Hi Blog. Not sure what to make of this incident at this time–let’s keep our feelers out on this one. Translating from the Sankei Shinbun (off Yahoo News):
PETER BARAKAN ATTACKED OUTSIDE TOKYO MINATO-KU CHURCH
Sankei Shinbun Dec 8, 2007, 4:30PM
Translated by Arudou Debito, courtesy of Dave Spector
On December 8, 2007, at about 1:15PM, British TV Caster Peter Barakan (56) and four other men and women were sprayed with a substance similar to tear gas by an unknown male. The assailant escaped in a car. They were attending a monthly Christian church meeting in Tokyo Minato-ku Mita, and suffered pain to the eyes, but were said to have recovered. The Mita Police are currently searching for the male as a case of assault with intent to inflict bodily injury.
According to sources, the assailant had hidden his face with a black cap. The five had assembled for a speech to be given by Barakan starting at 2PM.
The assault took place in a residential area about 300 meters east of the Tokyo Metro Shirogane Takanawa Station on the Nanboku Line.
COMMENT: TV Asahi SUKKIRI this morning noted that the getaway car was a rental (and harder to trace), meaning the assault was quite premeditated. Is this one of a series of people becoming violent towards NJ who stand out and speak in public? Once may be happenstance, but…
I’ve already written to Peter to offer my condolences. If he has a comment to share with Debito.org, of course you’ll read it here.
Arudou Debito in Sapporo
UPDATE: COMMENT FROM PETER BARAKAN:
Thanks to everybody who has written to me about the incident last Saturday. I’m really grateful for your concern. Since I have received a large number of emails, I’m taking the liberty of replying in bulk, so please excuse the impersonal nature of this message.
What happened was that I did a talk show on a theme of songs about peace. It was held at a Quaker meeting house, as the person who asked me to do the show has an association with the Quakers and was able to get permission to use the unusual but charming venue. It’s just a regular house, in a semi-residential area in central Tokyo, but a small street, where no one would be unless they had business there.
We were due to start at 2pm, and I got there about an hour early to set up. We were just about to sit down to some lunch, when suddenly this guy walks in wearing a ski mask and immediately starts spraying some horrible stuff. There were five of us in the room at the time, and of course we all panicked and ran outside. The guy ran after us to begin with but then stopped his pursuit and took off in a van, but not before someone had noted the number.
I couldn’t open my eyes at first because the pain was too intense, but after 15-20 minutes the pain abated somewhat. There was also a burning sensation all over my face where it had been exposed to the spray, which I’m assuming was pepper spray, or something similar. That did not go off so quickly even after repeated washing with cold water, but even so, with some discomfort I was able to do the talk show as planned.
The police found the van, which turned out to be rented, and there was a can of spray in it, though the man in the car said he knew nothing about it. One of the organisers, who got a glimpse of his face as he adjusted his ski mask, was able to identify him from a photograph line-up, but not 100%, so we don’t know yet if he’ll be arrested or not.
Saturday being December 8th – the anniversary of the shooting of John Lennon, there were a number of peace related events around Tokyo, and I am told that right-wing thugs were out in force. Whether this was perpetrated by one of them I don’t know…..
Anyway, there doesn’t seem to be any lasting damage. I had a bath that night which brought back a severe burning sensation in my hands, but as of Monday evening I seem to be back to my usual state of health, for better or worse…..
Anyway, thank you all very much for writing. I’m amazed at how far and how fast news travels about even minor incidents like this. Power to the people!!!