Japan Times ZEIT GIST Mar 24, 2009: “Punishing Foreigners, Exonerating Japanese”


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Growing evidence that Japan’s judiciary has double standards by nationality
By Arudou Debito
Column 47 for the Japan Times ZEIT GIST Community Page
March 24, 2009

Based upon Debito.org Newsletter May 11, 2008 (http://www.debito.org/?p=1652)
DRAFT SIXTEEN, as submitted to Japan Times editor, version with links to sources

Examine any justice system and patterns emerge.  For example, consider how Japan’s policing system treats non-Japanese.  ZEIT GIST has discussed numerous times (Jul. 8 2008, Feb. 20 and Nov. 13 2007, May 24 2005, Jan. 13 2004, Oct. 7 2003) how police target and racially profile foreigners under anti-crime and anti-terrorism campaigns.

SOURCES:  http://www.debito.org/?p=1767






But the bias goes beyond cops and into criminal prosecution, with Japanese courts treating suspects differently according to nationality.  We’ve already discussed how judges discount testimony from foreigners (ZG Aug. 14 2007), but here’s the emerging pattern:  If you are a Japanese committing a crime towards a non-Japanese, you tend to get off lightly.  Vice versa and you “haven’t a Chinaman’s chance,” as it were.



For example, consider the Hiroshi Nozaki Case.  In 2000, Nozaki was caught flushing a Filipina’s body parts down a public toilet.  However, he was not charged with murder — only with “abandoning a corpse” (shitai iki).  That got him all of three-and-a-half years in jail.  By 2008 he was stowing another dismembered Filipina corpse, that of Honiefaith Ratila Kamiosawa, in a train station locker. 


We’ve had plenty of cases where Japanese men kill and mutilate Japanese women (e.g.  Yoshio Kodaira, Kiyoshi Okubo), and they tend to get the hangman’s noose.  Not Nozaki.

Contrast this with the case of Nigerian Osayuwamen Idubor, convicted on appeal in 2008 of sexually assaulting a Japanese woman.  Sentenced to two years plus time served during trial, Idubor asserts that his confession was forced, that police destroyed crucial evidence, and most importantly that there was no material evidence.  Didn’t matter:  He got about as much jail time as Nozaki.  Which means, pardon the ghoulish tone, that if Idubor had been Japanese and the woman foreign, he could have chopped her up without adding much to his sentence.  If there was material evidence, that is.

SOURCE:  http://www.debito.org/?p=1630

Hyperbole?  Consider other crimes against non-Japanese women, like those by convicted serial rapist Joji Obara.  His connection with the Lucie Blackman murder has been well-reported, particularly the botched police investigation despite ample material evidence — even video tapes of his rapes.  Regardless, in 2007 Obara was acquitted of Blackman’s murder due to “lack of evidence”. 

Obara did get life imprisonment (not death), since he was only charged with “rape leading to death” of nine other women (one of them foreign).  But only after strenuous appeals from Blackman’s family was the acquittal overturned in 2008.  Obara became guilty of “dismembering and abandoning” her corpse.  Again, guilty of crimes to their dead bodies, not of making them dead.



Lousy investigation http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070424f1.html

Now triangulate that with the case of Lindsay Ann Hawker, who was allegedly murdered by Tatsuya Ichihashi in 2007.  The evidence here is damning too:  video evidence of her accompanying him to his apartment building, her beaten and strangled body found in a tub of sand on his apartment balcony, and his fleeing barefoot when police visited to investigate.  He’s still at large today.  You can see his mug shot on police posters for people wanted for “murder” (satsujin).  That is, except for Ichihashi.  He’s just accused of “abandonment of a corpse”, again.






Last week I called Chiba Police inquiring about Ichihashi’s charges.  An investigator entrusted with the case wouldn’t comment on specifics.  Asked about the process of determining murder or abandonment, he said if the suspect admits “homicidal intent” (satsu-i), it’s murder.  However, it’s unclear how at least one of the  crimes shown on the poster are significantly different from Ichihashi’s, or how some suspects indicated their homicidal intent before escaping.  Police did not respond to requests for further clarification.

Clearer is the exceptional treatment given Atsushi Watanabe, who in March 2008 choked to death an allegedly irate Scott Tucker at a Tokyo bar.  Generally, in these situations the survivor goes down for “too much self defense” (kajou bouei), regardless of intent.  That precedent was set in the 1980s by Steve Bellamy, a British martial artist, who intervened in a drunken altercation and killed someone.  Bellamy was acquitted of wrongdoing, then convicted on appeal, then acquitted again.

Although asphyxiating somebody is arguably overdoing it, media anticipated the case was “likely to draw leniency”.  They were right.  Last November Tucker’s killer got a “suspended sentence” of three years.  Moreover, public prosecutors, normally pit-bulls in these situations, unusually decided not to appeal.





Even less tenacious were the police prosecuting Peter Barakan’s case.  Barakan, a famous British commentator on Japanese TV, was assaulted with pepper spray by a masked assailant in 2007.  Police tracked down the getaway van, found the driver, and found mace cans in the back.  Yet no one was given that 23-day-maximum marathon of interrogations granted for investigating lesser crimes (such as foreigners who don’t cooperate with police ID checks).  Barakan tells me the police have since done “absolutely zilch” about his case.



Maybe police were too busy to pursue Barakan’s macing, but I doubt the relatives of American Matthew Lacey would sympathize.  As the Japan Times reported in 2007, Lacey was found dead in his apartment in a pool of blood in 2004.  Fukuoka Police declared the cause of death to be “dehydration”.  When his family insisted on an autopsy, the cause was updated to “cerebral hemorrhage”, apparently from an accidental fall.  The police, however, refused to issue Lacey’s full autopsy for independent inspection.  Public prosecutors and the US Embassy have not pursued the case.  It’s a busy world.


So does this mean that authorities have it in for foreigners?  You could make that case.  This is a land with a policing regime instead of an immigration policy, where under the Foreign Registry Law (Article 18) only foreigners can be arrested, fined up to 200,000 yen, and incarcerated for up to a year just for not carrying ID 24-7.  Severe criminal penalties for something as easy to misplace as a library card or car keys?

http://www.cas.go.jp/jp/seisaku/hourei/data/ARA.pdf (Article 18)

You could counterargue that this system affects everyone regardless of nationality.  Masayuki Suo’s excellent movie “I Just Didn’t Do It” depicts how the judicial process overwhelmingly favors the prosecution.  Don’t forget that 99.9% conviction rate. 

But you’d be wrong.  Non-Japanese are particularly disadvantaged because 1) there is no certified quality control for court and investigative language interpretation, 2) public prosecutors can have negative attitudes towards non-Japanese, and 3) non-Japanese cannot get bail (hoshaku).

Item 1 creates obvious communication problems for non-natives, especially given how heavily Japan’s judiciary relies on confessions, so let’s not dwell further.  The next item, attitudes of prosecutors, has received due attention from scholars.

Professor David T. Johnson writes in his  book “The Japanese Way of Justice” that prosecutors consider “crimes committed by foreigners” as “one of the three main challenges facing the procuracy”.  Tokyo University law professor Daniel H. Foote was cited saying that criminal justice officials “have stepped up their surveillance and prosecution of [foreign workers]”, and the foreign influx poses “the greatest external challenge” to Japan’s “benevolent paternalism” in criminal justice.  Thus foreigners, in Foote’s view, have “a separate track” for criminal prosecution.

CITES:  Johnson pp 137, 157, 181


As for bail, it’s not only difficult for Japanese to get — it’s impossible for non-Japanese to get.  Standard reasons for denial are fears that the suspect might flee or destroy evidence.  However, that didn’t stop twice-convicted-yet-bailed businessman Takafumi Horie or Diet member Muneo Suzuki (who even got reelected during his perpetual appeal).

Horie:  http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080729a3.html

Muneo:  http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080227a3.html

Non-Japanese, however, face an extra legal layer:  status of residence.  Stuck in Japanese jug means you can’t renew your visa at Immigration.  Therefore, the logic goes, if a foreigner is bailed, even if they don’t flee, they might get deported before their trial is finished.  So they remain in custody for the duration of the case, no matter how many years it takes.  Then they can be released for deportation.



Released then deported: http://www.debito.org/?p=1659

And it will indeed take years.  For example, a Swiss woman, declared innocent twice in court of drug smuggling, has been incarcerated since October 2006.  Even though an acquitted Japanese would have been released during the appeal, the Supreme Court upheld the denial of her bail.  Same with Nepalese man Govinda Prasad Mainali, acquitted of murder in 2000, yet detained until his conviction in high court that same year.  Thus for foreign defendants, all a public prosecutor has to do is file an appeal and it will void any court acquittal.

CITES: Johnson 158


So let’s summarize.  If you’re a foreigner facing Japan’s criminal justice system, you can be questioned without probable cause on the street by police, apprehended for “voluntary questioning” in a foreign language, incarcerated perpetually while in litigation, and treated differently in jurisprudence than a Japanese.

Statistics bear this out:  According to Johnson, 10% of all trials in Japan had foreign defendants in 2000.  Considering that non-Japanese residents back then were 1.3% of the Japanese population, and foreign crime (depending on how you calculate it) ranged between <1% to 4% of the total, you have a disproportionate number of foreigners behind bars in Japan.

CITES:  Johnson page 181



Feeling paranoid?  Don’t.  Just don’t believe the bromide that Japanese are a “peaceful, law-abiding people by nature”.  They’re actually scared stiff of the police and the public prosecutor.  So should you be.  For until official government policy changes to make Japan more receptive to immigration, non-Japanese will be treated as a social problem and policed as such.

1528 WORDS

Debito Arudou is coauthor of the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants.”  A version of this essay with links to sources can be found at debito.org.  Send comments to community@japantimes.co.jp


28 comments on “Japan Times ZEIT GIST Mar 24, 2009: “Punishing Foreigners, Exonerating Japanese”

  • I just read this in the paper. It’s very powerful and more than a little scary.
    I only wish there was a Japanese translation available as most of the people I know whose English is good enough to read your article know a lot of the details already…

    It does just make you angry, doesn’t it?

  • what can we do as NJ living in japan to change this injustice of the court sytems? Any words of advice besides not getting arrested?

  • If we made a “Gaijin Hanzai Victim File” (there’s no shortage of material, and as opposed to the slanderous Gaijin Hanzai File, all of our stuff would be true) would it sell?

    Would Mr. “James Washington” (the obviously pseudonymous and cowardly) publisher of the Gaijin Hanzai mook be willing to print it?

    I mean, we could fill a 200-page magazine with manga and essays with just the stuff that has happened in this decade.

  • Good writing, Debito.

    I agree with the former poster, a translation is definitly needed. And I suspect underway.
    Although J times is a major publication I fear that any Japanese magazine or newspaper capable of reaching out to the majority would not publish a translated version.

    Here’s to hoping, both to be featured and that the article won’t be lost in the cheers of the baseball-classics.

  • Excellent article and one of the reasons I chose to leave. Check this story: “Ex-cram school teacher gets reduced sentence for killing 12-year-old student” (The injustice system just reared its stupid head again today): http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/ex-cram-school-teacher-gets-reduced-sentence-for-killing-12-year-old-student
    I remember this case, and the guy brought a knife to the juku with malice aforethought and the express intention of killing this particular kid because he thought she was talking about him behind his back. Duh! ALL kids have a laugh at the teacher, me included, and I’m the teacher!

  • Here in Seattle we have the story of Chris Hillman whose ex-spouse MAYUMI OGAWA, has absconded with their 5 YO son fleeing to Japan with him and refusing to return. Of course she has been charged with First Degree Custodial Interference by the King County Prosecutor. The only problem is that she and the child, Sean, are in Japan and well….the GOJ has not exactly been cooperative in the effort to get Sean returned to Seattle. It would be nice to see MAYUMI OGAWA subjected to some public scrutiny while on the lam in Japan. read more at……….

  • > DR

    I read your comment several times before I understood it. Your final comment, “and I’m the teacher!”, suggests that you are the same teacher who got a a reduced sentence for killing a student. I assume that that interpretation was not intended. Rather you are also “a” teacher. The difference between “the” and “a” may be small but can make a world of difference.

  • Debito,

    I’m writing this after visiting fuckedgaijin.com, which is–not surprisingly–oozing with ad hominem attacks and idle snarkiness toward you.

    One commenter, however, attempted to undermine your argument by writing that in the Obara and Nozaki cases it was shoddy police work, not a lack of prosecutorial exuberance, that resulted in lesser charges and sentences. So, according to him, your criticism of Japanese criminal justice is misdirected.

    But isn’t it true generally that the impetus for aggressive investigative effort in such cases flows from the prosecutor’s office? And also, can’t we assume that there are cases where, for one reason or another, police work is intentionally shoddy or botched?

    Thanks for persevering.

  • I can’t understand why Japanese society puts up with such a brutal legal system. Even if there isn’t any concern for foreigners, Japanese law makers should make changes to protect people.

  • FYI NJ can receive bail, but as soon as the judge grants bail a prosecutor will file a motion to appeal the bail so then effectively the bail is then dismissed. its unbelieveable and in fact true that the prosecutor has the power to stop bail even after is it granted by the judge.

  • I am a Japanese French Interpreter and Translatot and I start working in japanese Courts and Prisons.

    The eternal argument is Go back to your country, even if people have a japanese woman and kids.

    But for foreigners interpreters it is a very hard discrimination too..

  • Behan

    The USA (although I am Canadian) has put up in the past with a system that only fined two men about 3000$ and put them on probabtion for the beating to death of an asian american in detriot in the 80`s…Not that I am saying this sort of treatment exists today (It does depending on where you go) but there is a lot of western society as well who is perfectly happy to stand by while non-whites suffer, murmering to themselves `aren`t you happy with all this country has given you?`, even in cases where an asian may have their roots in the country as long as 6 generations back (My chinese canadian friends family came to canada 6 generations ago and he still gets `wow you don`t have any asian accent`, wtf is an `asian` accent?…and this is in TORONTO the supposed cultural salad bowl of the friggin world!

    I do agree NJ should at least receive bail though. That is unfair and simply designed to make sure they just leave the country anyway becauses they will be again detain for overstay the moment they leave.

    I have to admit though If I was debito I wouldn`t be doing any of this. I would just be happy with my status as a Japanese citizen and live out a more simpler life where I don`t have to dwell on the darkness of the human experience.

    racism sucks, but if you want to stop it you gotta get into the fight to debito. run for office.

    — I would suggest a moratorium on the “gee, this happens in other countries too” lines of argumentation. It indicates little (except maybe a sense of perspective), and justifies nothing. Just because there are cases of things being bad elsewhere should never be justification for them staying bad here. I know you were probably not intending to do this, Alex. But it’s worse than a useless reasoning. It’s actually used by relativists to justify the status quo. Don’t let it.

  • I know. I wasn`t trying to reason with it in that way. It just didn`t seem like Behen actually lives in Japan and I of course just assumed he lives in a typical eigo-ken country (i.e. America).

    I think in that sort of instance it would be relevant because it would be like the irony of the Japanese government complaining about North-Korean abductions when their women are abducting children every year.

    For those living in Japan the status quo of other countries shouldn`t and doesn`t matter. People ask me all the time `but doesn`t this happen in gaikoku (America)` (remember, I`m Canadian) and I tell them that I don`t live in those countries. I live in Japan and it is Japan I am concerned about.

    Of course if Behen actually does live in Japan then I apologize to him. He just came off as one of the people who come to this site who either haven`t actually lived in Japan or just came here as a tourist.

    Perspective is important though. There are some things we have to get used to that will not change will some people even over generations. There will be people who think of our grandchildren and great grandchildren as foreigners, comment on their `good` Japanese accent, shake their hands instead of bowing (this one is probably for people of caucasian descent) and so on and so forth. Of course I can`t imagine that happening in the big cities 50 years down the road, but you can bet there will still be rampant racist behavior in the countryside.

    My canadian friends and I were all fortunate to be born in Mississauga (Near Toronto), where although there is close nit racial communities canadian born children would all play together and grow up like nothing was special. It was only until some of my friends went out to the countryside (In Canada) for university that they would get ignorant white people commenting on their use of the fork, their `good` english and other behavior that went against typical `asian` stereotypes.


    If you have 3 minutes or so please watch the video above. You can say the exact same thing applies to non-asians in Asia. No matter what we do or how well we are accustomed to the culture there will be people who just cannot accept it.

    I am not sure if you can understand what I am trying to say. Like I said before your page is my only opportunity to communicate in english these days.

    Keep the good fight, but also keep perspective!

  • Two wrongs don’t make a right, Alex. And the biggest difference is that whilst racist attacks may take place in Western countries, such attacks are at least illegal… whereas in Japan, racism is not illegal, so there is no crime of “violence motivated by racial hatred”.

  • Howdy Alex and Debito

    Alex, I am American (not Canadian) and I do not think that attitude exists in the United States and I was in the U.S. in most of the 80s and politically active and do not think the attitiude existed then. I never heard of this case. I would be interested in reading about it so would appreciate a link or reference if you would not mind. If it went down the way you say it sucks.

    I do not think that this is systemic in the United States (or Canada..although I am NOT Canadian) and this was not systemic in the 80s either. Racism goes both ways in the US (and Canada I am sure) and yes it does suck. As stated “gee this happens in other countries” does not cut the mustard.

    The fact of the matter is…all countries have went through the growing pains associated with race…just seems that Japan (and Korea and China) although much more sophisticated cultures in some ways…are in the stone ages when it comes to this issue. Perhaps the consequence of homogeneity (academics check my spelling please). Heck look what just happened in South Africa. A major peace conference cancelled becaust the South Africans would not admit the His Holiness, the Dalai Lama (afraid to offend China?). How amazingly quick they forgot how close The Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela were!!!

    We all like to point fingers (Canadians at Americans, Americans at Canadians…etc.)…heck we elected a mulato President in the US (and those of you as old as I am can really appreciate the true significance of that). In reality all of western civilization is way ahead of most of the world when it comes to equality, etc….(sorry for my political incorrectness) but this is pretty much a fact.

    Striving for equal rights and the abolishment of racism in any society is an honorable endeavor and there is no “cultural relativism” when it comes to this issue.


  • Alex,

    I think the Japanese should change their legal system for themselves. The police, prosecutors, courts, and prisons should not be allowed to brutalize the population, native or foreign.

    There isn’t any need to compare to the US system. A lot of NJs in Japan aren’t American, anyway.

  • “Country X has anecdotal cases of racism in thier justice system, too,” is a weak argument, both morally and logically.

    But it also does point out the weakness of anecdotal evidence about Japanese injustice for gaijin. We need statsitcs.

    Though there seem to be no shortage of cases that seem to show an anti-gaijin bias even in just the past year, anecdotal evidnce is not as good as statistics. However, since the numbers are so small – Japan has about 1,200 murder arrests per year, if that means 1200 murders, then somewhere around 40 “should” be gaijin victims, (while similarly, about 40 “should” be gaijin suspects) each single case of pro-Japanese leniency or anti-gaijin bias in a murder case would mean a change of the “bias rate” of 2.5%. Each anecdote is significant. Does a statistically significant anti-gaijin bias emerge if all the anecdotes are collected and compared to the general Japanese population?

    And how to even begin to get a handle on all the crimes the police diligently decide to ignore (both for Japanese vicitms and gaijin)?

    I hope debito (or someone) is tracking down the data, which may yield intersting results. So far, almost the only data that is discussed is the police’s own reporting of numbers of arrests and “clearances” broken down by country and crime. Such figures are likely already biased against gaijin (such as by racist cops arresting gaijin while ignoring Japanese perps in any kind of altercation, or a few xenophobic Japanese citizens decide to misreport suspects as gaijin-looking out of hatred or stupidity as influenced by mass-media anti-gaijin sensationalism regaring crime)

    We need sentencing data, court data, wrongful arrest data (good luck) perhaps even need to just manually check every single gaijin victim case in the mass media if the court info is not made available. A big project.

    But it must be kept in mind that if the data does not back up the thesis [low chance I’d bet], such a result may not be ignored.

    Further, there needs to be data so debito can print his conclusions on the hard news page rather than as commentary. [If only anti-gaijin journalism would hold itself to such a standard.]

  • `There isn’t any need to compare to the US system. A lot of NJs in Japan aren’t American, anyway.`

    Yeah and I am one of those canadians who also have to put up with being called american wherever I go. I can also tell you that descrimination against asians is worse than America whereever you go. Descrimination on a personal level is WRONG, but it is wherever you go. Hell! I am Canadian born austrian but I grew up in an all Chinese-Canadian neighborhood and spoke cantonese by the time I was 10. But whenever my friends and I went to our usual hangouts people would stair at me and some people would tell me to leave because I was not `chinese`.

    I am just saying you have to have perspective! There are some things just not worth getting all riled up about.

    Somone makes fun of your accent, make a joke out of it.
    If they poke fun at foreign accents even though you don`t have one, still, make a joke out of it. The people who get the most riled up about people poking fun at them are usually people who are insecure (the person doing the ijime is also insecure I would argue though)

    Ok, Japan doesn`t have a law against descrimination. If it is affecting you so much in your daily life, lobby for it. naturalize and lobby for it. Get into office. Do somonething other than just blowing off steam in english on this blog. (This is not directed at Debito because he is doing more than his fair share in his own way.)

    I have two friends who got jobs in Japanese companies. They went through the SAME 就職活動 and 選考プロセス and what-not yet one is being told JUST NOW before entering that in two years if she is not head of her department they may not sponsor her again for her visa even though the Japanese who were hired with her are sei-shain, no strings. Another girl went to a total of 80 companies and is being told after a month of training she will be sent to China (her home country) to the office there! Even though the reason she came to university in japan was to work in Japan.

    These types of things are problems.

    people poking fun at your accent is NOT a problem.

    Hell, haven`t any of you ever seen RUSSEL PETERS???

    How many Canadians are there laughing histerically at his jokes, that includes all the races he pokes fun at.

    I do find this blog to be stimulating at times and some of you do make some insightful arguments. But some of you are too pessimistic.

    Some of you have to accept that you are now the immigrant. You are in the same position now as those you grew up around in your own country wherever that may be. It will not be easy and there might never be a time in your life where you are allowed to feel like you fit in. This also may hold true for your children and even your childrens children. But it is something you have to deal with.

    Doug, if you think that attitude doesnt exist in the USA you are seriously mistaken. I was refused gas at 4 stations in the south because I had a Canadian liscence plate.I got the old `your kind aint welcome `round here` I can`t imagine what else would have happened had I been an arab-canadian like some of my friends.

    Anyways I am done with visiting this page. Even if Japanese could read this page without any effort it wouldnt matter. Most of the traffic is from China and any complaining that takes place here is from white people who were once at the top of the food chain (including myself). We are now in the position of having to deal with the glass floor and you have to realize that to be equal to the `Japanese-Man` you must be better than him.

    A lot of you should learn Japanese too. I remember seeing one person saying they sent an english letter to family mart or something? what were you thinking!

    Not that you would need to contact me debito but you have my email, the rest of you don`t.


    — The problem with the suggestion of passing off being made fun of as humor has two problems: 1) not everyone is funny or has the power of humor at their disposal, and 2) it’s only funny and fair at the same time if everyone is “fair game” for being made fun of (in Japan, arguably NJ are in a vastly powerless position in the media). Please take that into account.

    Anyway, suggest you calm down a bit, Alex, and not make suggestions that people haven’t learned Japanese. That’s very presumptuous on your part.

  • Lindsay Hawker’s kin speak to press in Tokyo
    The Yomiuri Shimbun March 26, 2009, courtesy of Jeff K

    The family of Lindsay Hawker, a British woman whose body was found in an apartment in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, in March 2007, held a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday in a bid to reignite the hunt for the suspected killer.

    “I don’t want to keep coming back here, but I have to get justice for my daughter,” Hawker’s father, Bill, said at the British Embassy in Chiyoda Ward.

    He spoke just days before the second anniversary of the discovery of Hawker’s body in the apartment of Tatsuya Ichihashi on March 26, 2007.

    The whereabouts of Ichihashi, 30, who is wanted on suspicion of abandoning Lindsay’s body, is unknown.

    Bill Hawker, 56, who is here for the fifth time, said the Chiba prefectural police had told him “the net is closing in” on Ichihashi, but added, “We wait with interest to see if this becomes a reality.”

    (Mar. 26, 2009) Daily Yomiuri

  • Murdered Briton’s family call for information on suspect during Japan visit
    Mainichi Shinbun March 25, 2009

    Bill Hawker, center, sitting beside his wife Julia, shakes the hand of Yoshiyuki Miyazawa in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on Wednesday. (Mainichi)The family of a British woman who was murdered in 2007 at the age of 22 during her stay in Japan as an English teacher has arrived in Japan, calling for cooperation in tracking down the suspected killer.

    Lindsay Ann Hawker’s 56-year-old father, Bill, her 52-year-old mother, Julia, and her sister Louise, 22, visited the British Embassy in Tokyo, calling for information on Tatsuya Ichihashi, 30, the prime suspect in the murder. Lindsay’s body was found on the balcony of Ichihashi’s apartment in the city of Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, on March 26, 2007.

    Lindsay’s parents also visited a group supporting murder victim families in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, agreeing to work together towards the elimination of the statute of limitations for murder cases.

    “I am glad that we can work together,” said the chairman of the group. The couple also met other victims’ family members, including Yoshiyuki Miyazawa, the father of a man who was killed along with his whole family at his home in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward in December 2000.

    Lindsay’s father, who was in Japan for the fifth time, appealed in Japanese for help on finding Ichihashi.

    “Please find this man,” he said, pointing at a picture of the suspect. He added that he would cherish meeting other murder victims’ families, although they had met through unusual circumstances.

    Lindsay’s mother pointed out that there is no statute of limitations for murder cases in Britain. She added that she would not be able to stand the murderer of her daughter walking around free after the statute of limitations runs out.

    Gyotoku Police Station is receiving information on the case at 047-397-0110 (Extension 611).

    Click here for the original Japanese story

    (Mainichi Japan) March 25, 2009

    千葉・市川の英女性殺害:ホーカーさん父「時効撤廃に協力」 「宙の会」訪問





  • There are alot of good points here. Behan you are correct alot of folks in Japan are not from the U.S. As a matter of fact the majority of foreigners are not, however the subject came up so I thought I would reply. On the other hand there is a historical link between post WWII Japan and the United States with relation to the Japanese Showa period identity and alot of comparisons are made by Japanese to the U.S. Good or bad. I am not sure.

    Alex, I never said the U.S. was devoid of racism. I also was given a very hard time by immigration in Toronto when I was doing work at some power plants in Pickering. I was shocked, as you may have been shocked by your experience in the U.S. Also Debito is right, I would suggest most of us on this forum are long termers, are greatly invested in Japan, and speak Japanese. Please do not make assumptions.

    I think you should continue to read the forum. If the opinions (and that is what they are) are different than yours it is good. I find differing ideas and opinions (even radically different) often help me to see things more clearly or even change mine.

    As for “Get into office. Do something other than just blowing off steam in english on this blog” – I think this is again presumptuous. Alot of us here do not have time or the opportunity to do something. I run a business and employ several Japanese engineers – I think our day to day interactions are “doing something” – There are other folks who are just too busy trying to get by….coming here and sharing their thoughts (even if negative) is all they can do. Posting here and reading what is going on in my opinion is doing something by getting educated and listening to other points of view.

    I feel that it is much better to blow off steam here than to go out on our co workers, employees, friends, etc. – I myself have made this mistake. I think one of the great benefits of this site is to be able to air and share our dirty laundry…sometimes vent…before we go out and say or do something stupid.

    Alex I hope you do not stop coming to this site. The things you say are valuable and make people think.

  • OH! Thank you for posting this…I have class with Prof Foote tomorrow about death row in Japan. This will give me something to say!

    …Im thinking about writing another note about this topic actually for next year (I dont know if my koseki one is getting published for anyone who remembers me)

  • Letter to the Japan Times Editor:
    April 2, 2009

    Lessons from a junior high school

    Mobara, Chiba
    Regarding Debito Arudou’s March 24 article, “Punishing foreigners, exonerating Japanese”: Although I have never had to deal with Japan’s criminal justice system, a small anecdote about two relatively minor incidents at a public junior high school does serve to support one of Arudou’s major points.

    In my first time teaching a given homeroom, I divided the class into groups to play an introduction game. Two friends were put on different teams. They showed their displeasure by overturning their desks, kicking out the room sliding doors, then assaulting me with punches and kicks outside of class. A few weeks later at the same school, a Japanese teacher was attacked for trying to break up a quarrel between a very big student and his ex-girlfriend. That incident brought two police cars and two city hall vehicles to the school and resulted in a one-week suspension for the student. My incident did not even result in the offending students being brought into the principal’s office. The only thing that came of it was that my contract was not renewed the following year since there was opposition to my wishing to have the police called if I was attacked again. The students in question stalked me in the halls and repeatedly kicked in the doors in the rooms where I was teaching.

    Later I happened to work with a teacher who had been at the same junior high school…

    REST AT:

  • Alex, please read my post again, and then read yours. I don’t see how what you are saying is relevant to what I posted.

    Your experiences with prejudice in Canada don’t cancel out the fact that Japan’s legal system is brutal both to the natives and NJ.

    I am sort of starting to suspect you are trolling.

    Not that it’s important, but I have lived the vast majority of my adult life in Japan,.

    — I’m beginning to agree. Alex, you’ve been blathering on for quite some time now, even getting all hysterical at times. Tone it down and be more concise. This blog is not for your stress release. Any more loopy stuff and your comments won’t get through.

  • http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090407hs.html
    Tuesday, April 7, 2009

    Punishing foreigners, exonerating Japanese?

    Following are some readers’ responses to Debito Arudou’s March 24 Zeit Gist article, “Punishing foreigners, exonerating Japanese”:

    Citizens can effect change

    It is all well and good to complain and to say that certain judgments by the courts are simply wrong. However, in order to make fundamental changes in any legal system, legislative change and the mandate of the people is required.

    The problem with legislative change is that many foreigners in Japan are denied the right to vote in elections due to their status as alien noncitizens. Therefore it should fall upon those with the right to vote — i.e. Japanese spouses of noncitizen foreigners and their friends and family — to lobby government for change if they are unhappy with the present legal system.

    Perhaps it’s trite to say, but one would think legal education as to the basic rights and liberties that every person, noncitizen or not, can expect and enjoy wouldn’t be a bad idea and should be encouraged. Perhaps a booklet prepared in cooperation with the Justice Ministry would be in order. After all, in order to play a game properly, one must first know the rules.

    Gold Coast, Australia

    Racism deep and profound

    What would happen to a gaijin doctor who lost a patient due to professional negligence? A suspended sentence or jail time? Loss of medical license? What?

    What would happen to a gaijin who violently restrained an obnoxious Japanese drunk and killed the damn fool? Prison time, for sure.

    A gaijin who tossed the body of a badly beaten Japanese woman into a bathtub and then filled it with sand? Evidence suggesting that the gaijin might have raped and tortured the dead woman? Uh, the police would subject said gaijin to hours and hours of horrific interrogation, Amnesty International be damned.

    Or a gaijin who invites an attractive Japanese bar hostess to his private bachelor pad, then proceeds to give her a dose of sleeping pills in an alcoholic drink, attempts to rape her and then kills her? Uh, hanging for sure.

    What would happen to a gaijin who habitually assaults Japanese women on Tokyo’s crowded trains? If caught, time in jail or worse. But if a nicely dressed salaryman assaults gaijin women, he won’t even be detained. The police will accuse the gaijin woman of trying to entrap the poor man. I was witness to such a crime on the Odakyu Line one morning. The Canadian female victim told me to let the pervert flee the scene since the police would only humiliate her if she reported the crime.

    Racism in Japan is indeed “deep and profound.”


    Foreign-on-foreign crime

    Debito Arudou raises some worrying issues in his latest column. While I am familiar with Mr. Arudou’s work and agree with much of it, this article holds special resonance with me.

    Although I had heard about the negligence of Japanese police toward non-Japanese citizens for years, I was surprised nonetheless when it unexpectedly affected me. A few months ago I was attacked for being gay by a Canadian coworker of my boyfriend’s at a function held by the foreign-owned English school they both taught at. When my boyfriend tried to speak to his employers about the incident, they banned me from future events for “making people uncomfortable” and eventually coerced him into quitting.

    It was at this point that I decided to go to the police. Although I spoke with an officer who seemed compassionate, he made it clear that nothing would be done in my case because, despite visible bruises on my face and neck, it was foreign-on-foreign crime, and the Japanese legal system couldn’t be bothered to deal with it.

    I am sure other people will accuse Mr. Arudou of cherry-picking examples or being gratuitously negative, but I applaud him for pointing out an issue that leaves far too many people without a voice.

    Send comments to community@japantimes.co.jp

  • Thanks but I live, work and pay taxes in Japan, so let’s concentrate in our reality here. That this is happening somewhere else does not validate it here in any way.

  • Why is it that I regret becoming fluent in Japanese and now have to work here..?

    Anyone else..?

    As screwed up as it sounds, every time I get pissed off about these things, the only thing that helps me cool off is to watch this clip from Dr. Strangelove http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxrWz9XVvls

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