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From Debito's doctoral research:

Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

  • Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination
  • (Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield HB 2015, PB 2016)

    Click on book cover for reviews, previews, and 30% discount direct from publisher. Available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle eBook on

  • Book IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan
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    Tokyo Police apparently drop case of Peter Barakan’s assault

    Posted on Sunday, April 20th, 2008

    Continuing along the thread of problems with Japan’s judiciary…

    I reported some last December about NJ TV tarento Peter Barakan being assaulted before one of his speeches–where he and some of his hosts were sprayed with mace in a premeditated assault: the assailant even had a harder-to-trace rental car readied for a quick getaway.

    Details on that case archived here:

    Well, guess what. The police found the car. They found the mace. They even found someone in the car. But they let him go, after one of the people assaulted couldn’t identify him with “100% certainty”. It didn’t even become a case of detaining him for one of those 23-day interrogations until he confessed.

    I guess that means the cops feel that the crime against Peter Barakan is solved, or at least feel justified in dropping the case. Because according to Peter yesterday, there has been no movement or contact since from the police.

    “The police have done absolutely zilch,” he said. He tries to be open-minded about it by saying it’s his fault for not filing a complaint. But he shouldn’t have to. The police should be further investigating this as an assault like any other.

    But why bother? Famous or not, high-profile or not, it’s only a foreigner.

    You might think I’m exaggerating, but this is just another case to add to the collection of assault against NJ that doesn’t get followed up, while if a NJ were to commit a crime against a Japanese, I bet the investigation of the suspect would have been much more thorough. Leniency towards Japanese suspects in crimes against NJ does seem to happen.

    I’m trying to accept the caveat that nationality doesn’t matter in these cases. But it really is getting more and more difficult the more cases I see. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    FURTHER READING: If it’s a foreigner allegedly committing a crime against Japanese (as in the Idubor Case), the police go after it even if there is no physical evidence. If a Japanese commits a crime against a foreigner, it’s either not pursued (see the Valentine Case, for the time being) or handled with different standards (see the Lucie Blackman Case).

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    Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 5 Comments »

    The Australian/Japan Today on Kanagawa Police rape case lawsuit loss

    Posted on Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

    Hi Blog. Developing a case for police patterns of behavior. If it’s a foreigner allegedly committing a crime against Japanese (as in the Idubor Case), the police go after it even if there is no evidence. If a Japanese commits a crime against a foreigner, it’s either not pursued (see the Valentine Case, for the time being) or handled with different standards (see the Lucie Blackman Case).

    And when it’s a foreigner on foreigner crime, free pass. See below. Arudou Debito in Tokyo


    Australian woman, raped by U.S. sailor, loses 5-year court battle with Japanese police
    By Peter Alford
    Japan Today/The Australian Friday, December 7, 2007 at 05:53 EST

    TOKYO — After being dealt another bitter blow by the justice system Tuesday afternoon, Jane seemed oddly jaunty: “I’m going to keep fighting. I’m fighting this not only for myself, but for other women who’ve been raped — Japanese women.”

    Early on the morning of April 6 2002, Jane, an Australian expatriate, was raped near the American naval base at Yokosuka by a sailor off the USS Kitty Hawk, whom she had met earlier that night in a bar.

    Then, Jane says, she was violated again, by the Kanagawa prefectural police who denied her medical attention for more than six hours while carrying out a callous and botched “investigation,” who forced her into a re-enactment of the assault and who then refused to charge her attacker.

    On Tuesday, in the Tokyo District Court, the same court that found in November 2004 she had in fact been raped, Chief Judge Kenichi Kato and two colleagues ruled the Kanagawa police had acted within the law and fulfilled their responsibilities to the victim. “The case is rejected,” he said brusquely. “Costs will be paid by the plaintiff.” A woman in the courtroom began crying.

    Minutes later as her lawyers, Mami Nakano and Masako Shinno who have stood beside her for the whole 5 1/2 years, hurriedly prepared their appeal to the Tokyo High Court, Jane told The Australian: “I hoped my case would cause a positive attitude to improving justice here and support for victims of sexual assault. But, so far, no. Deans is still a free man, free to rape other women, and the police did nothing … they wouldn’t even tell me his name — if that’s what his name was!”

    Jane isn’t her real name. Nor, probably is the name given to the police by the Navy: Bloke T. Deans. That, Jane suspects, was just an offhand sneer at a woman who inconveniently got assaulted by one of their young men — just some Aussie woman stirring up trouble over a Bloke!

    Apart from her being a foreigner, Jane’s case isn’t so unusual in most aspects; neither the rape, nor the police’s primitive methods of dealing with it, nor that the perpetrator was a U.S. serviceman, nor that the system let him get away.

    What has made Jane’s case a cause celebre with Japanese women’s rights groups and with campaigners against military sex assault cover-ups, is that rather than slink away as she was supposed to from those humiliations, she stood and fought.

    Nor was she content to be yoked to victimhood. Though still today struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, Jane works with two doctors at a Tokyo university hospital to establish a 24-hour children’s sexual assault clinic.

    Once established, she hopes, the clinic can gradually broaden its scope to rape victims generally. The doctors declined to be named or interviewed, apparently because publicity in association with a campaigner like Jane would hurt their project.

    Set up self-help network for victims

    She has set up a self-help network for victims of sexual abuse and campaigns for a 24-hour rape crisis center. There is not yet such an establishment in Tokyo or anywhere else in Japan.

    “The government does provide a rape hotline,” says Masako Motoyama of the Asia-Japan Women’s Resource Centere. “But there are no adequate facilities, almost everything else is done by volunteers.”

    The Tokyo Rape Crisis Center, which has been open for 24 years is restricted to telephone counseling twice a week. An official, who again asked not to be identified, says the center’s operations are severely restricted by the lack of any public funding.

    Sometimes the police recommend victims to the centere but, reflecting their distrust of investigation procedures, center workers do not refer assaulted women to the police.

    “The Japanese police have a prejudice against victims,” says the center official. “They don’t care for the rights of the women; they don’t feel any obligation to the victims.”

    Though some large public hospitals and general crime victims’ services do provide some basic support services for sexual assault victims, there is just one other rape crisis center in this land of 126 million people. It was established on Okinawa, the island prefecture that hosts the largest number of U.S. bases and American servicemen, by an anti-military women’s group.

    Jane’s case has also been taken up by a coalition of Japanese women’s groups in their submission on violence against women and rights violations to a U.N. Committee Against Torture report, released this year, was highly critical of Japanese official methods.

    While welcoming the recognition, Jane is mildly bitter that until she won her Tokyo District Court civil case against the so-called Deans in late 2004, it was just her and her stalwart lawyers, Nakano and Shinno, against the system.

    “Yes, she has a right to feel we were not giving her adequate support,” says Motoyama. “But our group did not become aware of her case until last year … Now we definitely want to support her. What she has done in bringing this case has been so courageous.”

    Single mother living in Japan for 20 years

    When Jane encountered Deans, she had lived in Japan for 20 years — half her life, having come here first with her parents as a teenager. She was separated from a Japanese husband and caring for three sons. An actress and model who appeared on Japanese network TV, she was an active and lively presence in Tokyo’s expatriate circles.

    That all stopped immediately after the assault and the nightmarish 12 hours spent in the “care” of the Kanagawa prefectural police. “Working on TV was something that I truly enjoyed, but after I got raped, I could no longer bear to be near a camera,” she says. “I could not even bear to look in the mirror anymore. The rape made me feel so ugly, depressed, suicidal.”

    At the station, she says, she was denied medical treatment during the first six hours, though bruised, scraped and suffering a whiplash injury from the force of the assault. The attitude of the policemen throughout was coarse and mocking. She says no attempt was made by the police to preserve bodily samples as evidence.

    “Not only the rapist but even the Japanese police contributed to an abridgement of my civil and human rights,” she says. “I begged to be taken to a hospital from the onset of reporting the incident, but my pleas were repeatedly denied.”

    Even after finally being taken to a nearby hospital about 9 a.m., she says she was returned to the station about midday for a further three hours of questioning.

    (In court, the police contested her account of the timing, saying she was taken to the hospital earlier and released earlier. However Nakano and Shinno produced medical records that refuted this account.)

    Deans, in the meantime, was enjoying the relative ease of the Yokosuka naval base. No long night at the police station for this Bloke.

    The Status of U.S. Armed Forces in Japan agreement between the two governments stipulates that a serviceman accused of a civilian criminal offense shall be dealt with by the Japanese police and courts.

    But the agreement also says: “The custody of an accused member … shall, if he is in the hands of the U.S., remain with the US until he is charged by Japan.” This means, in effect, U.S. military authorities can restrict civilian police access to military suspects.

    Unfortunately for Jane, however, Deans did agree to one police procedural: a reenactment of the incident at the scene, her car.

    Police reenacted the rape

    In most modern jurisdictions, even hardened investigators would balk at the idea of putting an alleged rape victim through a reenactment. But that’s what happened — the only concession to her horrified protests was that a policewoman “played”Jane’s role, while she stood alongside the vehicle, giving directions. Deans had a separate reenactment of the encounter, which he claimed was consensual

    And, at the end of it all, the Kanagawa police decided against charging Deans. The Yokahama district prosecutors endorsed this in June 2002, without giving reasons.

    That, in the authorities’ view, is where the matter should have rested — as it has in a recent Hiroshima case. There last month, the district prosecutors’ office dropped charges against four U.S. Marines, aged 19 to 38 years, who were accused of raping and robbing a 19-year-woman in a car in October. The Marines said she consented to sex.

    “We made the decision based on evidence,” said the assistant prosecutor, who then refused to give any further information.

    But Jane wouldn’t go away. Unable to get a criminal prosecution, her lawyers started a civil action. In November 2004, the Tokyo District Court ruled Deans had raped her and ordered him to pay 3 million yen in damages and costs. But it was a Pyrrhic victory.

    Two months after Jane filed suit, the U.S. Navy discharged Deans who immediately left Japan. Jane’s side wasn’t aware of this until 11 months later, the day before Deans was to testify, when his lawyer disclosed to the court what obviously he had known for at least some months.

    Around then, Jane and her lawyers resolved to take the unprecedented step of suing the Kanagawa police, on the ground that their investigation had denied her proper justice and abrogated her human rights.

    The events that literally changed her life, the rape and the Kanagawa police’s shabby treatment, happened within 15 hours. But in refusing to let go of those experiences, Jane has subjected herself and those close to her to more than five years of strain and misery.

    She still suffers post-traumatic stress disorder and stomach ulcers. Each of her teenage sons, she believes, has been made ill by their experience of her unhappiness.

    She’s perpetually broke and currently way behind in her rent; what money she gets in goes to supporting herself and the boys and funding the legal struggle. Her extraordinarily dedicated lawyers, Nakano and Shinno, have carried the case often without payment.

    Jane tells The Australian she would happily reveal her identity — “I am not ashamed, I haven’t done anything to be ashamed of — but cannot risk any more damage to her family, particularly the boys. But I mostly feel so sorry for the next women that gets raped in this country — right now I would say to her: do not go to the police. Go to the hospital yourself, go home, don’t go near them. The police will treat you like trash.”

    Peter Alford is Tokyo correspondent for The Australian newspaper, where this story ran on Wednesday.

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    Posted in Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 3 Comments »


    Posted on Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar

    Table of Contents:

    1) See I told you so #1: Newcomer PR outnumber Oldcomer Zainichis as of 2007
    2) NPA enforcing Hotel Management Law against exclusionary Prince Hotel Tokyo
    3) Yomiuri: NPA finally cracking down on Internet BBS threats and defamation
    4) Mainichi: Tourism to Japan plunges by over 40% compared to last year
    5) Metropolis Mag on how to get your housing deposit (shikikin) back

    6) GOJ bribes Nikkei NJ with Golden Parachutes: Go home and don’t come back
    7) Ekonomisuto March 10 2009 re worsening job and living conditions for Nikkei Brazilians et al.
    8 ) Mainichi: Lawson hiring more NJ, offering Vietnamese scholarships
    9) Japan Times on Japan’s emerging NJ policing laws. Nichibenren: “violation of human rights”
    10) Mark in Yayoi on cop checkpoint #123, and “Cops”-style TV show transcript
    11) Japanese also fingerprinted, at Narita, voluntarily, for “convenience” (not terrorism or crime)

    12) Thoughts on Suo Masayuki’s movie “I just didn’t do it”: A must-see.
    13) Audience reactions to documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES roadshow March 21-April 1
    Next showing Sapporo Apr 23, organizing next roadshow August-September
    14) has citations in 37 books, according to Amazon
    15) The definition of “Gaijin” according to Tokyu Hands Nov 17, 2008

    … and finally... THE MUSE:
    16) Complete tangent: 1940 Herblock cartoon on inaction towards Hitler


    By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan,
    Freely forwardable

    1) See I told you so #1: Newcomer PR outnumber Oldcomer Zainichis as of 2007

    Mainichi: With more and more foreign residents facing employment and immigration problems due to the ongoing recession, the Ministry of Justice is creating new “One Stop Centers” for foreign residents in the Kanto and Tokai regions to handle queries in one place…

    The number of native and Japan-born Koreans with special permanent residency, who have lived in Japan since the pre-war period, has been declining. However, the number of Chinese and Filipinos, as well as foreigners of Japanese descent whose employment was liberalized under the 1990 revision to the Law on Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition, has surged. In 2007, the number of these so-called “new comers” exceeded that of special permanent residents for the first time (440,000 vs. 430,000).

    COMMENT: Believe Immigration’s plausibly pleasant intentions if you like, but I’ll remain a little skeptical for the moment. Still mentioned is that hackneyed and ludicrous concern about garbage separation, after all, demonstrating that the GOJ is still dealing in trivialities; it might take a little while before the government sees what true assimilation actually means. It’s not just giving information to NJ. It’s also raising awareness amongst the Japanese public about why NJ are here in the first place.


    2) NPA enforcing Hotel Management Law against exclusionary Prince Hotel Tokyo

    Asahi: Police sent papers to prosecutors Tuesday against the operator of a Tokyo hotel that refused entry to the Japan Teachers Union for its annual convention, fearing protests by right-wing groups.

    Police said Prince Hotels Inc., its president, Yukihiro Watanabe, 61, the 52-year-old general manager of three Prince group hotels, and managers of the company’s administration and reception departments are suspected of violating the Hotel Business Law.

    COMMENT: This is a good precedent. The police are at last enforcing the Hotel Management Law, which says you can’t refuse people unless there are no rooms, there’s a threat to public health, or a threat to public morals. But hotels sometimes refuse foreigners, even have signs up to that effect. They can’t legally do that, but last time I took it before the local police box in Tokyo Ohkubo, they told me they wouldn’t enforce the law. Not in this case.


    3) Yomiuri: NPA finally cracking down on Internet BBS threats and defamation

    Yomiuri: Police on Friday sent papers to prosecutors on six people suspected of defaming or threatening to physically harm comedian Smiley Kikuchi in messages they posted on his blog after groundlessly concluding he was involved in the murder of a high school girl in 1989…

    It is the first time a case has been built simultaneously against multiple flamers over mass attacks on a blog. The police’s reaction represents a strong warning against making online comments that cross the line from freedom of expression to defamation or threats.

    COMMENT: Now if only Japan’s police would only enforce past pertinent Civil Court decisions…


    4) Mainichi: Tourism to Japan plunges by over 40% compared to last year

    Mainichi: The JNTO said Wednesday that 408,800 foreigners visited Japan in February, a 41.3 percent decrease from the same month the previous year. The rate of decline was the second largest since statistics were first kept in 1961, after a 41.8 percent reduction in August 1971, the year following the Osaka Expo.

    COMMENT: We have tourism to Japan plunging, the second-highest drop in history. Of course, the high yen and less disposable income to go around worldwide doesn’t help, but the Yokoso Japan campaign to bring 10 million tourists to Japan is definitely not succeeding. Not helping are some inhospitable, even xenophobic Japanese hotels, or the fingerprinting campaign at the border (which does not only affect “tourists”) grounded upon anti-terror, anti-crime, and anti-contageous-disease policy goals. Sorry, Japan, must do better. Get rid of the NJ fingerprinting campaign, for starters.

    Very active discussion on the causes of the drop at


    5) Metropolis Mag on how to get your housing deposit (shikikin) back


    You may feel like you’ve had to wrestle with all kinds of bureaucracy to land that perfect 1DK apartment, but the fun and games don’t end when the contract is stamped. Moving out can present a whole new world of hassle. For many tenants, both foreign and Japanese, the hard-earned shikikin (deposit) they paid when they moved in becomes nothing but a distant memory, as landlords have their way with the cash and return only the change to the renter.

    Kazutaka Hayakawa works for the NPO Shinshu Matsumoto Alps Wind, a group that specializes in helping get that deposit back. Here he offers up the basics on renters’ rights…


    6) GOJ bribes Nikkei NJ with Golden Parachutes: Go home and don’t come back

    Mainichi: Japan began offering money Wednesday for unemployed foreigners of Japanese ancestry to go home, mostly to Brazil and Peru, to stave off what officials said posed a serious unemployment problem.

    Thousands of foreigners of Japanese ancestry, who had been hired on temporary or referral contracts, have lost their jobs recently, mostly at manufacturers such as Toyota Motor Corp. and its affiliates, which are struggling to cope with a global downturn…

    The government will give 300,000 yen ($3,000) to an unemployed foreigner of Japanese ancestry who wishes to leave the country, and 200,000 ($2,000) each to family members, the ministry said. But they must forgo returning to Japan. The budget for the aid is still undecided, it said.

    COMMENT: Here’s the ultimate betrayal: Hey Gaijin, er, Nikkei! H ere’s a pile of money. Leave and don’t come back.

    So what if it only applies to people with Japanese blood (not, for example, Chinese). And so what if we’ve invited you over here for up to two decades, taken your taxes and most of your lives over here as work units, and fired you first when the economy went sour. Just go home. You’re now a burden on Us Japanese. You don’t belong here, regardless of how much you’ve invested in our society and saved our factories from being priced out of the market. You don’t deserve our welfare benefits, job training, or other social benefits that are entitled to real residents and contributors to this country.


    7) Ekonomisuto March 10 2009 re worsening job and living conditions for Nikkei Brazilians et al.

    Shuukan Ekonomisuto (from Mainichi Shinbun presses) dated March 10, 2009 had yet another great article on how things are going for Nikkei NJ et al.

    Highlights: Numbers of Nikkei Brazilians are dropping (small numbers in the area surveyed) as economic conditions are so bad they can’t find work. Those who can go back are the lucky ones, in the sense that some with families can’t afford the multiple plane tickets home, let alone their rents. Local NGOs are helping out, and even the Hamamatsu City Government is offering them cheap public housing, and employing them on a temporary basis. Good. Lots of fieldwork and individual stories are included to illustrate people’s plights.

    The pundits are out in force offering some reasonable assessments. Labor union leader Torii Ippei wonders if the recent proposals to reform the Trainee Visa system and loosen things up vis-a-vis Gaijin Cards and registration aren’t just a way to police NJ better, and make sure that NJ labor stays temp, on a 3-year revolving door. Sakanaka Hidenori says that immigration is the only answer to the demographic realities of low birthrate and population drop. The LDP proposed a bill in February calling for the NJ population to become 10% of the total pop (in other words, 10 million people) within fifty years, as a taminzoku kyousei kokka (a nation where multicultures coexist). A university prof named Tanno mentions the “specialness” (tokushu) of nihongo, and asks if the GOJ has made up its mind about getting people fluent in the language. Another prof at Kansai Gakuin says that the EU has come to terms with immigration and labor mobility, and if Japan doesn’t it will be the places that aren’t Tokyo or major industrial areas suffering the most.

    The biggest question is posed once again by the Ekonomisuto article: Is Japan going to be a roudou kaikoku or sakoku? It depends on the national government, of course, is the conclusion I glean.


    8 ) Mainichi: Lawson hiring more NJ, offering Vietnamese scholarships

    On the heels of Japan’s latest wheeze to cover up it’s failed Nikkei import labor policy, here’s a bit of good news: Somebody trying to do their bit to help keep unemployed NJs’ heads above water. Lawson convenience stores.

    I smiled until I saw how small the numbers being employed full time were, despite the “quadrupling” claimed in the first paragraph. But every little bit helps. So does Lawson’s offer for scholarships for Vietnamese exchange students (see Japanese below).

    Many times when I go into convenience stores in the Tokyo area, I’m surprised how many Chinese staff I see. Anyway, patronize Lawson if they’re trying to do good for the stricken NJ community.


    9) Japan Times on Japan’s emerging NJ policing laws. Nichibenren: “violation of human rights”

    Japan Times: The Japan Federation of Bar Associations and nonprofit organizations voiced concern Wednesday that bills to revise immigration laws will violate the human rights of foreign residents.

    Namba and Nobuyuki Sato of the Research-Action Institute for the Koreans in Japan urged lawmakers to amend the bills so the state can’t use the zairyu card code number as a “master key” to track every detail of foreigners’ lives. “Such a thing would be unacceptable to Japanese, and (the government) must explain why it is necessary for foreigners,” Sato said.


    10) Mark in Yayoi on cop checkpoint #123, and “Cops”-style TV show transcript

    Turning the keyboard over to Mark in Yayoi, who has just been stopped for the 123rd time by the Japanese police for an ID Check.

    This time, however, he was stopped and demanded a bag search. Although NJ are not protected against random ID checks (if he shows, you must show), random searches are in fact something protected against by the Constitution (Article 35) if you don’t feel like cooperating. But tell the cops that. He did. See what happened.


    11) Japanese also fingerprinted, at Narita, voluntarily, for “convenience” (not terrorism or crime)

    As many of you know (or have experienced, pardon the pun, firsthand), Japan reinstituted its fingerprinting for most non-Japanese, be they tourist or Regular Permanent Resident, at the border from November 2007. The policy justification was telling: prevention of terrorism, crime, and infectious diseases. As if these are a matter of nationality.

    Wellup, it isn’t, as it’s now clear what the justification really is for. It’s for the GOJ to increase its database of fingerprints, period, of everyone. Except they knew they couldn’t sell it to the Japanese public (what with all the public outrage over the Juuki-Net system) as is. So Immigration is trying to sell automatic fingerprinting machines at Narita to the public as a matter of “simplicity, speed and convenience” (tansoka, jinsokuka ribensei).


    12) Thoughts on Suo Masayuki’s movie “I just didn’t do it”: A must-see.

    See Suo Masayuki’s movie SORE DE MO, BOKU WA YATTENAI (I Just Didn’t Do It), everyone. I did. It’s an excellent illustration of court procedure in Japan long, drawn-out, well researched, and necessarily tedious. Experience vicariously what you might go through if arrested in Japan.

    Don’t think it just won’t happen to you. Random searches on the street without probable cause are permitted by law only for NJ. If you’re arrested, you will be incarcerated for the duration of your trial, no matter how many years it takes, even if you are adjudged innocent (the Prosecution generally appeals), because NJ are not allowed bail (only a minority of Japanese get it as well, but the number is not zero; NJ are particularly seen as a flight risk, and there are visa overstay issues). And NJ have been convicted without material evidence (see Idubor Case). Given the official association with NJ and crime, NJ are more likely to be targeted, apprehended, and incarcerated than a Japanese.

    If it happens to you, as SOREBOKU demonstrates, you will disappear for days if not weeks, be ground down by police interrogations, face months if not years in trial if you maintain innocence, have enormous bills from court and lawyers’ fees (and if you lose your job for being arrested, as often happens, you have no income), and may be one of the 0.1 percent of people who emerge unscathed; well, adjudged innocent, anyway.

    Like getting sick in the US (and finding that the health care system could destroy your life), getting arrested in Japan could similarly ruin yours. It’s Japan’s SICKO system…


    13) Audience reactions to documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES roadshow March 21-April 1
    Next showing Sapporo Apr 23, organizing next roadshow August-September

    Some various and sundry thoughts on audience reactions to the excellent SOUR STRAWBERRIES documentary as we finish up the last screenings (thinking about another August-September tour, so book me if you’re interested), and consider what the movie may mean in the context of international labor migration. In sum, SOUR STRAWBERRIES may be a testiment to the last days of Japan’s internationalized industrial prowess, as people are being turfed out because no matter how many years and how much contribution, they don’t belong. Have to wait and see. But to me it’s clear the GOJ is still not getting beyond seeing NJ as work units as opposed to workers and people. Especially in these times of economic hardship. I saw it for myself as the movie toured.

    A quick positive review from Japan Visitor site on documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES Japan’s Hidden Guest Workers. Excerpt here.

    If you’d like a showing in your area like the one mentioned above, be in touch with me at Planning another nationwide tour between late August and early September.

    Next showing March 23, L-Plaza, Sapporo. More at:

    If you’d like to contact the directors or order a copy of the movie (it’s a great educational aid), go to:


    14) has citations in 37 books, according to Amazon

    Just indulge me a little here as I talk about something that impressed me about the power of the Internet.

    It started during a search on two weeks, when I found an amazing avenue for researching insides of books for excerpts.

    I realized I could go through and see just how often is being cited as a resource in respectable print publications. I soon found myself busy: 37 books refer in some way to me by name or things archived here. I cite them all below from most recent publication on down.

    Amazing. as a domain has been going strong since 1997, and it’s taken some time to establish a degree of credibility. But judging by the concentration of citations in recent years, the cred seems to be compounding.


    15) The definition of “Gaijin” according to Tokyu Hands Nov 17, 2008

    Here’s the definition of “gaijin” not according to me (a la my Japan Times columns), but rather according to the marketplace. Here’s a photo sent in by an alert shopper, from Tokyu Hands November 17, 2008.

    Note what makes a prototypical “gaijin” by Japanese marketing standards: blue eyes, big nose, cleft chin, and outgoing manner. Not to mention English-speaking. Yep, we’re all like that. Anyone for buying some bucked-tooth Lennon-glasses to portray Asians in the same manner? Naw, that would get you in trouble with the anti-defamation leagues overseas. Seems to me we need a league like that over here…


    … and finally… THE MUSE:
    16) Complete tangent: 1940 Herblock cartoon on inaction towards Hitler

    A quick tangent for a weekend blogging: A 1940 Herblock cartoon I found (one of my favorites ever) demonstrating how people will make dithering arguments against the inevitable: in the cartoon’s case against doing something to stop Hitler. Now compare that with the dithering arguments against doing something to stop racial discrimination in Japan, with a law against it.


    All for today. Thanks for reading!
    Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan,

    Speaking schedule at
    Please feel free to contact me if you would like a presentation in your area.

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    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Thoughts on Suo Masayuki’s movie “I just didn’t do it”: A must-see.

    Posted on Sunday, March 15th, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

    Hi Blog.  Sunday’s tangent:  Suo Masayuki’s movie “Sore de mo, boku wa yatte nai” (I just didn’t do it), some quick thoughts:

    Saw the movie on TV last week, I think it’s a must buy (I’m angling for the special edition, with 200 or so minutes of extras).  I agree with the January 2008 Japan Times review by Mark Schilling:  “…the Japanese are a law-abiding people for a very good reason — once the system here has you in its grips you are well and truly in the meat grinder. True, safeguards exist for the accused, who are entitled to a defense lawyer, but the legal scales are tipped in favor of the police and prosecution, who want to save face by convicting as many “criminals” as possible — and nearly always succeed.”

    You can see more on about the nastiness of criminal procedure here.  

    Soreboku is an excellent illustration of how court procedure in Japan grinds one down (remember, Asahara Shoko, correctly judged guilty, was on trial for more than a decade (1995-2006); it drove him nuts, and calls into the question the Constitutional right to a speedy trial in Japan (Article 37)).  I fortunately have not been involved in a criminal court case (I have done Civil Court, with the Otaru Onsens Case (1999-2005) and the 2-Channel Case (2005-present day), and can attest that it’s a long procedure), but am not in any hurry to.  Soreboku — long, drawn-out, well researched, and necessarily tedious — is one vicarious way to experience it.

    What came to mind mid-movie was Michael Moore’s SICKO.  One very salient point he made was how rotten the health insurance system is in the US:  If you get sick in the US, given how much things cost and how insurance companies enforce a “culture of no” for claimants, you could lose everything.

    Japan’s got health insurance covered.  But the “SICKO Syndrome” here in Japan is the threat of arrest, given the enormous discretion allowed Japan’s police forces.  You will disappear for days if not weeks, be ground down by police interrogations, face months if not years in trial if you maintain innocence, have enormous bills from court and lawyers’ fees (and if you lose your job for being arrested, as often happens, you have no income), and may be one of the 0.1 percent of people who emerge unscathed; well, adjudged innocent, anyway.

    The “SICKO Syndrome” is particularly likely to happen to NJ, too.  Random searches on the street without probable cause are permitted by law only for NJ.  If you’re arrested, you will be incarcerated for the duration of your trial, no matter how many years it takes, even if you are adjudged innocent (the Prosecution generally appeals), because NJ are not allowed bail (only a minority of Japanese get it as well, but the number is not zero; NJ are particularly seen as a flight risk, and there are visa overstay issues).  And NJ have been convicted without material evidence (see Idubor Case).  Given the official association with NJ and crime, NJ are more likely to be targeted, apprehended, and incarcerated than a Japanese.

    Sources:  Research I’m doing for my PhD thesis; subsection I’ve written on this is still pretty rough.  But in the meantime, see David T. Johnson, THE JAPANESE WAY OF JUSTICE.

    See Suo’s Soreboku.  It’s excellent.  And like Michael Moore’s SICKO, a good expose of a long-standing social injustice perpetuated on a people that think that it couldn’t happen to them.  Be forewarned.

    Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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    Posted in Injustice, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 7 Comments »


    Posted on Sunday, May 11th, 2008

    Hi All. What with a March book tour, April semester starting at university, and a six-day Golden Week Cycletrek stretching 621 kms I did between Miyazaki and Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, a lot of stuff has piled up on my blog without compilation into a Newsletter. So over the next week or so I’ll put out some Newsletters with briefs and links in quick succession, hopefully organized behind a theme. The first:


    Table of Contents:
    1) Filipina allegedly killed by J man, let out of jail despite suspicion of killing another Filipina in past
    2) Japan Times et al on homicide of Scott Tucker: “likely to draw leniency”
    3) Tokyo Police apparently drop case of Peter Barakan’s assault
    4) Yomiuri and Japan Times on Matthew Lacey Case:
    Fukuoka Police dismiss NJ death by blow to the head as “dehydration”

    5) “Hostage Justice”: Swiss woman acquitted of a crime,
    but detained for eight months anyway during prosecution’s appeal
    6) Two articles from The Economist on bent Japanese criminal justice system, death penalty
    7) Rough Guide on what to do if and when arrested in Japan
    8) Yuyu Idubor’s Statement to High Court April 23, 2008, letters from prison parts five and six

    9) Japan Today: Male Shinjuku cops rough up Singaporean women during “passport check”
    (with link to Japan Probe site with information about possible police identity fraud)
    10) Hiragana Times July 2006 on NJ police brutality by Toyonaka, Osaka cops
    11) Potential Olympic torch problems in Nagano? All the more reason to target NJ!
    12) Asahi, Mainichi, and Yomiuri: Replacement “Gaijin Card” system, increasing police powers
    13) Japan Times: Critics deride future extra policing of NJ under new proposed registration policy

    14) Reuters: Study says immigrants and crime rate not linked
    15) Japan Times ZEIT GIST: G8 Summit and the bad “security” habits brought out in Japan

    By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan,
    Daily blog updates at
    Freely forwardable

    1) Filipina allegedly killed by J man, let out of jail despite suspicion of killing another Filipina in past

    We have (insufficient) news reports about a case last month of a Filipina suspected of being killed by a Japanese man, and having her body parts stowed in a locker in Hamamatsu Station. Then it turns out this guy, Nozaki Hiroshi, had apparently killed a Filipina some years before, and tried to flush her body parts down a toilet.

    For that previous crime, Nozaki was convicted, but only sentenced to three years plus. It wasn’t even judged a murder. And he got out apparently to kill again. Oddly enough, Nozaki’s jail sentence was only a bit more than Nigerian citizen Mr Idubor’s (more below), and Idubor’s conviction was for alleged rape, not murder. Yet Nozaki was apparently caught red-handed, while there was no physical evidence and discrepant testimony in the Idubor Case.

    Ironically, that means that under these judicial litmus tests, the women involved could have been killed and it would have made no difference in the sentencing. That is, if you’re a Japanese criminal victimizing a foreigner, not the other way around. It’s getting harder to argue that the Japanese judiciary is color-blind towards judging criminals and victims. Read more:


    2) Japan Times et al on homicide of Scott Tucker: “likely to draw leniency”

    Here is another situation demonstrating differing judicial standards by nationality…

    Japan Times: “The death of an American resident in Tokyo in a fatal bar fight late last month is not likely to result in any severe punishment being meted out due to the circumstances of the case, legal experts say. Richard “Scott” Tucker, 47, died at Tokyo Metropolitan Hiroo Hospital after being punched and choked at Bullets, a nightclub in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, on Feb. 29. Police arrested Atsushi Watanabe, a 29-year-old disc jockey at the club, for the fatal assault…” Read more:

    These standards even apply when there are no allegations of provocation:


    3) Tokyo Police apparently drop case of Peter Barakan’s assault

    As reported before here, TV tarento Peter Barakan got maced last December in a premeditated assault before one of his speeches. In his words, they have done “absolutely zilch”, even though police found the getaway car, found somebody in the car, and found mace cans in it. Yet the suspect didn’t get the regular 23-day interrogation one would expect if a NJ had assaulted by a Japanese. I guess a lack of “100% certainty” means Japanese police can drop the case completely. Huh? Read more:


    4) Yomiuri and J Times on Matthew Lacey Case: Fukuoka police dismiss NJ death by blow to the head as “dehydration”

    This has appeared in a previous Newsletter, but I’ll rerun it since it’s germane. Two articles about a mysterious death of a NJ, found dead in his apartment 3 1/2 years ago, deemed not a product of foul play by Fukuoka police (with no autopsy performed). An overseas autopsy, however, revealed the cause of death to be a blow to the head. The Japan Times took the case up a full year ago, but no ripples.

    Now, thanks to the tenacity of the deceased’s brother, even the Yomiuri is taking it up. Yes, even the Yomiuri. Is this yet another case of when it’s a crime against a foreigner, the J police don’t bother with it? It’s happened before (see the Lucie Blackman and Australia Jane cases, for starters, from

    More on the Lacey Case:

    Now let’s put the shoe on the other foot…


    5) “Hostage Justice”: Swiss woman acquitted of a crime, but detained for eight months anyway during prosecution’s appeal

    Here’s another oddity of the Japanese judiciary–“hostage justice” (not my term, see below). The prosecution is so strong in this country that, in the extremely rare case (i.e far less than one percent of all cases that go to trial) where they lose a criminal case judgment (and the accused goes free), they can appeal.

    But here is no question that the rights of the accused differ by nationality. If you are a Non-Japanese, and even if you are judged innocent by a lower court, you are still incarcerated for however many months it takes for the higher court to deliver a verdict (in this case, innocent again). Because, you see, foreigners aren’t allowed bail in Japan.

    Unlike Japanese. When Japanese appeal guilty verdicts, they are not detained (see links to Horie Takafumi and Suzuki Muneo cases; the latter, now convicted of corruption twice over, is still on the streets, even re-elected to the Diet!). Read more:


    6) Two articles from The Economist on bent Japanese criminal justice system, death penalty

    Excerpts: “Article 34 of the Japanese Constitution guarantees the right to counsel and habeas corpus, but is systematically ignored. Police and prosecutors can detain suspects for 23 days. Interrogations are relentless and sometimes abusive. Prosecutors are reluctant to bring cases to trial without a confession. Indeed, it is considered a first step in a criminal’s rehabilitation. When asked about the country’s 99% conviction rate, Japan’s justice minister, Kunio Hatoyama, corrected your correspondent to state that it was actually 99.9%, because prosecutors only present cases that are watertight.”

    “The notion of being innocent until proven guilty is not strong in Japan. Mr Hatoyama calls it “an idea which I want to constrain”. But confessions are important and the courts rely heavily upon them. Apart from helping secure convictions, they are widely interpreted as expressions of remorse. A defendant not only risks a longer sentence if he insists he is innocent, he is also much less likely to be granted bail before trial–often remaining isolated in police custody, without access to counsel, for long enough to confess.

    “Toshiko Terada, a private lawyer, calls this hitojichi shiho–hostage justice. Perversely, where little supporting evidence exists, the system helps hardened criminals, who know that if they do not confess they are unlikely to be indicted. Innocents, on the other hand, may crack–as in the Kagoshima case, or in a notorious 2002 rape case when the accused confessed under pressure but was released last October after the real culprit came forward.” Read more:


    7) Rough Guide on what to do if and when arrested in Japan

    Anonymous Guide writer: “In Japan, police can arrest anyone, any time. They do not come announced. There are no government leaflets that prepare you for the catastrophe. So, I wrote this one instead, compiled from my own painful experience and those of many other foreigners in Japan. The actual chances to be arrested in Japan are much higher than the chances to be hurt by an earthquake in Japan–especially if you are a foreigner. Don’t think that you will be able to deal with it just because “you know your rights” from back home or from Hollywood court movies. Japan is not about justice, it is about bustice. So prepare yourself for the real big bang–read this.”


    8) Idubor’s Statement to High Court April 23, 2008, Summary letters from prison parts five and six

    The Idubor Case is where a Nigerian, Osayuwamen Idubor, was sentenced last December to three years for rape despite no physical evidence and flawed accuser testimony.

    From Mr Idubor’s statement: “I was coerced to sign deposition documents prepared by the police who promised me that they would not prosecute me if I would sign. Furthermore, the police intentionally hid or lost critical evidence. For example, they erased the phone number of the complainant’s friend from my cell phone address book as well as the record of threatening e-mail messages from the same person. Also, because of their failure to investigate the surveillance tape of the camera in my bar, subsequent data overwrote the tape automatically and erased the record for the day in question. The police never documented detailed description of the relationship between the complainant and her friend, effectively hiding the intent of the accusation.” Read more:

    Here are some more letters from Idubor, written in jail to tell about what happened in his view (link goes to part five, and links to the very beginning as well). Read more:

    Unfortunately, I just heard the High Court upheld his sentence on April 23, shaving a mere 80 days off his incarceration, with two years plus left to serve. I’ll write more on this later.

    Meanwhile, let’s turn to targeting of NJ in Japan even when there is no crime, or even the suspicion of crime–just policing for it’s own sake:


    9) Japan Today: Shinjuku cops rough up Singaporean women during “passport check”

    Japan Today: “A few burning questions that arose from this incident [of plain-clothes male policemen getting physical with female tourists in public]: 1) Are these police officers authorized to request our passports as they wish? 2) Under what circumstances can these officers exercise this authority? 3) Without any resistance in any way from us, other than just asking why they require our passports and trying to walk to the station control, where we feel safer, are they allowed to use physical restraint? 4) Are these male officers allowed to use physical restraint on females like us? Should they not have waited for a female officer? 5) In such a predominantly tourist area like Shinjuku, where these officers are checking for foreign passports, should they not have received some form of language training so that they can explain why they need to see my passport? I do not believe that expecting them to be achieve a basic level of communication skills in the English language which is spoken in most of the rest of the world is unreasonable in anyway. What kind of training DO these officers receive? 6) What in the world did my friend and I do that warranted the passport check and the physical restraint?” Read more:

    Especially since, according to the Japan Probe blog, there may be people masquerading as police to carry out identity theft. More on how you can recognize “real cops” on the beat here:


    10) Hiragana Times July 2006 on NJ police brutality by Toyonaka, Osaka, cops

    Hiragana Times: “The [police at Toyonaka Police Station, Osaka,] all threw me down hard on the floor, and then ordered me to get up and sit on a chair. I was already in great pain all over my body. I held up my hand and said, ‘please help me stand up.’ One of the policemen was just shaking and spitting at me like a crazy person. He became angrier and then he pulled me up by the hair. He then began to hit the back of my head with his fist again. He kept on repeating ‘this is Japanese police system,’ at the same time he was yelling and laughing at me. I gave up all hope. I thought that they were going to kill me. Everything around me became black, I vomited and felt nausea, experienced double-vision, and coughed up blood. I cried for a doctor and a hospital, but they refused my emergency request.” Read more:


    11) Potential Olympic torch problems in Nagano? All the more reason to target NJ!

    Kyodo April 23: “The association of hotels and Japanese inns in the city of Nagano has requested that its members fully check the identifications of their foreign guests prior to the Beijing Olympic torch relay on Saturday as part of efforts to counter suspicious individuals, local officials said Tuesday.” Naturally, that follows–any protesters must be foreigners! Read more:


    12) Asahi, Mainichi, and Yomiuri on replacement “Gaijin Card” system, increasing police powers

    Asahi on new “Gaijin Cards” with greater policing powers over “NJ overstayers”

    “An advisory group to Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama has proposed changes to the alien registration card system to crack down on people overstaying their visas. The new registration card would make it easier for the authorities to keep track of foreign nationals staying in Japan.” Read more:

    Mainichi: MOJ delays decision on requiring Zainichi to carry ID, with abolition of old NJ Registry System

    “The Justice Ministry will postpone until next fiscal year a decision on whether to require special permanent residents such as Koreans to carry identification cards after the government abolishes the alien registration system, ministry sources said. Ministry officials have deemed that they need more time to carefully consider the matter as the human rights of permanent foreign residents are involved, according to the sources. An advisory council to the government on immigration policies will submit its final report to the justice minister by the end of this month, recommending that the alien registration system be abolished and a system similar to the basic resident register system for Japanese nationals be introduced for permanent residents.” Read more:

    Yomiuri: GOJ revising NJ registry and Gaijin Card system: More policing powers, yet no clear NJ “resident” status

    Yomiuri reports the change in the old “Gaijin Card” system, extending its validity for up to five years and somehow registering NJ with their J families. The bad news is that this measure, despite claims that it will make life “more convenient” for NJ living in Japan, is mainly a further policing measure. Registration will be centralized in the police forces (not the local municipalities any more), the replacement Cards will have more biometric data and tracking capability (RFID, anyone?), and the “zairyuu” (not “zaijuu”) cards, as labelled, are rhetorically old wine in new bottles. We still have to get beyond seeing NJ in Japan as “not really residents”, and all our protestations thus far clearly have not sunk yet in with policymakers at the national level. Read more:


    13) Japan Times: Critics deride future extra policing of NJ under new proposed registration policy

    Japan Times: “Foreigners living in Japan should be allowed five-year visas but kept under the eye of a new unified Justice Ministry-run nationwide identification system, a government panel on immigration control said in its report released Wednesday. The panel, made up of university professors and private-sector executives, said a new foreigner registration system and revision of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law should aim at creating “a symbiotic community” by providing a “pleasant environment for foreign residents in Japan.” While the report emphasizes that the proposed measures will enable the government to provide better services for foreign residents, critics view the new registry system as increased state control…” Read more:


    14) Reuters: Study says immigrants and crime rate not linked

    Reuters: “Contrary to common beliefs, rising immigration levels do not drive up crime rates, particularly in poor communities, and Mexican-Americans are the least likely to commit crimes, according to a new study.” Read more:


    15) Japan Times ZEIT GIST: G8 Summit and the bad “security” habits brought out in Japan

    Japan Times: “The point is, international events bring out bad habits in Japan. And now we have Tokyo bidding for the 2016 Olympics? Cue yet another orgiastic official fear-and-crackdown campaign foisted on the public, with the thick blue line of the nanny state the biggest profiteer.

    “Conclusion: I don’t think Japan as a polity is mature enough yet to host these events. Japan must develop suitable administrative checks and balances, not to mention a vetting media, to stop people scaring Japanese society about the rest of the world just because it’s coming to visit. We need to rein in Japan’s mandarins and prevent them from converting Japan into a police state, cracking down on its already stunted civil society.” Read more:


    I think that’s quite enough for today. Thanks for reading!
    Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan,
    Daily blog updates at


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    Posted in Newsletters | 3 Comments »

    Aly Rustom compares treatment of NJ as crime suspect with crime victim

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26th, 2008


    Recently, we all heard about the alleged rape of an Okinawan junior high school girl that took place a few weeks ago. Of course, we all did. It was on the front page and made the headline news. Japanese people were shocked and appalled at the incident. The US military apologized and promised to take steps to deter further incidents in the future. The girl is now safe at home with her family.

    However, even before all that happened, there was a more harrowing but unknown crime. This time the criminals were Japanese and the victim was an American. On December 29th, 26 year old David James Floyd, an American tourist, was hit by a taxi in Sendagaya, Shibuya ward around 12:30 at night. The taxi sped off, didn’t bother to call an ambulance, phone the police, take Floyd to the hospital, or even get out of the car to see if he was ok. He just hit him and ran.

    As Floyd was lying on the ground, he was run over by another car only about 5 minutes later. This time, a 19 year old man was driving. Floyd was killed and this man too fled the scene. Both men were arrested, but get this: “due to lack of evidence” the taxi driver was released.

    Now honestly, if we compare the above with the Idubor case a terrifying truth comes to light: not only are foreigners framed for various crimes and sentenced without evidence and faulty testimony the Japanese government and its police force protect Japanese who murder foreigners. How is it possible that the Japanese government found Mr. Idubor guilty and the taxi driver innocent? The taxi driver is guilty of at least 2 crimes: hit and run, reckless endangerment, and a few more. The 19 year old is guilty of involuntary manslaughter at least. However, the taxi driver is free and I’ll bet you the 19 year old will get a slap on the wrist- if that.

    This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this happen when a foreigner is murdered. Lucy Blackman’s killer was acquitted of her murder, and Lindsay Ann Hawker’s killer escaped from the police… or did he? Did they just turn the other way while he escaped?

    The most basic right- the right not to be murdered- and the most basic justice- punishing a killer, is denied to foreigners in Japan. The American military took some steps to try and avoid such instances in the future and the head of the armed forces in Japan bowed and apologized.

    For the murder of 3 young foreigners in Japan, cut down in their prime for absolutely no good reason, what have we got? We can’t even get justice for these people. Not even a conviction, let alone an apology. Is this a civilized government?

    I have traveled around the world, have lived in dictatorships, monarchies, and under tyrannical governments, but even under those regimes, if you murdered someone you would be prosecuted under the law, no matter where you came from. I have never seen a country that condones the murder of foreigners by its own citizens. What really makes me sick to my stomach is that now Japan is trying for a seat in the UN Security Council. Is this really a country that is ready for a veto vote and is ready to make decisions that will affect the entire world? I hope not.

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    Posted in Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime | 36 Comments »


    Posted on Friday, February 15th, 2008

    Hi All. I’m going to be in Tokyo this weekend putting the final touches on our new book, HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS TO JAPAN (not to mention a March nationwide book tour, to Sendai, Tokyo, Nagano, Osaka, Kobe, Okayama, and Fukuoka; details at Hence I’d better put this newsletter out now:


    Contents as follows:


    1) Moharekar Case: Parents raise questions about baby’s death to Sapporo’s Tenshi Hospital
    2) Matthew Lacey Case: Fukuoka police dismiss NJ death by blow to the head as “dehydration” (Yomiuri & Japan Times)
    3) Mainichi: Chinese Trainees wage successful back-wage lawsuit against strawberry farm
    4) Sankei compares NJ computer operators with toxic Chinese gyouza
    5) Update on Valentine Lawsuit High Court Appeal
    6) Idubor Case: A conversation with Mrs Idubor about life in Japan, and letters from Mr Idubor from prison specially for


    7) Asahi on how the GOJ doesn’t recognize NJ schools for tax funding, and why they should
    8) Kyodo on USG pressure on Japan to do more fingerprinting
    9) “Japanese Only” sign in Tsukiji Fish Market
    10) Japan Times on Tsukiji’s tamping down on tourism
    11) Alex Kerr on being a “Yokoso Ambassador” for the GOJ
    12) DPJ at odds with itself over NJ voting rights


    13) Italian TV SKY TG 24 on the Sapporo Snow Festival… and racial discrimination in Japan
    14) January 22, 2008 speech to Waseda’s Global Institute for Asian Regional Integration, podcast and soundfiles in full
    15) HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS on sale March 15, Japan Book Tour March 15 to April 1…

    By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan,
    Daily Blog updates at
    Freely Forwardable


    1) Moharekar Case: Parents raise questions about baby’s death in Sapporo’s Tenshi Hospital

    Two Indian doctorate researchers at Hokudai, Drs Moharekar, were to have a baby at Tenshi Hospital, Sapporo. However, in August 2007 the baby was stillborn, due to a long-undiagnosed congenital heart defect (which somehow escaped the notice of one doctor, but not another at Tenshi, nor a doctor back in India). Asking questions about the oversight, the Moharekars say the hospital said the hospital treated them badly, refused to listen to “complaints”, harassed them linguistically, did not avail them of their allegedly misdiagnosing doctor, and even charged them money to meet with the hospital director for an explanation. The Moharekars hope to get a fuller explanation in writing, so that “this kind of mental harassment and problems will not happen in future again with anybody” at Tenshi Hospital…


    2) Matthew Lacey Case: Fukuoka police dismiss NJ death by blow to the head as “dehydration” (Yomiuri & Japan Times)

    Here are two articles about a mysterious death of a NJ, found dead in his apartment 3 1/2 years ago, deemed not a product of foul play by Fukuoka police (with no autopsy performed). An autopsy overseas revealed the cause of death to be a blow to the head. The Japan Times took the case up a full year ago, but no ripples. Now, thanks to the tenacity of the deceased’s brother, even the Yomiuri is taking it up. Yes, even the Yomiuri. Is this yet another case of when it’s a crime against a foreigner, the J police don’t bother with it?


    3) Wage dispute between Chinese Trainees and Tochigi strawberry farm

    Mainichi: “A dispute has erupted between a group of Chinese apprentices and strawberry farms in Japan after one farm sacked a group of students and tried to force them to leave the country… The strawberry farms, located in the Tochigi Prefecture towns of Tsuga, Haga and Ninomiya, paid the apprentices only 500 yen an hour, which was below the prefecture’s minimum hourly wage of about 670 yen. The workers union is demanding that the unpaid wages be given to the students and that the five who were sacked be reinstated.”

    Chinese Trainees awarded big after taking exploitative strawberry farm to court

    Mainichi: “A group of strawberry farmers will have to pay a combined 30 million yen in unpaid and overtime wages, and reinstate five Chinese trainees who were unfairly dismissed after losing a class action suit brought against them by their employees.” Great precedent set against exploitation of NJ “guest labor”…

    Speaking of Chinese…


    4) Sankei snipes at Chinese workers, comparing Pension System temp inputters with toxic gyouza

    Get a load of this. The Sankei trowels on the insinuations–by comparing the Chinese gyouza poisonings with Chinese temps inputting data into the troubled Japanese pension system. As if letting in Chinese workers to do a Japanese’s work is like letting in toxic gyouza. Whatta headline. True colors disguised as wry humor by the good ol’ Sankei Shinbun. Somebody reel in the editor…


    5) Valentine Lawsuit Hearing Feb 12, 2008 1:30PM

    Mr. Valentine, a Nigerian national, is defending himself against the Tokyo Metropolitan Government after an alleged police beating incident in Shinjuku almost 4 years ago. This is an appeal, as the District Court not only exonerated the NPA for refusing Valentine medical treatment for his broken leg for the duration of his interrogation (which resulted him in becoming crippled for life), but also did so on such spurious grounds as ignoring expert medical testimony of the degree of injury, and dismissed an eyewitness because he is a black person. His latest High Court appeal was Tues Feb 12, 2008. Links to information sites, a Japan Times article, and his support group at


    6) A conversation with Mrs Idubor re her husband’s incarceration:
    The Idubor Case: Life is tough when you feel the police are out to get you

    This is an account of a conversation with Mrs. Idubor, wife of Osayuwamen “Yuyu” Idubor, the Nigerian recently sentenced to three years for rape despite no material evidence; what it means in the bigger picture when anybody can finger you for a crime and get you sent down the pan. Some discussion on how foreigners are in a particularly weak position in Japan vis-a-vis the Japanese criminal justice system at

    Complete letters from prison, written by Yuyu Idubor specially for, describing in his words what happened. Three parts, starting from



    7) Asahi Watashi no Shiten: Schools for NJ children deserve GOJ support

    Sato Nobuyuki in the Asahi: “The government does not recognize schools for foreigners as regular schools that provide general education. Therefore, they do not receive any government subsidies. Most of the schools are supported by donations from fellow countrymen. While donations to European and American schools are now tax-exempt, the same rule does not apply to North and South Korean and Chinese schools, which are also categorized as kakushu gakko (miscellaneous schools)… I believe there are few countries in the world like Japan where foreign schools are at a disadvantage compared with regular schools. As Japan is about to become a “multinational, multiracial and multicultural” society, it is time we break away from “national education” and switch to “multiracial and multicultural symbiotic education.”


    8) Japan Today/Kyodo on US pressure re Japan’s NJ fingerprinting

    Kyodo: “A U.S. Homeland Security Department official voiced hope Tuesday that the Japanese government will start sometime in the future to take the fingerprints of all 10 fingers of each foreign visitor to step up accuracy of the screening system at immigration.” Why is the US so concerned about how other countries fingerprint, especially since Japan’s already doing far more biometric border control than average? Lobbying for Accenture?


    9) “Japanese Only” sign in Tsukiji Fish Market

    Here’s a sign I received a couple of weeks ago (sans address) from a friend in the Kansai: “JAPANESE PeoPle ONLY” outside a Tsukiji restaurant, along with a litany (in Japanese) of what kind of food appreciation they expect from their customers. How urusai. Problem is, by just flat-out refusing NJ customers, the restaurant wound up insinuating that NJ cannot have this degree of food appreciation, or can follow the rules. My putting this sign up on without calling the restaurant to confirm (heck, I didn’t know where it was, and asked for help) caused ruction in the blogosphere; inter alia, mostly-anonymous posters accused me of “concealing” information because I didn’t translate the Japanese on the sign (as if Japanese is some kind of secret code). They also somehow reasoned that the rules in Japanese somehow mitigated the blanket exclusion of NJ written in English (“J culture, foreigners are guests, shopowners can choose their customers”, yada yada yada). They tracked down the restaurant (ironically refusing to divulge its whereabouts to, speaking of concealment), and wound up, they say, getting the sign down. Anyway, bravo. Let’s hope they’re this active towards the next exclusionary sign…


    10) Speaking of Tsukiji and tourism… Japan Times on new rules to limit tourists

    Japan Times: “The Tsukiji Fish Market, one of the capital’s most popular and well-known tourist draws, adopted rules urging visitors to voluntarily “refrain from coming,” because of sanitation concerns and the disruptions they pose to the auction business…. The plan is to reduce — but not cut off — the number of onlookers. After being promoted in recent years as a tourist site, Tsukiji now finds itself the victim of its own success: So many visitors flock to the gigantic fish market each day that they are endangering its sanitation and interfering with business…”


    11) Alex Kerr on being a “Yokoso Ambassador” for the GOJ

    Based upon a recent Japan Times article, Alex Kerr, author of DOGS AND DEMONS and famous social commentator, has been chosen as a GOJ tourism representative. The Community interest group questioned whether one of Japan’s fiercest social critics of devastating porkbarrel and GOJ excess had in some way “sold out”. Alex was kind enough to answer them specially for…


    12) Japan Today: DPJ at odds with itself over PR Suffrage

    Never mind the political tea-leafing about DPJ trying to split New Komeito off from the LDP by using NJ as a wedge. Seems the Suffrage for Permanent Residents issue has set the DPJ against itself as well, according to Japan Today. This issue is not settled by any means (the DPJ is all over the map ideologically anyway; this degree of dissent is quite normal, actually), so let’s see where the kerfuffle goes. But for all the people that say that Japan’s NJ demographics and labor issues are politically insignificant, we may in fact be seeing quite a few fault lines between old and new Japan after all…

    Alas, according to Japan Probe, the latest is that this bill is unlikely to pass…



    13) Italian TV SKY TG24 on Sapporo Yuki Matsuri… and racial discrimination in Japan

    Italian channel SKY TG24 interviewed me regarding the Otaru Lawsuit, racial discrimination, and life in Japan as a naturalized Japanese citizen, with the 59th Sapporo Snow Festival as a backdrop. Broadcast nationwide in Italy on February 9, 2008, it’s up on visible as a .mov file. Although the entire 8 1/2 (no connection to Fellini) minute broadcast is, naturally, entirely in Italian (I felt like Clint Eastwood in reverse, dubbed back under Sergio Leone’s direction), you can still get the flavor of the matsuri and an inkling of one perspective in Japan. They even got an associate of the Mayor of Sapporo, a Mr Nakata (whom I’ve known in Sapporo since 1987!), to say for the record that the issue of racial discrimination is a thing of the past and solved. Any Italian speakers out there want to translate the show?


    14) January 22, 2008 Waseda speech podcast downloadable in full

    I spoke at Waseda University’s Global Institute for Asian Regional Integration (GIARI) on January 22, 2008. I was joined by Kawakami Sonoko, of Amnesty International Japan, and Katsuma Yasushi, Associate Professor at Waseda specializing in international human rights. The sound files (two were Trans Pacific Radio podcasts) are available below in four parts. Part One offers the first 25 minutes of the proceedings (the first couple of minutes were cut off), with my presentation. I talk about how Japan has brought in foreign laborers for economic reasons and not taken care of them. I also allude to the huge growth in Permanent Residents (the surest indicator of real immigration), and how with its lack of a clear policy towards migration, Japan’s economy is the only one of the rich countries to have shrunk overall on average in the past ten years… Parts two and three offer comments from other discussants. And part four offers the Q and A session, where I come up with an idea for the first time about Academic Social Responsibility…


    ON SALE FROM MARCH 15, 2008

    BOOK TOUR MARCH 15-APRIL 1, 2008 will visit Sendai, Tokyo (FCCJ and Good Day Books), Nagano, Shiga, Osaka, Kobe, Okayama, and Fukuoka.

    Yes, this is a book (co-authored with Akira Higuchi, Legal Scrivener) in English and Japanese, with tips on how you can make a stable life in Japan–from entry visa to planning your Will and funeral in Japan. Published by Akashi Shoten, I’ll be putting the last dabs on the paint this weekend in Tokyo.

    An independent announcement is forthcoming, but full details about the book contents and tour dates are already available online at


    Thanks as always for reading!
    Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan,
    Daily Blog updates with RSS at

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    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

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

    Posted on Wednesday, 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.

    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!

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    Posted in Human Rights, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 41 Comments »

    Community: Olaf & Tony on ironies of Fingerprinting & foreign crime in Japan

    Posted on Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

    Hi Blog. You’ve probably wondered why I’ve reverted back to my “one-a-day” blogging style, in the face of all this news. It’s because I’m doing this blog entirely by myself, and I don’t have the time and energy to work at the computer constantly for weeks (plus with speeches coming up just about every weekend these days, I haven’t had a full “day off” in several weeks); I even went to bed at 9PM last night and didn’t open my eyes until 7AM this morning. Guess I’m getting old.

    Anyhoo, some good comments from The Community internet volunteer group this morning on the Fingerprinting policy and foreign crime in Japan:

    Olaf wrote:
    I just sent this out as a Letter to the Editor at the Japan Times:

    The timing [of the Fingerprint Policy] couldn’t be more ironic. While Japan is ratifying and implementing laws to cut into the privacy of foreigners in Japan, forcing tax-paying, law-abiding, decade-long foreign residents to yield their fingerprints at immigration, Japanese gangsters are shooting and killing right and left. Hospital patients, city majors fall victims to Japanese criminals well known to the police. The police know their names, headquarters and that they own arsenals of deadly weapons. Instead of spying after innocent residents, the police should smoke out the gangster’s rat holes, arrest and persecute them. Only after that is done, I will consider giving my fingerprints.
    Tony wrote:
    It struck me this morning, watching the TOKUDANE programme coverage of the “accidental” hospital shooting, as one of the talking heads pointed out that ‘the police simply “designate” yakusa and members of “shitei bouryoku dan” and do nothing to actually round them up’; Organised crime syndicates get better treatment from the Japanese police than foreigners do! Maybe we should organise ourselves into a gang and then the police might leave us alone to get about our daily lives – no more “carding”, and we would get to ride our bicycles with impunity!

    Debito, feel like changing your name again to “Don Debitone”??

    Another comment in the same program that struck me as surreal – in the coverage of the disappearance of a Kikawa Ken grandmother and her two granddaughters, the neighbours have reported hearing a man shout “Hayou senka?” which is a local dialect phrase for “hurry up!” The reporter said in all seriousness that “since this was a little known west country dialect, it could be assumed that the perpetrators were probably not foreigners”.

    I wondered to myself, has it really come to the stage that the default assumption in a serious crime is that foreigners are involved?

    COMMENT: And I wondered to myself, the NPA still haven’t apprehended the prime suspect, Ichihashi Tatsuya (who last March reportedly fled barefoot from his apartment containing her body when 9 police visited) in the Lindsay Ann Hawker murder case. Yet the police will hold a person for a year without any physical evidence (no bail for foreigners, mind you) in the Idubor Case. And there’s still nobody arrested in the death last June of sumo wrestler Tokitaizan, who was savaged to death by his stablemates (and stablemaster Tokitsukaze, who even publicly admitted to bludgeoning him with a beer bottle the day before his death). Where’s the consistency? Why are criminal investigations drawn along nationality lines?

    Funny old world out there. Pity it’s (increasingly incontrovertibly) stacked against the foreigner in Japan. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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    Posted in Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 24 Comments »


    Posted on Saturday, October 20th, 2007

    This Newsletter is also available as a podcast.  See here:

    This week’s contents:


    …and finally…

    By Arudou Debito (,
    Freely forwardable



    I’ve been getting a lot of questions recently from people being approached by their employers and asked for copies of their Gaijin Cards. The MHLW says, in its link below:

    “2) From October 1, 2007, all employers are now legally bound to formally submit (by todoke) to the Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare (Hello Work) a report on all their pertinent foreign laborers (confirming their name, status of residence, and duration of visa) when they are hired or leave work. Exceptions to this rule are Special Permanent Residents [the Zainichis], or people here on Government Business or Diplomatic Visas. Those who do not do so promptly and properly will face fines of no more than 300,000 yen.” (Translation Arudou Debito)

    Note that it does not require your employer to make or submit photocopies etc. of your Gaijin Card and/or passport. Employers just have to check to make sure your visa is legit, then report it to the authorities. Suggest that if you don’t want things photocopied, say so.

    COMMENT: I knew that the GOJ had long proposed taking measures against visa overstayers, and I too agreed that employers who employ illegals should take responsibility (as opposed to the standard practice of punishing the employee by merely deporting them at a moment’s notice). But I wish there was a less intrusive way of doing this. And I wish more care had been made to inform NJ workers in advance and explain to them the reasons why. (In comparison, the recent Fingerprint Law amendments were enlightened in their PR. Though that’s not saying a lot.)

    Here’s an article from the vernacular press on the possible effects:


    Kobe Shinbun Oct 1, 2007 (excerpt) Translated by Colin Parrott

    …Until now, once a year in June, firms employing foreign workers have reported such details as residency status, nationality and number of foreign workers to the public employment security office, Hello Work, at their own discretion. According to the Labour Department, some 5000 employees at 910 firms (with 30 employees or more) in the prefecture have been targeted…

    Around 500 Vietnamese live in Kobe’s Nagata ward, where most of them work at a local chemical factory. When The Japan Chemical Shoes Industrial Association reported the revisions of the law to its member companies by newsletter they were met with criticism. “Without an investigation into how many people are working where, I really don’t see what difference it will make,” said a 42-year old chemical factory manager. “Sure it’s good for decreasing illegal employment, but if we don’t first acknowledge the fact that illegal unskilled foreign labourers exist, we’re going to be left with a labour shortage.”

    The manager realizes illegal Vietnamese labourers in the area will be exposed but worries, “foreigners who lose their jobs will unnecessarily turn to crime.”…

    Furthermore, data gathered by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry plans to be shared with the Ministry of Justice. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations and others criticize this scheme because it “violates foreigner’s rights to privacy.” They point out, “there is a possibility that discriminatory treatment based on race, skin colour or ethnic origin might arise.”

    The Employment Promotion Law was established with the goal of advancing blue-collar job stability and to increase the economic and social status in society of women, the elderly and the disabled. From October onwards, it will be prohibited to use age limit restrictions in the the recruitment and hiring process….
    Feedback from cyberspace and referential articles on the subject at

    COMMENT: The good news above is the age restriction is being abolished, and that’s good for Japanese academia, where age caps of 35 for NJ academics are not unusual. At least one job info site now refuses to post ads with age restrictions. More later.

    But note the underlying assumption that foreigners not employed legally will turn to crime; technically that’s true–but it’s not quite the same kind of crime as Japanese commit. Because Japanese don’t need visas to work. The incomparable crime being committed here is the NJ finding any work at all in order to survive. For example:



    I sometimes blog pretty mediocre articles on by journalists just going through the motions to file stories, without much attempt at bringing new information or angles to the surface. For example,

    In contrast, here is an excellent one that could probably after a bit of beefing up be reprinted in an academic journal. I even think the reporter followed quite a few of our leads. Excerpt follows:

    “One culture, one race:” Foreigners need not apply

    Despite a shrinking population and a shortage of labour, Japan is not eager to accept immigrants or refugees
    By GEOFFREY YORK, Globe and Mail (Canada) October 9, 2007
    Courtesy of Satoko Norimatsu

    TOKYO In the Turkish village of his birth, Deniz Dogan endured years of discrimination and harassment by police who jailed him twice for his political activities on behalf of the Alevi religious minority. So he decided to escape to a country that seemed peaceful and tolerant: Japan.

    Seven years later, he says he has found less freedom in Japan than in the country he fled. For a time, he had to work illegally to put food on his table. Police stop him to check his documents almost every day. He has suffered deportation threats, interrogations and almost 20 months in detention. In despair, he even considered suicide.

    His brother and his family, who fought even longer for the right to live in Japan, finally gave up and applied for refugee status in Canada, where they were quickly accepted.

    “We had an image of Japan as a very peaceful and democratic country,” Mr. Dogan said. “It was very shocking to realize that we had less freedom in Japan than in Turkey. We did nothing wrong, except to try to get into this country, yet we were treated as criminals. We felt like insects.”

    Despite its wealth and democracy, Japan has one of the world’s most intolerant regimes for refugees and immigrants. And despite its labour shortages and declining population, the government still shows little interest in allowing more foreigners in.

    From 1982 to 2004, Japan accepted only 313 refugees, less than 10 per cent of those who applied. Even after its rules were slightly liberalized in 2004, it allowed only 46 refugees in the following year. Last year it accepted only 34 of the 954 applicants…

    These attitudes have shaped a system of tight restrictions against foreigners who try to enter Japan. One of the latest laws, for example, requires all foreigners to be fingerprinted when they enter the country. Japan’s rules on refugee claims are so demanding that it can take more than 10 years for a refugee to win a case, and even then the government sometimes refuses to obey the court rulings. Hundreds of applicants give up in frustration after years of fruitless effort…

    [Sadako Ogata:] “From the perspective of Japanese officials, the fewer that come the better.”

    While they struggle to prove their cases, asylum seekers are often interrogated by police and confined to detention centres, which are prisons in all but name. When not in detention, asylum seekers cannot legally work and are required to live on meagre allowances, barely enough for subsistence.

    In one notorious case in 2005, Japan deported two Kurdish men after the UN refugee agency had recognized them as refugees. The UN agency protested the deportations, calling them a violation of Japan’s international obligations….

    “Work permits are not given to them, but they have to work to survive, so they work illegally.”..
    Rest at
    Lots more good information, have a read.

    Meanwhile, let’s look at what happens to some of those refugees:



    One more reason you don’t want to be apprehended by the Japanese authorities–in this case Immigration. Bad food. No, I don’t mean humdrum food. Read on:

    Asahi Shinbun Oct 18, 2007
    Translated by Arudou Debito
    Japanese original at

    OSAKA-FU IBARAKI CITY–Forty foreigners being detained in the Ministry of Justice West Immigration Detention Center are claiming, “There have been instances of stuff being mixed in with the meals provided by the Center, such as caterpillars (kemushi). We cannot safely eat it”. The Asahi learned on October 17 that they carried out a hunger strike on both October 9 and 10. The Immigration Center has confirmed that there have been 30 instances from April of inedibles mixed in the food. It has formally demanded their cooks improve the cooking.

    According to the Center, as of October 17, there are 240 foreigners being detained. They receive three meals a day, cooked on site by professionals and provided in detainees’ cells. However, the company contracted to provide these meals have since April have had materiel mixed in the food, such as hair, cockroaches, and mold.

    Consequently, the Center has taken measures from September to sure there is no extraneous stuff in the food, but one detainee claims it happened again on October 8. The Center said that they had already cleared the food and refused to exchange it for more, so the next day from breakfast the detainees went on hunger strike. By breakfast October 10, an additional 30 people had joined the movement. After the Center told them it would thoroughly check the sanitation procedures of the meal preparers, the detainees called off their strike.

    The Center said, “We have demanded the meal preparers clean up their act, and will keep a sharp eye on them from now on.”

    COMMENT: You know things have gotta be pretty antipathetic when even inmates have bad food (and food in Japanese prison, from what I’ve read, is apparently sparse but not all that unhealthy). But then again, this is not a prison. It’s an Immigration Gaijin Tank–where NJ are held indefinitely and not subject to the same standards (such as exercise, baths, time outside their cells, and–most importantly–a definite time limit to their incarceration) that people who have been formally sentenced to a Japanese prison will have.

    Back to the food. Remember where we are: This being Japan, a land of foodies, it’s famous for being a place where it’s hard to get a truly bad meal, let alone an unhygenic one. People are really fussy, and it shows in the marketplace. No professional in their right mind in the Japanese meal services lets quality slip.

    It might be the effect of a captive market, literally, meaning no competition and no incentive for quality control.

    Or it might be antipathy. Either this Detention Center’s meal preparers are completely shameless people, or they just don’t like foreigners and feel no compunction to serve them properly.

    Pretty stunning. Stop faffing about and fire the cooks already, Immigration.

    Anyway, it’s pretty clear that some people will do anything to avoid getting incarcerated in places like these. Sometimes with tragic results:



    Asahi Shinbun October 16, 2007, 13:22
    Translated by Arudou Debito, courtesy of Foo Bar

    OSAKA NISHI-KU On October 16, 2007, around 9:55 AM, a woman resident on the 9th floor of an apartment complex thought to be a foreigner was asked by Nishi Prefectural Police for identification (shokumu shitsumon), in order to ascertain her Status of Residence.

    The woman received the police in her genkan, but returned to her room, and minutes later fell from her veranda. She died of severe injuries to her entire body. The Nishi Police are ascertaining her identity.

    According to sources, she was apparently an Asian foreigner in her forties or fifties. At the end of September, Nishi Police received an anonymous tip-off that “An illegal foreign woman lives there”, so this morning four police officers visited the premises. When they demanded her passport at the genkan, the woman was said to have replied, “please wait”, and went back into the apartment. There was no answer after that.

    Nishi Vice Police Chief Akai Yasohachi said, “We don’t think there was any problem with the way the demands for identification were carried out.”

    COMMENT: Now it’s not even a matter of police stopping you on the street anymore for ID checks. They’re making house calls.
    This is not an isolated incident. Over the past few months, I have heard many reports from individuals regarding police investigating whole apartment complexes, door-to-door, especially those renting specifically to NJ. It’s all part of the dragnet against foreigners in Japan.

    In this case in Osaka, I doubt there was foul play involved, and the consensus in the comments section of my blog is that she somehow tried to escape. But here we have the fruits of the anonymous anti-foreigner GOJ “snitch sites”–people unwilling to be taken into custody by Japanese police for whatever reason. Given how the Japanese police treat people in their care, it’s not difficult to see why.

    More news if there is any later. But will this develop into a clear case of, “somebody’s gotta die before bad policy gets changed”?

    I wish they’d create snitch sites so we can anonymously rat on suspected members of organized crime. Those are the type of people I’d like to see falling from neighborhood balconies.

    Meanwhile, another case of incarceration which warrants an update:



    Quick update on the Idubor Case. (Background at )

    Just heard from Osayuwamen Idubor’s wife that the outcome of his latest court hearing (Oct 18), which had the hope of releasing him, did not.

    Next hearing on December 10 at 1:30PM, Yokohama District Court. That’s almost a year since he was incarcerated without a speedy trial.

    How nice. No material evidence of any crime committed, yet the defendant has to languish in jail (with deteriorating health) for another two months!  The prosecution want to give him five years.  At this rate, he’ll do it before even being declared guilty or innocent.

    Suggest people drop by Mr Idubor’s bar in Yokohama. Support his wife and business by having a drink.

    Details on how to get there at



    With the NOVA Inc. Eikaiwa Debacle, I’ve been getting quite a few questions from people who are finding out their employer isn’t paying their rent for corporate housing, much less their salary. It’s getting tough to answer each person individually (I get dozens of general questions every week), so let me add to the WHAT TO DO IF… artery site for one-stop shopping:

    WHAT TO IF… you are being threatened with eviction from your apartment.

    Tenants have extremely strong rights in this society, which means that if you signed a contract, you are entitled to stay, even if you haven’t paid your rent for a stretch of time. You can even sue (and win) if your landlord changes his or her mind after a contract is signed and money paid. Stand your ground. You cannot be evicted without a court order.

    Advice from those in the know, courtesy of the Japan Times:

    1) [With NOVA Inc.] deducting rent from your paycheck, but not forwarding it on to your landlord, Nova broke the law. They are in the wrong, not you. Your landlord can complain, but his contract is with Nova. Keep your pay stubs and any receipts you have. Legally, you’ve been paying rent. If the landlord changes your locks, removes anything from your apartment, or harasses you without going to court and getting a court order for your eviction, he is in the wrong. He can give you all the letters he wants, but he needs a judge to evict you. Grounds for eviction are normally illegal activity in the apartment or non-payment of agreed rent obligations. This is why you should hang on to your pay stubs – just in case things get ugly and you have to fight your eviction.

    2) Accommodation: “Even if the owner/the landlord/the agency is screaming at you to get out, you don’t have to leave–just keep paying your rent. If the company was supposed to be paying the rent and they haven’t, sue the company for fraud or tell the agency: ‘Look, the company’s supposed to be paying, and I’ve already paid the company.’ You have a right of residency, and anyone who wanted to get you out is going to have to get a court order to do it.” (Bob Tench, Nova union vice president)


    As ‘eikaiwa’ giant plans school closures amid credit crunch, some fear the worst
    The Japan Times, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2007
    (Referential information at the bottom of the article)

    Korean Woman Wins Discrimination Damages in Japan
    Chosun Ilbo, South Korea, October 5, 2007

    Plus, various extraneous bits of advice regarding union support, unpaid wages, Immigration/Visas and employment, redundancies, and unemployment insurance.



    F-Day, November 20, is just around the corner. Are you ready to stand in the Gaijin Line, every time, regardless of how long you’ve been here, and for what’s forecasted to take hours at a time, and have to face finger inkpads and whatnot at every port of entry that’s not Narita?

    Scott Wallace writes the following:
    “I know many have written comments about the new fingerprinting laws for all non-Japanese reentering Japan’s borders. So I had a Japanese friend draw up a letter of protest. Here it is in English and Japanese. For the cost of stamp and an envelope i think its well worth sending it. Even if nothing is done, it’s great for our health just to let them know and get it off our chests. Nothing ventured nothing gained, right?

    “I have kept it to one A4 size so that it is read, points out politely why I think it the law should be removed or amended, and specifically makes a request. Feel free to amend it as you like.”
    Downloadable from

    Suggestions on what to do with it: Hand it over at the border as you clear Passport Control. Send it by snail or email to Japan National Tourist Organization and the Japan Hotel Association. CC Justice/Immigration and Naikakufu. Try also Hato Bus Co, JAL, ANA, Tokyo and Osaka governments, Ginza and Akihabara Merchants’ Associations, even JR, Keisei Dentetsu, Limousine bus companies, etc., all of which will be affected. Tell anyone you please that the fingerprinting/biometric system is going to repel both business and leisure travelers, and will ultimately cost Japan foreign exchange and jobs.

    Another friend writes that the single best potential for protests will be international couples traveling together where one spouse is Japanese. They won’t be able stand in line and enter together any more, and that will also require the Japanese partner to cool his or her heels while waiting (with no place to go to do it except the baggage claim area).

    And of course there is civil disobedience. Another friend of a friend writes:
    “It’s not really common knowledge but electronic fingerprint readers don’t work on about 10% of the population. Something about the grooves being too shallow or something. So they have to have some sort of contingency plan in place, like taking ink prints and then scanning them. This costs them money. Lots of money; as in if everyone had to have manual prints done the project would go way over budget. I recommend applying superglue to your fingertips just before getting off the plane. EVERYONE. Or cover your fingers in a thick layer of vaseline or chewing gum to really mess up their readers. Apologize profusely when they find out, but just let them mess around trying to find out why nobody’s prints register on any machines before just saying “screw it” and letting everyone through. Let’s mess with the system, I say. Make it so cost inefficient and so time consuming that they have to stop.”

    Of course, I would never advocate messing up their machines like that. Never ever.

    But one of the reasons, I believe, that Special Permanent Residents (the Zainichi) have been made exempt from this requirement is because there would have been hell to pay (like there was in the past) if they had. The GOJ just didn’t expect the disorganized gaijin to protest. I suggest you prove them wrong.


    and finally…


    It’s been a busy time, with five speeches next week, and also two essays coming out.

    On Tuesday, October 23, Japan Times Community page will publish my 40th article, this time on the awful ‘Human Rights Survey”, put out every four years by the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office, as some indication of popular sentiment towards granting human rights to fellow humans (tentatively including non-Japanese). They fortunately report that more people this time believe that “foreigners deserve the same rights as Japanese”, after more than a decade of steady decline. But if anyone actually took a closer look at the survey, with its leading questions, biased sampling, and even discriminatory language towards non-Japanese residents, you would wonder a) why anyone would take it at all seriously, and b) why our government Cabinet is so unprofessional and unscientific. Especially when the United Nations has long criticized Japan for ever making human rights a matter of popularity polls. Pick up a copy next Tuesday. I even did the cartoon for it.

    On Friday, October 26, Metropolis’s Last Word column will have my 20th article with them, this time on the Fingerprint Reinstitution I’ve been talking so much about recently. 850 words on the issue, the history, and more on what you can do about it. Get your copy next Friday.

    And if you want me to start writing a column for the Japan Times and/or Metropolis on a regular basis, say, once a month, let them know.,


    All for today. Thanks for reading and/or listening.
    Arudou Debito
    Sapporo, Japan,

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    Posted in Newsletters, Podcasts | 1 Comment »’s first podcast October 13, 2007

    Posted on Tuesday, October 16th, 2007


    In this edition of the newsletter:


    In this first-ever podcast from, Trans Pacific Radio is hosting me reading from my latest newsletter–for people on the go who would rather listen than read.

    A warning, however: I am doing this for the first time with new software, uncut, unrehearsed, in mono without intro or closing music etc., with a standard headphone mic, so there is sometimes background noise (most notably my fan within my PowerBook). Podcast lasts 24 minutes.

    Apologies for starting on the bottom of the learning curve. We’ll someday look back at this and laugh. If you would instead prefer to read the text with links, go to

    Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    PS: More interviews and podcasts at

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    Posted in Podcasts | No Comments »


    Posted on Saturday, October 13th, 2007


    Hello All. This week’s contents:


    …and finally…


    By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan,
    Daily blog updates at
    Freely Forwardable



    –Groucho Marx

    If you haven’t heard about the new Immigration procedure coming into effect next month, it’s time you did. It will affect not only tourists and frequently-traveling businesspeople, but also long-term residents. You will be targeted by a useless and xenophobic system, treated as fresh off the boat no matter how long you’ve lived here.

    From November 20, 2007, all foreigners crossing the border into Japan will have their fingerprints and mug shots taken. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been asked a number of questions about some recent news articles, which indicate that “long-term” or Permanent Residents will not be fingerprinted at the border.

    “Permanent residents, including ethnic Koreans born in Japan, will be exempt from the law, along with state guests and diplomats.”

    “Permanent residents will be exempt from the law, along with state guests and diplomats.”

    “Japanese permanent residency certificate holders, people under the age of 16, and guests of the country’s government chief administrators will not subject to the new measure, Sasaki [Seiko, head of Japan’s immigration agency’s intelligence management department], said.”

    Similar misportrayals of the law have appeared in the Japan Times, Iran TV, Kyodo, and other news agencies.

    What a mess. Sloppy, lazy journalism and interpretation, if not some careless statements by government officials. As reported on as far back as last June, the new Immigration procedures, according to the Japanese Government, apply to (quoting English original):
    1. Persons under the age of 16
    2. Special status permanent residents
    3. Those performing actions which would be performed
    [sic] by those with a status of residence, “diplomat” or “official government business”

    (This hammy ad has since been supplanted by an avuncular British-voiced production with a sterner measure of punishments denoted–as well as NJ residents also being portrayed as “visitors”.)

    Let’s define our terms. “Special status permanent residents” (tokubetsu eijuusha) mean the Zainichi generational “foreigners”. This means regular-status permanent-resident immigrants (ippan eijuusha) or “long-term foreign residents” (teijuusha) are NOT exempt. They will be fingerprinted.

    This means you if you’re not a citizen, a Zainichi, or naturalized. Every time you enter the country. Don’t comply, you don’t get in. Be advised.

    Find this annoying, even offensive? Don’t take it lying down.
    Some suggestions on what you can do about it at
    Also details on an Amnesty International public forum on this in Tokyo Oct 27.
    Attend and get organized. Some letters of protest by Martin Issott in the Japan Times and Yomiuri at

    Even more information in an article I wrote for Metropolis Magazine, out Friday, Oct 19. Eyes peeled.



    Pretty fascinating stuff going on these days in the official putsch to treat all foreigners as terrorists, er, criminals, er, so what–we Japanese can treat non-Japanese any way we like in our own country…

    For example, get a load of this upcoming sales exhibition of anti-terrorism goods, coming up next week in Tokyo (English original):

    Now, Confronting Terrorism
    2007.10.17-19 TOKYO BIG SIGHT, TOKYO, JAPAN
    Organizer Tokyo Big sight
    [sic] Inc.

    (note how the Ministry of Education is also attending)
    DU PONT K.K.
    Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)

    What’s the point of this meeting? (English Original)

    It is the first presentation in Japan of assembled counterterrorism equipment and information. It is an original, and very important opportunity to exchange information, with the latest counter-terror products and services brought together under one roof. As a specialized exhibition, it has two major features; “Effective presentation targeting specific group of people”, and “Attendees coming with a purpose”.

    Attendance of important managers with purchasing authority is guaranteed by the connections with relevant authorities built through RISCON. This is the ideal chance to have direct contact with exhibited products and services and to discuss purchase and introduction.

    Attendance at the site is limited to people connected to terrorism countermeasures such as crisis management administrators from major facilities, and public servants from government administration offices and local government. It is planned that during the exhibition entry to the site will be limited to only about 3000 people. Because of this it will be possible to exhibit high level equipment and products with special specifications which cannot generally be shown in public.

    All the spooks under one roof, and our bureaucrats attending. Now that’s convenience. Full files at
    Sugges the journalists get digging on this.

    Speaking of that, look how user-friendly the GOJ, with their long history of UN-condemned “snitch sites” to rat on “illegal foreigners” for any reason whatsoever, is making things now. Weird on several levels…


    By The Tokyo Immigration Bureau
    (Courtesy of JJ. Japanese original, translated by Arudou Debito)

    From October 6, 2007, we will be taking information on illegal foreigners on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays too. Phone 03-5796-7256

    In order to restore “Japan as the World’s Safest Country”, Immigration has the goal of reducing the number of illegal foreigners by half in the five years between 2003 and 2008. To this end, we need everyone’s cooperation.

    So from October 6, 2007, in addition to the regular business hours of government offices, we will be open to receiving information on illegal foreigners by phone on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays between 9 AM and 5PM (exceptions being holidays between December 29 and January 3).

    –Note that we will not be open for informants to visit in person on these Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays.

    –This avenue will only be open for those wishing to inform on illegal foreigners. Those with other needs should call us during regular business hours when our offices are open.

    Positively Orwellian. More on other snitch sites in Japan, their history, and their abusable parameters at

    The Japan Times: March 30, 2004

    By Debito Arudou

    Anyone want to snitch on me to Immigration and see what happens?



    Another lawsuit against an employer for bad work practices. This time around, however, the plaintiffs are NJ. Let’s hope their efforts both make the labor laws more clearly enforceable, and highlight more of the problems created by treating NJ laborers as inferior.

    Apocalypse now
    Japan Times Sunday, April 29, 2007

    By MARK SCHREIBER Shukan Kinyobi (April 20)
    Courtesy of Steve Silver

    …On March 27, Shukan Kinyobi reports, Lien and five of her Vietnamese compatriots filed charges in the Nagoya District Court against the Japan International Training Cooperation Organization (JITCO) and TMC, a Toyoda City-based, vehicle manufacturer that produced components on a subcontractor basis to Toyota Motor Corporation. The six demanded unpaid wages and financial compensation of some 70 million yen…

    After having their personal seals, bank deposit books and passports taken away for “safekeeping,” the trainees were put to work at a monthly salary of 58,000 yen. They received a paltry 100 yen per hour for additional overtime work.

    The six plaintiffs allege that their “training” frequently involved verbal harassment by supervisory staff. Any complaints were met with the threat of deportation, and mistakes on the job brought curses like, “You people aren’t humans, you’re animals.”

    The greatest indignity, though, was that the employer posted a table outlining how many times and for how long its workers were permitted to utilize the toilets during work hours, and enforced the rule strictly. For each minute in the toilet in excess of the allotted times, they were docked 15 yen.

    Besides being fined for responding to the call of nature, the six women also allege they underwent sexual harassment. One of the bosses, they claim, would “visit” their dormitory rooms at night and even slip into their futons, where he offered certain financial incentives in exchange for sexual favors…

    Rest of the article at

    Thanks to Shuukan Kin’youbi and people at the Japan Times for bringing this to the fore. As opposed to all the rest of the J press, which according to Google News ignored this significant court victory:

    Chosun Ilbo, South Korea, October 5, 2007
    Courtesy of Neil Marks

    A Kyoto court ruled partially in favor of a Korean woman who sued a Japanese landlord for refusing to rent a room to her. A Kyoto district court ruled that refusing to rent a room to a person due to her nationality is illegal and ordered the landlord to pay the woman W8.65 million (US$1=W916) [about 110 man yen, pretty much the average award in these lawsuits] in compensation.

    Courts have taken a dim view of refusal to let rooms to foreigners since an Osaka court in 1993 ruled this went against the constitutional stipulation of equality before the law. But in reality, Japanese homeowners often reject foreign tenants citing differences in the lifestyle and customs. Counsel for the plaintiff said the ruling was a “head-on attack on discrimination based on nationality” and predicted it would help eradicate unfair discrimination against foreigners.

    The woman signed a contract to rent a room through a real estate agency in January 2005. But after she paid the deposit to the landlord and commissions to the realtor, the landlord changed his mind since she was a foreigner.

    Moral: Get refused for being a foreigner, sue. It’ll only take you a year or two and you had better have signed a contract.

    Next step necessary in the court precedent ladder: winning in court for getting refused a room for being a foreigner, before a contract was even signed. Any takers? No doubt there are plenty of readers out there who have experience…



    Here are four speeches I’ve got coming up in about a week. Attend if you like, and contact me at in advance if you want to buy a book or a T-shirt (so I can bring some down):

    Speech in English on Japan’s new fingerprint laws for Non-Japanese

    2:40-4:20 PM, Graduate School of Asia Pacific Studies, Waseda University
    Building 19, Room 315 For map see:
    (essay on this topic coming up in Friday Oct 19’s Metropolis Magazine)

    “Migration and Integration–Japan in a Comparative Perspective” international forum

    Speech in English and Panel Discussion:
    “Migration and Integration–Voices from the Grassroots” 2PM-4PM
    Chair: Andrew HORVAT (Tokyo Keizai University)

    Debito ARUDOU (Hokkaido Information University)
    Iris BEDNARZ-BRAUN (German Youth Institute)
    Angelo ISHI (Musashi University)
    Mitsuo MAKINO (City of Iida, Mayor)
    Masami MATSUMOTO (Mundo de Alegria)
    Mariko TAMANOI (University of California at Los Angeles)
    Keiko YAMANAKA (University of California at Berkeley)
    Manami YANO (Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan)

    Sponsored by the German Institute for Japanese Studies
    and the Waseda University Graduate School of Asia Pacific Studies (GSAPS)

    Speech in Japanese on Racial Discrimination in Japan

    Ninth Tochigi-Ken Human Rights Seminar, 1PM-4PM

    Speakers: Morihara Hideki of IMADR
    Arudou Debito of
    Sponsored by the NPO Jinken Center Tochigi
    Tel 0285-23-2217

    15:30 to 16:20 Room 153
    “Japan’s imminent internationalization: Can Japan assimilate its immigrants?”



    Turning the keyboard over to Chris Pitts, of Amnesty International Group 78:

    Please support Mr Osayuwamen Idubor (personal appeal)

    While this is not an official Amnesty International case, I feel that many of you, like me, will want to do something to help. Please read on…

    Osayuwamen IDUBOR, a Nigerian national and the owner of a cafe/bar in Yokohama was arrested by police in January, following an accusation that he had raped a customer 11 weeks earlier. Although there is no material evidence to justify holding him, he is still in police custody. The courts are treating him as guilty until proven innocent. Although his health is deteriorating, police have denied him access to a hospital.

    For the full story, see the account on Arudou’s Debito’s excellent website:
    with an update on the case at:

    The important issue in this case is the lack of a speedy trial. The man is languishing in prison on the basis of a groundless (there is not a shred of material evidence against him) accusation. It could happen to anyone.

    If you have time, please come and show your support for Mr Idubor by:

    1) attending his next hearing, Thursday Oct 18th at 13:30, or
    2) attending the special evening in Yokohama Saturday Oct 20 from 7 pm.

    See below for details.

    1) Next hearing:
    Yokohama District Court

    Nihon-odori 9, Naka-ku, Yokohama City
    This is one minute’s walk from JR Kannai station. Map in Japanese:

    2) Join us for a drink at Idubor’s cafe/bar

    Next Saturday, October 20th, Arudou Debito and I will be going to Mr Idubor’s bar, which is being run in his absence by his wife, to offer practical support and solidarity in the form of our custom. In other words, we’ll have a few drinks. Why don’t you join us?

    Big Ys Cafe
    Yokohama-shi Naka-ku Yamashita-cho 106-3
    Laport Motomachi 104 Tel. 045-662-2261

    Its open from 18:00 till morning. Map downloadable in Excel and htm format:

    If you can’t join us on Oct 20, go there some other time. You can also join Mrs Idubor when she visits her husband. See Arudou’s website for details. Thanks for reading. Hope to see you there. Regards, Chris Pitts, Amnesty International Japan Group 78


    …and finally…


    Nearly two weeks ago, I put out a special message to everyone about the financial plight of the Japan Times, having raised its newsstand prices by 30 yen, on how you might lend it some assistance.

    It became one of the most commented pages on my blog, with even the President of the Japan Times, Yukiko Ogasawara, expressing her thanks online nearly immediately. Others commented with facts and figures about the newspaper’s sales figures, and some pretty harsh advice of their own.

    But the biggest piece of non-advice came from Mark Devlin, founder of Crisscross Inc, and publisher of and Metropolis Magazine. He just sold Crisscross to company Japan Inc. for an undisclosed sum, and commented on my blog with no small measure of triumphalism and contumely that the Japan Times should just be allowed to die.

    I was once a former columnist at, contributing 18 articles between 2000 and 2002. That is, until they bilked me out of some of my pay. Mark himself brought up I am “not due anything further”. From what I have heard from other contributors who also claim they were bilked, I am not alone in feeling that there is a business practice here.

    You can see his letter and my answer at

    How I concluded my reply to Mark:
    But for this reason alone, I hope the Japan Times survives. They commendably treat their contributors better. Crisscross should definitely not be the template for success in your industry.

    Anyway, I’m glad Japan Inc. took your paper over. The new editor and owner of your publication have been in touch, and already paid me the balance your company owed me [for more than five years]. Plus 5% p.a. Interest. And I look forward to writing for them again, if they’ll have me back.

    They’re better businesspeople, because they’ve already demonstrated that goodwill also matters to the bottom line.

    Good news is Metropolis has already asked me back, thanks. My next article with them is next issue, due out next Friday. Have a read.


    Thanks for reading this as well, everyone.
    Arudou Debito
    Sapporo, Japan,
    Daily blog updates at

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    Posted on Friday, October 5th, 2007

    Hello all, let me get this out before I head down to Osaka for the weekend:




    …and finally…


    By Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan,

    Visit and comment on all articles below at

    Freely Forwardable




    Interesting article on job security in Japan and what unions can do to help. In light of the recent NOVA eikaiwa labor market earthquakes (not to mention pretty lousy job security in Japan for NJ in general–90% of all NJ workers in Japan are on term-limited contracts, according to the National Union of General Workers (, it’s a good roundup.


    Foreign workers get mixed results from joining unions in Japan

    By Oscar Johnson

    Japan Today Feature Friday, September 28, 2007

    TOKYO For many foreign workers in Japan, joining a labor union is hardly a priority. But just as Nova language school–the country’s largest employer of foreigners–has taken heat recently for illegal dealings with customers and not paying wages, its ongoing row with unions has been gaining scrutiny. For some, the issue calls into question the very viability of unions; for others, it confirms the need.

    “If workers don’t join a union, there’s only one certainty: things will not change,” says Bob Tench, vice president of the Kanto branch of the National Union of General Workers’ Nova Union. “If they do, I can’t say for certain things will change, but there’s a chance.”…


    Rest at

    (The title is a bit misleading–sounds as if unions are to blame for the mixed results. Not really the article’s tack.)

    I encourage everyone in Japan who is NJ to join a union. I have. Lose the allergy and the visions of George Meany and Jimmy Hoffa, and realize it’s the only recourse you have in Japan to get your labor rights enforced. All other measures, as I have written in the past (, be they the courts, the ministries, even the laws as written themselves, will not help you in a labor dispute.

    Especially if you are a NJ. Labor rights have been severely weakened over the past two decades, and the sooner you understand that and take appropriate measures, the more secure life you’re going to have in Japan.

    Speaking of stable work environments:



    Yesterday I sent out to you a separate post about the apparent financial problems of the Japan Times, with some suggestions on both how we and they can help save the institution.

    I received a thank-you email almost immediately in the Comments section of the blog entry from Yukiko Ogasawara, President of the Japan Times. Thanks back.

    Other comments have also been enlightening and helpful. One I will excerpt here:


    Raising prices doesn’t necessarily mean that a company is in trouble but Debito-san is correct that the JT has financial problems. Here are the sales and operating loss numbers for the Japan Times for the past three years from Nifco’s financial filings. (Nifco owned 75.5% of the JT as of 3/07, which made it a consolidated subsidiary.)

    (Yen millions)

    Sales Operating Loss

    3/07 2,989 (-5.3%) 327

    3/06 3,142 (-8.6%) 248

    3/05 3,436 (-5.9%) 211

    3/04 3,651

    That’s an 18% decline in sales over three years. Pretty serious. I’m not sure what was happening in 2003 and earlier.

    The good news is that this order of loss is pretty insignificant to Nifco, which reported operating profit of Yen 13,696 million in its last FY (an increase of 16.5%). Nifco won’t go broke because of the JT.

    I would personally hate to see the JT go under but the JT is not the only newspaper coping with shrinking markets. If management actually cares about becoming profitable, Debito-san’s suggestions would be a good place to start making changes.


    Any more suggestions? Comment at the blog.

    There’s a good chance JT management might see them.

    It’d be a shame to lose the JT, given it’s a forum for debates like these:



    In June 2006, I’m embarrassed to say I missed this debate on the Community Page on reinstating fingerprinting for NJ only. Since cyberspace is quite incandescent with outrage at the moment over the November revisions to the laws, here are excerpts of pros and cons by two friends of mine, Scott and Matt:

    Japan Times Community Page Tuesday, June 6, 2006

    Should Japan fingerprint foreigners?




    Fingerprinting puts foreign residents at risk

    Courtesy Matt Dioguardi’s blog at

    ..Ultimately, this policy puts foreigners at unfair risk. I typed in the phrase “how to fake fingerprints” on Google recently and got back over half a million hits. I checked the first 60, which told you how to do just that.

    You leave your fingerprints everywhere you go. You leave them on trains, on vending machines, any place you lay your hands. Foreigners will have to take this in stride as they become de facto suspects in almost every crime committed.

    There are respected scholars, former police officers, and journalists now questioning the entire science of fingerprinting. And whose to say how long it takes before collected prints are leaked through Winnie?

    Putting all this aside, guess what? This policy just won’t work. Does anyone really believe that all terrorists are foreigners? The Tokyo subway sarin attack comes to mind (6000 injured, 12 dead), so does the bombings of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Tokyo in 1974 (20 injured, 8 dead) and the Hokkaido Prefectural Government office in Sapporo in 1976 (80 injured, 2 dead). The obvious prejudice here is palpable…



    Immigration’s new system will make us safer

    …Indeed, all criminals are fingerprinted, but that doesn’t mean all people fingerprinted are criminals. The “green cards” of permanent resident foreigners in the U.S. have shown their fingerprint for decades. People in high-security or sensitive jobs are fingerprinted, too.

    Some countries require fingerprints for passports now, and many more are proposing such a measure. Fingerprints are being used for biometric ID on ATMs and even cell phones for online transactions.

    Clearly their role has evolved far beyond just crime investigations. And as their use continues to diversify, public feelings are likely to evolve toward a neutral view, too.

    Fingerprints are just one form of biometric identification. Ironically, they are not even the most widely-used form, even in law enforcement. That throne belongs to photographs, which are in many ways much more “personal” data than fingerprints. Yet you don’t hear anyone complaining that being photographed is “degrading” or “makes them feel like a criminal.”

    In the end, when public safety is at stake, worrying about hurting people’s feelings is just not good policy. Airline security, for example, with its body pat-downs and shoe removal almost seems designed to violate one’s dignity. It’s unpleasant, yes, but necessary…


    Full text of both articles at


    The biggest problem I see with this new biometric system (aside from the fact that it’s not even being instituted nationwide–only at Narita, which means elsewhere everyone foreign goes through the Gaijin Line regardless of whether or not they are actually a resident of Japan) was not really alluded to in Scott’s argument: that if you really want to take care of terrorists, you fingerprint everybody. After all, if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to fear. Even if you’re Japanese, right?

    I’ve said this before, but there is no reason to target NJ only like this, except for the fact that you can. Given the cultural disfavor with fingerprinting in Japan (essentially, only criminals or suspected criminals get systematically fingerprinted in Japan–this association is one of the reasons why the Zainichi generational foreigners successfully protested for decades to get it abolished in the 1990’s), if you included Japanese in the fingerprinting there would be outrage, and the policy would fail. Look what happened when they tried to institute the Juki Net universal ID card system earlier this decade (it was even ruled unconstitutional in 2006).

    I been watching this come down the pipeline for years now, and have of course been writing about it. See the roots of this policy and what sorts of discriminatory logic it is founded upon (i.e. clear and systematic racial profiling, both in essence, and in an enforcement which bends existing laws) in a 2006 Mainichi article and a 2005 Japan Times column:

    Here comes the fear: Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents

    By Arudou Debito, Japan Times, May 24, 2005

    Japan to fingerprint foreigners under proposed immigration bill

    Mainichi Shinbun, February 8, 2006

    Both at

    In any case, Kyodo has just reported that tomorrow will see the official announcement of the fingerprint law’s promulgation on November 20.

    Almost makes you want to naturalize.

    Now for The Economist’s take:



    How the pendulum has begun swinging back. As a twenty-year reader of The Economist, I’ve noticed a constant editorial slant favoring market-based solutions to just about everything, and the concomitant (but wan and blinding) hope that the more politically-conservative elements of governments in the developed economies would follow The Economist’s preferred course. Hence their often backwards-bending support of the current administration in the world’s most powerful economy, which has long demonstrated a pursuit of power for its own (and its cronies’ own) sake.

    Now, after struggling for years to come to terms with (and offering conditional, but certainly evident, support for) the American curtailment of civil liberties (enabling other countries, such as Japan, to create copycat policy), this week’s Economist finally comes down against the erosion. Bravo.


    Civil liberties under threat: The real price of freedom

    It is not only on the battlefield where preserving liberty may have to cost many lives

    The Economist, Sep 20th 2007

    (here is how it concludes) …When liberals put the case for civil liberties, they sometimes claim that obnoxious measures do not help the fight against terrorism anyway. The Economist is liberal but disagrees. We accept that letting secret policemen spy on citizens, detain them without trial and use torture to extract information makes it easier to foil terrorist plots. To eschew such tools is to fight terrorism with one hand tied behind your back. But that–with one hand tied behind their back–is precisely how democracies ought to fight terrorism.

    Take torture, arguably the hardest case. A famous thought experiment asks what you would do with a terrorist who knew the location of a ticking nuclear bomb. Logic says you would torture one man to save hundreds of thousands of lives, and so you would. But this a fictional dilemma. In the real world, policemen are seldom sure whether the many (not one) suspects they want to torture know of any plot, or how many lives might be at stake. All that is certain is that the logic of the ticking bomb leads down a slippery slope where the state is licensed in the name of the greater good to trample on the hard-won rights of any one and therefore all of its citizens.

    Human rights are part of what it means to be civilised. Locking up suspected terrorists–and why not potential murderers, rapists and paedophiles, too?–before they commit crimes would probably make society safer. Dozens of plots may have been foiled and thousands of lives saved as a result of some of the unsavoury practices now being employed in the name of fighting terrorism. Dropping such practices in order to preserve freedom may cost many lives. So be it.


    Now if only Japan’s opinion leaders were as intelligent and outspoken about the flaws in Japan’s new laws.

    Then again, not everybody sees things quite so harshly:



    Got this yesterday from Heidi Tan over at Bloomberg (thanks): A Sept 29 podcast from Bloomberg Radio, interviewing Robert Feldman, chief economist at Morgan Stanley Japan Securities, over economic issues and Fukuda’s “steady hand”.

    One thing brought up was immigration. Here’s how Mr Feldman, who has been “a Japan watcher for 37 years”, assesses the situation: (Minute seven)


    Q: Is there a change in immigration within the Japanese people?

    A: Yes there is. Immigrants are now really welcome by a large share of the population. Obviously, large-scale immigration is something new to Japan. They’re not sure about it. It’s also a huge issue in many other countries around the globe. And so Japan is watching what’s happening in the United States and in Europe with immigration policy. From my perspective, I see a very large number of Japanese people very much welcoming young, eager, aggressive people who want to come to Japan and make their lives there. We have now between 400,000 and 450,000 foreign-born workers in Japan. That’s not a huge number. But most of these are very young people. A huge number are from China. Young, hardworking kids who want to come and make something out of themselves. And quite interestingly, until a couple of years ago, there was a lot of talk in the media in Japan about crime coming in with these foreign workers. You see almost no discussion of that anymore. I think the immigrant groups have proven themselves to be very hardworking, very good citizens, and that’s helping the image of immigration. So yes, immigration will be part of the story, but inevitably it cannot be the main line.

    Q: What is the response to the Chinese coming into Japan?

    A: I think a lot of them come because they want to work. They have opportunities there, they read the kanji well enough so it’s easy enough to get around. So I think the young Chinese community in Japan is very very happy to be there. I witnessed a very interesting sort of event a couple of weeks ago. I was visiting the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo… As you enter the main shrine, there a place where according to Shinto religion you’re supposed to wash off your hands… And there was a group of young Chinese kids there, who were about to go into the shrine. And they were being very very serious and solicitous about washing their hands properly before they went into the shrine. As a sign of respect towards the Meiji Emperor. And I thought it was just lovely, that this group of immigrants was so serious about honoring the traditions of the country where they had come to at least work for a while.


    COMMENT: Usually my mantra is that immigration is the future and I’m sunny about it. But I’m not sure I can be quite as rosy as Mr Feldman about the present situation. Granted, his appraisal of Japan’s future labor market actually included immigration (as opposed to the three-page survey in the July 26, 2007 Economist, which ignored it completely).

    But I’m not so sure about Chinese being “really welcome” (given the short-term revolving-door visa policies that both the ruling party and the bureaucrats want, moreover the “Japanese Only” policies that are even starting to target Chinese in particular) or “very very happy” to be here.

    Given the harsh working conditions many of them face,

    I wonder how many Chinese in Japan Mr Feldman talked to when creating his happiness index, or even his assimilation quotient (just seeing them being respectful of shrine customs does not to me necessarily signal their respect for a Japanese emperor, or the fact that the crowd of Chinese were even immigrants; they might have been tourists on their best behavior).

    And as for the “almost no discussion” regarding foreign crime, the biannnual press releases from the NPA still score headlines (see link below to last February’s media blitz). Even the current Justice Minister Hatoyama has made it clear he intends to stay the course of toughness towards foreign crime. It’s even been transmuted into anti-terrorism bills.

    Caveats on my part: I don’t live in Tokyo, and every time I go down south I’m surprised at just how many NJ, particularly Chinese, are working in restaurants, hotels, and convenience stores–and that’s not even touching upon NJ working in less public-view places such as factories and nightlife. I might be lacking Mr Feldman’s perspective by living in Sapporo, a city not terribly multicultural. Plus having my eyes on the problems all the time could be biasing my sample (or just making me old and cynical).

    But the fact that the larger group (even larger than Chinese) of Newcomer NJ worker immigrants in Japan–the Brazilians–doesn’t even warrant a mention (they’re found farther west) indicates to me that Mr Feldman doesn’t get out of Tokyo much.

    I do of course hope he’s right, of course. I just don’t think based upon what he says above that he has sufficient evidence to back up such rosy assertions, especially given how the GOJ treats NJ as inferior workers and agents of social problems. Feels funny to be the cynic this time.



    Two new articles about things we have been talking about on for months now, so let me update with excerpts:


    Japan remains haven for parental abductors

    September 25, 2007, Japan Today/Kyodo News By Alison Brady

    …As a result of the increasing number of international marriages, more than 21,000 children are born each year in Japan to couples of mixed Japanese and non-Japanese descent. Add to that the number of children born to Japanese who live abroad and are married to a non-Japanese. What becomes of these bi-national children when the parents separate or divorce?…

    There are no exact figures on how many children have been abducted to Japan. T he National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports 46 American children have been kidnapped to Japan since 1995. That number grows considerably when factoring in children of other countries and cases that were either dropped or never reported. Furthermore, the U.S. government has no record of even a single case in which Japan has agreed to return an abducted child by legal means to the United States…


    Rest at

    A good article on the nastiness that occurs when Japan will neither allow joint custody of children after divorce (meaning one parent usually just disappears from a child’s life), nor sign the Hague Convention on Child Abductions (which in international marriages encourages Japanese to abscond with their kids back to Japan, never to return). More on this phenomenon at the Children’s Rights Network Japan site at

    I’m personally interested in this issue, as I too have not seen one of my children since Summer 2004, and am involved in the production of a movie talking about the Murray Wood Case.

    More on the movie later when the directors are good and ready for publicity.


    Next article offers a bit of hope for the Idubor Case, where an African was accused similarly of a sexual crime and is still being held by police for eight months now despite no evidence.


    Man acquitted of indecent assault over lack of evidence

    Mainichi Shinbun September 28, 2007

    YOKOHAMA A man has been acquitted of the indecent assault of a woman at his home in January last year, due to lack of evidence.

    The Yokohama District Court found the defendant, an antique goods dealer and an Iranian national, not guilty for a lack of evidence. Prosecutors had demanded that the accused spend four years behind bars for indecent assault, resulting in injury.

    Presiding Judge Kenichi Kurita pointed out that the alleged victim’s testimony changed during the trial and could not be trusted, declaring, “It cannot be concluded that the man molested her despite her will.”

    The man was charged with fondling the body of a 32-year-old acquaintance at his home in Midori-ku, Yokohama, on Jan. 28, 2006, causing her slight neck injuries.


    Good. The key here is that she was in his home when this happened, so motive and intent favor the male. Pity it took Japan’s judiciary over a year and a half to come to this conclusion.

    What I also find rather amusing about this case is the act of “fondling”, causing “slight neck injuries”? What are we talking about here, hickies? Case dismissed.



    I will be briefly speaking both for ten minutes and as part of a panel (English and Japanese) at Osaka University’s Suita Campus, Osaka University Convention Center (Osaka-fu Suita-shi Yamadaoka 1-2), from 9:30AM to 11AM.

    Panel will be on “Non-Japanese Residents and their Health Treatment–What’s Necessary in this Era of Multicultural Co-Existence”, chaired by Professor Setsuko Lee of Nagasaki’s Seibold University, Director of the Japan Global Health Research Center, and will also offer opinions of three other speakers.

    Sponsored by the 22nd Annual Meeting for the Japan Association for International Health


    …and finally…


    Great news for all us Dosanko! The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, *OUR* local team, has just won its second pennant IN A ROW in the Pacific League. BANZAI!!

    Why this matters to The game tonight was between two NJ coaches–Hillman and Valentine–who between them have won the last two Japan Series and now four league pennants. They’ve certainly earned their stripes in Japan. If nobody points out that it’s now the NJ coaches who are bringing winning strategies to Japan, I will, of course. (Whaddya expect?) Now let’s see if we can get restrictions removed on quotas for foreign players on Japanese baseball teams.

    And why this matters to Hokkaido: We’ve become a baseball powerhouse, what with Tomakomai Komadai also winning the High School Baseball leagues twice in a row from four years ago, then coming in second last year; the fact they hardly qualified this year will be salved by this victory.

    Sorry to say this is Hillman’s last season with the Fighters. He’s probably heading back to Texas to be with his Rangers. He will be sorely missed.

    Next stop, Pacific League champs take on the Central League champs (the goddamn Tokyo Giants). If Hillman can beat the Giants (which once was the team Hokkaido supported–not that the Giants ever cared) in a home game, it will be poetic justice indeed.

    More on Japanese baseball (including that thing about foreign-player quotas) at Trans Pacific Radio at


    All for today. Thanks for reading!

    Arudou Debito

    Sapporo, Japan,


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    Posted on Saturday, September 29th, 2007

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 28, 2007 //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    … and finally

    Compiled by Arudou Debito (,
    RSS updates at
    Freely Forwardable



    Get a load of this. It’s happening, as anticipated. When the Otaru Onsens Case ( first came up, one of the arguments Olaf and I made was the slippery slope. If hot springs were going to refuse NJ with impunity, what’s next? Bars? Stores? Restaurants? Hospitals?

    Now it seems even hospitals refusing NJ have come to pass.

    This is also happening to J women as well, the news reports. But that’s what makes this case even more ludicrous and nasty. According to the article below, these refusals happened to the NJ woman a whole year ago! It only became a “peg” for news because a similar thing recently happened to a Japanese! Oh, so until it happens to one of “us Japanese” it’s not newsworthy?? Iron na imi de hidoi! Gongo doudan!

    Foreign woman rejected 7 times by hospitals in western Japan after childbirth
    Mainichi Shinbun, September 27, 2007


    A foreign woman seeking medical help in Japan after giving birth at home was rejected by five hospitals where officials said her Japanese wasn’t good enough and they didn’t have proper facilities, authorities said Thursday…

    The incident happened in August 2006, but was reported in Japan on Thursday in the wake of the case of a 38-year-old woman who suffered a miscarriage last month after ten hospitals refused to admit her and her ambulance collided with another car…
    Rest at


    (NJ FACE FINGERPRINTING IN THE GAIJIN LINE IN ALL OTHER AIRPORTS) has blogged a report from Martin Issott, who has been doing extensive follow-up research on the subject of Japan’s new anti-terrorist border controls over weeks. The new November Immigration Procedures, which will be reestablishing the fingerprint system withdrawn after decades of protest ten years ago, will be treating all foreigners as fresh off the boat. Including non-Japanese residents of Japan and Permanent Residents.

    Worse yet, since “insufficient funds” have made it so that only one airport (Narita) will have the latest technology, NJ residents will have to give fingerprints every time they enter the country and go through the Gaijin Line. Nice welcome home, Immigration.

    Martin’s report, pdf of the original letter to and its response in English and Japanese from Kobe Immigration, all at



    Public lecture you might be interested in:

    Symposium organized by Amnesty International Japan and Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)
    Toward further control over foreign nationals?

    Japan’s anti-terrorism policy and a Japanese version of the “US-VISIT” program

    Date: Saturday, 27 October Time: 14:00 – 17:00
    At: 9 Floor, KOREAN YMCA (YMCA Asia Youth Center) 2-5-5 Sarugaku-cho, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo
    Admission: 1000 yen
    Simultaneous translation service available (Japanese-English)

    Full details at



    An excerpt from an essay I wrote recently for the Blog:

    “I received a message on my blog recently asking if the Idubor Case ( of incarceration on charges of rape without conviction or evidence, was really as bad as all that, or was there something readers just weren’t being told about here?

    “Well, my research recently has shown rape in general as a crime has a huge window for problems, not the least being the shame and humiliation suffered by the victim, and the general public distaste of the voyeurism involved in hearing all the salacious facts of the case. More on that in a minute.

    “But couple that with the extraordinary powers of the prosecution within the Japanese judiciary for dealing with criminal suspects (default mode being presumption of guilt), and you have even more potential for miscarriages of justice.

    “Case in point is Mr Idubor, but he is not alone in his being potentially set up to take the fall by the police.

    “Here’s a certified example of the Toyama police doing exactly that in another rape case, according to the Asahi Shinbun, May 22, 2007…”

    The Asahi article, plus another article in The Economist about a recent rape case at Duke University (which went haywire due to an unfettered District Attorney, until the truth was outed by by a more assiduous press and more open jurisprudential system you won’t get in Japan), and an NPR interview about all the rape cases left uninvestigated in the US, despite tens of thousands of stored rape evidence kits–all part of a discussion of what happens when you give a prosecutor too much power: injustice. And Japan has unfettered power in its prosecution in spades.

    The conclusion to this discussion I offer:
    “In any case, rape is a particularly hazardous crime to take on. Assume guilt and people assume the worst did happen. Assume innocence and the victim might not get served by the system properly.

    “But there’s a good reason why innocence (even, constitutionally, in Japan) is the default assumption–fewer innocents get sent up. Pity Japan’s criminal justice system doesn’t buy into that, regardless of whatever’s been written in the Constitution.”

    Have a read at



    I’ve, quite frankly, had a perfectly rotten past couple of weeks, for reasons I won’t get into here. But I have to admit, the highlight of last week was this:

    A wanted former dictator, er, president of Peru finally got his.

    After buggering off to Japan in 2000, resigning his office, claiming Japanese nationality (in fact, using it as a cloak against extradition), swanning off back to Chile in 2005 to try and contest a Peruvian election, then trying even to get elected in Japan last July, Alberto Fujimori, in my view a megalomaniac in the mold of Napoleon and Mexico’s Santa Anna (both of whom kept popping up after exile trying to restore themselves back to power; Fujimori has clearly been less successful than they), has finally been ruled an undesirable (“on human rights and corruption charges”) by Chile’s Supreme Court. He was extradited to Peru last Sunday.

    More background on Fujimori why he matters to here.

    About bloody time. Give him his day in court. Let’s see what the trial brings out.

    Here’s the AP’s view of what’s next for Fujimori in Peru, blogged at



    The Japan Times Community Page last Tuesday offered a wonderful roundup of the sinking ship of the Eikaiwa Industry that is NOVA. After years of employee abuses, then customer abuses, the company has not only been punished by the GOJ, but also is in such a financial mess that they can’t even pay their employees promptly or properly anymore.

    The JT’s writeup and advice to employees in trouble from people know know the labor laws here:

    JT’s call for employee testimonials via, and links to stories of the steady death of Japan’s largest private-sector employer of non-Japanese, at:

    Even more data from Trans Pacific Radio, which also did a lot of groundwork on this issue (and has been urging its readers to jump ship for months now), at

    This is the NJ community at its best, and testament to the emerging power of blogs as social movement organizer in Japan.



    Yomiuri reports that one tenet of former PM Abe’s “Beautiful Country” master plan has been withdrawn since his resignation–that of upgrading moral education.
    (More on that from The Economist and Japan Times last January at )

    Good. I opposed this because these sorts of things, such as teaching (and grading) “patriotism”, would leave Japan’s children of international roots in a bind. How can they “love” Japan “properly”, in a way quantifiably gradable? Officially-sanctioned identity education is a very difficult subject to broach indeed (and it is by no means limited to Japan).

    But forcing young students to “love” Japan anyway (and having their future possibly affected by bad grades for it) says more about the political elite and their families who would support this sort of policy, believing love and morality can be thusly commanded.

    Anyway, the article on this follows:

    Plan to upgrade moral education to official subject shelved
    The Yomiuri Shimbun Sep. 20, 2007

    The Central Council for Education, an advisory panel to the education, science and technology minister, has decided to shelve a plan to upgrade moral education to an official subject in a revision of the official school curriculum guidelines scheduled for this fiscal year, according to sources.

    The council concluded that “morals are related to the heart and mind and cannot be knocked into children via a textbook.”…
    Rest at

    Oddly enough, FYI:

    Education spending renders Japan second to last in OECD
    Japan Times/Kyodo News September 20, 2007



    … and finally…

    Stars and Stripes Sept 6, 2007 has an article on what it’s like for international children in South Korea. A lot of the things reported (the ol’ “homogeneous society” chestnut) sound quite similar to what’s going on in Japan (understandibly, given their proximity and interlocking histories and cultures).

    The most impressive points I got from the article were:

    “There are no laws that discriminate against or protect biracial citizens, but it’s almost impossible for them to get well-paying jobs because they look different. Many live in poverty because they weren’t able to get into universities or get good jobs, a cycle that left their children impoverished as well.”

    “…biracial Koreans were banned from serving in the military until 2005.”

    “The number of foreigners living in South Korea grew 158 percent over the past decade, and one million of the country’s 49 million residents are foreigners, according to the Ministry of Justice.”
    (which means 2 percent of the South Korean population is non-Korean, vs 1.6% of Japan’s, and is growing much faster than the NJ population in Japan).

    Article at
    Courtesy Dave Spector


    All for today. Thanks for reading!
    Arudou Debito
    Sapporo, Japan,

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    Posted on Saturday, September 8th, 2007

    Hello Blog. Arudou Debito in Sapporo here. It’s been a month since the last newsletter (I took a break in August; hope you did too), but here’s a roundup of what’s been going down:



    and finally…

    By Arudou Debito (,, freely forwardable)


    1) DISCRIMINATION AT “HOLIDAY SPORTS CLUB” CHAIN, BY JIM DUNLOP has been proud to offer a forum for those who bring up issues about life and social issues in Japan (I can’t be everywhere at once ), and am glad to turn over the keyboard to Jim Dunlop for this excerpt:================EXCERPT BEGINS========================

    By Jim Dunlop, August 30, 2007
    drinkacupofcoffee AT

    Holiday Sports Club is a chain of gyms/exercise centers all across Japan.
    There are about 33 locations spanning Honshu and one in Hokkaido. (This also happens to be the club where my wife and I are currently members). Since we joined this gym, a number of issues have arisen that I think need to be made public and brought to the attention of anyone who may be considering supporting this business. Be aware, that if you are either a foreigner, or have any sort of physical disability, you may be discriminated against, or even prevented from joining. Here’s the scoop:
    ================EXCERPT ENDS==========================

    Full report at

    I thank Jim for writing his report well and concisely (I could simply blog it without edits), and welcome other writers in future. Other contributions to from Sakanaka Hidenori, Chong Hyang Gyun, and Eric Johnston on pertinent issues at

    Speaking of good writing:



    Trans Pacific Radio keeps on pumping out good critique and even better essays. One I found most informative was on the US House of Representatives Resolution on the Comfort Women (passed July 30).

    ================EXCERPT BEGINS========================
    …The negative view, that the US is meddling in the affairs of a sovereign Japan, is even more porous than the positive view.

    For starters, as I mentioned above, the US House, through this Resolution, is not advocating, much less taking any action against Japan. There is nothing in H.R. 121 that suggests that even the House thinks Japan should take it seriously. Constituents of a member of the US House of Representatives, Mike Honda of California, made a complaint and Representative Honda took that complaint to the appropriate Congressional committee, in this case the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Representative Tom Lantos, also of California. The propriety of the Committee’s actions in this case should not be in doubt. Since when have governments or governmental agencies been concerned only with their own actions or incidents that occur on their own soil? Should the House Committee on Foreign Affairs be taken to task for condemning what is now going on in Darfur? Few outside of the Sudanese government would say so.

    But when it comes to now peaceful Japan, such actions, even in the form of flaccid nudges, become “meddling.”

    There is no meddling. No agent of any part of the US government is trying to change any internal policy in Japan. The closest thing to this would be the resolution that states that Japan “should educate current and future generations about this horrible crime while following the recommendations of the international community with respect to the ‘comfort women’.” This, though, is not telling Japan how to educate its children or plan its school curricula.

    Meddling requires at least some hint of action.

    The first two times H.R. 121 was set to face a vote in the Foreign Affairs Committee, it was taken off the agenda due to pressure from the six-figure-a-month Japan lobby in Washington. Pressure was put on members of Congress and diplomatic strings were pulled to silence the issue.

    Members of the Government of Japan took out a full-page ad in the Washington Post demanding that the Resolution not be passed and Ryozo Kato, Japan’s Ambassador to the United States, threatened strained or damaged relations should the Resolution pass.

    That, dear readers, is meddling….
    ================EXCERPT ENDS==========================

    This is what the blogosphere can do best–present an alternative viewpoint from a dedicated researcher, and amplify it with good writing (unscathed from the again “nicely, nicely” tendencies of corporate journalism beholden to advertisers).

    Have a read (or better yet, a listen; Garrett is a good reader) at



    On January 22, 2007, more than seven months ago, Osayuwamen IDUBOR, a Nigerian national and owner of a bar in Yokohama was arrested and formally charged on February 9, 2007, of raping a Japanese woman in the early morning hours of November 1, 2006. He is currently in the Yokohama Detention Center (kouchi shisho) where he remains to this day. His lawyer, a Mr Tsurusaki of Yokohama, petitioned for his release on May 21, 2007, but was refused by the court. Report from his lawyer at

    Mrs. Idubor’s (a Polish national) has told me in several phone conversations that her husband’s health is deteriorating. She has seen in prison visits that he has a rash all over his scalp, his hair is falling out, and there is blood coming from his ear. She says that police have denied him access to a hospital and sufficient medical treatment (similar to the Valentine Case,

    UPDATE: On September 3, there was another court hearing (proceedings at It was unsuccessful. The court interpreter (which the court appoints) was incompetent, and the judge didn’t understand Mrs. Idubor’s testimony. So they have to repeat the hearing and Osayuwamen has to languish in jail another month.

    That hearing will take place on October 11, 2PM, Yokohama District Court. Open to the public. Attend if you like.

    Then there will be one more hearing after that, apparently. Which means Osayuwamen will be lucky to be sprung from the clink by the end of 2007.

    Why can’t he be sprung now? We have witnesses saying he didn’t do it. We have no material evidence saying he did. Why the presumption of guilt to this degree? My steadily intruding suspicion is that he’s being treated as more of a flight risk because he’s a foreigner (i.e. he might flee the country), although my sources indicate that nobody has the right to a speedy trial in this country anyway.

    Meanwhile, Osayuwamen rots in jail (quite literally) for another few months–and the court can’t get its act together enough to even get a competent interpreter? How unprofessional. And cruel and unusual punishment.


    1) The Idubors are having trouble making ends meet, given that they are paying for a lawyer and Mrs. Idubor is running the bar in his place. So you can:

    a) Contribute to their legal funds through their bank account:
    Osayuwamen Idubor
    Mizuho Bank LTD. , Tokyo
    Machida branch
    A/C NO.: 116-2788496


    b) Stop by their bar and buy a drink. It’s in Yokohama, and a friend of mine stopped by a few days ago (on a completely coincidental recommendation from a different bar) and said it’s very nice:

    Big Ys Cafe
    Yokohama-shi Naka-ku
    Yamashita-cho 106-3
    Laport Motomachi 104
    Tel. 045-662-2261

    Its open from 18:00 till morning. Map there:

    c) Join Mrs Idubor when she visits her husband every weekday in prison. She might be able to take two visitors with her each day. Contact me at (please entitle your email “Idubor visit request”) and I’ll forward your email to her.

    In any case, thanks for reading. Your attention and assistance is very helpful to the Idubors at a time like this.



    On August 31, 2007, a public meeting (iken koukan kai, reference site at on the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Tokyo, was disrupted and sabotaged by right-wing troublemakers. Shouting epithets and arguments designed to wind up the human-rights NGOs, the unidentified right-wingers managed to bring the meeting to a standstill, while the six ministries attending the meeting showed a complete inability to keep the meeting under control.

    Proceedings ended a half hour early without hearing the opinions of all the attendees, and my opinion is mixed on whether or not the impasse could have been avoided by not taking the bait. In any case, it is a sign to this author that the ultraconservative elements within Japan are not only taking notice of the gain in traction for human rights in Japan, they are doing their best to throw sand in the deliberation process. We will have to develop a thicker skin towards these elements in future, as this is probably only the beginning.

    Fuller report at

    Comparative report on what happened last MOFA Hearing (July 28, 2006) on this subject at


    I received a call on September 3 from someone else who attended the meeting, about one of the attendees:

    A Mr Nishimura Shuuhei, who sat in the back of the room that day, has a history of being taken to court for his behavior of disrupting public meetings on the Comfort Women issue. According to my source, he was sentenced for “illegal obstruction of official duties” (iryou gyoumu bougai–a charge I don’t completely understand myself) on October 4, 2001, at the Yokohama District Court, to 1 year and 6 months of prison, suspended for five years.

    Despite his criminal record of disrupting public meetings and acting as agent provocateur, the MOFA allowed Nishimura to attend this meeting, and help disrupt it.

    This issue was taken before the Bureau of Human Rights this morning, but my source indicates that they do not intend to do much about it (agreed, see my experience with the BOHR at –they even have a history of advising the Otaru City Government in the Otaru Onsens Case that “there will be no penalty” if they neglect to pass any laws against racial discrimination:

    The GOJ shows little willpower indeed to deal with issues of hate speech, or even show resolve to keep their meetings calm and debate reasoned. Then again, this may be an excuse for the GOJ to say they’ll hold no more meetings, since there’s a chance they’ll only end in organized chaos. More thoughts on that at



    Despite the holiday, I am pleased to say that the Japan Times Community Page published three of my columns (that’s 39 so far over five years; time to ask for a raise ), on the Valentine Case, the National NJ Blame Game, and the Asashoryu Scandal and Sumo’s Excesses.I’ve already sent versions of these out to many of my lists, but they are all blogged (as “Director’s Cuts”) at

    Grand Dame of Sumo Doreen Simmons kindly commented on co-authored COUNTERPOINT essay (with James Eriksson, to correct a point of fact. She also wrote an article in the Kansai Time Out (September 2007) on the Asa controversy. Courtesy of Steve, in PDF format, downloadable for those nowhere near a KTO-selling outlet from here:

    First have a look at it. Then here’s what I think about it:

    ================COMMENT FROM DEBITO BEGINS================
    I don’t claim to know anywhere even near what Doreen knows, but my reaction is one of general disappointment with her essay. It’s not all that well written (it goes kerplunk at the end, with no conclusion), indicating to me that like movie director Kurosawa Akira, she’s gotten too senior in society to take an edit.

    James thought there was no new ground covered, just rehash plus history. I would agree–there’s nothing covered in depth, such as examining the possible motives re WHY Asa is being carpeted this much now. The media has jumped on Asa in the past, but this time all things seem to be in confluence–so well that one could make an argument that the JSA is trying to force Asa out by making things too uncomfortable for him to stay. He could thus quit without tarnishing Sumo’s Mongolian connection. Bit of a stretch, yes. But let’s allude to it even if only to eliminate it.

    Even though historically, as Doreen noted in her article, Asa is getting plenty more rope compared to other defrocked wrestlers, James and I see the JSA even going so far as fanning the flames around Asa themselves, in order to take the heat off their own excesses. It’s not as if Asa has all the same tools at his disposal (such as they are in the Sumo world) as a regular J rikishi to defend himself. He’s not even a native speaker.

    In sum, Doreen is not at all questioning the very fabric of Sumo, which helps create these uncontrollable sumo “frankensteins” that the JSA have to reel in from time to time. My feeling after reading is that Doreen was just informing us how much she knows about the sport, and indirectly chiding anyone for commenting on Sumo at all without her level of knowledge (which she’ll impart at her convenience, thank you very much).

    That was certainly the feeling I got when I asked Doreen for comment before I submitted the above essay to the Japan Times. Her response (excerpt):

    ========DOREEN’S RESPONSE=====================
    “There is so much to take issue with, and it would take a couple of hours at least. Although I was extremely busy before, I found time to point out just one glaring error, in the Onaruto story–but why should I clean up somebody else’s article free of charge? If invited, I will be happy to write a rebuttal–for a fee.”
    ========DOREEN’S RESPONSE ENDS=================

    Sorry to have bothered her. Also glad she was paid for her opinions (such as they are) by the KTO, not me.

    ================COMMENT ENDS==========================



    Solidarity with Migrants Japan (SMJ, Ijuuren) has just published a book you might be interested in ordering:

    Living Together with Migrants and Ethnic Minorities in Japan
    NGO Policy Proposals

    Table of Contents

    Part I: At the Crossroads of Migrants Policies
    Chapter 1: Toward the Future of Harmonious Multiethnic and
    Multicultural Coexistence
    Chapter 2: Enactment of Legislation for Human Rights and Harmonious

    Part II: Over Individual Issues
    Chapter 3: Right to Work and Rights of Working People
    Chapter 4: Rights of Migrant Women
    Chapter 5: Human Rights for Families and Children
    Chapter 6: Education of Children
    Chapter 7: Healthcare and Social Security Services
    Chapter 8: Local Autonomy and Foreign Residents
    Chapter 9: Opening the Gates to Refugees
    Chapter 10: Detention and Deportation
    Chapter 11: The Right to Trial
    Chapter 12: Eliminating Racism and Discrimination against Foreigners

    Publisher: Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (Ijuuren, SMJ)
    Date of publication: July 31, 2007, 1st English edition
    Price: JPY 1500 (excluding mailing cost)
    ISBN 4-87798-346-8 C0036

    This book is translated from the Japanese version published in 2006.

    More information on both books at


    and finally…


    Old friend Greg Clark has no shortage of opinions (doubtless he would say the same about me), and he makes the pretty plain in his bimonthly column in the Japan Times.

    In his column last July, Greg wrote an epitaph-style Japan Times column/ode about his old friend, former Prime Minister Miyazawa Kiichi, who was facing mixed reviews in the J press at the time of his death for not dealing with the Bubble Economy properly.

    Greg defends his old friend with aplomb. So much so that he excuseth too much, in my opinion–even Kiichi’s corruption. First his column, then my unpublished letter to the editor in response.

    ================EXCERPT BEGINS========================
    The Japan Times: Monday, July 16, 2007


    Obituaries for former Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, who died recently at age 87, agreed that he was a statesman and a genuine internationalist. But some–those from Nikkei, Japan’s leading economic media group, especially–also criticized him as a Keynesian economist responsible for Japan’s economic troubles in recent years. It is time to set the record straight…

    He was criticized for involvement in the so-called Recruit scandal. In fact, that nonscandal was simply an attempt by the Recruit company to make sure its issues of new shares went into the hands of responsible people it liked rather than the usual collection of gangsters, speculators and corrupt securities companies that dominated new share issues at the time. The fact that many of its share recipients made profits was largely because almost-new shares issues were profitable in Japan’s go-go stock markets at the time.
    ================EXCERPT ENDS==========================

    I sent a letter to the editor to the Japan Times, which after two months is probably not going to be printed. Here it is:

    ========LETTER TO THE EDITOR BEGINS===========
    Greg Clark shows his true colors in his most recent editorial (“Miyazawa knew economics”, July 16). Not as some kind of economist, but as an embedded elite.

    Whatever intellectual sleight of hand he wishes to employ (to pedestal one of the few prime ministers ever booted out by a “no confidence” vote) still doesn’t excuse the fact that Greg is using puffery to defend a friend. Even going so far as to justify Miyazawa’s corruption in the Recruit Scandal.

    Thankfully, Greg acknowledges that Miyazawa and he were buddies, thanks to the latter’s connections to father Sir Colin Clark. But unmentioned is that Greg’s coming over here immediately landed him in Japan’s elite society. All foreigners should be so lucky.

    For all Greg’s bully pulpiting about the excesses of Japan’s power brokers, for him to try to explain away this much about a man like Miyazawa proves the axiom that power corrupts.

    ========LETTER TO THE EDITOR ENDS============


    That’s quite enough for today. Thanks to everyone for reading and supporting!

    Arudou Debito
    Sapporo, Japan,
    Daily blog entries at

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

    Posted on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar
    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 Newsletter May 11, 2008 (
    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.


    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.’s_chance

    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.


    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

    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? (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).



    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:

    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  Send comments to


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    Posted in Articles & Publications, Human Rights, Injustice, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits | 28 Comments »

    Highlights of UN OHCHR Universal Periodic Review of Japan’s Human Rights Record, May 14, 2008

    Posted on Thursday, May 22nd, 2008


    Hi Blog. Here’s what investigating countries at the United Nations are saying about Japan’s human rights record.

    Full file at, or

    First, some highlights of what the GOJ itself says it’s doing about following treaties and human rights standards, then other countries respond with a surprising degree of awareness. The biggest issues seem to be the death penalty, human trafficking, and rights for women (with historical issues brought up by neighboring Asian countries), but as far as is concerned, there is plenty of attention devoted to issues we’ve been raising all along. Even if Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene’s reports on racism in Japan are mostly being ignored by our government, they certainly are being read by members of the UN.

    Do try to read parts of the UPR Report with a straight face, as that’s what our government is making a number of risible claims with. I offer links to sections on that are at odds with the GOJ’s claims. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review
    Second session, Geneva, 5 – 19 May 2008
    A/HRC/WG.6/2/L.10 14 May 2008
    7. Japan attached great importance to human rights education, based on the conviction that in order for all people to enjoy human rights and live contented lives, each citizen must fulfil his or her responsibility to uphold the freedoms and rights guaranteed to them, and at the same time must correctly understand and respect other people’s human rights. It referred to initiatives taken. Regarding the human rights of foreign residents in Japan, it is responding to various needs by establishing Human Rights Counseling Offices for Foreign Nationals with interpretation services at some Legal Affairs Bureaus. It was explained that in March 2002, the Ministry of Justice submitted the Human Rights Bill to establish a new Human Rights Commission which was not completed because of the dissolution of the lower house in October 2003, and the Ministry of Justice continued to review the Bill. Japan explained, inter alia, that it has been striving to realize a society without any form of racial or ethnic discrimination and that in order to prevent such human rights violations it pursues the strict implementation of relevant domestic laws and promotes activities for raising public awareness.

    [COUNTERARGUMENT regarding the efficacy of these oft-cited “Human Rights Counseling Offices” here:

    8. …With regard to the police detention system, it was explained that the necessity of detention was strictly examined by the police, a prosecutor, and a judge in due order, and that a judge decides on its necessity and the placement of the detention for a maximum of 10 days. A prosecutor and a judge respectively review the necessity of the extension of the detention, and a judge order is also necessary for the extension, which cannot exceed 20 days in total. The Delegation stated that the substitute detention system was indispensable to carrying out prompt and effective investigations. At the police detention facilities, investigative officers were not allowed to control the treatment of detainees; detention operations were conducted by the detention division of the facility, which is not involved in investigations at all. The Delegation also explained that, regardless of the type of crime committed, detainees can have consultations with their lawyer at anytime and there is no official watch person during the meeting and no time limitation. Under the Penal and Detention Facilities Act, a new system has been introduced to make up a third party committee to inspect detention facilities and to state their opinions on the management of the facilities. In addition, a complaints mechanism has been developed in order to ensure the appropriate treatment of detainees…

    [COUNTERARGUMENT regarding the underlined sections above:]

    11. On the question of civil society cooperation in the process of drafting the national report, the Delegation indicated, inter alia, that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted information on the UPR system and process on its website, and asked for opinions ofNGOs and ordinary citizens about the government report and that as a result, it received opinions from 11 NGOs and 214 ordinary citizens. Additionally, the Delegation stated that Japan
    recognized that there was still room for improvement, and stated that in the international community, due to globalization and environmental changes, new challenges were being faced and that Japan will continue its contribution to achieve better results for the human rights in the international community, in close cooperation with the United Nations, regional communities, other national Governments, and civil society.

    [COUNTERARGUMENT: Read what happened at one of their attempts to ask for opinions of civil society–they refused to calm right-wing agitators and brought the meeting to a close, never to open again:]

    16. …Belgium also noted concerns about the prolonged detention in police stations’daiyo kangoku’, the high conviction rate and that several recent cases have indicated that forced confessions have been made, giving rise to regrettable judicial errors. Belgium recommended that in order to avoid the police and the judiciary putting excessive pressure on an accused person to confess: (i) there should be more systematic and intensive work to bring the risk of forced confession to the attention of the police, (ii) interrogation monitoring procedures should be reviewed, (iii) the use of prolonged police detention should be re-examined and (iv) the Criminal Code should be reviewed to ensure its conformity with article 15 of the Convention against Torture.


    18. …It also noted that the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism has requested the Japanese Government to eliminate racial discrimination and xenophobia. China hoped that the Japanese Government will seriously address those concerns and adopt effective measures to implement the recommendations of those mechanisms.


    19. …Canada referred to studies showing that an increase in international marriages has resulted in an increase in complex divorce and custody cases and noted that there is no formal mechanism to deal with international child custody cases. It recommended that Japan develop a mechanism to ensure the prompt return of children who have been wrongfully removed from or prevented from returning to their habitual place of residence, and also examine the possibility of acceding to the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.


    …[Canada also] referred to reports which indicate the prevalent use of prolonged detention of arrested persons, including detention after they appear before a court and up to the point of indictment and recommended that Japan institute mechanisms to enhance procedural guarantees for the detention of detainees.


    21. …[The] United Kingdom recommended that Japan implement the relevant recommendations of the Committee against Torture with regard to external monitoring of police custody and that it ratify the Optional Protocol to CAT as soon as possible. It also recommended that Japan review the Daiyo Kangoku system in order to ensure that the detention procedure is consistent with its obligations under human rights law. It also wished to know whether the Government is intending to take further measures in response to the concerns raised on these issues in other reports provided for this review. It further recommended that civil society be fully involved in the follow-up process to the UPR at the national level.


    28. Following the interventions, Japan noted that the Government pursues the goals of ensuring equal rights and opportunities for foreigners, respecting foreigners’ culture and values, and promoting mutual understanding to realize a society in which Japanese and foreigners can live together… Japan stressed its efforts, based on its Constitution and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, to realize a society where there is no discrimination due to race, ethnic groups or others and its active work towards the elimination of racial discrimination in the United Nations and other forums. The Government noted that foreigners who wish to obtain Japanese nationality are not requested to change their names to Japanese names, and stated that foreigners can decide on their names on their own after naturalization…


    33. …Brazil recommended that Japan consider adhering to the compliant procedures of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and that it ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. It recommended that Japan consider establishing legislation defining and prohibiting discrimination in all forms and recommended that it consider a standing invitation to the special procedures.

    34. …[Iran] strongly recommended that the Government adopt, as a matter of urgency, a national law against
    racism, discrimination and xenophobia and set up an independent mechanism for investigating complaints ofhuman rights violations.

    35. The United States of America expressed the hope that Japan’s commitment to democracy and the protection and promotion of human rights would serve as an example for others and wished to know what protections the Government has put in place to ensure that abuses do not occur in immigration detention centres. It also asked whether Japan will allow international monitors to examine the immigration detention centres and make recommendations to strengthen protections, and recommended that Japan permit international monitors to examine immigration centres.

    36. …Germany also made reference to the concerns expressed by the Committee against Torture about the systematic use of the Daiyo Kangoku substitute prison system for the prolonged detention of arrested persons. It also noted that nongovernmental organizations had expressed concern regarding the non-regulation of the length of interrogations, restricted access of lawyers to their clients, and non-recording of sessions of interrogation.

    40. Guatemala noted that racism and discrimination still exist in the Japanese society, indicating that the fight against all forms of discrimination and the protection of minorities, and especially vulnerable groups, required an appropriate legislative framework and therefore urged Japan to consider introducing a definition of discrimination in its criminal law. In the area ofprotection of the human rights of migrants and the fight against xenophobia, Guatemala noted the recommendation of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism in favour of abolishing the system established by the Migration Office of the Ministry of Justice, calling upon citizens to proceed to anonymous denunciations on its website, of migrants suspected of being in an irregular situation, and recommended that it be abolished because this might constitute an incitation to racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia.



    46. …Regarding the question on immigration detention centres, the Government noted that due attention is paid to the human rights of the detainees, and the cases where officials were accused to have committed violence mostly happened coincidently in the course of those official’s controlling the violation ofthe rules in those facilities. Detainees can submit complaints against their treatment to the Minister of Justice. Additionally, to prevent violence at penitentiary institutions, Japan provides officers with education to promote necessary human rights protection measures, and establishes complaints mechanisms and inspection committees. Medical services are provided to prisoners by doctors, and prisoners are transferred to medical prisons to receive necessary medical treatment.



    50. …According to the information of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, in Japan there are still cases of racial discrimination and xenophobia affecting national minorities, foreigners and migrants. Minorities are in a vulnerable economic and social situation with respect to employment, access to housing, marriage, pension coverage, access to health facilities and education and the State institutions. Russian Federation asked about steps taken to combat the manifestation of racial discrimination and xenophobia.


    59. Japan stated that, in penal institutions, attention should be paid to helping inmates sentenced to the death penalty maintain emotional stability as well as to ensure secure custody. Inmates sentenced to death are notified of their execution on the day of the execution. Japan is concerned that inmates should become emotionally unstable and could suffer serious emotional distress if they are notified in advance of the exact date. For this reason, Japan believes that the current practice is inevitable. The Government did not have statistics on the number of death penalty sentences in 2007, and thus was unable to respond whether there was an increase since 1980 or not. With regard to calls for a moratorium on the death penalty, Japan considered that it would be very cruel to first give the expectation to the prisoners that they will not be executed, and later inform them that they will be executed. With regard to imprisonment without parole, Japan considered that this may be a cruel and problematic system that has the possibility to destroy the personal character of prisoners; therefore the introduction of such a system needs to be considered very carefully.

    [COUNTERARGUMENT: Fascinating logic, not based upon any science. Not everyone agrees:]

    …On the question of the high rate of convictions, the Government noted that this is the aggregated result of the judgements given by each court, and that the criminal procedures are based on the very thorough investigation, very restrictive indictment based on the investigation and the proper proving at the trial, thus it does not consider high conviction rates as abnormal.

    [COUNTERARGUMENT: 99.9% CONVICTION RATES ARE “NOT ABNORMAL”? Again, not everyone agrees, including former NPA prosecutor and now Dietmember Kamei Shizuka:]

    …While it acknowledged criticism against the substitute detention system, the Government noted that it makes various efforts to ensure appropriate treatment of the detainees. It also pointed out that the system does not discriminate between Japanese and foreign detainees.

    [COUNTERARGUMENT: Except that foreigners cannot be released bail, and cannot be released under any circumstances even when declared innocent by a court, during the prosecution’s appeal. That’s discriminating between Japanese and foreign detainees.]

    …Japan also noted operations of the substitute detention system continue to be improved. On the issue of the video-recording of interrogations, the Delegation stated that statements by the suspect is important in order to elucidate the truth in investigations and that the mandating to record all interrogation sometimes can hamper relations between the investigator and the criminal, and may serve to stop the suspect from telling the truth. Japan noted that a careful consideration is needed of the introduction of such monitoring and video-taping.

    [COUNTERARGUMENT: Fascinating logic, again not based upon any science. Better not videotape or the suspect might lie? That reason was made up on the fly.]


    6. Adapt national legislation to bring it into line with the principles of equality and non-discrimination. (Slovenia); Consider establishing legislation defining and prohibiting discrimination in all forms (Brazil); Consider introducing a definition of discrimination in its criminal law (Guatemala); Adopt, as a matter of urgency, a national law against racism, discrimination and xenophobia (Islamic Republic of Iran);

    13. Ensure that the interrogation of detainees in police custody are systematically monitored and recorded and that the Code of Criminal Procedure is harmonized with article 15 of the Convention against Torture and article 14, paragraph 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and uphold the right of defence to have access to all relevant materials (Algeria); (i) Work more systematically and intensively to bring the risk of forced confession to the attention of the police, (ii) review interrogation monitoring procedures, (iii) re-examine the use of prolonged police detention and (iv) review the Criminal Code to ensure its conformity with article 15 of the Convention against Torture, in order to avoid the police and judiciary putting excessive pressure on the accused to confess (Belgium); Institute mechanisms to enhance procedural guarantees for the detention of detainees (Canada); Review the Daiyo Kangoku system in order to ensure that the detention procedure is consistent with its obligations under human rights law and implement the Committee against Torture’s recommendation with regard to external monitoring ofpolice custody (United Kingdom);

    16. Develop a mechanism to ensure the prompt return of children who have been wrongly removed from or prevented from returning to their habitual place of residence (Canada);

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    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, United Nations | 5 Comments »

    Filipina allegedly killed by J man, one let out of jail despite killing another Filipina in past

    Posted on Saturday, April 19th, 2008

    Hi Blog. Now here’s where Japan’s judiciary gets really astounding.

    We have (insufficient) news reports about a case earlier this month of a Filipina suspected of being killed by a Japanese man, and having her body parts stowed in a locker in Hamamatsu Station (yes, the one with the Monorail; how many times have I walked past that spot?).

    Then it turns out this guy, Nozaki Hiroshi, had killed a Filipina some years before, and apparently tried to flush her body parts down a toilet.

    For that previous crime, Nozaki was convicted, but only sentenced to three years plus. It wasn’t even judged a murder. And he got out allegedly to kill again.

    Oddly enough, Nozaki’s jail sentence was only a bit more than Nigerian citizen Mr Idubor’s, and Idubor’s conviction was for alleged rape, not murder. Yet Nozaki was apparently caught red-handed, while there was no physical evidence and discrepant testimony in Idubor’s Case. Ironically, that means that under these judicial litmus tests, the women involved could have been killed and it would have made no difference in the sentencing. That is, if you’re a Japanese criminal victimizing a foreigner, it seems. It’s getting harder to argue that the J judiciary is color-blind towards judging criminals and victims.

    Sorry, I’ve seen a lot of funny things come out of this judicial system. But I’m having a lot of trouble wrapping my head around this one.

    Sources follow. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    Murder suspect hid body parts in locker
    Kyodo News/The Japan Times: Tuesday, April 8, 2008
    Courtesy of notnotchris and Red at

    A man suspected of dismembering the body of a Filipino bar hostess in a high-rise Tokyo apartment last week was arrested Monday after he attempted suicide in Saitama Prefecture, police said.

    Hiroshi Nozaki, 48, slashed his wrist Sunday evening on a road in Kawaguchi and dialed 119 himself, the police said. In the ambulance on the way to a hospital, he handed a memo to rescue workers indicating where the remaining body parts of Kamiosawa Honiefaith Ratila, 22, were hidden, the police said.

    His injury was not life-threatening, they said.

    Based on the memo, officers found some 10 body parts, including a piece of the woman’s chest, in a coin locker at the World Trade Center in Hamamatsucho, Tokyo, the police said.

    The pieces were packed in a large suitcase, but the head was still missing, the police said.

    Nozaki was arrested on suspicion of mutilating a corpse. The police plan to add a murder charge. He has refused to talk to investigators, they said.

    According to sources, Nozaki committed a similar crime in 2000. He was convicted and served a prison term for dismembering a 27-year-old Filipino woman he was dating, they said. He was not charged with murder due to lack of evidence.

    In Thursday’s incident, a paper bag containing a severed body part of the bar hostess was found in her high-rise apartment in the Odaiba waterfront area in Minato Ward.

    The bag contained a 30-sq.-cm piece of human flesh from Ratila’s waist, which was apparently severed by a knife. A blood-soaked futon was found in the kitchen, the police said.

    The apartment was shared by Nozaki, Ratila and two other Filipino women who work at the same bar in the Roppongi entertainment district, according to the police.

    Although they initially believed Nozaki was employed by the bar to keep tabs on the hostesses, he is unemployed.

    Ratila failed to report to work Thursday night, so a roommate went to look for her.

    When she got to the apartment she encountered Nozaki carrying a severed body part. She fled to a nearby police box, but he was gone by the time police arrived.

    The Japan Times: Tuesday, April 8, 2008

    Eye-opening roundup of the case and media sources by Red at See photos and video there. Excerpting text:

    What would have happened if she was an American?
    Red on Apr 10 2008 at 12:25 am | Filed under: Japan: News and Media

    PHOTO: Kamiosawa: Murdered and Chopped Up in Tokyo

    How many of you have been following the attempted suicide of Hiroshi Nozaki (野崎浩) on April 6? I’m guessing not that many of you, because for some reason it’s not really receiving that much air time on Japanese TV. Nozaki’s suicide is particularly controversial because after calling an ambulance he gave instructions to the doctor to search in a coin locker at the Hamamatsucho Station (浜松町駅) next to the World Trade Center Building. Inside the locker was a suitcase filled with 10 chopped up body parts of a 22 year old Filipina woman, Honiefaith Ratilla Kamiosawa. As foreigners in Japan, there is more to this story than the Japanese media make out. How much different would this situation be if she were say, American? Or perhaps if she was a Japanese national, and the killer was an African American?

    In case you haven’t seen the news let me give you a very brief rundown on what appears to have happened:

    PHOTO: Hiroshi Nozaki – Cut up Pinay into Pieces

    Nozaki shared an apartment in Odaiba with the woman and 2 of her cousins. It seems that the 3 women all worked at the same hostess club in Roppongi.

    Nozaki was a regular patron of Kamiosawa’s establishment, and he was hooked on Filipino women. He offered to pay half of Kamiosawa’s rent, on the condition that he could move in with her. She accepted.
    Kamiosawa and Nozaki got in to a fight after Nozaki failed to pay his share of the rent. The police believe that Nozaki murdered Kamiosawa on April 3.

    After killing Kamiosawa, Nozaki carved her body up in their bath and tried to hide the cause of death by washing her in their washing machine.

    Three days later, Nozaki supposedly attempted to commit suicide by slitting his wrists (hmmm) but then called an ambulance for help (hmmm) . That’s a sure fire way of ensuring that you don’t die.

    VIDEO: This video is a sample nonchalant media coverage that this case got on Japanese TV (Japanese language). The last line in the story regarding the washing machine trick is particularly interesting. Translation: “It is thought that Nozaki washed the parts of the body in a washing machine before putting them in a suitcase. The police are thinking about whether to charge him with Murder also”.

    This alone is a pretty horrific story. But I ask you, Why isn’t this a bigger issue? Why isn’t it getting more press? Why is it that the life of a Filipino is deemed to be so worthless? Would it have been any different if she was an American? Of course it would have. It would be a high profile international crime case. President Bush would be knocking on Fukuda’s door. I know that Japan is an important country for the Philippines but come on? Where is the power of your politicians? Why aren’t they making a bigger issue of this? The future of the Philippines rides on the success of its overseas workers, it can’t afford to allow Japan to get away with something like this? Has anybody seen any comments from the Embassy?

    PHOTO: Coin Lockers at the Tokyo Monorail; Hamamatsucho Station where the body was found

    What makes it even worse, is that it is not the first time that this has happened. In fact it is not even the first time that this man has carved up a pinay! I can hear your jaw dropping and hitting the floor right now. Nozaki was arrested and sentenced in 2000 for three and a half years jail for carving up the body of another 27 year old Filipina girl that he was living with at the time. After hacking up her body, he flushed it down the toilet of a park in Yokohama!

    This raises a few more questions. Why on earth was he only given a 3.5 year jail sentence? You’re never going to believe this, but apparently he wasn’t found guilty of murder at all. He was “only” found guilty of “mutilating and abandoning of a dead body” (死体損壊・遺棄). At the time he claimed that when he woke up she was lying dead beside him. Well, I guess that explains why he then cut her up into pieces doesn’t it. The investigation into the death of the 27 year old is still unsolved. This is wrong in so many ways (unless of course, Nozaki genuinely couldn’t pay for the funeral of the sexy young lady who died of natural causes in bed next to him – in which case chopping her up and disposing of her in a more unorthodox, though frugal way would have of course been the only option…)

    How do you decide that three and a half years is an appropriate term for the “mutilating and abandoning of a dead body”?

    Why isn’t it obvious that a man who was overheard fighting with a Filipina dancer and then caught flushing her body down a park toilet killed her, too?

    Why does Japan allow such sickos to go back out into society?

    Why would this story have been so different if either of the girls were American?

    Perhaps even more provoking yet, why would this story have been so different if the murderer was an American? (Or even if the girl was British!)


    Tabloid Tidbits: Clumsy cop the link between mutilated Filipina, slain stalker victim
    Nikkan Gendai (4/10/08) Courtesy of Mainichi Waiwai

    There’s a link between the arrest of habitual Filipina mutilator Hiroshi Nozaki and one of Japan’s most notorious crimes ever — the slaying of a Saitama Prefecture woman who was ignored by the cops when she complained about being stalked, according to Nikkan Gendai (4/10).

    The link is Hiroshi Nishimura, who was head of the Saitama Prefectural Police in October 1999 when the stalker slaying occurred, and the now-62-year-old former top cop was lambasted by the public for his appalling mishandling of the case.

    But at the same time, the same force that Nishimura headed had also arrested Nozaki for chopping up the body of another Filipina, but stuffed up that investigation so badly he was never charged with that woman’s murder.

    The stalker slaying created public outcry. A young woman filed a criminal complaint to the Saitama Prefectural Police’s Ageo Police Station, saying that she was being stalked by a man threatening her with violence. Police did nothing about the case and the man she had been accusing stabbed her to death in broad daylight on the streets of Okegawa, Saitama Prefecture. Ageo cops later forged paperwork in an effort to appear a little less lax, but eventually several police were punished for their poor handling of the case, including Nishimura.

    While all this was going on, Nishimura’s cops had Nozaki in their custody.

    “In September 1999, he was charged with embezzlement for not returning a car he had rented. During his trial in January 2000, he said that he had mutilated a Filipina’s body in Soka, Saitama Prefecture, so he was arrested for mutilation of a corpse,” a Saitama Prefectural Police insider tells Nikkan Gendai. “Just like this case, Nozaki cut up the body in an apartment and dumped the parts in a public toilet in a park. The Saitama police tried to pin a murder charge on Nozaki, but they couldn’t find any evidence to pin him to the case and he refused to talk. He wasn’t even charged for the murder.”

    Eventually, Nozaki was released from jail after serving just three years behind bars. He’s back in confinement now, having been arrested Monday, accused of chopping up the body of 22-year-old nightclub hostess Honiefith Ratilla Kamiosawa.

    Nishimura, meanwhile, quickly bounced back from his tumultuous time at the head of the Saitama Prefectural Police. He was eventually transferred to Kyushu before he retired in September 2003 and landed a cushy job as the president of a security company based in Fukuoka.

    “It’s the biggest security company in western Japan, with annual earnings of about 19 billion yen,” the Saitama police insider says.

    Considering he let Nozaki go, perhaps Nishimura would like to comment on the current case.

    “I don’t really know much about it,” he tells the lowbrow afternoon tabloid in a statement released through his company.

    Ironic, Nikkan Gendai muses, considering his reply when asked for a comment about the stalker slaying not long after it happened.

    “We haven’t got the investigation documents,” Nikkan Gendai quotes Nishimura saying at the time, “So I don’t really know much about it.” (By Ryann Connell)

    死体損壊:女性切断の疑いで同居の男を逮捕 東京・台場
    毎日新聞 2008年4月7日 11時37分(最終更新 4月7日 14時45分)








    Man arrested for mutilation of Filipina hostess
    (Mainichi Japan) April 7, 2008

    A Japanese man who became the prime suspect in the murder of his Filipina hostess roommate was arrested Monday for mutilating her body, police said.

    Hiroshi Nozaki, 48, a resident of Tokyo’s Minato-ku and of unknown occupation, was arrested for the desecration of the body of his 22-year-old nightclub hostess roommate Honiefith Ratilla Kamiosawa.

    Nozaki, who has served time for mutilating a Filipina he once dated almost a decade ago, is exercising his right to remain silent while being investigated in a criminal case.

    Police said Nozaki dismembered Ratilla’s body and chopped it up into little parts on or around the night of April 3.

    Police said Nozaki attempted suicide on Sunday night in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, slashing his wrists, but later called for an ambulance when he didn’t die. Based on notes he had with him at the time, police went to a coin locker in the World Trade Center building in Minato-ku, where early Monday they found a suitcase containing several body parts.

    DNA testing has confirmed human remains found in Nozaki’s apartment belonged to Ratilla and the parts found in the locker are also believed to be hers. The woman’s dismembered head has not been found and investigators continue searching for it.

    Nozaki and Ratilla shared an apartment with two other Filipinas.

    In January 2000, Nozaki was arrested for the illegal disposal in about spring 1999 of the body of a 27-year-old Filipina he had been dating. He was later convicted and served time in prison for the offense.

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    Posted in Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 5 Comments »

    J Times et al on homicide of Scott Tucker: “likely to draw leniency”

    Posted on Thursday, March 13th, 2008

    Hi Blog. We have a situation here I’ve been waiting to draw conclusions on for some days now. But here are some articles which substantiate what I’ve been fearing all along. The indication of differing judicial standards for similar crimes based upon nationality.

    When a NJ killed a J in 1984 (see the Steve Bellamy Case, where a NJ defending a woman against a drunk and disorderly Japanese wound up killing him with his advanced martial arts skills), he was exonerated, then convicted, then exonerated again for, colloquially, “yarisugi” (and it became a case that changed jurisprudence for kajou bouei in Japan).

    Now we have the opposite circumstance–a J killing a NJ–and according to the Japan Times, leniency is expected.

    Historically, America had the expression, “he doesn’t have a Chinaman’s chance” (the modern-day equivalent of “a snowball’s chance in hell”), showing how bent the American judiciary was towards Asians a century or so ago. In Japan’s judiciary, are we to say, “he doesn’t have a gaijin’s chance”? Mr Yuyu Idubor, convicted for a rape he says he never committed, Mr Valentine, crippled due to police medical negligence during interrogation and completely ignored in court, or Mr Steve McGowan, barred from an Osaka eyeglass store express ‘cos the owner “doesn’t like black people”, again ignored in lower court (tho’ awarded a pittance in High Court), just might.

    Here are two articles on the Scott Tucker homicide, one with conclusions, the other with details. The relative silence within the Japanese media on this case is pretty indicative. Contrast that with all the sawagi that would probably ensue if the opposite happened, where a NJ (especially a Beigun) killed a Japanese in this way. Arudou Debito in Sapporo.

    (PS: If you want to comment on this case, please do so within the next 24 hours. After that, I’m going to be on the road with the book tour and unable to approve comments promptly.)

    Death of American in bar fight likely to draw leniency
    Japan Times Thursday, March 13, 2008
    By JUN HONGO Staff writer
    Courtesy of Colin

    The death of an American resident in Tokyo in a fatal bar fight late last month is not likely to result in any severe punishment being meted out due to the circumstances of the case, legal experts say.

    Richard “Scott” Tucker, 47, died at Tokyo Metropolitan Hiroo Hospital after being punched and choked at Bullets, a nightclub in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, on Feb. 29. Police arrested Atsushi Watanabe, a 29-year-old disc jockey at the club, for the fatal assault.

    While some media reports have suggested the West Virginian visited the club to complain about the noise, a police official told The Japan Times on Tuesday that Tucker appeared “heavily drunk and acted violently toward other customers,” at times striking a boxer’s pose, on the night of the incident.

    Watanabe has told investigators he attempted to halt the disturbance in his club “because (Tucker) was picking a quarrel with everyone,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

    Legal experts suggest such circumstances would likely result in Watanabe receiving relatively minor punishment.

    Tokyo killing of Charleston native ‘seeded in past events’
    Tucker’s brother: Japanese bar’s noise led to fatal fight
    The Charleston Gazette March 7, 2008
    By Gary Harki Staff writer

    A Charleston native killed in a Tokyo bar last weekend went there because he was angry about the noise, his brother said Thursday.

    “Based on the information we have, Scott went into the bar with an attitude,” Chip Tucker said. “He was upset with the noise and commotion of what was going on, which was a routine. … He was not there for the party.”

    Scott Tucker, 47, a Charleston native and West Virginia University graduate, died in a hospital after being choked and punched at a nightclub called Bullets in the Azabu section of Tokyo on Feb. 29, according to, an English-language news Web site.

    Atsushi Watanabe, 29, a disc jockey at the club, is charged with killing Scott Tucker, according to the Web site.
    “This was a specialized technique intended to do harm,” Chip Tucker said of how Watanabe allegedly killed his brother. “It’s a murder case. Everything points to that being the situation.”

    The club was known for parties, noise and fights, Chip Tucker said. “His wife feels part of [Scott Tucker’s actions] were seeded in past events,” he said.

    Tucker had been drinking and recently had developed a drinking problem, his brother said: “We are not sure if he had been home or was coming home when it happened.”

    Chip Tucker said that based on Japanese law, the family will seek the maximum penalty for Watanabe. That won’t be determined until Watanabe is formally charged after the investigation has ended, he said.

    “They determine punishment not only on a case-by-case basis but on the wishes of the family,” he said.
    Some investigation records will be released in about 20 days, when police pull their records together and present the case to a judge, he said.

    Tucker said it does not appear that Watanabe, who had no previous criminal record, intended to kill his brother. “It appears as though this was not premeditated, but he used force well beyond what he should have,” he said.

    Scott Tucker lived in a building he had bought and – as is Japanese custom – named it after himself, said Chris Mathison, Scott’s former business partner.

    Tucker had lived in the downtown Tokyo building, in an upscale section of the city, for at least 12 years, Mathison said. Two doors down was the jewelry studio of Tucker’s wife, Yumiko Yamazaki. Between the buildings was the Bullets club where Tucker was killed.

    Mathison said he and Scott Tucker had traveled the world together in the early 1990s, working for various computer companies. The two still talked frequently, he said.

    “He was rich. And not only did he do well, his wife is one of Japan’s leading jewelry designers,” Mathison said. “He had this career of closing enormous deals.”

    Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said he remembered the Tucker family when they lived in Charleston in the 1960s, particularly Jean Tucker, Scott and Chip’s mother. He remembered waiting on her when he worked at the Pure Oil station in South Hills, he said.

    “They were very nice people. They lived on Oakmont Road,” he said. “I stayed friends with them until I was drafted in 1969.”

    Scott Tucker moved to Japan about 24 years ago, shortly after graduating from WVU with a degree in foreign languages and linguistics.

    Chip Tucker said he attended a private service for the family at a crematory in Japan on Thursday. He will bring part of his brother’s ashes back to the United States to be spread in San Diego.

    On Thursday, he and Yamazaki went to a neighborhood bar frequented by his brother to pick up a picture of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards that he kept there.

    “Scott loved music. He had a wide range of tastes,” he said.

    There were a few regulars in the bar, Chip Tucker said.

    “Everyone came over and showed their condolences to Scott’s wife. They couldn’t believe the situation. They had never seen Scott angry,” he said. “They all showed up at the funeral. They were overwhelmed.

    “They had never seen Scott get in a fight. They couldn’t believe it.”

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    Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 19 Comments »

    Mainichi: Iranian acquitted of indecent assault over lack of evidence

    Posted on Sunday, September 30th, 2007

    Hi Blog. Here’s a bit of hope for Mr Idubor, accused similarly of a sexual crime and still being held for eight months now despite no evidence.

    A person’s (a NJ, to boot) case has been dismissed for “lack of evidence”. Good. Pity it took over a year and a half to come to this conclusion.

    What I also find rather amusing about the case below is the “fondling”, causing “slight neck injuries”? What are we talking about here, hickies?

    Case dismissed. Debito.


    Man acquitted of indecent assault over lack of evidence
    Mainichi Shinbun September 28, 2007
    Courtesy of Ben Shearon

    YOKOHAMA — A man has been acquitted of the indecent assault of a woman at his home in January last year, due to lack of evidence.

    The Yokohama District Court found the defendant, an antique goods dealer and an Iranian national, not guilty for a lack of evidence. Prosecutors had demanded that the accused spend four years behind bars for indecent assault, resulting in injury.

    Presiding Judge Kenichi Kurita pointed out that the alleged victim’s testimony changed during the trial and could not be trusted, declaring, “It cannot be concluded that the man molested her despite her will.”

    The man was charged with fondling the body of a 32-year-old acquaintance at his home in Midori-ku, Yokohama, on Jan. 28, 2006, causing her slight neck injuries. (Mainichi)


    強制わいせつ:イラン国籍の男性に無罪 横浜地裁
    毎日新聞 2007年9月28日 11時26分

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    Posted in Humor, Japanese police/Foreign crime, 日本語 | 6 Comments »

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