DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEB 20, 2007

mytest

Hi Blog. Contents of this latest newsletter as follows:

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1) NEW JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE OUT TODAY ON “MYTH OF JAPAN’S CRIME WAVE”
2) UN’S DOUDOU DIENE BACK IN TOKYO NEXT WEEK
–ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE ME TO SUBMIT TO HIM? BY NOON FRIDAY
3) UPCOMING SPEECHES IN TOKYO, ONE WITH DIENE RE GAIJIN HANZAI MAGAZINE
4) ECONOMIST ON J POLICE INTERROGATIONS AND NEW SUO MOVIE
5) J TIMES: PREFECTURES RANKED RE SUPPORT FOR FOREIGN RESIDENTS

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By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org)
February 20, 2007, freely forwardable
Updates in real time with RSS subscriptions at http://www.debito.org/index.php

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1) NEW JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE OUT TODAY ON “MYTH OF JAPAN’S CRIME WAVE”

This is the reason I’m putting out this newsletter early: Today (Tuesday, Feb 20) is Community Page day in the Japan Times, with its weekly column of hard-hitting expose journalism by itself worth that day’s price of the paper…

My first column for them this year (only did seven last year, slowing down a bit, sorry) talks about crime in Japan–or rather the exaggeration of crime and the quantifiable fear factor. Here’s what I submitted to the editor on Sunday (headlines and sidebars may vary):

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THE MYTHOLOGICAL CRIME WAVE
Public perceptions of crime and reality do not match
By Arudou Debito. Column 34 for the Japan Times Community Page

“We must bring back ‘Japan, the safest county in the world’ through better anti-crime measures.” (Former PM Koizumi Oct. 12, 2004)

“Everyone will be a target of gaijin crime [sic] in 2007.” “Will we let the gaijin [sic] devastate Japan?” (Cover, Gaijin Crime Underground Files, Eichi Publishing Inc.)

The government and media would have you believe that Japan has lost its mantle as a safe country. Apparently we live amidst a spree of heinous crime.

Accurate? Not very, according to a new academic study…
============================================

Pick up a copy from the newsstand. Should have an annotated version with links to sources up within 48 hours or so at
http://www.debito.org/publications.html#JOURNALISTIC

The academic study I’m referring to is linked from
http://www.debito.org/?p=221

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2) UN’S DOUDOU DIENE BACK IN TOKYO NEXT WEEK
–ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE ME TO SUBMIT TO HIM? BY NOON FRIDAY

Dr Diene, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights Council, is visiting for the third time in as many years to investigate and talk about human rights in Japan. More on Diene’s previous trips at
http://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html

Japan has a surprisingly lousy record on human rights, as I keep pointing out. It is in violation of various treaties (what with no law against racial discrimination, safe refuge for child abductors, periodic reports filed late or not at all…), and Diene’s visits cause a very low-volume stir in the policymaking halls and media. Not to mention snubs from Prime Ministers and Tokyo Governors. More on the stirs at
http://www.debito.org/japantimes062706.html

More on Japan’s human rights record at
http://www.debito.org/japantimes110706.html
http://www.debito.org/japanvsun.html

Any sinecured bureaucrat just through the motions would probably have taken the hint by now, and given up on Japan. But Diene is not one of those types of people, and his assiduousness and tenacious research is the very reason we have a United Nations–to keep shaming people into keeping their international promises regarding promoting human welfare and dignity. Sorry to gush, but I think this situation warrants great praise.

Anyway, as far as I know, this trip Diene will be speaking at least three times in Tokyo:

1) Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan (FCCJ) luncheon, Monday, Feb 26, noon
2) Tokyo Bengoshi Kaikan, Chiyoda-ku, Monday, Feb 26, 6PM to 9PM
3) Matsumoto Kinen Kaikan Tuesday Feb 27 6:30 to 8:30
Last two speeches sponsored in part by IMADR, see their website at
http://www.imadr.org

I will be meeting with Dr Diene to present him with information regarding hate speech and recent publications (such as the GAIJIN HANZAI Magazine), in order to document the targeting of foreigners as official government policy, and the consequent public expressions of xenophobia this is encouraging.

If readers out there would like to send me a human rights issue (a personal experience is fine) to submit to Diene, please do so BY NOON FRIDAY FEB 23 via debito@debito.org. Please entitle your email “Submission to Dr Doudou Diene” to avoid my spam filters. I will print things up (include your name and contact details if comfortable) and place them in a special folder for his perusal. Please keep it succinct and nonhyperbolic for the sake of legibility and credibility.

Speaking of the GAIJIN HANZAI Magazine…

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3) UPCOMING SPEECHES IN TOKYO, ONE WITH DIENE RE GAIJIN HANZAI MAGAZINE

Just found out yesterday that one of the topics for discussion at next Monday’s FCCJ luncheon above was GAIJIN HANZAI Magazine and issues of hate speech. The editor of said magazine propagandizing foreign crime (background on that issue at http://www.debito.org/?p=214, with several more articles in the right-hand “Recent Posts” column), a Mr SAKA Shigeki, was due to appear to defend his company’s, Eichi Publishing, decision to put magazines on convenience stores nationwide depicting the destruction of Japan through foreign criminality.

Mr Saka’s written defense (published on Japan Today) is available here, with my rebuttal:
http://www.debito.org/?p=224

However, according to a source at the FCCJ, Mr Saka’s publisher, the mysterious “Joey H. Washington”, has nixed Mr Saka’s participation. So I was asked today by the FCCJ if I would take his place for a ten-minute presentation next to Dr Diene. Pinch me. Side by side with the United Nations? I can’t tell you what an honor this is. Wish me luck.

Meanwhile, the unsellable GAIJIN HANZAI has become a collector’s item. Even the last holdout, Amazon Japan, has “sold out” of the magazine. And for a couple of days, somebody was offering a used copy there for 20,000 yen! (Somebody seems to have snatched it up.)

Let’s shift gears:

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4) ECONOMIST ON J POLICE INTERROGATIONS AND NEW SUO MOVIE

My friend Chris at Amnesty International has told me that Director SUO Masayuki’s new film “I Just Didn’t Do it” (sore de mo boku wa yatteinai) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masayuki_Suo) is well worth seeing. Here’s the Economist (London) to put it in context:

============ ECONOMIST ARTICLE EXCERPT BEGINS ===========

JAPANESE JUSTICE: CONFESS AND BE DONE WITH IT
The Economist, Feb 8th 2007

A TAXI driver in Toyama prefecture is arrested for rape and attempted rape, confesses to both crimes, is convicted after a brief trial and serves his three years in prison. Meanwhile, another man, arrested on rape charges, also confesses to the two crimes the first man was convicted for. He, too, goes to jail and serves his time. Is this a story by Jorge Luis Borges, a case of trumped-up charges from the annals of Stalinist Russia, a trick question in a Cambridge tripos? None of the above. It is a recent instance, and not an uncommon one, of the Japanese judicial system at work.

On January 26th Jinen Nagase, Japanユs justice minister, apologised for the wrongful arrest of the taxi driver and declared that an investigation would take place. After all, the suspect had an alibi, evidence that he could not have committed the crime and had denied vociferously having done so. But after the third day in detention without access to the outside world, he was persuaded to sign a confession.

With too many instances of wrongful arrest and conviction, few expect anything to come from the justice ministry’s investigation. But the spotlight has begun to shine on the practices of police interrogation as well as on the court’s presumption of guilt. More and more innocent victims of Japan’s judicial zeal are going public with grim accounts of their experiences at the hands of the police and the court system.

Now a new film about wrongful arrest by one of Japan’s most respected directors, Masayuki Suo, has just opened to critical acclaim. The movie, entitled “I Just Didn’t Do It”, is based on a true story about a young man who was accused of molesting a schoolgirl on a crowded train–and refused adamantly to sign a confession. Thanks to support from friends and family, the real-life victim finally won a retrial after two years of protesting his innocence, and is today a free man.

The film, which was premiered in America and Britain before opening in Japan, depicts how suspects, whether guilty or innocent, are brutalised by the Japanese police, and how the judges side with the prosecutors. Mr Suo argues that suspects are presumed guilty until proven innocent, and that the odds are stacked massively against them being so proven.

The statistics would seem to bear him out. Japan is unique among democratic countries in that confessions are obtained from 95% of all people arrested, and that its courts convict 99.9% of all the suspects brought before them. Prosecutors are ashamed of being involved in an acquittal and fear that losing a case will destroy their careers. Judges get promotion for the speed with which they process their case-loads. And juries do not exist, though there is talk of introducing a watered-down system called saiban-in for open-and-shut cases. Apparently, members of the public are not to be trusted with cases that might involve special knowledge. Those will still be heard and ruled on–as are all cases in Japan today–by judges alone…J

============ ECONOMIST ARTICLE EXCERPT ENDS ============
http://www.debito.org/?p=217
http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8680941

Two Referential Links:

Japan Times Oct. 13, 2005: An excellent summary from the Japan Times on what’s wrong with Japan’s criminal justice system:
http://www.debito.org/japantimes102305detentions.html

What to do if you are arrested by the Japanese police:
http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#arrested

Given the honne in Japanese Criminal Justice System of using the Napoleonic system (presuming guilt and having the defendant to prove his innocence–which is why the Right to Remain Silent (mokuhi ken) doesn’t work in Japan), and the special investigative and interrogative powers given the Japanese police, this movie brings up a serious social problem.

Moreover, although this is something which affects everyone, with the climate of Japanese police targeting foreigners, this is more likely to happen to you as a non-Japanese resident if you get taken in for questioning.

According to Chris, who heard Mr Suo talk about his movie at the FCCJ press conference, the best thing to do is have a lawyer (get one, like a family doctor) contactable before you get taken into custody. Put one on your cellphone. You will need the support, because otherwise with the interrogative process in Japan, you will wink out from contact with the outside world for weeks at a time with nobody the wiser about what’s going on, as the Suo movie demonstrates so powerfully.

And NEVER EVER sign a police confession if you are innocent. Or you will go to jail, no matter what your interrogators promise. The end. Capische?

Finally, speaking of support:

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5) J TIMES: PREFECTURES RANKED RE SUPPORT FOR FOREIGN RESIDENTS

Thanks to Olaf for telling me about this:

============ JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE EXCERPT BEGINS ============

KANAGAWA RANKS HIGH, OKINAWA LOW
Wide disparities found in local support for foreign residents
The Japan Times: Thursday, Feb. 15, 2007

OSAKA (Kyodo) Large gaps exist in how well local governments provide useful information and linguistic and other assistance to non-Japanese residents, according to a recent study by a nongovernmental organization.

Some of the disparities are quite dramatic, the Osaka-based Center for Multicultural Information and Assistance said in a report on the study conducted between October 2005 and last August.

The center assessed 61 prefectural and large city governments, using a scale of zero to five for 16 categories related to foreign residents for a possible high score of 80. The categories included children’s education, language assistance and civil-servant recruitment.

Scoring more than 60 points were Kanagawa and Hyogo prefectures and the cities of Kawasaki, Yokohama and Osaka.

On the lowest side with scores of less than 19 were Aomori, Ehime, Saga, Nagasaki and Okinawa prefectures.

Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Oita, Kagoshima, Kochi and Ibaraki prefectures earned scores in the 20s.

The overall average score came to 41 points; the 47 prefectures averaged 38 and the 14 major cities averaged 50…

============ JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE EXCERPT BEGINS ============
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=223
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20070215f4.html

The entire study blogged at
http://whatjapanthinks.com/tag/kobe+shimbun

As fellow Dosanko Olaf notes, Hokkaido is below average…

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All for today. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
FEB 20 2007 NEWSLETTER ENDS

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