26/20080526p2a00m0na032000c.html

      NARITA — Customs officials have lost 124 grams of hashish they planted in an unknowing traveler’s luggage to train drug sniffing dogs, the head of Narita Customs said Monday.

      Customs officials are banned from using travelers’ luggage for training practices, but one worker said it was common practice.

      “We want to improve the sniffer dogs’ ability, so we have practiced this way several times in the past,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

      Manpei Tanaka, head of Customs’ Narita branch, apologized for the incident.

      “It’s extremely regrettable that we have invited this sort of situation on ourselves. We will investigate the facts behind the case, provide thorough training and deal strictly with those involved,” Tanaka said.

      Customs said the hash was stored in a metal container stuffed into the pocket of a soft, black suitcase belonging to one of 283 passengers traveling on Cathay Pacific Flight 520 from Hong Kong to Narita, which arrived at 3:31 p.m. on Sunday. The owner of the suitcase is unknown and passengers were not informed that their luggage would be used to train the drug-seeking dogs.

      Customs officials said four customs officials had two sniffer dogs working a luggage conveyor at Narita, but neither was able to find the drugs. Police are asking passengers on the flight about the missing drugs.

      Customs regulations require customs officials to prepare luggage for training exercises like the one carried out on Sunday and specifically ban travelers’ baggage from being used.

      Click here for the original Japanese story

      (Mainichi Japan) May 26, 2008

    57. Big B Says:

      “try to highlight the specific Japanese aspects of things – things that may happen all over the world”

      huh?

      “Knowing how Japanese would team up in their highly secretive society is, special to Japan”

      Oh bull. The ‘Japanese’ do no such thing. You make it sound as if the whole country is a freemasonic lodge. Not having access to lawyers during police questioning is an unfortunate but well-known aspect of Japanese society. While we should rail against it, I don’t think your paranoid comments on a blog (that deals with the issue often) really highlights the problem any more than it already has been. And your comments about the dope incident are just off the wall and cross well into redneck country.

      Just a guess, but I’d say that the best way to combat discrimination in Japan is not to become a racist yourself.

    58. Big B Says:

      ““We want to improve the sniffer dogs’ ability, so we have practiced this way several times in the past,” the official said on condition of anonymity.”

      OK, so you’ve found the English translation of the article posted way up above by LB in Japanese and requoted by me anyway. Well done. The fact that you had to go looking for it in English though it was right here suggests to me that you don’t read Japanese, which suggests to me that you don’t have much idea of Japanese discourse on the various topics that you want to discuss here. So I’m afraid I’ll have to harbor some doubt when you tell me you ‘know Japan’.

      In any case, the fact that this had happened before, although reprehensible, seems to suggest that this is not a plot to entrap the evil foreigner, right?

    59. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      Big B, I want to say that the Reishcauer anecdote is in either The Japanese Today or possibly Japan: The Story of a Nation. My copy is from the 1970s and has a red cover with “Japan/Japanese” in white, if that helps. I’m embarrassed to even have related the anecdote without being able to document it, but I’d been hoping that someone else here might remember reading it.

      As for my other supposition, this I can document — Debito’s experiences with police officers who clearly don’t suspect him of actual wrongdoing are detailed in his article for the Japan Times here:

      http://www.debito.org/japantimestokyobikes.html

      I can also give you my own evidence that they use bicycle checks as free training for new policemen. (This is going to be off-topic, so feel free to skim it if you’re only interested in the cannabis case.)

      Of the 116 stoppages I’ve experiences, #67, which occurred in late March 2004, was an eye-opener. This was in Ochanomizu, just a block north of where Debito ran the police “gauntlet”.

      I saw two familiar-looking policemen in front of their koban and one walked over to the roadside to pull me over. A very young and very nervous recruit demanded in pidgin Japanese to check the bouhan touroku and of course I had to allow it. After the answer came back from the registration record office, I asked the young officer if any bicycle resembling mine had been stolen in the area, and he said that there hadn’t. Figuring it was doubtful that this new guy would attempt to arrest me without any order from his superior, I pressed a little further and asked why he was questioning me if such was the case — I don’t appreciate being treated like a criminal for no reason! He assured me that he didn’t actually think I was a thief; he was just obeying his boss and that this was “kunren” (training).

      This station had checked my bicycle over 40 times previously, and it seemed to me that the older officer remembered that I wasn’t a thief and saw an opportunity for some on-the-job training for his protege without the risk of having to deal with an actual criminal.

      I’d be happy to serve as a paid actor who rides past police stations and cooperates (or not, as directed) with the trainees. And I’m sure that the poor traveller in the article, the injustice to whom is infinitely greater than what I experienced, would say the same.

      Please don’t accuse me of generalizing about the ‘Japanese’ — this is about police/government/authority figures, not anything racial. We have three data points that support the idea of officials making use of innocent people for training of their own units, with small and large risks forced upon the innocent party. This is something worth fighting against whether we’re in Japan or in any other country.

    60. Big B Says:

      Holy crap! 116 times? That’s astounding! Do you dress up as the Hamburgler or Osama bin Laden when you go out? So totally at odds with my experience. I do remember now that I have been stopped by a policeman while out on my bike, but it was because I was riding at night and had forgotten to turn my light on – a fair cop. He was pleasant about it and didn’t give me any grief once I had turned my light on. Apart from that I’ve only had pleasant or indifferent encounters with the police. Maybe its a regional thing. Perhaps the cops east of the barrier are all nuts. If it is the same older cop, have you tried laying a formal complaint of harassment? They may even have records showing that your bike was stopped that many times.

      “We have three data points that support the idea of officials making use of innocent people for training of their own units, with small and large risks forced upon the innocent party.”

      True, but I’m still not convinced the customs official with the dope was targeting foreigners (or that “foreign bike stoppage” is systemic), which is what is being argued here.

      –I don’t think there’s any way you’ll be convinced, then, because it seems you have to experience everything yourself before you believe it…

    61. Big B Says:

      “I don’t think there’s any way you’ll be convinced, then, because it seems you have to experience everything yourself before you believe it…”

      No, I fully believe that Mark has been stopped 116 times. And from his email it seems to be the same cop doing it in a lot of instances. What I don’t believe is that it is rampant in my area, otherwise I would know about it and my NJ friends, none of whom has a similar story, would too. Mark is probably being harassed, almost certainly because he is ‘foreign’. He should be mad about it and he should complain about it.* But is this a system wide characteristic of the Japanese police force? Doesn’t look like it to me.

      Similarly the fact that the customs officials at Narita have been playing fast and loose with the rules is pretty abhorrent, but it doesn’t seem to me that they were specifically targeting foreigners (they followed up the case with all passengers the flight, remember). That doesn’t mean we should excuse these actions, but I don’t think we should cry ‘discrimination’ every time a Japanese individual (or even an agency) cocks up, even if it is major.

      The official organ for complaints against the police is the human rights bureau, MOJ:
      http://www.moj.go.jp/JINKEN/jinken21.html#01

      –We know. Now check out what happened when I tried to level a complaint against the police at this very same organ–in Sapporo.
      http://www.debito.org/policeapology.html
      and
      Japan Times article on Japanese police abuse of authority: “WATCHING THE DETECTIVES: Japan’s human rights bureau falls woefully short of meeting its own job specifications” (July 8, 2003)
      http://www.debito.org/japantimes070803.html

    62. Big B Says:

      Hi Debito,

      I went to the site you posted above and found this translation of the Police Execution of Duties Law there:

      ‘A police officer is able to ask for a person’s ID, but only if based on a reasonable (gouriteki) judgment of a situation where the policeman sees some strange conduct and some crime is being committed, or else he has enough reason to suspect (utagau ni tariru soutou na riyuu) that a person will commit or has committed a crime, or else it has been acknowledged that a particular person knows a crime will be committed. In these cases a police officer may stop a person for
      questioning.’

      Here’s the Japanese:
      警察官は、異常な挙動その他周囲の事情から合理的に判断して何らかの犯罪を犯し、若しくは犯そうとしていると疑うに足りる相当な理由のある者又は既に行われた犯罪について、若しくは犯罪が行われようとしていることについて知つていると認められる者を停止させて質問することができる。

      I’m confused. It says nothing about ID and certainly does not say that the police are prohibited from asking you for it. It says that the police can stop you and question you (停止させて質問する) if they think you match the criteria above. Under a positivist interpretation of this clause they are therefore well within their rights to ask you for ID even if you are a citizen (a request does not constitute ‘questioning’ in any jurisdiction I’m familiar with), and unless other laws, such as those pertaining to the gaikokujin touroku shoumeisho, come into affect, you are well within your rights to refuse their request. I have just asked a lawyer at my work about this and he backs my interpretation. Police asking you for ID (or for anything, for that matter) three times since 1998 may be dodgy, but it is not technically illegal, at least under the law you have cited.

      And by the way, in most countries there are laws that allow for ID checks at airports. If I have time in the near future I’ll have a look to see if there is one in Japan.

      Mark’s case is patently different. If it is the same officer who knowingly pulled him over many times although he knew from past experience that Mark’s bike was his own, then we have an abuse of privilege. And that really is something to go to the Ministry of Justice about.

      Anyway, back to work…

      –I have explained all the caveats and extenuating circumstances at the site. And no, whatever “positivist” (read “ideologically contortionist”) avenues you wish to construe, the police can ask citizens basic questions, but not for ID without probable cause of crime. Walking while white in a non-security zone (even if in an airport) does not qualify. So agrees my lawyers (and my lawyers can beat up your lawyers any day :) )

    63. Big B Says:

      In the sense that I am applying it here, legal positivism simply means that people are allowed to do whatever is not prohibited by law – a philosophy with which I thought you might concur. Despite the rather odd translation above, requests for I.D. are not prohibited by the law as written. And 「身分証明書をみせてください。」is neither grammatically or legally a “question” (質問) as stated in the law. Have there been any rulings on this? I’m sure the MOJ’s judge will beat your lawyers :)

      Anyway, this will be my last word on this for a while, as the afternoon is moving on and I have a stack of papers on my desk.

      –Quite true–I think MOJ’s lawyers are the equivalent of “superdelegates”…

    64. tornadoes28 Says:

      Debito, thank you for standing up to the troll LB. As you see from LB’s response to me, he is clearly not here to have an intelligent and polite debate.

      He stated I need to get my facts straight before “going off on Japan”.

      I will admit that I may have not had all the facts but I was not “going off on Japan”.

    65. K.A. Says:

      Still Narita.

      “Narita airport security employee arrested for threatening emails”

      What’s going on there? What exactly caused his distress? Could be grave if he thought it can only be cleared by exploding the whole airport. One can only hope it wasn’t caused by cannabis he just found in his bag on the way home.

      Is everything all right at Narita?

      Seems there could be a little problem with Narita authorities’ moral and mental health.

      Seriously, It is high time to start fingerprinting Narita staffs too, not only NJ passengers, anyway.

      http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/narita-airport-security-employee-arrested-for-threatening-e-mails
      http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9138KP80&show_article=1
      ———————
      Narita airport security employee arrested for threatening emails

      Thursday 05th June, 06:27 AM JST

      NARITA —

      Police arrested an employee of an airport security company Wednesday on suspicion of threatening to produce poison gas or explode a bomb at Narita airport. Tsutomu Nozawa, 25, who works for the Airport Security Business Center, has admitted that he sent threatening emails to the Narita airport website in April and May to “clear his distress,” according to police.

      Nozawa was engaged in luggage checks at Narita airport as an employee of the center, which undertakes security checks for airlines on departing and transit passengers, they said. Nozawa is being held on a charge of obstructing the airport’s business for allegedly sending an email on April 19 threatening to produce poison gas and another on May 2 in which he threatened to destroy the airport by an explosion, they said.

    66. Cheech Says:

      Dude…

      Did the ganja come from my field? Last week i noticed a couple of plants missing.

    67. A man in Japan Says:

      My wife works at Narita airport, she does security check at the metal detectors for people leaving Japan and she said that she knew that guy who got arrested and everyone who is on her team was shocked to find this out. She said that he had a strange atmosphere about him, looked nervous all the time and no one talked to him.

      My wife’s workmates say that he had no intention of doing ANY of the stuff he said he was going to do and just did it for attention. The man lives in government housing called UR or something which is where we live so he was living a few buildings away. Also, there is an internet cafe not too far away from our housing and it’s probably there where he sent the threats from.

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