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  • FCCJ Photo Journalist Per Bodner’s account of his arrest on fictitious “assault charges”

    Posted by arudou debito on January 23rd, 2008

    Per Bodner, a professional photo journalist from Sweden (8 years resident in Japan, married with a house here), had a nasty experience in a Tokyo taxicab right outside the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on his way home from work November 28.

    He was arrested because the taxi driver had a spaz attack about him allegedly smoking in the cab (even though Per doesn’t smoke, and wonders if his irritability was a side effect of prolonged use of anti-sleep medicine–not unusual in Japan’s drivers). When Per got out and tried to take another taxi, the cab driver called the cops, claimed Per assaulted him, and had him arrested. There was no evidence of any beating, but Per was taken to a holding cell for interrogation in Tsukiji.

    The point is this: Like the Idubor Case, where a Nigerian was sentenced last December to three years for rape despite no physical evidence and flawed accuser testimony, it is becoming increasingly clear that in the Japanese judiciary, the accused’s testimony is discounted (even ignored, or in Per’s view, fabricated) in order to get a conviction. And it especially seems to be the case when the accused is a foreigner, even one as mild-mannered and upstanding as Per is (I’ve met him).

    If this can happen to him, this can happen to you–where a nutbar or a person with a “thing” about foreigners can claim you committed a crime, sic the police on you, and have you interrogated for weeks until you crack and sign some sort of confession.

    Even when lawyers (which Per managed to contact despite the best efforts of his prosecutors) sprung him in an unheard-of three days (in my view, due to his status as a member of the international press corps), the Prosecutor overruled the judge! See below.

    Let’s turn the keyboard over to Per and let him tell the story in his own words. What follows is the text of the statement he made at an FCCJ Press Conference on December 12, 2007, 2-3:30PM, with Panel Discussion on Police Interrogations and “Daiyo Kangoku”, featuring his lawyer, Kazuko Ito; Shinichiro Koike, Secretary General of the Japanese Federation of Bar Association’s Penal Reform Committee and Toru Matsuoka, a DPJ Lower House supporting a bill aimed at revising the Criminal Procedure Code to oblige police and prosecutors to videotape all interrogation of suspects in criminal investigations.

    Arudou Debito at the FCCJ, Yurakucho, Tokyo

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

    PS: Per can be contacted for more information via the FCCJ.

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

    THE GINZA / TSUKIJI INCIDENT 071128… By Per Bodner

    Welcome my name is Per Bodner I am a Swedish photojournalist and regular member of the FCCJ. I will briefly tell you about what happened to me after taking a taxi, and having a verbal quarrel with the driver. I ended up arrested, thus having a chance of peaking into the Japanese police and “justice” system. I have prepared some handouts for all of you: rather than going into details, I will try to cut my presentation to the essential, leaving more space to the question time.

    But – first of all – I will recommend everyone here who does not already have an Olympic medal – For your own sake – Go and get one as soon as possible!
    I will later explain to you why.

    1. Background:

    Around eight thirty on the evening of Wednesday 28 of November on my way home after visiting the FCCJ I had trouble, after entering a taxi, with the driver who very aggressively and repeatedly started shouting “NO SMOKING – NO SMOKING”.

    As I don’t smoke I got surprised over his shouting the same thing over and over again – NO SMOKING, NO SMOKING. I replied several times to him “OK, OK, FINE NO SMOKING and showed him my empty hands. But he was clearly upset and I decided to get out and to get another cab.

    When he finally opened my door, I tried to get another taxi. But they refused. In the meantime, the first driver had called the police. He claims that I have been beating him with my fist once and also kicking him on the leg once. He also claims he has a witness, although I saw none and, until today, I am still unaware of his/her name.

    Now let me state very clearly than I am not guilty of any beating or kicking. I have not been beating anyone during my whole life and have no criminal record what so ever – anywhere in the world.

    But I do admit (and did so during the questioning) that having become angry I did shout rough words back to him in English in a loud and clear voice.

    Police then asked me to follow them to the police station. I did not object to this and went with them without protesting.

    ————————————-

    2. Treatment at the Tsukiji police station.

    After arriving at the Tsukiji police station I was questioned for what it felt like – an endless time, at least 5 hours, without any legal assistance. They allowed me only one phone call, to my Embassy. But since it was late night, I just got somebody who promised to inform the competent officer later in the morning. The police took my fingerprints from each and every of my fingers, palm and the “heal of the hand”.

    I got an interpreter and very slowly and with sarcastic smiles from the staff standing around while I answered their questions they interrogated me. Police officers walked in and out of the room during the interrogation witch was very disturbing and annoying.

    At around 2:00 AM, they told me that I was going to be held in detention.

    This came as a shock to me and I got very upset and I could no longer behave politely or constructive.

    At one time I managed to pick up my mobile phone and quickly call my wife to inform her about that I was arrested and where I was – but an officer jumped at me to take away the phone. I managed to push him away and could finish my quick call.

    I felt totally humiliated and lost in the middle of all these nasty, arrogant and aggressive policemen.

    I was then taken to another room where they took away my belongings except for my pullover, socks and underwear. I was then handed a pair of sports long pants.

    My own had a string in them so they were also taken.

    At the table of this room were four or five A4 sheets of paper containing rules and “rights” in detention. I had no chance to even start to study these papers before they told me to take off my belongings and no further reading of the rules and “rights” was allowed after this. Then I was shown into a cell where another four inmates were asleep. Time was now around 3:30- 4:00AM I guess.

    ————————————-

    3. Environment at the Tsukiji police station detention

    I think I can recall 8 detention cells at this floor in this police station where I now was. Each cell containing 5 or more inmates. The area of each sell is approximately

    8 x 2,3 m including a toilet box with a glass window facing the sell and the guards seated at a desk outside of the cells – day and night. There are no furnishes in the sells only a worn down wall-to-wall carpet on which the inmates lay their Futon at night.

    Food is given 3 times a day through a hole in the cell wall and taken in sitting on the cell floor with the food on an oil-cloth on the floor. The menu, which I listed in the hand outs, was neither appealing nor abundant, but I guess this won’t be much different in any other country.

    Breakfast: Japanese type. Lukewarm, very thin powder soup. Cold rice in a Bento box with a red little tiny sour-plum in the middle symbolizing the Japanese flag. Cold artificial fish or meat with some sad over boiled vegetables. Lukewarm or cold water. (Teeth brushing before breakfast)!!!

    Lunch: 2 dry and tasteless breads with butter and jam. Cold or lukewarm water.
    Dinner: Cold Bento with cold rice, lukewarm or cold water.

    Sleeping: 9:00PM – 6:30AM with lights on. Inmates fetch their Futon from a bedclothes room and bring it to the cell.

    Washing and tooth brushing: in cold water morning and before bed (only face and neck).

    Shower: only every 5th day!!!

    At 09AM inmates can shave with shavers and smokers can smoke 2 cigarettes once a day.

    Books in Japanese except for 2 cheap detective-story books in English.

    (We used the books as pillows during the long day).

    ————————————-

    07 -11-30 Going to the Prosecutor’s office

    After breakfast I and some other inmates were asked out of our cells to be searched and then handcuffed and bonded to a blue rope. This was particularly humiliating.

    Off we went in a chain-gang, like dangerous criminals, down the stairs and out into a waiting police-bus that would take us to Tokyo Public Prosecutor Office to meet with the prosecutor. After an hour or so we arrived there. We were searched once again and lead on the chain-gang into a huge room with 14 (I think I can recall) cells on one of the long walls. Each cell with capacity for 12 inmates to sit on hard, cold wooden benches (90° seat and back). The numbers 1-12 on the walls. Behind a tiny, low swinging door in the cell there is a toilet and a water tap all to bee seen by the inmates and the guards. No one is aloud to speak or move from one’s place. Here we waited for many hours before meeting with the prosecutor in a special room for a very short questioning. Back to the very cold cell on B-2 I had the chance to meet with my lawyer and my colleague Pio, who was not admitted as such, but as interpreter. At the end of the day into the huge hall and searched again then your number (Ju NaNa) (seventeen) called out in a horrible screaming militaristic voice and back in to the chain-gang again.

    Transport with the same procedures as before and back to Tsukiji police station.

    Arriving late and dinner was waiting for us. The other inmates had already had their dinner. Back into the cell and a bad sleep on the futon with blankets. Now it was too hot to sleep.

    ————————————-

    07-12-01 Tokyo District Court

    The following morning we had to make a long (2 hours +) tour to pick up inmates from other police stations around Tokyo. Then we were able to meet – twice – with a judge, the first time for an interview, second time for getting to know if you were to be released from detention or not. Among all inmates that was interrogated that day I was lucky to be one out of two who was to be released that day. I heard from my lawyer that normally no one is released after the first 3 days in detention but rather most have to stay the whole 23 days or even more in detention. I was happy and relieved, in fact the judge, through the interpret, told me that I had to go back to Tsukiji with the chain-gang transport but after arriving there I would get my belongings and then walk out free.

    But the nightmare went on. After returning to Tsukiji police station I got the shocking message that the prosecutor had appealed the judges decision and most likely I had to stay for a longer time in detention. This message made me feel very bad and I was close to start crying.

    To my surprise – about 6 hours later – I was called out from the cell and told that I could go home. The judge had stood tall and rejected the prosecutors’ request. I was told that this does not happen often here, if it happens at all!

    My lawyer Ito-san and Pio were there to meet me. I had to sign a document saying that I had received all my belongings and happy from being released I signed. Later I found out that a handkerchief that I had blown my nose in once – was missing. The question came to my mind: – Do they take my DNA from my handkerchief?

    When we got down to the reception of the police station – there was my wife, our former FCCJ president Dennis and four Swedish nice people that I did not know from before (Pio had picked them up and asked them to join the celebration of my release).

    They had brought a bottle of champagne witch we haply finished outside the Tsukiji police station.

    Interrogation continues on a “voluntary” basis…

    Early last week I was asked by the police to come to Tsukiji police station to undergo further questioning. They said that 2 hours would be enough and my lawyer informed me about the right not to sign any document and to leave the police station at any time of my own choice. I was asked to appear on Friday the 7th of Dec. at 2PM and did so. I had my lawyer and a friend from FCCJ with me. “Just in case”. I just wanted to feel safe. None of these two persons was allowed to be present during the questioning. The police provided an interpreter, Japanese/English, who bore a police batch and told me he was a policeman.

    The female police who put the questions to me (her colleges called her detective) was one of the polices that had been coming and going in and out of the room during my first interrogation at the night of the taxi incident.

    The questioning lasted, not 2, but 3,5 hours. At that point I told them that I’ve had enough and was tired. When the interpreter told me what the detective had been righting down from my answers I could understand that every, for me positive answer, had not been mentioned.

    For example to the question about my background I had answered that I come from and still, most of the time, move in a rather intellectual environments, with good literature and music and where we solve our controversies by talking, not by fist- fighting, and that I never in my whole life have been beating anyone with my fist nor kicking and had newer belonged to any criminal or violent gang. None of these answers was ever written down in their interview with me. Nor that I was brought up by my mothers’ second husband who was, by that time, the chief prosecutor of my hometown.

    One of the questions was if I ever had received any awards or medals. I asked that I did not really understand the question. To clarify they asked – If I had received any Olympic medals or governmental awards. My answer to this was that I did not find the question relevant to the investigation.

    A few days ago I received a letter from the Tokyo District Court, with the decision rejecting the public prosecutor appeal to extend my detention. I had a glance at the public prosecutor report that was attached and asked my wife to translate it for me.

    I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Most of its content, related to my answer and behaviour during the questioning is totally false. I have prepared a very rough translation of it, which cannot be used for official quoting, but that will give all of you a sufficient idea. The report, among other things, states that I had refused to answer the questions about my background and my profession. This is a complete lie. I had answered very clearly and at length all the prosecutor’s questions, (except for the one about Olympic medals).

    I must confess my very strong feeling that police and prosecutors are, more than in the quest for truth, on the hunt to hurt me.

    Tomorrow I have agreed on attending yet another follow up questioning and have asked for a Swedish interpreter. I am not going to sign any papers!!!

    My detention has already been reported to the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I am going to ask my Swedish ambassador here in Tokyo to make a strong protest to The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to The Japanese Ministry of Justice.

    I’d like to thank all my good friends at FCCJ and others for their support in this scary, confusing and weird situation.
    ENDS

    ————————————-
    UPDATE: Per has since been called for a third round of “voluntary” questioning by the prosecutor. His sources say the prosecutor could demand he be sentenced to a year in jail for this!

    41 Responses to “FCCJ Photo Journalist Per Bodner’s account of his arrest on fictitious “assault charges””

    1. icarus Says:

      My god… is there nothing can be done about this kind of behavior? This is really scary.

    2. InJM Says:

      At least he’s not in the detention center anymore. I wonder what the taxi cab driver was thinking.

    3. Craig T Says:

      Scary. Indeed there are a great many things wrong about Japan.

      Not that it makes anything less wrong, but I must question one issue here: language. When told not to smoke, Per responded“OK, OK, FINE NO SMOKING”. Later, he writes: “… I did shout rough words back to him in English in a loud and clear voice.”

      Perhaps the taxi driver did not understand his English. I often go years between having a meaningful English conversation with a native Japanese speaker. If it started as a miscommunication, then perhaps the entire thing could have been avoided with a simple “hai hai, wakarimasita. suwanai node go sinpai naku” or something similar. This much should not be too unreasonable considering that he is “8 years resident in Japan”.

      In some ways this reminds me of the recently announced language qualifications for longterm residents. If done right, I do think it that it could be in the benefit for all.

      Of course none of that excuses the taxi driver, the cops, or prosecutors. And I feel sorry that Per has had to (and continues) to go through such an experience.

    4. Tony Says:

      This story is just… wow. I don’t live in Japan- I just go there for holidays- and it honestly makes me never want to visit Japan again. I can’t help but think back to how many situations I’ve been in where this could’ve happened to me…

    5. Sean Says:

      It sounds like he’s being set up by one of those evil taxi drivers just out to earn extra money through a settlement. Disgraceful stuff.

    6. nofj16 Says:

      And this is the country which wants thousands of (presumably taxi using) foreigners to attend an Olympic Games in 2016?

      Over my dead body!

    7. Andrew Smallacombe Says:

      Craig T’s point about language is fair enough, an eight year resident hopefully should be able to produce enough to say that’s he’s not smoking etc.
      However, what if Per was not a long-term resident, but a visitor? Tokyo is in contention for the 2016 Olympics, and I assume the Japanese government is not going to administer language tests before letting them pass through immigration (although it might be one way of increasing Japan’s medal chances) – are people going to be framed for non-existent crimes because they are in a linguistically weaker position?
      I’ve also heard from 20-year plus residents that as a non-native speaker you do not want to deal with police investigators or prosecutors directly – any slip and they will pounce on it.

    8. anti-pop Says:

      Simply sickening.

      Seems like if you’re a foreigner a Japan, you’re a sitting duck waiting to be taken advantage of.

    9. Colin Says:

      I’m still very confused as to what happened to the Taxi driver during this whole process. Was he also brought in for questioning? Did the police actually bother to check to see if there were wounds to the face and shins? Wouldn’t some kind of medical report from a hospital/doctor be deemed necessary to actually prosecute?

      This case very much reminds me of one I read about over at stippy.com involving a Brit and a Taxi Driver. He was in the detention centre for the whole 23-day period an his tale about the experience is fascinating yet frightening. It’s a ten piece report which begins here: http://www.stippy.com/japan-life/gaijin-in-a-japanese-prison-1/

    10. Adam Says:

      Man, it`s scary sh### get your belongings and just leave this communistic if not worse country!! This is my good advise. Don`t let them put you into jail for nothing. It means J people can do with us everything they want and you get sentence for their “manga stories”
      Please run. I would at the first occasion.

    11. Kimpatsu Says:

      Andrew Smallacombe: It’s already happened. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_John_Baker
      The police here are racists. My own dealings with them show that none of them understand the law, and just assume it supports their prejudices. And now fingerprinting at all ports? I’m looking to get out ASAP, and head for a country with stronger human rights protection (not England, then).
      And, BTW, I do have a medal.

    12. www.japansoc.com Says:

      Foreign journalist arrested on fictitious “assault charges”…

      A foreign photo journalist provides a first hand account of his arrest and treatment by Japanese police and the legal system. He was detailed for three days in Tsukiji….

    13. vegetablej Says:

      What was the taxi driver doing shouting ANYTHING at a customer? That alone should ring some warning bells. Obviously the man was a little deranged, and that should have been observable at the scene by any police with common sense. The fact that it wasn’t, and I’m sure would have been, had the same situation been between two Japanese speakers, speaks plainly for the prejudices of the police.

      Time for better education and some anti-racist education for Japan’s police force, and indeed better and more humane conditions for all arrested people here, of any national origin. I simply can’t believe it’s necessary to not allow people phone calls, representation at the interviews, an interpreter who is not a police person, and respectful treatment. Shame on Japan for this!

    14. Greg M Says:

      I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have waited around for the police to show up.

      Could a countersuit be filed against the taxi driver? That is, if anyone even bothered to get the accuser’s name…

    15. HO Says:

      In Japan, victim’s testimony alone can be the basis for guilty verdict if it is compelling enough, but isn’t that the case everywhere in the world? I am curious about the situations in other countries.

      I do not think this is a racism case because the same think can happen to Japanese, but I strongly believe the criminal justice system in Japan requires substantial reform to ensure human rights.

      “His sources say the prosecutor could demand he be sentenced to a year in jail for this! ”
      What are his alleged charges? Maximum jail term for an injury (Penal Code 204) is 15 years, that for an assault (Penal Code 208) or an intimidation (Penal Code 222) is 2 years.
      http://www.cas.go.jp/jp/seisaku/hourei/data2.html

      –PER TOLD ME THAT ONE YEAR WAS WHAT HIS LAWYER TOLD HIM. THANKS FOR MORE DETAILS.

    16. Daniel J. Says:

      I do not take taxis alone. Period.

    17. Neil Says:

      This case, as repulsive as it is, really doesn’t surprise me any more. I think that the whole “Do you have any olympic medals?” shindig is obviously connected to Tokyo’s bid to host the 2016 Summer Olypmics. What a sad state of affairs we have here in Asia’s most metropolitan city.

      I would also like to agree with some of the comments that pointed out that Mr. Bodner’s aggressive English speaking was what likely sent the taxi driver over the edge. Obviously, this does not excuse the taxi driver of anything, nor am I intending to blame the victim; however, we are all aware of the strong feelings towards the so-called “foreigner crime problem” that the media and national government here has drummed up, and, as such, we all need to be conscious of the ways in which already ill-disposed individuals may perceive our actions. It’s not right, it’s not fair, and we should work to change these perceptions, but unfortunately we have to deal with the realities in front of us.

      –I JUST TALKED TO PER ABOUT THIS. ALL HE DID WAS GET IN THE TAXI, SEE THE SIGN THAT SAID (IN ENGLISH) “NO SMOKING”, AND HAD THE TAXI DRIVER SHOUT AT HIM (IN ENGLISH) “NO SMOKING!!”. SO HE REPEATED THE SIGN, “NO SMOKING, HAI HAI” WITH HIS HANDS UP TO SHOW HE HAD NO CIGARETTES. IF THAT’S TANTAMOUNT TO INCITEMENT (OR “FOREIGN-LANGUAGE HARASSMENT”), I HAVE A FEELING THE HOLDING CELLS ARE GOING TO GET CROWDED. DEBITO

    18. Netko Says:

      Does HO-san, or anyone else here happen to know: How compelling alleged victim’s testimony has to be to have a person found guilty and penalized? Would that mean there’s no proof necessary (bruises on the driver’s body, with photos and surgeon’s written opinion, findings) to accuse someone and have him/her jailed? If that’s true, that sounds too scary, and it’s not logical. From what we could read on this site, what happened here is just the cab driver’s words against Per’s words. There seems to be no evidence, as long as I can read from the site.

      As for racism… I don’t think that because “something” could happen to a Japanese national (or any other national, in a country where he is majority) would disqualify racism completely. For example, Japanese can be fired suddenly or be refused from a certain post, and so can Caucasians in the US, but you still can have a case and sue if it happens to minority-you and you believe/are sure that it’s because of your ethnicity, isn’t that right? If racism and, for example, gender discrimination, would be always dismissed just becuase “the same thing could happen to members of majoriy/males,” it would look like there’s no racism at all in this world.

    19. adam w Says:

      HO

      You seriously think a japanese would be treated this way if they got
      in a taxi?

    20. scott lucas Says:

      If Per supposedly kicked this taxi driver then surely the first thing the police should have done is verify this. Take a look at the fella’s leg, for example.

    21. Ke5in Says:

      Adam – you’d be surprised. Especially if you look like Ainu, burakumin etc etc. Rascism here isn’t limited to race! Or try calling the cops and saying that there’s some Japanese guy at the bus stop is trying to interfere with little kids and see how hard the cops bail him up, irregardless of lack of proof, evidence or even children in the area.

      It’s gotta be a big city/Tokyo thing eh …
      Usually, the small-minded intolerants live out in the countryside small towns, causing grief for the non-locals and the cosmopolitan liberals live in the cities being all civilized and tolerant. Seems to be quite the opposite case in Japan LOL
      Maybe here in Shiga the people are just nicer, gringos are still a novelty or maybe there’s just not a great enough population for nasty people to hide amongst …?

      Here’s my story of an argy-bargy I had a few months back that involved the cops too …

      Trying to keep it short … Angry Truck Driver Man decided I, on my little motorbike, was following his 3 ton truck too close and jammed his brakes on repeatedly to teach me the error of my ways. I followed him for a while to put the windies up him and maybe give him a rude hand sign when I overtook him.
      Suddenly, on a narrow road, he stopped and got in my face and started screaming. When he started calling me a stalker etc I lost my cool and decided to stand my ground and started shouting back. My Japanese is pretty bad but I told him I was merely going home via the gas station over there, he was a dangerous driver and I wasn’t going anywhere until he’d left.
      Eventually, he decided to take a photo of my number plate (which I was standing in front of) with his cell phone. He tried to push me out of the way but I didn’t budge; in fact, I helped him discover Newton’s Third Law of Motion for himself :D He fell on his ass and scraped his elbows and threatened to call the cops – all through this I’d been ASKING him to call the cops – which he finally did.
      Three cars turned up LOL with 6 officers. Three of them questioned him, 2 questioned me and one stood in the middle. I was still pretty steamed but co-operated as best I could with my limited Japanese. They took my name off my license (which they got wrong!) and tried to sort it out. I stuck to my story that I was just driving along, he was dangerous cos he kept jamming on his brakes for no good reason and he fell down cos he tried to push me out of the way of my number plate to take a photo because I didn’t move.
      In the end, Angry Truck Driver Man left and the LEOs finished explaining to me that there’s nothing to be done cause they couldn’t determine the truth of the matter and I should understand that I, in my bike gear (helmet, padded jacket and carbon knuckled gloves), am big and scary and should remember that. I pointed out that 3 ton truck vs motorbike is no contest in a crash but they weren’t interested. I got the feeling the cops told him to drop it and get over it and wanted to get back to the donut shop. One middle aged plod though couldn’t help but leave me with his parting quip to the effect of “Next time, bring someone who speaks Japanese!”

      So, chalk one up for the gringos!

      Normally, I hate situations like that and hate causing disunity between the gringos & the locals but I was damned if I was going to back down from that jumped up little self-righteous toe rag – I wouldn’t have backed down if I was in any other country, why should I here? It wasn’t till afterwards that I recalled all the horror stories I’ve read on here and realized I may have gotten off lightly :D

      However, I can think of several gringo-type people who’ve had run in with cops around here and put them in their places, sometimes quite firmly … must be big city thing!

      –FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH, THE UN CONVENTION ON RACIAL DISCRIMINATION ALSO COVERS MINORITIES THAT MAY NOT BE “RACIALLY” DIFFERENT. http://www.debito.org/cerd.html THAT INCLUDES THE AINU, RYUKYUANS, BURAKUMIN. AND NON-JAPANESE CITIZENS. AS DOES THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS, BOTH OF WHICH JAPAN HAS SIGNED.

      AND FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH AGAIN, “IRREGARDLESS” IS NOT A WORD… ;)

    22. David Says:

      The biggest problem I have in understanding the taxi drivers story is this:
      In Japanese taxis the driver opens the rear door without leaving their seat. In the story there is also no mention of confrontation outside of the taxi. How, as a passenger, can you manage to kick the taxi driver on the leg?

    23. Ke5in Says:

      Yeah right on David! Don’t forget the perspex shield between driver and passenger compartment in some cabs too!!!

      Dave – just because it’s a non-standard word, doesn’t mean it ain’t a word :P :D and it got through my browser’s spellchecker … although it’s using American English and everyone knows THAT is a contradiction in terms LOL sorry in one of those silly moods today :D

    24. Dirk Says:

      The more I read about this case and the Idubor Case as well I feel it was a good decision I have made last year. Leave Japan ! Leave this racist country which is just same as Myanmar, North Korea or China.
      And I promise, back home I will tell everybody : Don’t buy anything made by japanese companies ! I also think to write a letter to our national olympic commitee to tell them about the situation here and tell them they shall not vote for giving them the games in 2016 in the IOC meeting.
      Foreigners can vote in this Country. With their feet !
      Bye, bye Japan !

    25. Per Bodner Says:

      To Davis Says: January 24th 2008 at 2:36pm.
      From Per Erik Bodner
      -After the cab driver finally, after allot of shouting and begging from my part, opened my door I was let out of the car but the crazy cab driver went after me and grabbed me to prevent me from leaving the spot.
      When I understood that he was calling the police I decided to await the police arrival in order to explain to them what had happened and to cooperate so that the incident could be cleared out.
      I have to say that the police man who arrested me was behaving in a rather gentle way. He explained to me that it was his duty to hand cuff me and I went with the police car with no protest.
      With my best intention and sincere honestly,
      Per Erik Bodner, Swedish Photojournalist living in Japan for more than 8 years and married to Japanese wife for 16 years who has the title “Bachelor of law” from Sofia Uneversity, Tokyo and with law studies at Uppsala Uneversity and Stockholm University in Sweden.

    26. Per Bodner Says:

      In addition to my text above I have to ad my suspicion that the taxi driver, whom I still don’t know the name of, might have been intoxicated with some drogues that would keep him awake during the long hours of conducting his cab driving, a habit that is not unusual in the Japanese transport business for drivers who do not keep any records of hours of their driving duty. To bee addicted to such drogues can often result in aggressive and violent behaviour, according to prof.meds. in this subject.
      Amphetamine and other “stay awake drugs” are often used here in Japan by drivers who are forced, by their own economy or by “bosses” (You might read Yakusa) to work more than legal hours of driving their vehicles. My question comes natural – did the police conduct any professional medical drug-test on the taxi driver? Did they ever ask for any medical and psychiatrik report about any possible damage to the taxi driver?
      Once again – for the truth,
      Per Erik Bodner

    27. David Says:

      Per,

      Please continue to give us information about this case. I’m particularly curious as what you intend to do about the taxi driver when charges against you are dropped (which they’ll have to be, anything else would be crazy). Making up false assault charges is obviously not a small matter and I hope you can file some sort of counter charge against the driver. Lycka till.

    28. nofj16 Says:

      The contact information for the International Olympic Committee is as follows:

      International Olympic Committee
      Château de Vidy
      1007 Lausanne
      Switzerland
      Tel: (41.21) 621 61 11
      Fax: (41.21) 621 62 16

      (For spam protection individuals’ e-mail addresses are not published. The current president is Jacques Rogge. A formal complaint sent by registered mail has to be signed for, and WILL be read! Well worth JPY520!)

      I’m going to post this info on:
      http://nofj16.googlepages.com/home

      Three days later I’m still seething about this taxi incident….and I don’t even live there anymore!

      A good overview of the IOC can be found in English: http://www.olympic.org/uk/organisation/ioc/index_uk.asp

    29. HO Says:

      Per Bonder, I am afraid the comment above is gone too far.
      Abuse or possession of amphetamine (also known as phenyl-amino propane) is strictly prohibited by Law on Prohibition of Amphetamine (覚せい剤取締法) in Japan. The maximum jail term for mere possession of Amphetamine is 7 years. That for abuse is 10 years.

      “Amphetamine and other “stay awake drugs” are often used here in Japan by drivers”
      I strongly doubt the statement above, because I have never heard of such stories. If a taxi driver is ever found abusing amphetamine, he will be sent to jail, lose his driver’s license, as well as the taxi company he works for will go out of its business.

      Furthermore, If the taxi diver were abusing amphetamine, the last thing he would have done would have been to call the police. They are good at spotting drug abusers.

      Accusing the taxi driver of drug abuse, which is a serious felony, without sound evidence may well constitute a libel. Consult your lawyer.

    30. Per Bodner Says:

      Reply to the anonymous “HO”
      I did not say that the cab driver was high on drugs only that it might be a possibility because of his aggressive attitude. I have never before, during my 55 years, met a person behaving as crazy as this taxi driver in question. And – many of my journalist colleagues here have told me about how common “uppers” are among people who has to work crazy and illegal overtime hours here in Japan.
      Per Bodner

      –PER, TAKE H.O. WITH A GRAIN OF SALT. HE HAS NEVER COME CLEAN ON WHO HE IS, AND HE OFTEN TRIES TO BE PEDANTIC IN HIS POSTS INSTEAD OF REASONABLE. HE OCCASIONALLY SPICES HIS REPLIES WITH THE ODD BIT OF CONSTRUCTIVE INFORMATION SO THAT I DON’T TREAT ALL OF HIS POSTS AS SPAM. BUT HE’S CLEARLY BEING SILLY HERE WHEN HE SAYS YOU’RE LIBELING THE TAXI DRIVER (HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY?–YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE HIS NAME!), MOREOVER GETTING DEFENSIVE AND “TEAM-JAPANIST” ON US. DON’T DIGNIFY HIS PEDANTRY BY GETTING ANNOYED AT IT. DEBITO

    31. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      Per, I myself have been questioned by police a total of 114 times — this is unavoidable when you work (1) in Tokyo, (2) at night, and (3) when commuting by bicycle — and have dealt with all varieties of officers, from friendly ones to racist pigs looking to get you in trouble.

      You mention: [An] officer jumped at me to take away the phone. I managed to push him away and could finish my quick call.

      Don’t do this! Never touch a police officer. I can’t stress this enough. Even if you’re 100% innocent of what they’re accusing you of, if you “assault” a police officer, or even impede him in his duties, they will have something to convict you for. This information comes directly from a near-family police officer whom I know well.

      You won’t be able to complain that you were provoked or that they were out of order when they tried to grab your phone. Particularly if you’re already in a police station, you basically have no rights.

      Maybe you considered the phone call to be worth the risk, or maybe it was just instinctive to push him away, but please resist these instincts!

    32. Per Bodner Says:

      Dear Mark
      Thanks for your kind advice.

      The thing is that if I had not been able to make this phone call my wife would never have get to know where I was or what had happened to me. Nor would I have got to find any lawyer. It was my wife who managed to find a lawyer for me through a journalist colleague of mine at mu club FCCJ (The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan). Per B.

    33. scott lucas Says:

      Very good advice from Mark in Yayoi.

    34. J Says:

      Just want to add my tuppence worth.
      Per mate, hang in there.
      I have just told my wife of this and she is disgusted. She and I also have had to go through my being questioned by the police…because her ex (married) Boyfriend was jealous and had told the police a few untruths bout me.
      And I have been through quite a few more by myself (before we married) Even been up the DA’s office in kasumigaseki for a 2 hour interveiw, that became 7 hours of threats by them.
      I have developed a hate hate relationship with the local police.
      Advice to all, DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING no matter what they promise…They caught me like that once, never again…
      DO NOT TRUST EVEN THE “NICE” ONES.

      Anyways take care one and all, and in the words of the X-files
      “Trust No one”

    35. HO Says:

      This news might be interesting.
      http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20080126-00000017-mai-soci
      <脅迫事件>「被害者調書ずさん」地裁川崎支部が無罪判決
      1月26日2時32分配信 毎日新聞

       脅迫罪に問われた川崎市中原区の無職男性(67)に対し、横浜地裁川崎支部は25日、無罪(求刑・罰金20万円)を言い渡した。被害者とされる女性は公判で「脅迫を受けたと思っていない」と証言しており、加登屋健治裁判長は判決文朗読後、「苦言を呈させてもらう」と前置きし、明確な被害者調書を作らずに起訴したとして検察側の姿勢を批判した。
       起訴状によると男性は06年11月3日未明、中原区の居酒屋で、入店を断られた腹いせに火のついた段ボールをシャッター前に置き、女性店主に危害を加えようとしたとされた。
       男性は通行人の通報で駆けつけた警察官に、現住建造物等放火未遂容疑で現行犯逮捕された。男性の弁護士によると、かなり酒に酔って常連の店に行っており、段ボールに火は付けたがすぐに消え、脅迫の意図はなかったと主張していた。公判での証言で、女性店主は脅迫されたと思わず「早く釈放してほしい」と話したという。
       判決で加登屋裁判長は、脅迫罪を認定できる証拠はないと指摘。判決後の「苦言」として「検察官は明確な被害者調書を作成せず、公判で被害者を尋問することで立証できると考えたようだが、そんな証拠構造で男性を起訴し、公判維持をしたこと自体問題があったと言わざるを得ない」と指摘した。
       弁護士は「男性は10カ月も拘置された。公判前に被害者の証言をとるのは当然」と捜査を批判した。横浜地検川崎支部は「コメントできない」と話している。【吉住遊】

      –IN FUTURE, KINDLY EXPLAIN WHY WE SHOULD READ THIS. GRATEFUL FOR POSTING PERTINENT ARTICLES, BUT ELUCIDATE WHAT POINT YOU MEAN TO MAKE AS WELL.

    36. paul Says:

      His lawyer, Ito san, is very competent and also represented the woman from Hokkaido who was held hostage in Iraq and yet accused by Koizumi and company of endangering herself because she went in the first place.

      Ito san is also one of the people who pressed for stronger laws against sex tourists, has studied the Jury system in the US and often takes the cases of people who have been abused by the law or by people in authority, such as the Tokorozwa high school students a decade ago. He is in good hands.

      One question that oftne comes up is with all the documented cases of abuse of power (forced confessions, wiretapping), could not some kind of action be taken, if it hasn’t, to hold police criminally responsible for their acts if in violation of the law?

      Something worth researching.

    37. Gene van Troyer Says:

      And what is one to do? Per was lucky. If the cops hadn’t been so inattentive as to let him get a call out to his wife, I wonder if a lawyer would have been there to see him so quickly?

      What I found truly shocking was the account of the outright lies on the part of the questioning detective and in the so-called prosecutor’s so-called statement.

      –THE PROSECUTOR’S JOB IS TO PUT AWAY THE BAD GUYS. AND YOU MUST BE A BAD GUY IF YOU’RE ON TRIAL ALREADY. IN THEIR VIEW, IT’S JUST THEIR JOB, EVEN IF THEIR JOB INVOLVES BENDING THE TRUTH OR STRETCHING THE CASE. IN JAPAN, THE PROSECUTOR’S TOOL BOX HAS A LOT MORE TOOLS IN IT THAN THE DEFENSE’S IN JAPAN.

    38. DM Says:

      Like a couple of posters in this thread, I am also leaving, after living here almost 20 years and making (I honestly believe) significant cultural contributions to Japan. It is frustrating and sad to see a people being swallowed by fear and intolerance. To watch beauty turn to ugly. My partner is leaving with me, so there will also be one less intelligent and international Japanese here. I don’t know whether our departure would alarm or please the small men with big power that are dragging this country backwards, but I fear it is the latter.

    39. David Says:

      Per,

      Could you please update us on this case. Any new information?

    40. Per Bodner Says:

      Still awaiting date for second meeting with prosecutor.
      But happy to be out of detention, working and to be with my dear wife & friends.
      Thanks all for your great support.
      Per Bodner

    41. Bill Says:

      “Leave this racist country which is just same as Myanmar, North Korea or China.”

      Oh, give me a break. I’m living in China, though I’m something of an amateur Japanophile so I enjoy reading this webpage. What in the world does this story or anything like it have to do with China? I can’t speak for NK or Burma, but I’ve never seen a “no foreigners” sign in China, nor have I ever heard of any story like this in China. Chinese treat foreigners better than the Japanese do, it seems.

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