Economist.com on jury systems: spreading in Asia, being rolled back in the West

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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.  To kick this week off, here’s an interesting article from The Economist (London) about how the jury system is mutating both East and West.  For all the overdone media osawagi about the upcoming jury system in Japan (I think judges here have up to now had far too much power and unaccountability in their decisions; note how they’re still not relinquishing it by including three non-lay judges in a jury), we’re having similar systems being instituted elsewhere in Asia.

My opinion about juries in Japan is:  Just do it.  You have to have the view of regular people (not just cloistered bookish judges) in these things.  Trust people to know their public duty in a courtroom.  If you can’t do that, there’s a problem with the public education system, not with the courts system.  As I have experienced in four domestic civil lawsuits (here and here), and seen elsewhere here with cracked judges (here and here), leaving all the power in the hands of judges (usually just one of a set of three, by seniority) is a recipe for more noncommonsensical judicial miscarriages than it’s worth.  But that’s my opinion.  Fire away with yours.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Decent Japan Times FYI column here on the issue.

Legal scholar Michael H. Fox’s site, Japan Institute for the Study of Wrongful Arrests and Convictions (JISWAC) here.

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

Juries 

The jury is out

Feb 12th 2009 
From The Economist print edition

http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13109647

European countries are restricting jury trials; Asian ones expanding them

MARK TWAIN regarded trial by jury as “the most ingenious and infallible agency for defeating justice that human wisdom could contrive”. He would presumably approve of what is happening in Russia and Britain. At the end of 2008, Russia abolished jury trials for terrorism and treason. Britain, the supposed mother of trial by jury, is seeking to scrap them for serious fraud and to ban juries from some inquests. Yet China, South Korea and Japan are moving in the opposite direction, introducing or extending trial by jury in a bid to increase the impartiality and independence of their legal systems. Perhaps what a British law lord, the late Lord Devlin, called “the lamp that shows that freedom lives” burns brighter in Asia these days.

It is often thought that juries are a peculiarity of common-law countries such as America and Britain. Not so. Twelve-member citizens’ juries are widely used in Islamic-law countries, too. Even in civil-law ones in continental Europe lay jurors sitting alongside professional judges help reach verdicts in serious criminal cases.

Where the jury system is entrenched, it may not be common. In America, where a right to trial by jury is in the constitution, the vast majority of cases result in plea-bargains (so do not go to trial) or concern minor offences, which are normally dealt with by a single judge. In Britain, only 1% of criminal cases end up before juries, which rarely deal with inquests, either.

Britain is seeking to restrict juries even further. In 2003 the government gave itself the power to abolish juries in long and complex fraud trials, arguing that judges sitting alone or accompanied by expert “assessors” would be able to reach speedier, safer and cheaper verdicts. Such was the outcry that it agreed to seek fresh parliamentary approval before using that power. Five years and three bills later, it still hasn’t succeeded. But plans to remove juries from coroners’ courts when the public interest is involved (first proposed in a counter-terrorism bill but defeated) have resurfaced in another bill that is grinding its way through Parliament.

Russia’s bid to do away with most jury trials has little to do with efficiency. Russia reintroduced jury trials in 1993 for several charges including terrorism, hostage-taking and armed insurrection to show its commitment to the rule of law. The commitment did not last. Research showing that Russian juries are nine times more likely to acquit defendants than judges sitting alone led to a decision to revert to non-jury trials for all cases save murder.

Meanwhile, three Asian countries are going the other way. Under a law that came into force in 2005, some 50,000 “people’s assessors” have been appointed in China to serve in trials for all but the most minor criminal offences. Selected on merit and appointed for five years, Chinese assessors resemble English lay magistrates, likewise appointed for several years, rather than common-law jurors, who are usually chosen at random and serve for just one trial. Still, like jurors in civil-law countries, the assessors, sitting alongside judges, are required to reach decisions on law and fact, and sometimes help with sentencing, too.

In Japan, jury trials were once available in theory but little used in practice. Starting in May, though, six lay jurors, chosen at random from among voters, will sit alongside three judges in contested cases punishable by death or life imprisonment.

South Korea has been more tentative. In a bid to modernise an opaque legal system, it introduced juries in 2008, restricted to trials for the most serious crimes. At the moment, they are advisory. Under the constitution, all defendants must be tried by a judge, so giving juries decision-making powers would require a constitutional amendment. As elsewhere, the system has led to more acquittals. It is due to be reviewed by the Supreme Court in 2012.

ENDS

Japan Times Zeit Gist on Berlitz’s lawsuit against unions for “strike damage”

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Hi Blog.  Here’s a landmark case, dismissed by activists as a “frivolous claim”, which will affect unions profoundly in future if the right to strike (a right, as the article notes, which is guaranteed by the Japanese Constitution Article 28 under organization and collective bargaining) is not held sacrosanct by a Japanese court.

Language school Berlitz, shortly after a request was filed with the authorities for an investigation of its employment practices, sued Begunto labor union for damages due to strikes.  Although the article stops short of saying the epiphany-inducing words “union busting activities”, Berlitz below seems to playing for time in court, not even offering their reasons for their lawsuit by the appointed court date.  

Keep an eye on this case, readers. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Next Labor Commission Begunto hearing date Feb 20 in Tokyo.  Directions from the union:

Berlitz Labor Commission Hearing Number 2    Friday, Feb. 20, at 1:30pm at Tokyo Labor Commission
 
Take Oedo Line to Tochomae Station, exit A3, up two sets of escalators, pass passport office, up stairs, take elevator bank H up to 34th floor and find “roh” (labor) room for Life Communications (company name).

  Let’s show the commission how much support our Berlitz sisters and brothers continue to have in their fight for the right to strike.  Their strike began in Dec. 2007 for a 4.6% base-pay hike and a one-month bonus.  The strike escalated in autumn of 2008 and management rather than yield to the demand decided to cheat — threatening strikers and suing all the executives for 110 million yen each.  Come on out and support Begunto (Berlitz General Union Tokyo).

News photo
Van hailing: Members of the Berlitz General Union Tokyo (Begunto) and the National Union of General Workers (NUGW) Tokyo Nambu make their voices heard atop a sound truck outside the Berlitz school in Yurakucho, Tokyo. COURTESY OF BEGUNTO

THE ZEIT GIST

Berlitz launches legal blitz against striking instructors

By JAMES McCROSTIE

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090217zg.html
It has been 14 months since members of the Berlitz General Union Tokyo (Begunto) first downed chalk and launched rotating strikes against the language school Berlitz Japan.

The strike has grown into the longest and largest sustained strike by language teachers in Japan. While about 500 Nova teachers struck during that firm’s collapse in 2007, the action only lasted a day.

The dispute entered a new phase on Dec. 3 when, after nearly a year of strike action by union members, Berlitz Japan served notice they were suing the five teachers who serve as volunteer Begunto executives, as well as two officials of the National Union of General Workers (NUGW) Tokyo Nambu: President Yujiro Hiraga and Louis Carlet, the deputy general secretary and case officer for Begunto. The suit also names NUGW Tokyo Nambu and its Begunto branch as defendants.

Claiming the strike is illegal and that the union is trying to damage the company, Berlitz Japan is suing for ¥110 million in damages from each defendant.

“I first heard officially about the suit when a subpoena was delivered to my door in early December,” recalls Catherine Campbell, Begunto Vice President. “It was a shock to see myself and the others named individually as defendants.”

“The amount of money is so large that it didn’t seem real to me,” says Campbell. “It’s obvious that no English teacher has ¥110 million lying around, so I find it hard to believe that financial compensation is the real objective of their suit. The real objective is to intimidate and weaken the union.”

For Carlet, the suit also came as a surprise. “We were shocked because we make every effort to follow all Japan’s laws. We also felt frustrated that rather than concede the union’s strength and make meaningful concessions, Berlitz Japan has decided to spend a lot of money to sue us based on a frivolous claim that the strike is illegal.”

The company’s resort to the courts is unusual, explains Takashi Araki, a law professor at the University of Tokyo. “It’s not often that Japanese employers sue striking workers for illegal actions. An employer must bear the burden to prove the illegality of the strike, the amount of damages and causal relationship between the illegal strike and the damages. It’s not easy.”

On precedents for this kind of action, Timothy Langley, an American lawyer working in Tokyo, called the suits “very unusual,” adding, “but once again, it’s a tactic.” Langley predicted that like the vast majority of civil court cases in Japan, the Berlitz dispute would be settled out of court through negotiation.

The Begunto strike began on Dec. 13, 2007. Seeking the first across-the-board pay raise for Berlitz Japan teachers in 16 years, the union had a list of nine demands, including a 4.6-percent raise for all employees (teachers and staff), a one-time bonus equal to a month’s pay, and enrollment in Japan’s health insurance and pension system.

Inequalities between old and new teachers influenced the decision to strike. According to Begunto’s Web site, the number of lessons taught has increased from 30 per week for teachers hired in the early 1990s to 40 lessons a week for teachers hired after 2005, with no corresponding increase in the ¥250,000-a-month starting salary.

“The strike was an inevitable result of the new contracts introduced in 2005,” says Campbell. “Berlitz has had a history of slowly reducing conditions for new hires every once in a while, and up until now the changes have been small enough and incremental enough not to inspire a major backlash. This time they simply went too far, and created a pool of new hires working alongside teachers on older contracts who had obviously better conditions; teachers old and new felt the unfairness of this.”

The financial health of Benesse Corp., Berlitz Japan’s parent company, also influenced the timing of the strike. In their annual report for the financial year ending March 31, 2008, Benesse recorded their highest-ever earnings. Operating income grew 11.4 percent and Berlitz International Inc. achieved its best result since being bought by Benesse. Operating income for Benesse’s language company division rose 36 percent from the year before to ¥6.35 billion, in part due to higher revenues and profits at Berlitz International, which benefited from “an increase in the number of lessons taken worldwide, particularly in Japan and Germany,” according to the report.

Since the start of the strike, more than 100 English, Spanish, and French teachers have participated in spot strikes of almost 3,500 lessons. Carlet explained how the strikes work: “Nambu and Begunto notify management who will strike and from what time to what time. Sometimes they last only one lesson, other times several lessons.” During the strike, 32 of 46 Kanto-area schools have had teachers walk out.

In addition to the traditional Japanese labor-dispute staples, such as sound trucks and leaflet hand-outs, Berlitz’s striking teachers have also been taking advantage of what every hip industrial action requires nowadays: a Web site and YouTube videos.

“Internet technology has given us a chance to go almost head to head with the company, which has far greater financial and public relations resources to construct a positive self-image,” says Carlet. “We have used our site — www.berlitzuniontokyo.org — for general information and YouTube for visuals on our public appeals for support for the strike.”

Early in the strike the union made several concessions, reducing their list of demands down to two: a 4.6 percent base-pay raise for all teachers and staff and a bonus equal to one month’s salary. “If management makes a serious concession we will consider moving on our side even further than we have already,” says Carlet.

Management offered a raise of less than 1 percent at the end of September. Union members rejected that offer and, according to Carlet, “The union escalated their actions in October, including more strikes.” Begunto members also stepped up the number of leafleting sessions outside Berlitz schools and demonstrated in front of Berlitz’s Aoyama headquarters. “We also asked Benesse, Berlitz Japan’s parent company, to meet for talks. Berlitz began sending protests and threats of litigation soon after that.”

When reached by phone, Berlitz Japan representatives declined to comment on either the lawsuit or the strike.

The first court date for Berlitz Japan’s lawsuit on Jan. 26 proved anticlimactic. The more than 30 union members and supporters — as well as a contingent of Berlitz Japan managers — who came to the hearing at the Tokyo District Court didn’t have the chance to hear any legal arguments of substance.

The lawyers for Berlitz Japan failed to submit their written arguments for why the strike was illegal. They informed the judge that it would take until March to prepare because of the time required to translate documents between English and Japanese. Ken Yoshida, one of the lawyers for the teachers, expressed surprise that a language school would offer such an excuse for the delay.

Problems also arose because Berlitz Japan had failed to properly serve three of the defendants with notice of the lawsuit. The 20-minute hearing ended with the second court date scheduled for April 20. Addressing union members and supporters after the hearing, Yoshida said that the Berlitz lawyers were “obviously stalling” and wanted a protracted court fight.

The burden of proof for the case lies with Berlitz Japan, says professor Araki. “Since Japan’s Constitution and Labor Union Act guarantee the workers’ right to go on strike, employers cannot claim damages caused by legal strikes. Thus, generally speaking, it is an employer who must prove the illegality of the strike.”

However, unions must follow rules when striking. According to Hideyuki Morito, an attorney and Professor of Law at Sophia University, “There are four checkpoints as to propriety of the strike.” The striking union must be a qualified union under the Labor Union Act and the strike must be related to working conditions. The means of the strike must also be legal, so striking union members can’t occupy offices or interfere with operations. “In short, all they can do is not work ,” says Morito. Finally, unions must “try to bargain collectively with the employer before deciding to go on a strike and give a notice in advance when they will strike.”

Tadashi Hanami, professor emeritus at Sophia University, outlined what the company must prove to win. “The outcome of the court judgment depends almost entirely on whether the company can provide enough evidence to convince the judge that some of the union activities were maliciously carried out in order to intentionally cause undue damage, by disturbing normal running of day-by-day school business, thus exceeded the scope of legally protected bona fide collective actions as a kind of harassment.”

Begunto and NUGW Nambu launched their own legal challenge to Berlitz Japan, filing an unfair labor practices suit for violations of Trade Union Law on Nov. 17. The suit asked the Tokyo Labor Commission to investigate unfair labor practices by the company.

Union representatives argue that memos posted at all Berlitz Japan language schools in November that declared the strike illegal and letters sent to union members telling them to end the strike are illegal interference. “Since nothing about our strike was the slightest bit illegal, the memos and warning letters themselves are illegal interference in the strike,” says Carlet.

The unions’ suit also asks the Labor Commission to investigate Berlitz Japan’s refusal to meet the union’s pay demands and failure to provide any data on the company’s finances to the union. According to Carlet, “Management has a responsibility to explain to the union why it can’t meet our financial demands. It makes no such effort.”

As the company and the unions gear up for what could be a drawn-out fight, Campbell describes a surreal existence as the sued teachers wait for the lawsuits to wind through the legal system. “Now it just feels strange to be going to work as usual, teaching Berlitz lessons, while at the same time being accused of deliberately damaging the company.”

The next stage in the legal battle will be an open hearing at the Tokyo Labor Commission on Feb. 20 at 1:30 p.m.

Send comments on this issue and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009

ENDS

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

Berlitz Labor Commission Hearing Number 2    Friday, Feb. 20, at 1:30pm at Tokyo Labor Commission
 
Take Oedo Line to Tochomae Station, exit A3, up two sets of escalators, pass passport office, up stairs, take elevator bank H up to 34th floor and find “roh” (labor) room for Life Communications (company name).

  Let’s show the commission how much support our Berlitz sisters and brothers continue to have in their fight for the right to strike.  Their strike began in Dec. 2007 for a 4.6% base-pay hike and a one-month bonus.  The strike escalated in autumn of 2008 and management rather than yield to the demand decided to cheat — threatening strikers and suing all the executives for 110 million yen each.  Come on out and support Begunto (Berlitz General Union Tokyo).

The Economist on international divorce and child custody (Japan passim)

mytest

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.  The Economist print edition last week had a thorough story (albeit not thorough enough on Japan) on what divorce does to people when it’s international.  Of particular note was that in Japan, the article noted that you don’t comparatively lose much money, but you lose your kids.  It also mentions Japan’s negligence vis-a-vis the Hague Convention on child abduction.  

Good. First Canada’s media and government,then America’s ABC News, then the UK’s Grauniad, and most recently Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald.  The story continues to seep out about Japan as a problematic party to a divorce and as a haven for child abduction.  Now what we need is ever more international-reach media outlets such as The Economist to devote an entire story to it.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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MONEY IN MISERY

The Economist.com February 5, 2008

Except follows.  Full article at http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13057235

…According to Jeremy Morley, an international divorce lawyer based in New York, hiding assets from a spouse is also much easier in some countries than in others. California, at one extreme, requires complete disclosure of assets. At the other extreme, Austria, Japan and many other countries require very little disclosure. A California court recently ordered a husband to pay $390,000 in costs and penalties to his wife because he did not disclose some significant financial information. In another jurisdiction, the assets could have stayed hidden.

Who gets the children?

Cash and kids may pull in different directions. Countries that are “man-friendly” (shorthand for favouring the richer, usually male, partner) when it comes to money may be “mum-friendly” when it comes to custody. Japan, for example, is quick and cheap for a rich man—unless he wants to keep seeing his children. English courts are ferocious in dividing up assets, even when they have been cunningly squirrelled away offshore. But compared with other jurisdictions, they are keen to keep both divorced parents in touch with the children.

The children’s fate, even more than family finances, can be the source of the hottest legal tussles. The American State Department unit dealing with child abduction has seen its caseload swell from an average in recent years of 1,100 open cases to 1,500 now. In Britain, the figures rose from 157 in 2006 to 183 in 2007, according to Nigel Lowe of Cardiff Law School.

Of the cases reported worldwide, mothers are the main abductors when a marriage breaks down. They are cited in 68% of cases. Ann Thomas, a partner with the International Family Law Group, a London law firm, says child abduction has increased “dramatically” in the past three years or so. A big reason is freedom of movement within the European Union, which has enabled millions of people from the new member states to live and work legally in the richer part of the continent. That inevitably leads to a boom in binational relationships, and in turn more children of mixed marriages. Ms Thomas notes that when a relationship between a foreign mother and an English father breaks down, the mother often assumes that she can automatically return to her homeland without the father’s permission. That may be a costly legal mistake.

Most advanced industrialised countries, plus most of Latin America and a sprinkling of others, are signatories to the 1980 Hague Convention, a treaty which requires countries to send abducted children back to the jurisdiction where they have been living previously. That is fine in theory: it means that legal battles have to be fought first, before a child is moved. It is a great deal better than a fait accompli which leaves one parent in possession, while the other is trying to fight a lengthy and expensive legal battle in a faraway country.

But in practice things are very different. Views on the desirability of children being brought up by “foreigners” vary hugely by country; so do traditions about the relative roles of fathers and mothers in bringing up their children after divorce. In most Muslim countries, for example, the assumption is that children over seven will be brought up by the father, not the mother, though that is trumped by a preference for a local Muslim parent. So the chances of a foreign mother recovering abducted children from a Muslim father are slim. Apart from secular Turkey and Bosnia, no Muslim countries have signed the Hague Convention, though a handful have struck bilateral deals, such as Pakistan with Britain, and Egypt and Lebanon with America.

Japan has not signed it either—the only member of the rich-country G7 not to have done so. Canada and America are leading an international effort to change that. Foreign fathers, in particular, find the Japanese court system highly resistant to attempts even to establish regular contact with abducted and unlawfully retained children, let alone to dealing with requests for their return. Such requests are met with incomprehension by Japanese courts, complains an American official dealing with the issue. “They ask, ‘Why would a father care that much?’” Countries edging towards signing the Hague Convention include India, Russia and mainland China. But parents whose ex-spouses have taken children to Japan should not hold their breath: as Ms Thomas notes, even if Japan eventually adopts the Hague Convention, it will not apply it retrospectively.

Rest of the article at http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13057235

ENDS

Japanese stewardesses sue Turkish Airlines for discrim employment conditions

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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. Here’s something that didn’t make the English-language news anywhere, as far as Google searches show. Japanese stewardesses are suing Turkish Airlines for unfair treatment and arbitrary termination of contract.  They were also, according to some news reports I saw on Google and TV, angry at other working conditions they felt were substandard, such as lack of changing rooms.  I even saw the headline “discrimination by nationality”.  So they formed a union to negotiate with the airline, and then found themselves fired. 

Fine.  But this is definite Shoe on the Other Foot stuff, especially given the conditions that NJ frequently face in the Japanese workplace.  Let’s hope this spirit of media understanding rubs off for NJ who might want to sue Japanese companies for the same sort of thing. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

(Text of article below follows, quickly translated by Arudou Debito)

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

Dispatch stewardesses sue Turkish Airlines, demand acknowledgment of their status within the company

Sankei Shinbun January 29, 2009

「直接雇用してもらいたい」。会見で訴えるトルコ航空ユニオンの船田明子さん(右)らメンバー=29日、厚労省

PHOTO CAPTION:  “We want to be directly employed.”  So charged Funada Akiko (R), member of the Turkish Airlines Union at a press conference at the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare.

On January 29, 13 Japanese women contract workers under dispatch company “TEI” (Tokyo), who were working as flight attendants for Turkish Airlines, filed suit at Tokyo District Court.  “We were effectively working under the same conditions as if we were directly employed by the airline,” they said, and demanded recognition of this status in their contracts from both companies.

The litigants were members of the “Turkish Airlines Union”, led by Funada Akiko (34).

According to the lawsuit filed, the women were dispatched from TEI. Nevertheless, they were treated as if they were workers under a contract with Turkish Airlines.  They were given essential training as flight attendants from Turkish Airlines, and had employment time slots as per Turkish Airlines flight plans.   Each fulfilled their duties as a Japanese flight attendant, supervised by the airline.

At the press conference after filing suit, Ms Funada claimed that TEI would issue a notice dated February 28 that Japanese flight attendant contracts would be terminated.  “The contract period would last until June.  We are furious at how one-sided this termination of contract was.  We want to be employed directly as Japanese flight attendants.”  

She continued, “There was an invisible division between us and the Turkish flight attendants, in terms of differential treatment and salary.  We want to highlight this as a social problem, so that there won’t be any more second- and third-class treatment of staff in the airline industry.”

In September 2008, the 13 Japanese flight attendants formed a union of supporters.  They filed for group negotiations with Turkish Airlines to demand direct employment.  However, the airlines still apparently refuses to meet.

A 33-year-old woman who attended the press conference spoke strongly, “If there are no Japanese flight attendants in the airplane, what happens if there’s an emergency?  How will Japanese passengers be attended to?”

The Japan branch of Turkish Airlines said in a statement, “We haven’t seen the legal brief yet, so we cannot comment at this time.”  TEI:  “We haven’t received the brief, so we will reserve official comments for now.” ENDS

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

派遣乗務員、地位確認求め提訴 トルコ航空など相手取り

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/trial/090129/trl0901292005011-n1.htm

2009.1.29 20:01

「直接雇用してもらいたい」。会見で訴えるトルコ航空ユニオンの船田明子さん(右)らメンバー=29日、厚労省「直接雇用してもらいたい」。会見で訴えるトルコ航空ユニオンの船田明子さん(右)らメンバー=29日、厚労省

 派遣・請負会社「TEI」(東京)の契約社員で、派遣先のトルコ航空の客室乗務員として働く日本人女性13人は29日、「実質的には航空会社から直接雇用の状態で働いていた」などとして、2社に対し雇用契約上の地位確認などを求め、東京地裁に提訴した。

 提訴したのは、「トルコ航空ユニオン」委員長の船田明子さん(34)ら。

 訴状などによると、女性はTEIから派遣されているにもかかわらず、トルコ航空が設けた契約に基づいて労務管理が行われていた。トルコ航空によって乗務に必要な教育訓練も実施され、飛行機の割り振りといった勤務時間も調整して決定。トルコ航空の指揮監督下で、日本人乗務員は各業務をこなしてきたとしている。

 提訴後の会見で、船田さんは、TEIから、契約する日本人客室乗務員全員に、2月28日付での解約予告通知書が届いたことを明らかにした上で、「契約期間は6月まであった。一方的な契約解除には憤りを感じる。日本人客室乗務員を直接雇用してもらいたい」と主張。「トルコ人の客室乗務員と、(給与面など待遇に差があるといった)目に見えない分断線があった。第2、第3の人員整理が航空業界で行われないよう、社会問題化してもらいたい」と訴えた。

 昨年9月、日本人客室乗員員の有志13人がユニオンを結成。トルコ航空に直接雇用などを求める団体交渉を申し入れていた。しかし、会社側は拒否し続けているという。

 会見に出席した別の女性(33)は、「機内から日本人の客室乗務員がいなくなれば、緊急事態の発生時に日本人の客に不安を与えかねない。客室の安全とサービスが落ちかねない」と語気を強めた。

 トルコ航空日本支社は、「訴状も見ておらず、コメントできない」とし、TEIは「訴状が届いておらず、正式なコメントは控えたい」と話している。

ENDS  More at:

http://news.google.co.jp/news?hl=ja&tab=wn&ned=jp&nolr=1&q=トルコ航空&btnG=検索

Japan Today & Yomiuri: Criminal charges against Internet bullies

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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. Further to my Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column earlier this week, here is somebody else who is finally taking action against Internet stalkers and bullies. Smiley Kikuchi, a comedian (whose name is listed in today’s Yomiuri), has finally gotten the NPA to get off their asses and actually prosecute people criminally for posting threatening messages.

Good for him. I get death threats all too frequently. The first time I got a major death threat, the police did nothing except take the threat letter, hold it for six years, and send it back with “inconclusive results”. The second time, much the same. In Smiley’s case, the messages were posted directly to his blog, by fools who didn’t realize that (unlike 2channel) their IP addresses would be visible.

Given how inept I consider the NPA to be about enforcing its own mandate, or even court decisions, I usually just delete messages to my blog that are malicious or threatening in tone. Now, thanks to Smiley, they just might be legally actionable. Thanks, Smiley. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

18 people to be prosecuted over insulting messages on comedian’s blog

http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/18-people-to-be-prosecuted-over-insulting-messages-on-comedians-blog

TOKYO —Police plan to establish a criminal case against 18 men and women on charges of allegedly posting a number of defamatory messages on a comedian’s blog, police sources said Thursday.

In launching what is believed to be the first such move associated with mass attacks on a blog in Japan, the Metropolitan Police Department said the 18 people, aged from 17 to 45, posted defamatory messages suggesting that the 37-year-old comedian is the perpetrator in the 1988 murder of a high school girl in Tokyo.

Some of the messages included: “How can a murderer be a comedian?” and “Die, you murderer,” according to police.

Investigators, acting on a complaint filed by the comedian, have identified those who posted the messages and decided to establish a criminal case against them, the sources said.

Among the 18 are a 17-year-old high school girl from Sapporo, a 35-year-old man from Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, and a 45-year-old man from Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture.

The suspects allegedly defamed the comedian by posting malicious comments between January and April 2008, suggesting that the comedian was involved in the highly publicized murder case in Tokyo’s Adachi Ward in 1988, which resulted in prison sentences for four minors.

The comedian, whose name has been withheld, launched his career about 10 years ago, characterizing himself as ‘‘an ex-hoodlum from Adachi Ward,’’ which apparently attracted the messages connecting him to the brutal murder that came to light after the girl’s remains were found in a drum filled with concrete.

He temporarily closed his blog due to the flood of malignant messages but reopened it in January last year, only to draw the defamatory messages again.

Investigators believe dozens of people have posted several hundred vicious messages on the blog, the sources said.

This is probably the first criminal case to be built over intense online attacks on a particular blog, the National Police Agency said.

The latest move by police came amid an increasing number of ‘‘flaming’’ blogs, particularly blogs by celebrities, TV personalities and notable sports athletes.

In one case, a commentator’s blog was forced to close in 2006 due to a flood of slanderous messages, and a man was arrested and given a suspended prison term the following year for threatening the commentator on Japan’s largest anonymous electronic bulletin board ‘‘2channel.’’

ENDS

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

Papers sent on woman over flaming of comedian
The Yomiuri Shimbun Feb. 6, 2009

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20090206TDY02307.htm

Police on Thursday sent papers to prosecutors on a woman suspected of threatening to kill a well-known comedian in a message she posted on his blog after wrongly concluding he was involved in a girl’s murder in 1989.

According to the police, the 29-year-old woman, a temporary worker from Kawasaki, has admitted posting the message on the blog of Smiley Kikuchi, 37, who regularly appears on TV.

The Metropolitan Police Department also plans to send papers to prosecutors on 18 people suspecting of defaming Kikuchi by posting hundreds of malicious messages between January and April 2008.

The woman reportedly believed messages on the blog that claimed Kikuchi had been involved in the murder and “couldn’t forgive him.”

The woman sent a message from her computer on Dec. 26 to the comedian’s blog saying, “I’ll kill you,” police said.

Online bulletin boards and a blog set up by Kikuchi in January 2008 were flooded with messages suggesting he was involved in the murder of the high school girl in Adachi Ward, Tokyo. Her body was abandoned in a cement-filled drum.

Kikuchi restricted access to the blog’s message board in April and filed a complaint with the police. He lifted the restrictions on Dec. 24.

According to the police, the woman came to the conclusion that the comedian and late TV personality Ai Iijima were involved in the murder. The woman based her belief on information she found on Iijima’s Web site and several other sites after learning from media reports that Iijima had been found dead in her Shibuya Ward apartment on Dec. 24.

“I thought I could never forgive people who had been party to a crime like murder,” the woman reportedly told police.

The 18 people, aged between 17 and 45, allegedly made groundless accusations on the blog that the comedian is a murderer.

The case is an example of flaming, which refers to personal and/or defamatory attacks by users against others on Internet bulletin boards, chat rooms, Web pages and blogs over the target user’s attitude or remarks.
(Feb. 6, 2009)

ENDS

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

Update: One more from the Japan Times

NPA probes 19 over slander on comedian’s blog
The Japan Times: Friday, Feb. 6, 2009

By REIJI YOSHIDA Staff writer
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090206a2.html

In a rare Internet crackdown, police have turned over to prosecutors their case against a 29-year-old woman and plan to hand another 18 suspects over for abusive comments posted on the blog of a 37-year-old Japanese comedian, police sources said Thursday.

The 29-year-old Kawasaki woman allegedly posted a death threat on the blog of comedian Smiley Kikuchi, writing “I will kill you” in December, a police source said.

The other 18 include a 17-year-old girl and 45-year-old man, who allegedly posted messages last year claiming the comedian was involved in the murder of a high school girl in 1988, the source said.

The allegation is groundless and police are sending the cases to prosecutors on suspicion of defamation, the source said.

This case is likely the first crackdown on what is known in Internet parlance as a flame attack, or “enjo” in Japanese, as far as the National Policy Agency knows, an NPA official told The Japan Times.

Many bloggers, including well-known TV celebrities, have been flamed recently, and many have shut down their blogs because of the rumors or abusive language.

In Kikuchi’s case, anonymous Internet users have been accusing the comedian of participating in the murder of a high school girl who was encased in concrete and dumped.

Hundreds of messages denouncing him as a murderer have reportedly been posted on the blog and many other Web sites recently.

Kikuchi and his agent, Ohta Production Inc., initially declined comment out of fear of drawing further attacks on the Web. But Kikuchi released a comment later in the day saying the information in circulation contains factual errors.

“For about 10 years, I, Smiley Kikuchi, have been suffering from slanderous remarks from anonymous people all over the Internet,” he said.

“All (of the Web allegations) are groundless. . . . The attacks have escalated to the point where I myself feel my life is in danger,” he said in a written statement.

He also said that some media reports said a TV agency once marketed Kikuchi using the catchphrase “former delinquent boy,” but that the reports were all wrong.

“I express my deep appreciation to the police officers who conducted the investigation and pray that an incident like this will never happen again,” he said.
The Japan Times: Friday, Feb. 6, 2009

ENDS

Japan Times Zeit Gist followup on Dec’s Otaru Onsen lawsuit analysis

mytest

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.  Last month the Japan Times put a cat amongst the pigeons last December with a Zeit Gist column about the Otaru Onsens Case, decrying the court ruling against racial discrimination as something undermining Japanese society.

It caused quite a stir, according to my editor, with most of the comments coming in critical of the thesis.  Some of the responses were worth a reprint as a follow-up column, and that came out last Tuesday.  Have a read.  And yes, I briefly responded too (although only on this site as a comment), which I paste at the very bottom below.  Love the illustration, as always.  Arudou Debito

News photo

Otaru ruling beats ‘mob rule’
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009
Dan O’Keeffe defends court’s 2002 decision in ‘onsen’ case
By DAN O’KEEFFE

Paul de Vries’ treatise on group accountability in Japanese society (“Back to the baths: Otaru revisited,” Zeit Gist, Dec. 2) offered a new take on the now familiar story of the court case between Japan’s naturalized enfant terrible, Debito Arudou, and the managers of the Yunohana public bath in Otaru, Hokkaido. De Vries presented a “thin edge of the wedge” argument for the ultimate unraveling of Japanese society if certain groups are no longer allowed to practice overt discrimination in the name of making Japan “cohesive and safe.”

However, by using the crutch of group discrimination to prop up the old utilitarian bulwark that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, De Vries simply makes the case that the prejudices of the majority outweigh the rights of the minority. Call it “group accountability,” call it “might means right,” call it “mob rule” — whichever way you spin it, it is simply a form of institutionalized bullying that limits Japan’s ability to create a dynamic, enlightened society for the 21st century.

De Vries’ primary objection to the Arudou judgment is that “the case was fought and won on the issue of racial discrimination when the policy being employed by the Yunohana onsen could more accurately be described as the racial application of ‘group accountability.’ “

“Racial application of group accountability” sounds so much nicer than boring old “racial discrimination,” doesn’t it? The question is whether there really is any difference between the two. Sadly, De Vries offers no logical reasons why we should see his preferred version of these two (identical) concepts as being anything other than a new name for the same old discredited idea. To deny access to public facilities to an innocent individual because of the color of their skin is simply wrong, regardless of who is doing it or what their motives are.

The judge in the Arudou case rightly recognized that the managers of the bath were using race as their sole means of determining who would be able to access their facility. That Arudou, a Japanese citizen, was denied entry shows that the management of the facility was not interested in denying entry to non-Japanese per se, they were in fact trying to exclude people on the basis of how they look. To find for the defendant, the judge in this case would have had to be convinced that it is acceptable to deny access to a public facility to an individual not based on the way he or she behaves, their capacity to pay, or even their nationality, but solely on the way they look.

Leaving aside the morally reprehensible aspects of this idea, there is also the farcical notion of who gets to decide just what constitutes “Japanese-looking.” Black hair and brown eyes are in plentiful supply in many parts of the world, as are epicanthic folds (where a fold of the upper eyelid covers the inner corner of the eye). In the popular mind, Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi looked “Japanese enough” to play Sayuri in the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha,” but would she be Japanese enough to make it past the sentries at Yunohana onsen? How about Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh? How about Mickey Rooney dressed as Mr. Yunioshi from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”?

Clearly, there is no objective basis for deciding who looks Japanese, just as there is no basis for using racial features as a pretext for a denial of rights. How one looks doesn’t determine how one will behave. The management at Yunohana onsen was using a ridiculous standard to tackle their problem and the judgment against them reflected that.

De Vries tells us that individuals should be prepared to sacrifice certain freedoms in the name of social cohesion. It all sounds very nice and honorable and somewhat in the vein of great social thinkers such as John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, but only superficially. Where Rousseau saw individual submission to a “general will” as an essential part of the social contract in a civil society, he also saw the need for individual liberty to be enshrined in the fabric of a community. In his 1762 “Of The Social Contract,” Rousseau wrote that the group must “receive each individual as an indivisible part of the whole.”

Under De Vries’ model, individuals are forced to offer the same submission to the will of the dominant, but they must do so without the protections and privileges of individual rights and freedoms. Irrespective of cultural differences, group accountability has largely been rejected in the West because it is intellectually lazy and it doesn’t work. Just because it’s common here doesn’t make it right.

De Vries tells us that we needn’t worry when Japanese apply such group accountability, even on a blatantly racial basis, because they do so with a benevolently “even hand.” Despite the scant comfort this brings to those on the receiving end, even this turns out to be little more than wishful thinking.

De Vries wonders at the lack of comment from the foreign community regarding the introduction of women-only carriages on commuter trains since 2002. He cites a lack of outcry as evidence that men understand that such a case of group accountability is reasonable. What De Vries has failed to take into account is that women-only carriages do not prevent anyone from accessing a public utility: Men simply redistribute themselves among the remaining carriages, an act which would not be considered a sanction or punishment by any reasonable person. De Vries draws a long bow in arguing that this is an example of group accountability when no one is punished. Presumably one could use the same confused logic to rail against women’s toilets, single-sex schools and the WNBA. Moreover, moving the potential victims rather than actually tackling the problem of molestation hardly holds anyone to account, group or otherwise.

Tellingly, De Vries was silent on the matter of how it came to be that there are so many “chikan” (gropers) on Japanese trains, especially since he goes to great lengths to tell us that “the fear of random violence is relatively low” in Japan.

De Vries again fires wide of the mark with his reference to the mandatory fingerprinting and photographing of foreign nationals upon entry to Japan. Given that the actions of Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese Red Army and various politically motivated assassins have shown that any terrorist threat against Japan is far more likely to be a homegrown one, can the targeting of foreign nationals for fingerprinting really be legitimized by the concept of group accountability? Further, where is the group accountability of Japanese themselves in these cases?

It is clear that De Vries thinks it perfectly rational for Japanese authorities to lump all non-Japanese, be they Chinese or Chilean, American or Armenian, Irish or Amish, into one enormous clade and treat them as equally prone to criminality and violence, as opposed to peaceful, law-abiding Japanese. This is patently absurd, as if all Japan’s troublemakers come from elsewhere.

As with the Yunohana onsen case, simply banning or punishing a whole group of people on racial grounds fails to target only those who break the rules (drunken bathers, terrorists) but succeeds in impinging on the rights of a large number of innocent people. If you want to prevent drunken people from ruining your onsen, then deny entry to people who are intoxicated — a simple breathalyzer test will suffice. Similarly, if you want to catch criminals entering the country via an airport, fingerprint everyone arriving: You’ll catch a lot more criminals that way and no one will be discriminated against.

The reality is, however, that the Japanese government would not insist on fingerprinting all arriving passengers regardless of nationality because of the uproar it would cause among Japanese people — Japanese people who can vote. This is the crux of the argument against group accountability: It allows the powerful to dictate to the weak. By singling out foreigners for fingerprinting, the authorities were imposing a regulation on a section of the community that had no means of voicing its displeasure other than the various petitions and forums that De Vries found so “unbelievable.”

As De Vries also points out, group accountability circumvents the rule of law. This encourages mob rule and bullying. In Japan, this manifests itself in ways ranging from the violent hazing of military personnel and the trauma of “park debut” for young mothers, to “karoshi” (death through overwork). Group accountability isolates, divides and discriminates. None of this helps Japan progress and develop as a cohesive society.

The history of human societies is a litany of division and stratification, be it on ethnic, caste, religious or economic lines. Time and again, the one thing that has brought about positive change and integration has been a respect for individual rights and a rejection of group accountability. It is the lesson of Gandhi, Mandela and Martin Luther King.

By protecting individual rights and demanding corresponding individual responsibilities, societies offer each and every member the chance to live their lives productively and with dignity. If De Vries’ forthcoming book discusses what Japan can teach the world, the lesson may well be how not to do it.

Dan O’Keeffe is a faculty member at Osaka Electro-Communication University. Send comments on this issue and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp

===================================
Back to the baths: readers responses

Following are a couple of responses to “Back to the baths: Otaru revisited” (Zeit Gist, Dec. 2).

Substitution speaks volumes

I often think it is useful to substitute alternative racial groups when someone writes something, to see whether it is a racist statement or not. Here we go for the final paragraph of Mr. De Vries’ article:

“And this brings us to the point that (Debito) Arudou ignores or simply fails to see. Group accountability is Ghettos are not employed in Japan Nazi Germany simply for the sake of pushing people around. It is They are employed for the purpose of making Japan the Fatherland cohesive and safe. It is a major reason why Japan Germany, unlike the U.S., is a nation in which the fear of random violence is relatively low. If Arudou succeeds in his quest, Japan Germany will become one more nation in which the individual is to be feared. That is an outrageously high price to pay for the occasional racial, national, generational or gender race-driven slight human-rights abuse.”

Some people may complain about my use of the example of Jews in Nazi Germany, but would the story be significantly improved if we used another group, another injustice? How about African-Americans in pre-civil rights movement America, or blacks in South Africa under apartheid, or Aborigines in Australia, or something even simpler and closer to home, like the continuing struggle for equal rights for women in almost every country in the world?

One wonders just what Mr. De Vries is afraid of from his fellow man. I am not afraid. Arudou-san is apparently not afraid. No, Mr De Vries is simply using an imaginary perceived threat to justify the subjugation of the rights of one group by another.

Not all discrimination is wrong. We all discriminate for and against people for a variety of reasons — we can’t help it; it’s built into our brains. We instinctively make patterns linking people to events, both positive and negative, even when those associations are false. However, that doesn’t make it right to allow or promote legal discrimination on the basis of something so arbitrary as race or sex. It is important to remember what laws are there for — to protect the weak from the strong, the minorities from the majorities, and even occasionally the majorities from themselves.

Louis J. Irving
Sendai

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

Article made me rethink ideas

What a great article! I have been giving some thought to Westerners’ reaction to what I now know — thanks to you — as “group accountability.” I’ve tried to take sides — for or against the Japanese government — but I hadn’t been able to come to a clear conclusion.

Sure, the Japanese demonstrate a certain amount of xenophobia, but if I take a second to look at my nation of origin (Quebec, Canada), we are quite the same in our own way. Immigrants in Canada are supposedly widely accepted, but they’re still labeled as “immigrants” anyway, and I had to come and live here to realize that.

One perennial hot topic is Japan’s past “war efforts.” It took me six years to start reconsidering some firm opinions that I held (the horrors committed were very “Japanese”; their arrogance was unique to them; their occupation of other countries and the use of forced labor in factories and brothels are unforgivable, etc.), but then I realize that my very own country did just as bad in its own time, and so did our neighbors.

Your article clarified many things for me. I look forward to reading your book.

Pierre Nadeau 
Shimizu, Wakayama Pref.

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009
ENDS

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

Debito here. How I responded to the De Vries article some weeks ago:

Hi Blog. Sorry to keep you waiting. A few opinions in addition to yours (thanks to everyone for commenting on Debito.org):

I’ll start with my conclusion. Look, as Ken said above, this article is basically incoherent. We have a flawed academic theory (which somehow groups people into two rigid ideological categories — 2.5 categories if you slice this into “American standards” as well) regarding social sanction and control, and proceeds on faith that this pseudo-dichotomy actually exists. As evidence, we have citations of women-only train carriages and border fingerprinting — both fundamentally dissimilar in content, origin, and enforcement to the onsens case. And presto, the conclusion is we must maintain this dichotomy (and condemn the Japanese judiciary for chipping away at it) for the sake of Japan’s safety and social cohesion.

Get it? Sorry, I don’t. That’s why I’m not going to do a paragraph-by-paragraph commentary on what is essentially ideological nonsense.

But I will mention some glaring errors and omissions in the article:

1) “Pushed to the brink of ruin… by the behavior of Russian sailors”. Not quite. Earth Cure KK’s original sauna did go bankrupt (shortly after it opened Yunohana in 1998), but it’s not as if the Russian sailors descended on the former. The sauna in fact courted Russian business, and according to sources in Otaru offered information to them at portside. The sauna’s location was, quite simply, bad, being on the higher floor of a bar district, and went bankrupt like plenty of other decrepit bathhouses are around Japan. And as other bathhouses around Otaru noted, “Why did Yunohana [which never let in any foreigners and thus never, despite the claims of the article, suffered any damage] feel so special as to need signs up? We didn’t put up signs and still stayed in business.” Because it’s easier to blame the foreigner for one’s own business problems; as was the fashion for some at the time.

Proof in hindsight: Now the signs are down, Yunohana as a franchise has profited enough to open three more branches around this part of Hokkaido, so nuts to the idea the company was ever in any danger of going bankrupt due to rampaging NJ. There are simply some people who do not like foreigners in this world, and some of them just happen to be running businesses. That’s why other developed countries have actual laws to stop them, unlike Japan. It had nothing to do with grandiloquent theories like “group accountability”.

2) This theory assumes the “group” being held accountable has clearly-defined dichotomous borders that are easily enforced. The article neglects to make clear that other members of the “group”, as in Japanese citizens, were also being turned away from places like Yunohana — and I’m not referring only to myself. I’m referring to other Japanese children (and not just one of mine). Hence given the overlap of internationalization, the theory, even if possibly correct, is in practice unenforceable.

3) And it is moot anyway. There is no mention of international treaty (the ICERD) which Japan effected in 1996, where it promised to enforce standard UN-sanctioned international norms and rules to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. These are not “American” standards, as the article claims. These are world standards that the GOJ has acknowledged as the rules of play in this situation. The end.

4) The court decisions (there were in fact two, plus a Supreme Court dismissal) in any case does a) admit there was racial discrimination, but b) that RD was not the illegal activity. It was c) “unrational discrimination” based upon the judges’ interpretation of Japanese Civil Law, not the ICERD per se. Thus the standards being applied are in fact Japanese. Read the court documents. Everything is online. And in book form. In two languages.

There are more errors, but never mind. If the writer were to do a bit more homework about the facts of the case at hand, instead of trying to squash a landmark legal case into his own ideological framework, I think we might have had a more interesting discussion. But working backwards from a conclusion (especially when it’s a dogma) rarely results in good science, alas. Maybe his advertised book will offer something with better analytical power. Arudou Debito

ends

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Jan 6 2009 reviewing 2008’s human rights advances

mytest

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

Morning Blog.  Here’s my latest Japan Times column, which came out last Tuesday.  Links to sources provided.  Debito

justbecauseicon.jpg
JUST BE CAUSE
2008: THE YEAR IN HUMAN RIGHTS
By Arudou Debito, Article 11 for JBC Column
Published January 6, 2009
Draft Seven as submitted to editor.
Published version at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090106ad.html

As we start 2009, let’s recharge the batteries by reviewing last year’s good news. Here is my list of top human rights advancements for 2008, in ascending order:

As we start 2009, let’s recharge the batteries by reviewing last year’s good news. Here is my list of top human rights advancements for 2008, in ascending order:

6) The U Hoden Lawsuit Victory (Dec. 21, 2007, but close enough): The plaintiff is a Chinese-born professor at Japan Women’s University, who sued for damages on behalf of his Japanese grade-school daughter. Abused by classmates for her Chinese roots, she suffered at school and was medically diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Professor U took the parents of the bullies to court and won.

WHY THIS MATTERS: In an era when elementary schools are seeing the byproduct of Japan’s frequent international marriages, this ruling sets a positive precedent both for insensitive local Boards of Education and parents who want to protect their kids.
http://www.debito.org/?p=874

5) Strawberry Fields Forever (Feb. 11): Fifteen Chinese Trainees sued strawberry farms in Tochigi Prefecture for unpaid wages, unfair dismissal, and an attempted repatriation by force. Thanks to Zentoitsu Workers Union, they were awarded 2 million yen each in back pay and overtime, a formal apology, and reinstatement in their jobs.

WHY THIS MATTERS: This is another good precedent treating NJ laborers (who as Trainees aren’t covered by labor laws) the same as Japanese workers. It is also the namesake of German documentary “Sour Strawberries” (www.vimeo.com/2276295), premiering in Japan in March.
http://www.debito.org/?p=1018 and http://www.debito.org/?p=1221

4) The increasing international awareness of Japan as a haven for international child abductions. It’s one of Japan’s worst-kept secrets, but not for much longer: Japan’s laws governing access for both parents to children after divorce are weak to non-existent. Consequently, in the case of international breakups, one parent (usually the foreigner) loses his or her kids. As this newspaper has reported, even overseas court decisions awarding custody to the NJ parent are ignored by Japanese courts. All the Japanese parent has to do is abduct their child to Japan and they’re scot-free. Fortunately, international media this year (America’s ABC News, UK’s Guardian, and Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald) have joined Canada’s media and government in exposing this situation.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Our government has finally acknowledged this as a problem for domestic marriages too, and made overtures to sign the Hague Convention on Child Abduction (for what that’s worth) by 2010. More in upcoming documentary “From The Shadows” (www.fromtheshadowsmovie.com).
http://www.debito.org/?p=1660
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20080826zg.html

http://www.debito.org/?s=child+abduction

3) Opening the 12,000 yen “financial stimulus” to all registered NJ (Dec. 20). The “teigaku kyufukin” first started out as a clear bribe to voters to yoroshiku the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Then complaints were raised about the other taxpayers who aren’t citizens, so Permanent Residents and NJ married to Japanese became eligible. Finally, just before Christmas, all registered NJ were included.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Even if this “stimulus” is ineffective, it’s a wall-smasher: Japan’s public policy is usually worded as applying to “kokumin”, or citizens only. It’s the first time a government cash-back program (a 1999 coupon scheme only included Permanent Residents) has included all non-citizen taxpayers, and recognized their importance to the Japanese economy.
http://www.debito.org/?p=2104
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nb20081113a1.html

2) Revision of Japan’s Nationality Law. If a Japanese father impregnated a NJ out of wedlock, the father had to recognize paternity before birth or the child would not get Japanese nationality. The Supreme Court ruled this unconstitutional on June 4, noting how lack of citizenship causes “discriminatory treatment”.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Tens of thousands of international children have lost their legal right to Japanese citizenship (or even, depending on the mother’s nationality, become stateless!) just because a man was too shy to own up to his seed, or didn’t acknowledge paternity in time. This ruling led to a change in the laws last December.
http://www.debito.org/?p=1715
http://globalvoicesonline.org/2008/11/21/japan-revision-of-the-nationality-law/
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090101a1.html

1) The government officially declaring the Ainu an indigenous people (June 6).

WHY THIS MATTERS: Because it not only affects the Ainu. This finally shows how wrong the official pronouncements that “Japan is a monocultural monoethnic society” have been. It also voids knock-on arguments that enforce ideological conformity for the “insiders” and exclusionism for the foreigners. On Sept. 28, it even became a political issue, forcing an unprecedented cabinet resignation of Nariaki Nakayama for mouthing off about “ethnic homogeneity” (among other things). Even blue-blood PM Aso had better think twice before contradicting the Diet’s consensus on this issue.

Let’s see what 2009 brings. Proposals to watch: a) the possible abolition of Gaijin Cards, b) the registration of NJ residents with their Japanese families, and c) dual nationality. Stay tuned to www.debito.org, and Happy New Year, everyone!
735 WORDS

Debito Arudou is coauthor of the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants.” Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments to community@japantimes.co.jp

Tokyo High Court overrules lower court regarding murder of Lucie Blackman: Obara Joji now guilty of “dismemberment and abandonment of a body”

mytest

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. Serial rapist and sexual predator Obara Joji yesterday had his “innocent on the grounds of lack of evidence” lower court decision overturned by the Tokyo High Court, with Lucie Blackman’s rape and murder now added to his long list of crimes against women. A hair was split between actual murder and just doing nasty things to her corpse, but for people outraged about the rather odd consideration of evidence in this case (which I in the past have indicated might have something to do with a J crime against a NJ, as opposed to the opposite), this is a victory of sorts. Given that Obara got away with a heckuva lot before he was finally nailed (including some pretty hapless police investigation), I wonder if the outcome of his cases will be much of a deterrent to other sociopathic predators out there. Anyway, this verdict is better than upholding the previous one, of course. Two articles follow. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Guilty verdict ends Blackman family’s fight for justice
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/guilty-verdict-ends-blackman-familys-fight-for-justice-1192828.html
By David McNeill in Tokyo
The Independent. Wednesday, 17 December 2008

A Japanese businessman has been convicted of abducting Lucie Blackman and mutilating her body, ending an eight-year campaign by her family.

The millionaire property developer Joji Obara was cleared last year of raping and killing the 21-year-old British bar hostess in Japan in 2000. Yesterday the High Court in Tokyo agreed that there was insufficient evidence to convict him on these charges but ruled that Obara dismembered and abandoned her body.

Ms Blackman’s family said they were “delighted” by the higher court’s judgment but added that they were left with a bitter taste in the mouth after their long fight for justice through Japan’s drawn-out legal system.

Her mother, Jane Steare, sat weeping yards from Obara in court as the verdict was read out, an experience she called “very, very harrowing”. It was her first sighting of the man who used a chainsaw to mutilate her daughter’s body, which he then dumped in a cave south-west of Tokyo. On a previous court appearance, Obara had failed to show up.

After the verdict, she said: “At last we have two guilty verdicts and a life sentence for the crimes Obara committed against my wonderful Lucie. He’s got a life sentence and I think justice has been done.”

Her father, Tim Blackman, who lives on the Isle of Wight, said: “Although the result is not the absolute decision we had hoped for, it is still an obvious recognition of guilt. After such a long time it is clear that it was necessary for this protracted process to get any degree of result and some form of justice for Lucie, but it still leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.”

Ms Blackman’s sister, Sophie, 26, said: “It is not important exactly what he was charged with – what matters is that he is finally taking responsibility after all this time. I’m delighted.”

Ms Blackman, a former flight attendant, went to Japan in May 2000 and found a job as a hostess at a Tokyo nightclub. She vanished in July that year after telephoning her flatmate to say she was going out for the afternoon with a man. Her remains were found in a cave near Obara’s beachside condominium in February 2001 following an extensive search.

In April last year Tokyo District Court acquitted Obara of involvement in Ms Blackman’s death. But he was ordered to spend life in prison for a string of rapes and causing the death of an Australian woman. Tokyo High Court also upheld this sentence yesterday. Judge Hiroshi Kadono held that Obara’s actions left no room for leniency and said: “His action of damaging and abandoning her body was ruthless and did not even give the slightest consideration to her dignity.”

Police found hundreds of home-made videos in the businessman’s flat, showing him having sex with unconscious women, many of whom he met while cruising the Tokyo entertainment district where Ms Blackman worked.

However, although strong circumstantial evidence, including proof that he bought the chainsaw, apparently linked him to the death of the former air stewardess, there was no video recording of her rape.

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

The Japan Times, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008
High court: Obara buried Blackman
Serial rapist’s life term is upheld; abduction added to convictions
By SETSUKO KAMIYA Staff writer

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20081217a1.html

The Tokyo High Court on Tuesday sentenced serial rapist Joji Obara to life in prison for kidnapping Briton Lucie Blackman and mutilating her corpse eight years ago, after a lower court acquitted him of the charges.

The high court also upheld the Tokyo District Court’s life sentence for Obara, 56, for nine other rape cases, including that of an Australian woman who died from an overdose of sleeping drugs Obara slipped her before the assault.

Dressed in a dark suit and brown-framed glasses, Obara nervously wiped his face with a blue handkerchief before the judge read out the 1 1/2-hour decision. As the ruling was being announced, Obara stared at the floor and remained motionless.

Obara was charged with six cases of rape, two cases of rape resulting in bodily injury, and rape resulting in the death of Australian hostess Carita Ridgway.

In the Blackman case, he was charged with kidnapping with intent to rape, attempted rape, and damaging and disposing of a body. He was not charged with murder or manslaughter, however, due to lack of evidence.

Prosecutors demanded a life term.

Presiding Judge Hiroshi Kadono said that while the court couldn’t find direct evidence that Obara raped Blackman, there was enough circumstantial evidence to conclude he abducted the 21-year-old from her residence in Shibuya Ward with the intention of drugging and raping her in July 2000.

The court also said that there was enough evidence to believe that Blackman died for some reason after Obara drugged her in his condominium in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture, and that he dismembered her with a chain saw and buried her body parts in a cave near another condo he owned on the Miura coastline.

But the court said it was unable to determine exactly where Obara dismembered her corpse, except that it was in the vicinity of his condo.

The court also rejected Obara’s appeal in the Ridgway case and determined her death was caused by the chloroform Obara forced her to inhale, which caused her to die from fulminant hepatitis in 1992.

Afterward, Ridgway’s family issued a statement saying they welcomed the ruling.

“It is hoped that this finally brings an end to a process that began over eight years ago. The process has been prolonged because Obara refused to accept his guilt and has had access to significant financial resources which he used to fund his attempts to escape justice,” they said.

In April 2007, the Tokyo District Court sentenced Obara to life in prison for a string of nine rapes between 1992 and 2000, including Ridgway’s.

But the court acquitted him of all charges in the Blackman case, ruling that the circumstantial evidence linking him to her dismemberment and burial was not convincing enough to link him directly to her death.

Although the evidence included some 200 videotapes showing Obara engaging in sexual acts with his victims, Blackman was not among them, and the court said other evidence could not prove Obara was involved in any way with Blackman.

During appeal sessions that began in March, prosecutors said there was sufficient evidence showing Obara was involved in the Briton’s death.

Blackman’s dismembered corpse was found in February 2001 in a Miura cave near one of his condos. The prosecution argued that Obara raped her at his Zushi condo several kilometers away.

Prosecutors said he bought a chain saw shortly after the ex-British Airways flight attendant vanished in July 2000.

ENDS

Economist.com: Bilateral agreements to give US servicemen immunity from Japanese criminal procedure

mytest

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. I’ve covered this case on Debito.org before, but here’s something with a little more depth from The Economist Newsmagazine. Seems that some perpetrators are more privileged than others. Greenpeace activists get zapped while American servicemen, according to the article below, get off lightly in Japanese police work and jurisprudence. By bilateral geopolitical agreement. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Dec 10th 2008
From Economist.com, Courtesy AW

http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displayStory.cfm?story_id=12756824

Crime without punishment in Japan

THIS story is of no material importance to Japan. It is the story of Jane. And it is a story of a very small, dark sliver of 20th century geopolitics that festers still.

Jane is an attractive, blonde 40-something Australian, resident for many years in Japan and a mother of three boys. She is also the victim of a rape. Jane is not her real name.

She is actually the victim of two violations. The physical one was committed on April 6th 2002 near the American naval base at Yokosuka by Bloke T. Deans, an American serviceman. He violently raped her in her car.

What Jane refers to as her “second rape” happened afterwards, when she reported the crime to the Kanagawa prefectural police. There, she alleges that she was interrogated for hours by six policemen, who mocked her. At a later meeting, they laughed and made crude sexual comments. She was initially denied medical treatment, water and food. Jane was denied a receptacle to keep a urine sample—key forensic evidence in a rape. After four hours, all she could do was relieve herself on a cold police toilet and cry. The police made no attempt to preserve sperm or DNA on her body.

Her torment at the hands of the police so amplified the trauma of the evening that she actually tried to dial emergency services to report that she was being held against her will at the station, but an officer ripped the phone from her hand. Ultimately she was kept in custody for some 12 hours following the crime, before having to drive herself home.

The police located the assailant, Mr Deans, of the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, but for reasons that remained unclear, no charges were filed against him.

Jane, however, filed and won a civil case against him: a Tokyo court ordered him to pay ¥3m (around $30,000) in November 2004. But unbeknownst to Jane or the court, soon after the suit was filed, the American navy had quietly discharged Mr Deans, who returned to America and disappeared. Later, she received compensation from Japan’s Ministry of Defence, out of a discreet fund for civilian victims of crimes by American military personnel.

In Jane’s view, the first rape went unpunished: Mr Deans remains at large. So she turned her attention to the “second rape”. She sued the Kanagawa police for a bungled investigation that denied her proper justice. In December 2007 the court ruled against her, stating that the police had fulfilled their responsibilities. She appealed the decision.

Jane’s ordeal underscores the clumsiness of Japan’s police force. In several recent high-profile cases, the police have coerced confessions from suspects. It also highlights the lack of a tradition of individual rights in the country, and the often thinly reasoned rulings of Japanese courts. And it fits the pattern that in many crimes by American servicemen, the Japanese authorities fail to press charges.

But the reason why cases like Jane’s are not prosecuted may have less to do with incompetent police and more because of a secret agreement between America and Japan in 1953 that has recently come to light.

In September 2008, Shoji Niihara, a researcher on Japanese-American relations, uncovered previously classified documents in the U.S. National Archives. They show that in 1953, soon after Dwight Eisenhower assumed the presidency, John Foster Dulles, his secretary of state, embarked on a massive programme to get countries to waive their jurisdiction in cases of crimes by American servicemen.

On October 28th 1953, a Japanese official, Minoru Tsuda, made a formal declaration to the United States (not intended for public disclosure), stating, “The Japanese authorities do not normally intend to exercise the primary right of jurisdiction over members of the United States Armed Forces, the civilian component, or their dependents subject to the military law of the United States, other than in cases considered to be of material importance to Japan.”

In other words, Japan agreed to ignore almost all crimes by American servicemen, under the hope that the military itself would prosecute such offences—but with no means of redress if it did not.

This helps explain the perplexing, toothless approach of the Japanese police and prosecutors even today in cases of crimes by American military personnel. When Mr Niihara first made the documents public in October, a senior Japanese official denied any such agreement, but in words so mealy-mouthed that it raised suspicion.

Japan’s landmark accord with the United States over troops stationed in the country, called the Status of Forces Agreement, was signed in 1960. Article XVII.1b states: “The authorities of Japan shall have jurisdiction over the members of the United States armed forces, the civilian component, and their dependents with respect to offences committed within the territory of Japan and punishable by the law of Japan.”

But in practice the Japanese do not exercise their authority. Jane’s case was just one of many in which the Japanese authorities opted to look the other way. This has nothing to do with the specifics of her case; it stems from an intergovernmental security protocol negotiated a half-century earlier.

Why did America fight so hard in 1953 to maintain control of criminal cases involving its boys? The documents do not say, but provide a clue: in numerous settings, American officials express unease that American servicemen commit roughly 30 serious crimes each month. Having 350 soldiers sent to Japanese jails each year would have been bad for America’s image. According to a separate document, America struck similar, secret agreements with the governments of Canada, Italy, Ireland and Denmark.

When Jane talks to reporters, she wears stylish, bug-eyed, mirrored sunglasses that seem more shields than fashion statement. It is futile protection—a tangible symbol of her quest for anonymity, akin to her pseudonymity.

On December 10th 2008, the Tokyo High Court ruled on Jane’s appeal in the suit against the Kanagawa police. Judge Toshifumi Minami entered the court, told her “You lost. And the financial burden of the case lies with you,” and then left. A 20-page ruling, considered short, sheds little insight into how the court reached its decision. Jane plans to appeal to the Supreme Court. “I lost—but they lost too,” she said.

Jane will always bear indelible, invisible scars. But this is of no material importance to Japan. Or America.
ENDS

AP: US court rules Japan has jurisdiction in child joint custody case

mytest

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.  Here’s a bit of astounding news.  Comment follows article.  

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

Nebraska court rules Japan has jurisdiction in child custody case

OMAHA — The Nebraska Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s courts have no jurisdiction over a custody dispute involving a 6-year-old boy, leaving the issue to a Japanese court.

In the ruling issued Friday, the court said a Douglas County district judge had no authority to grant joint custody of the boy to his divorced parents, even though the boy was born in Nebraska and had lived here while in the U.S.

The court determined that under custody law, the child’s residence is considered to be in Japan.

The boy’s father, Stuart Carter, was stationed with the U.S. Navy in Yokosuka in October 2002, when the boy was about 10 weeks old. When his assignment ended in May 2005, Carter left his wife and took the child back to Nebraska.

According to court documents, Carter did not tell his wife, Nahoko Hata Carter, that he was going back to the U.S. or that he was taking the boy with him. Within days of arriving in Nebraska, he filed for legal separation and custody of his son.

Nahoko Hata Carter holds U.S. and Japanese citizenship.

Her attorney, Susan Koenig, said Friday that Nahoko Hata Carter, who has been living in Nebraska so she can see her son, plans to file a custody petition in Japan. Ideally, Koenig said, the mother would like to move back there with the boy.

A message left Friday for Stuart Carter’s attorney was not immediately returned.

The couple married Nov 11, 1994, after Stuart Carter was stationed in Japan. Because of his military duty, they later lived in California, Kansas and Nebraska, where their son was born.

Koenig said that because they moved back to Japan, the boy’s first language was Japanese and that he had close contact with his mother’s relatives.

“His whole culture, his whole life has been in Japan, until he was brought (back) here,” she said.

Koenig said that’s why custody should be determined by a Japanese court. She explained that the boy’s day-care provider, doctors and close family members—all of whom would likely testify at a custody hearing—are there.

“All the evidence is in Japan,” she said.

ENDS

////////////////////////////////////////////////////
COMMENT:  We should hope the Japanese courts would be so impartial. But they aren’t. Contrast with the Murray Wood Case, where international children kidnapped from British Columbia (whose courts granted the Canadian father custody) were deemed unremovable from Japan. And are American courts so ignorant to not know (or was Mr Carter’s legal defense so inept to not point out) that Japan does not recognize joint custody, full stop? Mr Carter will not get a fair trial in Japan. No child kidnapped to Japan as of yet has been returned to the NJ parent by a Japanese court.  He’s lost his kid. Full stop.  Debito in Sapporo

The killer of Scott Tucker, choked to death by a DJ in a Tokyo bar, gets suspended sentence.

mytest

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.  I made the case last May, in a special DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER on criminal justice and policing of NJ, that NJ get special (as in negative) treatment by courts and cops.  An article I included from the Japan Times mentioned that a case of a NJ man killed in a bar “was likely to draw leniency” in criminal court.  It did.  The killer essentially got off last September.  Here’s an article about it, from Charleston, WV.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

That special NEWSLETTER:  http://www.debito.org/?p=1652

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

No appeal in Japan murder of state man
The Charleston Gazette, September 20, 2008

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Prosecutors in Japan have decided not appeal the sentence in the murder conviction of a man placed on five years’ probation for murdering Charleston native and West Virginia University graduate Scott Tucker.

“Prosecutors decided not to even present the appeal,” said Kenneth Tucker II, Scott Tucker’s brother. “They said the witness’s testimony was strong enough not to appeal.”

Tucker’s wife and family had hoped prosecutors would appeal the sentencing in an attempt to get the man jail time. But prosecutors said Thursday they would not pursue an appeal before the two-week window to file ends on Monday.

On Sept. 8, Atsushi Watanabe, 29, was sentenced to three years in prison or five years’ probation for killing Scott Tucker. Under Japanese law, probation in murder cases can begin immediately so Watanabe will serve five years probation rather than three years in prison, David Yoshida, who attended the trial with Tucker’s wife, Yumiko Yamakazi, said previously.

Yamakazi is weighing her options in pursuing a civil case against Watanabe, Kenneth Tucker said.

“Unfortunately we just have to live with it and go on,” he said. “I know my brother was a Christian and I hope to see him again someday.”

Tucker, 47, had been drinking at a bar before going into Bullets, a club located beside his home in downtown Tokyo.

The club was known for its parties, noise and fights, and Tucker went there because he wanted the place to quiet down, according to witness statements.

At the time, officials with Tokyo police told Japan Today, an English-language newspaper, that Tucker appeared very drunk and acted violently toward customers, at times striking a boxer’s pose.

“With the help of alcohol he went down there to tell them,” said David Yoshida, who attended the trial with Yamakazi.

Yoshida, a Baptist missionary, served as an interpreter for Ken Tucker when he went to Japan after his brother died.

According to Yoshida and Yamakazi, witnesses told the court that Scott pushed a couple of people who fell on the floor and were not hurt.

Watanabe then kicked him in the groin and got Tucker in a chokehold, crushing his Adam’s apple.

In court, Watanabe said he felt his life was in danger. Watanabe is 5 feet, 9 inches and weighs 154 pounds. Scott was 5 feet, 9 inches and weighed 242 pounds.

The courtroom was flooded with supporters for Watanabe, Yoshida said.

Earlier this week, Tucker’s family sent a letter to Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan’s ambassador to the United States. They hope that he will look into the case.

“We do not understand how it is possible that the two detectives (Sergeant Abe and Megumi Akita, who assured us the evidence pointed to a deliberate and brutal murder), were not in court because they had been re-assigned or possibly promoted; nor do we understand the absence of the original prosecutor at the trial,” Kenneth Tucker wrote in the letter, provided to the Gazette. “We also don’t understand how our family’s concerns were not admitted into evidence during the court proceeding.”

The conviction rate for those accused of murder in Japan is 99.95 percent, Michael Griffith, an international criminal defense attorney who has handled many cases in Japan said previously.

Japanese police routinely hold suspects for 23 days without seeing a judge, Griffith said. During that time they can interrogate them daily, for as much as 12 hours at a time.

“The lawyers over there aren’t defense lawyers. I’d categorize them as sentencing experts,” Griffith said previously.

Once a case goes to sentencing, the convicted often get more lenient sentences than in the U.S., he said. People convicted for murder often get under 10 years, he said.

Reach Gary Harki at gha…@wvgazette.com or 348-5163.

Kyodo: ‘Institutional racism’ lets Japan spouses abduct kids

mytest

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.  Here’s an article further keeping the hoop rolling on Japan’s child abduction issue after divorce.  Not a great one, though.  In its need to be cautious (actually, probably to save the reporter the need of doing complete research, even though there a few articles already out in English, including a much better one by The Guardian on this very same case; the sources below are mostly “Clarke said”), it says below, “The foreign father is rarely able to persuade the judge to grant joint custody or have the child returned to the home country.”  Wrong.  Joint custody does not exist in Japan.  And according to reports, no child has EVER been returned to a foreign country by a J court ruling.  Anyway, more coverage, more pressure.  That’s good enough.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

The Japan Times, Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008

‘Institutional racism’ lets Japan spouses abduct kids

By WILLIAM HOLLINGWORTH
Kyodo News

LONDON — Japanese courts should give more support to foreigners seeking access to their children now living in Japan, according to a British father seeking the return of his two daughters to England.

News photo
Shane Clarke

Shane Clarke said Japanese courts need to do more for the hundreds of foreign parents whose estranged Japanese spouses have taken children away from their home countries to Japan.

Once back in Japan, family courts will generally award custody to the Japanese parent even when the spouse (normally the mother) has deliberately taken children away from their home country.

The foreign father is rarely able to persuade the judge to grant joint custody or have the child returned to the home country. The courts will generally side with the Japanese mother who already has custody in an effort to avoid any further disruption of the child’s life.

This is the current situation Shane Clarke finds himself in, and he would like the British government to press Japan to get its courts to acknowledge the access rights of foreign fathers.

Britain is calling on Japan to improve the rights of foreign fathers, and the Japanese government said it is looking at legal moves to improve the situation. But Tokyo disputes claims that the courts are instinctively biased toward Japanese mothers.

Clarke’s problems began in January when his wife took his daughters, aged 1 and 3, to Japan on a long holiday to visit her family in Ibaraki Prefecture. She claimed her mother was terminally ill.

As far as Clarke was aware there were no major problems in the four-year marriage — although his wife did not like him seeing his other child by a previous marriage. But when he went out to see his wife in May, he realized something was wrong.

She acted strangely and in the end told him she and the children would not be returning to Britain.

In hindsight, he realizes it was a “very well planned child abduction.” His wife had taken all the necessary papers and, like many others before her, had decided to go back home because she could expect the courts to side with her.

He claims his wife has refused mediation and access to his children. She has now started divorce proceedings.

Clarke, 38, who lives in central England, has since been given an order from the British courts that declares that the children are “habitually resident” in Britain, and he claims his wife would be prosecuted under English law if she returned.

However, the family judge in Ibaraki Prefecture has told Clarke informally that if his case went to court, he would not order that the children return home or give Clarke access.

The judge explained that it was “complicated” and he did not have the powers to enforce an order coming from a British court, Clarke said.

Critics claim this habitual refusal from family courts stems from the fact that Japan has not yet ratified the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

In effect, the convention requires signatory states to order the return of children to their home countries and to provide police and legal assistance. Many major developed countries have signed on.

Clarke argues that aspects of Japanese law should already support foreigners in his circumstances. Even if Japan did sign the convention, he wonders whether its courts would actually abide by their obligations, given what he feels is the “institutional racism” in the judicial system.

Parental abduction is not recognized as a crime in Japan and there have been no extraditions of Japanese to countries where the child originally lived.

According to Clarke, there are as many as 10,000 foreign fathers currently in his position, including at least 23 from Britain.

“The message to Japanese nationals is that they can commit crimes on foreign soil and if they get home in time they won’t face extradition,” he said.

He said he has had little help from the British Embassy or government in his fight.

“I would never have let her leave Britain if I knew what was going to happen,” he said. “I need the kids returned to Britain. I have not spoken to the children since June. I miss them so much, it’s killing me.”

Clarke wants to highlight the situation, which he brands “Japan’s dirty little secret,” to get some changes in the family courts.

A spokesman for the Japanese Embassy in London said: “Japan acknowledges that the treaty is one tool in dealing with this situation. We are currently exploring the possibilities of signing it.”

ENDS

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

REFERENTIAL LINKS:

More cases at the Children’s Rights Network Japan.

Good roundup of the issue at Terrie’s Take (issue 469, May 18, 2008)

ABC News on what’s happening to abducted children of American citizens. (Answer=same thing:  ”Not a single American child kidnapped to Japan has ever been returned to the United States through legal or diplomatic means, according to the State Department.”)

What’s happening to Canadians:  The Murray Wood Case and Japanese courts ignoring Canadian court custody rulings in favor of the NJ parent.

And it happens to Japanese citizens too, thanks to the lack of joint custody and unenforceable visitation rights.

ENDS

Tangent: Question raised about apparently problematic judicial ruling on media responsibility for public criticism

mytest

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. Readers, thanks for making yesterday’s column the #1 read article all day on the Japan Times website yesterday. Very honored.

Shifting gears a little, here’s a question I got from The Community mailing list. You legal scholars out there have any comment? Thanks very much. Arudou Debito

FROM THE COMMUNITY, AUTHORSHIP ANONYMIZED
=================================
From the Daily Yomiuri on 10/3 — link below for both English and Japanese.

The key question I have is whether anyone has ever heard of this in a ruling or statute, whatever?

“The judge also said that urging the public to call for disciplinary action through mass media was illegal and inappropriate.” (7th line)

And the “urging” the judge was referring to is explained here:

“During a TV appearance last year, Hashimoto urged the public to call for the Hiroshima Bar Association to discipline the four lawyers for arguing in a retrial that their client had acted without criminal intent, after stating the opposite in earlier trials.” (4th line)

Here is the online English version from the Daily Yomiuri:

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20081003TDY02309.htm

Here is the link in Japanese: http://osaka.yomiuri.co.jp/tokusyu/h_osaka/ho81002c.htm

There could be some problem with the Japanese use of (fuho- koui) (2nd paragraph)
判決で、橋本裁判長は「弁護団が虚偽の事実を創作したと(視聴者に)思わせる(橋下知事の)発言は名誉を棄損した。マスメディアを通じて公衆に懲戒請求をするよう呼びかける行為は、懲戒制度の趣旨に照らして相当性を欠き、不法行為に当たる」として原告側の主張を認めた。

http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E4%B8%8D%E6%B3%95%E8%A1%8C%E7%82%BA

But it seems the English translation here “… urging the public to call for disciplinary action through mass media was illegal …” does justice to the original in Japanese. If that is correct, then we have a judge stating that I cannot go on television to ask the public to send letters to Prime Minister Aso to fire Mr. Kakayama. Well, “mass media” would include print, web, radio, etc.

Am I missing something here? It doesn’t read in Japanese or English that it was only illegal for a lawyer to do this. It doesn’t read that it is only illegal reference a bar association. It appears to be a general statement.

Can anyone please explain to me where I am getting this wrong? I ask because this can’t possibly be correct, can it? Haven’t we seen letters and appeals to the public to a prime minister for one of his cabinet officials to be fired?

Thanks for the help, folks.

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

(Archived articles follow, first Japanese original, then English)

橋下知事に賠償命令 弁護団懲戒呼びかけ「不当」…広島地裁

 山口県光市の母子殺害事件の差し戻し控訴審を巡り、被告弁護団の4人(広島弁護士会)が、弁護士でもある橋下徹・大阪府知事に対し、テレビ番組で、弁護団への懲戒請求を呼びかけられたことで名誉を傷つけられ、業務に支障が出たとして、1人300万円の損害賠償を求めた訴訟の判決が2日、広島地裁であった。橋本良成裁判長は1人200万円、計800万円の支払いを命じた。橋下知事は控訴する意向を明らかにした。

 判決で、橋本裁判長は「弁護団が虚偽の事実を創作したと(視聴者に)思わせる(橋下知事の)発言は名誉を棄損した。マスメディアを通じて公衆に懲戒請求をするよう呼びかける行為は、懲戒制度の趣旨に照らして相当性を欠き、不法行為に当たる」として原告側の主張を認めた。

 判決によると、橋下知事は知事就任前の昨年5月27日に読売テレビが放送した「たかじんのそこまで言って委員会」に出演。差し戻し審の被告の元少年(27)=死刑判決を受け上告=の弁護団の主張が1、2審から変遷し殺意や強姦(ごうかん)目的を否定したことを批判し、「弁護団を許せないと思うなら一斉に弁護士会に懲戒請求をかけてもらいたい」と視聴者に呼びかけた。

 橋本裁判長は、広島弁護士会に寄せられた計約2400件の懲戒請求は、橋下知事のテレビでの発言が契機になったと認定。「多数の懲戒請求に対応するため、原告は答弁書を作成しなければならないなど相応の事務負担を必要とし、それ以上に精神的損害を被ったと認められる」と言及した。

 橋下知事の話「弁護団、遺族に大変ご迷惑をおかけしました。申し訳ありません。裁判所の判断は重く受け止めます。私の法律解釈、表現の自由に対する考え方が間違っていました。判決が不当だとは一切思っていませんが、3審制ということもあり、高裁の意見をうかがうために控訴したい」

(2008年10月02日  読売新聞)

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

Defamed lawyers win 8 mil. yen from Osaka gov.

HIROSHIMA–Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto was ordered Thursday to pay a total of 8 million yen to four lawyers whose performance in a murder-rape trial he criticized on a TV program, which adversely affected their business.

In a ruling handed down at the Hiroshima District Court, presiding Judge Yoshinari Hashimoto ordered the governor to pay 2 million yen in compensation to each of the lawyers, who acted as defense counsel in the trial, to compensate for loss of business.

Hashimoto, a lawyer himself, issued an apology to the lawyers later Thursday but announced that he would appeal the decision.

During a TV appearance last year, Hashimoto urged the public to call for the Hiroshima Bar Association to discipline the four lawyers for arguing in a retrial that their client had acted without criminal intent, after stating the opposite in earlier trials.

The four lawyers claimed that Hashimoto’s remarks were defamatory and had interfered with their business, and demanded compensation of 12 million yen, 3 million yen each.

In the ruling, the judge acknowledged their claim, saying the governor had defamed the lawyers by giving viewers the impression that the lawyers had made false statements during the case.

The judge also said that urging the public to call for disciplinary action through mass media was illegal and inappropriate.

The case centered on a murder-rape that occurred in Hikari, Yamaguchi Prefecture, in 1999, for which a 27-year-old man was sentenced to death by the Hiroshima High Court in April this year.

According to Thursday’s ruling, Hashimoto appeared on a TV program aired by YTV on May 27 last year, before he became governor.

He criticized the defense counsel for changing key elements of the defense argument between earlier trials and the high court trial.

Hashimoto particularly criticized the counsel for denying that their client acted with criminal intent, because they had admitted in a previous statement that he had acted with criminal intent.

In his first trial, in March 2000, the man was sentenced to life imprisonment. The sentence was upheld in March 2002, before being overturned in June 2006 by the Supreme Court, which remanded the case to the Hiroshima High Court.

(Oct. 3, 2008)
=====================================
ENDS

BTW…
Osaka governor ordered to pay lawyers after damaging gaffe
The Japan Times: Friday, Oct. 3, 2008
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20081003a7.html
OSAKA (Kyodo) Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto was slapped with a court order Thursday to pay ¥8 million in damages to four lawyers over a gaffe he made last year.

The Hiroshima District Court ruled that the business of the lawyers, who were part of a defense team representing a juvenile defendant in a high-profile 1999 murder case, was disrupted after the celebrity lawyer-turned-governor called on the public to strip them of their licenses during a TV program in May 2007.

Hashimoto was critical of the defense lawyers and in the TV program he urged viewers to send letters requesting their dismissal to the Hiroshima Bar Association, which the four belong to.

The bar association received more than 2,500 letters since the program aired. Although it did not move to strip them of their licenses, the four sued Hashimoto anyway for disrupting their law firms’ business.

“I apologize for causing trouble to the people concerned. I misunderstood the legal system and made remarks beyond the boundary of freedom of expression,” Hashimoto told reporters Thursday after the ruling.

Nevertheless, the governor indicated that he will appeal the ruling.
ENDS

Japan Times FYI on Supreme Court

mytest

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.  Here’s a primer courtesy of the Japan Times on Japan’s Supreme Court (JSC).

I’m not a big fan of the JSC, as my experience with it was when they summarily ruled that the Otaru Onsens Case (which involved racial discrimination, Japan Constitution Article 14) was “unrelated to constitutional issues”.  This after only a couple of months of deliberation (it usually takes many years for rulings to come down).

It also refused to hear the case for Gwen Gallagher vs. Asahikawa University case, where she was fired for not being “fresh” (their words) enough to teach.  And also, given Japan’s lower court rulings, because she’s a woman.

Yes, the JSC does sometimes issue miraculous rulings, such as this recent one regarding international children and J citizenship laws (causing some speculation that the JSC is in fact becoming more liberal; a bit premature IMO).  But given the odd conservatism seen otherwise (such as the Chong-san case a few years back, ruling that denying a Zainichi the right to sit Tokyo medical administrative exams, merely because she’s a foreigner, is constitutional), that’s why they’re miraculous.

Anyway, read on.  My favorite bit is at the end on how we can vote on Supreme Court justices.  (I’ve done so when I voted.)  It’s not much of an indicator–abstaining from voting for someone is counted as a “yes” vote (yes, I asked), meaning it’s not a majority of “yes” vs “no” votes, it’s “yes and no vote” vs “no” votes, meaning it’s highly unlikely the public could ever turf out a Robert Bork type.  In other words, it’s a sham.  And it’s never denied a JSC appointment, as the article indicates.

Garbage in, garbage out, in Japan’s quite bent judiciary, atop which sits this Supreme Court.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

=================================== 
The Japan Times, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008

SUPREME COURT

Supreme Court place of last judicial resort 

When parties in lawsuits aren’t satisfied with district and high court decisions, they appeal to the top

By SETSUKO KAMIYA Staff writer

In 1889, Japan took its first step toward forming a modern constitutional state by promulgating the Meiji Constitution, dividing power among the legislature, or Diet, the executive branch, or Cabinet, and the judiciary, with the Supreme Court at the top.

News photo
Judicial power: The Supreme Court is located in Hayabusa-cho in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO

Under the Meiji Constitution, sovereignty resided with Emperor Meiji. The courts handed down decisions on his behalf and in his name.

Under today’s Constitution, promulgated in 1946 and enforced in 1947, sovereignty resides with the people and the courts exercise judicial power to secure the people’s rights.

Following are basic questions and answers about the Supreme Court:

How many justices work for the Supreme Court and how are they chosen?

The Supreme Court has 15 justices, including Chief Justice Niro Shimada.

While the chief justice is appointed by the Emperor upon nomination by the Cabinet, the others are appointed by the Cabinet and certified by the Emperor.

Their backgrounds vary, from high court judges, prosecutors, lawyers, bureaucrats and legal scholars. This is to reflect various views when they interpret the law as the top court.

Among the current members, only Justice Ryuko Sakurai, a former labor ministry bureaucrat who was appointed Thursday, is female.

Justices must be over 40 years old upon appointment and their retirement age is set at 70. The average age of the current justices is 66.6.

Occasionally, some resign upon request. Sakurai’s predecessor, Kazuko Yokoo, stepped down at age 67 earlier this month. Yokoo was a former labor ministry bureaucrat and head of the Social Insurance Agency, which has been attacked for mishandling of pension records.

Where is the top court?

The Supreme Court is in Hayabusa-cho in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, not far from the Diet Building and the prime minister’s office in Nagata-cho, Japan’s political nexus.

Before the current structure was built in 1974, the Supreme Court stood in the Kasumigaseki administrative district where the Tokyo High Court and District Court stand today.

Upon relocation, a major public competition for designing a new Supreme Court building took place. Architect Shinichi Okada’s design was chosen out of 217 entries. This is still considered one of the biggest open design competitions for national institutions in the postwar period.

What are the Supreme Court’s judicial functions?

The Supreme Court is the court of final appeal where questions of law are decided.

A court case is first filed and tried at the district court level and moves on to a high court if one or both sides opposes the lower court decision.

If the parties involved are again dissatisfied with the high court decision, they file a petition of final appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court consists of the Grand Bench, where all 15 justices preside, and three Petty Benches, each composed of five justices. Every case is first sent to one of the three. But if a case involves a constitutional issue, the Grand Bench makes the judgment.

In 2007, the Supreme Court received about 4,700 civil and 2,600 criminal appeals.

What are its administrative functions?

Being at the top, the Supreme Court plays various administrative roles.

It is responsible for determining the rules of judicial administration, as well as compiling and submitting its annual budget to the Cabinet.

It also nominates lower court judge candidates who must then be appointed by the Cabinet. It is also authorized to decide the assignments of judges to courts around the country.

Because of this, critics say judges tend to hand down conservative rulings to avoid upsetting the Supreme Court.

The top court is also responsible for running the Legal Training and Research Institute, where people who have passed the National Bar Examination are trained for 16 months. While attending the institute, trainees receive practical training from the judges, prosecutors and lawyers. They must pass the final qualifying exam to obtain their licenses to practice law.

Does the top court have the power to perform judicial reviews?

Lower courts hold the authority to review whether certain laws and regulations passed by the Diet are constitutional, but the Supreme Court is where the decision is finalized.

If the Supreme Court determines a law is unconstitutional, that law is invalidated.

Are the performances of Supreme Court justices reviewed?

Yes. Article 79 of the Constitution stipulates that justices are subject to a national review by voters at the first general election after their appointment. They are reviewed again after 10 years.

A judge who engages in misconduct can be discharged if the Court of Impeachment, composed of 14 Upper House and Lower House members, deems it appropriate.

Only Supreme Court justices are subject to national reviews.

At the next general election, which is expected to take place later this year, six justices will be subject to a popular vote for the first time.

They can be dismissed if the majority of voters reject them. A justice has never been dismissed under the review system, which was started in 1947.

The national review is one of the few chances for the public to have a direct say against authority. But some question whether it is serving its purpose to watch and evaluate justices because many people vote without much knowledge of what sort of decisions the justices have supported.

The Weekly FYI appears Tuesdays (Wednesday in some areas). This time it is published on Wednesday (Thursday in some areas) because Monday was a press holiday. Readers are encouraged to send ideas, questions and opinions to National News Desk
ENDS

2-Channel’s Nishimura again ducks responsibility for BBS’s excesses

mytest

 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

Hello Blog.  Yet another interview with BBS 2-Channel’s Nishimura, where he claims that what goes on at 2-Channel is not his responsibility.

Love the section below where he says, “Unless there is a court order, we will not delete any messages.”  That’s a lie.  He’s had a court order since January 2006 to delete the posts on me judged by a court to be libelous.  More than two and a half years later, they’re still there…!  And with copy-pastes the number just keeps rising.

I don’t think this guy realizes that sooner or later, there’s going to be legislation passed that will ultimately deprive the Internet of the privacy he allows his BBS to so wantonly abuse.  More on 2ch on my blog here.  Debito in San Francisco

2channel founder says don't blame him for criminals' posts    

Hiroyuki Nishimura
FILE PHOTO

2channel founder says don’t blame him for criminals’ posts

Courtesy Japan Today, undated, but downloaded August 27, 2008

http://www.japantoday.com/category/shukan-post/view/2channel-founder-says-dont-blame-him-for-criminals-posts

Over the past few years 2 Channel (2ch) has become the largest online forum in Japan, registering up to 200 million hits a day. Launched by college student Hiroyuki Nishimura in 1999, the site is often at the center of controversy and was criticized in June after it was used by the suspect in the Akihabara stabbing rampage to announce his plans.

Freelance journalist Tetsuya Shibui interviews Nishimura for Shukan Post.

The suspect in the Akihabara rampage has told police he killed people because his messages were ignored on 2ch. 

That case has nothing to do with us. I don’t believe he killed people just because he was ignored online. He says he doesn’t have friends. But it’s not surprising people like him don’t have friends. But that alone cannot be a reason for murder. It’s too simple to think the Internet causes such crimes.

Many crime announcements have been made on 2ch since the Akihabara case. Do you have any plans to change the site?

Not at all. 2Ch has clear rules of use that allow people to request deletion of messages and a system to report inappropriate messages.

Don’t you think it’s irresponsible for you to make your users take all the responsibility?

I don’t think so. I always cooperate with police when I think some messages clearly indicate a crime may be involved and when police request disclosure of posters’ information such as IP addresses, we oblige.

2ch also carries information on how to commit crimes, does it not?

No, no, no. Many people misunderstand 2ch. It has links to other websites which might contain information like how to make a bomb, but that’s a matter for other websites to address, not 2ch.

However, 2ch recently carried detailed information on the spate of hydrogen sulfide gas suicides. 

Yes, 2ch did carry that kind of information. But that’s copy and paste information copied from other websites. It’s the mainstream media which is spreading information that 2ch has that kind of information. Those who were not interested in such information have suddenly become interested in 2ch through newspaper coverage. Why don’t those media criticize themselves?

Are you saying you have no responsibility because other websites have the same information.

Well, let me ask you a question. Is there any evidence that the Internet has led to an increase in crimes? I’ve never seen any such evidence. The Internet is just a tool and all tools have side effects. Look at cars. Do you blame car makers when accidents are caused by speeding? I have my own logic to justify what I’m doing. People can submit information freely on the Internet. Anti-Internet people are just afraid of the unknown potential of the Internet which has a short history.

Perhaps, one reason for the fear is not the “unknown,” as you cal it, but the anonymity of the information. Why don’t make your users post messages using their real names?

I disagree. Even Social Network Services which have greater transparency have trouble and contain inappropriate information. It totally depends on users when dealing with inappropriate information. Those who cannot make judgments by themselves or don’t like 2ch should not use it.

What do you think about the information filter for minors

I support information filtering measures for kids because they are not capable of making proper judgments on information they get from the Internet. If I had a kid, I would give him/her a mobile phone without an Internet connection function. I think the issue has to be debated nationwide.

You’ve been ignoring lawsuits against you for defamation for years, and you don’t pay compensation that courts have ordered you to make.

Yes, that’s correct. I’ve received more than 100 lawsuits so far. It’s time consuming, but recently, I’ve been working on about 30 legal cases. I’m seeing how it goes. The reason why I don’t pay compensation is that I think I am not responsible for what others post. If I were posting death threats or whatever, then I must pay. But I’m just a manager of 2ch. I don’t feel guilty at all.

Why don’t you make a system to check inappropriate messages?

It’s difficult even for legal professionals to distinguish between legal and illegal content. If we were to delete messages, 2ch would cease to be a forum where people can freely post. Unless there is a court order, we will not delete any messages.

Have you ever thought of closing 2ch?

Never. That’s because we currently monopolize this sort of business in Japan.

Your income is reported to be around 100 million yen acquired from online ads and book sales.

Yes, that’s about right.

What do your parents think of your business and all the flak?

My father is an ex-tax officer. But we have never talked about our businesses to each other. When I go home sometimes, he just says to me: “Go ahead with what you’re doing.” (Translated by Taro Fujimoto)

First Zainichi resident to refuse fingerprinting in 1980 dies at 79

mytest

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. We’ve just lost a hero. Here’s a quick obit for the person who started the end of fingerprinting in Japan–at least permanently for Special Permanent Residents (the Zainichi).

My great thanks to Mr Han for his great work. We all benefit when somebody stands up and refuses to cooperate with an irrational system. Arudou Debito.

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

First foreign resident to refuse fingerprinting dies at 79
Japan Today/Kyodo Friday 25th July, 02:17 PM JST

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/1st-foreign-resident-to-refuse-fingerprinting-dies-at-79
Courtesy of Mark MT

TOKYO — The first foreign resident in Japan to reject alien fingerprinting, Han Jong Sok, died of respiratory failure at a Tokyo hospital on Thursday, his family said Friday. He was 79. Han, a Korean resident in Japan, in 1980 rejected the fingerprinting required under the then alien registration law, and was the first foreign resident to do so.

He was convicted over the violation of the law at lower courts. But in 1989, the Supreme Court dismissed the charge against Han, invoking imperial amnesty that was declared on the funeral of Emperor Hirohito. Han was known as a symbolic figure in an anti-fingerprinting movement that spread among foreign residents in Japan during the 1980s. Japan’s fingerprinting requirement for foreign residents, which drew international fire for infringing upon human rights, was lifted in 2000 after the alien registration law was revised in 1999.
ENDS
============================

More on the 1999 abolition here.

More on the 2007 resurrection of fingerprinting for all NJ except a select few with political power here.

Terrie’s Take: Oji Homes and asbestos–and treating NJ customers badly

mytest

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.  Yet another fantastic article from Terrie Lloyd.  I doff my hat in respect with the depth, breadth, and context provided every week in his “Terrie’s Take”s.

This one talks about the rot within Oji Seishi (Oji Paper), which is, incidentally, one of Hokkaido’s biggest employers (with factories in Tomakomai and Kushiro, not to mention seven other cities, and offices in Beijing, Melbourne, Vancouver, and Shanghai).  Its nine other “specialty paper plants” include my city of employment, Ebetsu, Hokkaido, and their works and subsidiary investments are the backbone of many a community.  Which is why the rot is supremely bad news.

Why is this a Debito.org issue?  Because their expat housing is treating NJ badly–toxically, in fact.  Terrie doesn’t make too big of a deal of that in his writing (you have to read almost to the end and blink when you realize the clientele include expats).  But I will.  (What did you expect?).  

In whatever fairness is warranted these people, Terrie asserts that the lies and poisons the NJ clients are enduring would not happen to the same degree to Japanese.  I’m not so sure of that, but it’s nevertheless a landlord that anyone would want to avoid.  Especially when they are lying about the degree of toxins they are releasing into the land and air, and asbestos in their housing.  Be advised.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

* * * * * * * * * T E R R I E ‘S T A K E * * * * * * *

A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.

(http://www.terrie.com)

General Edition Sunday, July 13, 2008 Issue No. 477 (excerpt)

When one thinks of Oji Paper, Japan’s largest paper manufacturing company (in terms of consolidated sales), the image is of vast green forests in Hokkaido, excellent paper-making technology, and the guiding hand of Eichi Shibusawa. Shibusawa was the father of Japan’s capitalist economy, initially helping to modernize the Ministry of Finance, then going out on his own to found the nation’s first modern bank, one of its first joint stock companies, and helping around 500 other now major companies (such as Tokyo Gas, Mizuho, the Imperial Hotel, Sapporo Breweries, and Taiheiyo Cement) to get started.

One of Shibusawa’s key philosophies was the promotion of business ethics and that helping others was an intrinsic part of making a business successful. Perhaps this is where the Japanese view that the purpose of companies is to provide for society first and shareholders second, came from. On the philanthropic and education side of his life, Shibusawa engaged in a purported 600+ projects to improve the living standards of those around him.

What a shame, then, that Oji Paper has lost the positive spirit and moral fiber of this great pioneer of modern Japan.

The reason we make this statement is that despite its pedigree, Oji and its group companies have shown that corporate pride and covering one’s back is more important than ethics. The “ethics” we’re talking about here concern Oji’s record on environmental pollution and resulting business decision-making.

As an example, on July 8th of this last week, the Tokyo District Court ordered Oji Paper to pay JPY590m in damages to Seiko Epson for selling Seiko Epson a 30,000 sq. m. plot of land in Nagano which turned out to be highly polluted with PCBs and Dioxin. Seiko Epson had to have 8,300 tons of soil removed to remediate the problem. Of course there was no mention by Oji prior to the sale of the fact that the plot was damaged.

For some reason almost no foreign media picked up on this law suit, but it shows that Oji has a pattern of lying and covering up pollution and general business problems. You may recall that in January this year, Oji among other paper producers was found to have been a leading culprit in lying about the level of recycled fiber/paper content in their “green” paper products. In many cases the recycled content was only 10% – 20% of that claimed, and in some cases there was NO recycled material present at all. While the CEO of competitor Nippon Paper stepped down over the industry-wide scandal, the CEO of Oji Paper, true to form, decided to say “sorry” but to otherwise chose to dodge the bullet.

Going back a bit further, to July, 2007, Oji Paper was forced to admit that its Fuji paper plant in Shizuoka had emitted more nitrogen oxide (NOx) than allowed under a local agreement with Shizuoka prefectural authorities. What’s worse, they falsified their emissions data to cover up the problem and were only found out after the Hokkaido Prefectural government challenged the company up north and did its own inspection of the company’s Kushiro plant. They found that the Kushiro emissions were in some cases twice Japan’s allowable limit. Ironically, NOx is a leading cause of acid rain, which destroys forests…!

Go further back still, and there are other instances of similar cover-ups and subsequent court cases. However, the point of today’s Take is that a related Oji company, Oji Real Estate, has now been found to have been engaging in its own form of cover-up that is much closer to home.

It is common knowledge in the expat community that the three Oji Real Estate condominium complexes in Minami-Aoyama: Oji Palace, Oji Homes, and Oji Green Hills are extremely popular with out-of-town CEOs and their young families. Oji Homes in particular draws a long waiting list of young families thanks to its 20m outdoor swimming pool and it’s convenient location right in the middle of fashionable Omote Sando. There are approximately 20 apartments in that complex, and over the last 25 years, we imagine that more than 200 families have lived there.

That’s 500+ tenants who rented their luxury apartments in the knowledge that they had a rock-solid landlord and the building was safe — or so they thought.

About two years ago. Oji started refusing to renew leases with tenants at Oji Homes, on the basis that they wanted to do renovations to improve earthquake standards for the building. This sounded credible, and most of the families have subsequently moved out despite being offered inadequate compensation to find a similar replacement apartment (standard practice in Japan for high-class apartments being renovated or torn down is to offer tenants 1-2 years supplementary rent to move to digs of a comparable level).

However, two families who’ve been long-term residents decided to dig their heels in and demand from Oji fair and reasonable compensation to move out. Oji decided to ignore them by starting renovation work around the families, arranging for their utilities to stay connected until a resolution was reached, or until the living conditions became so difficult that the families would eventually move out.

By “difficult” we mean that the building is being jacked up, so as to strengthen the building foundations, and the passage ways are soon to be full of dust, wheel barrows, and workers lugging in and out building materials.

As work has progressed, the families became suspicious that Oji may have had another reason for doing the construction work and decided to hire a professional architect to come in and assess the work. To their shock, he pointed out a number of areas fitted with asbestos and worse still, PCBs — perhaps from the same source as those found in the Nagano soil by Seiko Espon.

When confronted by the families, Oji initially denied any presence of either substance and continued their work as if everything was OK. However, the two families persisted and in June (last month), in front of lawyers and staff representing the families AND the Minato-ku Ward Office, Oji Real Estate and Takenaka Construction company representatives admitted that the building does in fact have both substances, with the asbestos being present in significant amounts, and that they’d known for some time about the presence of these substances.

Now, let’s think about this. A luxury apartment full of young kids, top-level international executives, and their guests, and yet Oji had known for possibly up to two years about the presence of asbestos and PCBs! What does this tell you about the company and its ethics?

As far as we know, we’re the first to break this story to the public, but the families are obviously hoping that the media will pick up on the situation and give Oji the coverage that the company obviously still needs in order to get the message: “a quick admission of the problem and proper settlement of tenant claims is the only reasonable outcome”.

In the meantime, if you are living in or have lived in any of the Oji apartment complexes, you may be wondering what the presence of asbestos means. Providing it is inert, probably the buildings have been/are reasonably safe, but the problem with asbestos is that one never knows when it or the binders it is applied with will age and start to flake off. Oji Palace is even older than the Oji Homes facility and there has been no indication at this stage that Oji plans any investigation or remediation of substances possibly present there. We think this is extremely irresponsible.

We also think it is very irresponsible that there is a public school right next to the building site, with kids running around in the playground every week day. Perhaps the parents of those children are not aware that even a wisp of the stuff inhaled into your lungs can cause mesothelioma and asbestosis later in life. Oji can and should be taking a lot more precautions and needs to come clean to the public about the work being done. Elsewhere in Japan, when asbestos is removed from schools, the entire school is closed (so it’s normally done during the summer holidays), to prevent danger to the kids.

The following link gives you some idea of what level of work precautions are necessary to safely remove asbestos from a work site. From what we’ve heard from the residents, so far the Takenaka workers are taking only the very most basic of precautions, and sophisticated respirators don’t appear to be part of them.

http://www.workershealth.com.au/facts001.html.

Then of course, there is the matter of the two families and their kids left in the building… We find it incredible that Oji Real Estate is able to engage in such dangerous construction work with tenants still present. This represents a level of bloody mindedness on the part of Oji managers that wouldn’t be tolerated if those families were Japanese. The proper venue for a showdown of this nature is the courts, and if Oji wants the resisting tenants to move, it should take them to court, reveal the levels of compensation being offered, and wait for the courts to decide before continuing their work.

ENDS

Kyodo: Mock trial for upcoming lay judge translation system puts NJ on trial for drug smuggling!

mytest

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. Guffawable article below. I think submitter Mark MT puts it best, so I’ll just cite him:

Although they most likely decided this scenario before the Narita customs [drugs planting] scandal came to light, they couldn’t have picked a worse “hypothetical” case to test. :O

Furthermore, the report that official court interpreters were “pushed to the limit in concentration” doesn’t make me feel like the level of interpretation necessary for a criminal trial will be maintained for all. The people chosen for these jobs must be the best, not feel stress from the procedure.

[A tangent relating to this issue here.]

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

Interpreters pushed to limit in mock trial for foreign defendant
Japan Today/Kyodo News Thursday 10th July, 06:34 AM JST

http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/interpreters-pushed-to-limit-in-mock-trial-for-foreign-defendant

TOKYO —
Interpreters who took part in the first-ever mock trial for a defendant of foreign nationality ahead of the introduction of lay judges in Japan said Wednesday that a court session extending the whole day pushed them to the limit of concentration and stamina.

The trial was held at the Chiba District Court for two days under a scenario in which a Chinese Singaporean woman pleaded not guilty to a drug smuggling charge after nearly 2 kilograms of amphetamines were found in her suitcase at Narita airport in Chiba Prefecture. The woman claimed the drugs were put there by an acquaintance without her knowledge.

Two professional court interpreters translated statements by the defendant, questions by lay judges to the defendant and her replies to the questions.

‘‘In deliberations that run from morning until night, physical strength and concentration are required,’’ one of the interpreters said. ‘‘Unless meticulous steps are taken in arranging breaks and other matters, we’ll be pushed to the limit.’’

It took about two hours for a verdict to be delivered following the end of deliberations.

‘‘It took time to have the verdict and all other documents translated,’’ Presiding Judge Hiroshi Furuta said. ‘‘We need to find a more efficient trial procedure.’’

The panel of lay and professional judges rendered a guilty verdict, saying the defendant made ‘‘unreasonable’’ statements. The woman was sentenced to a prison term of eight years and fined 5 million yen, while prosecutors had sought 13 years in prison and a fine of 7.5 million yen.

The Chiba District Court handles similar cases because of Narita International Airport, the biggest international airport in Japan. Last year, 52 cases involving foreign nationals would have been subject to the lay judge court. Lay judges are scheduled for introduction next year.

Under the citizen judge system, professional judges and lay judges will try such serious crimes as murder, robbery resulting in death, injuries leading to death and arson.
ENDS

Otaru Onsens Lawsuit 2002 Sapporo District Court decision translated into English

mytest

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
Thanks to Tim for sending me this!   Arudou Debito

Hi Debito-san,

I just wanted you to know that the [Otaru Onsens Lawsuit] Sapporo District Court decision of 11/11/02 is now available in English for the Asian-Pacific Law and Policy Journal Vol 9:2. Please feel free to set up a link to the following url on your own website:

http://www.hawaii.edu/aplpj/articles/APLPJ_09.2_webster.pdf

Thanks and keep up the good work.  Yours, Tim Webster

Japan’s Supreme Court rules Japan’s marriage requirement for Japanese nationality unconstitutional

mytest

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.  I think this will be the best news we’ll hear all year:

Thanks to the vagaries (and there are lots of them) of Japan’s koseki Family Registry system, if a child is born out of wedlock to a Japanese man and a NJ woman, and the father’s parentage is not acknowledged BEFORE birth, Japanese citizenship up to now has NOT been conferred.  Japanese citizenship is still NOT conferred EVEN IF the J man acknowledges parentage AFTER birth.  

(If the situation was reversed i.e. J mother-NJ father, it doesn’t matter–obviously the mother and child share Japanese blood, therefore Japanese citizenship is conferred.  Of course, the NJ father has no custody rights, but that’s a separate issue…  More in HANDBOOK pp 270-2.)

But as NHK reported tonight, that leaves tens of thousands of J children with J blood (the main requirement for Japanese citizenship) either without Japanese citizenship, or completely *STATELESS* (yes, that means they can never leave the country–they can’t get a passport!).  It’s inhumane and insane.

But the Japanese Supreme Court finally recognized that, and ruled this situation unconstitutional–conferring citizenship to ten international children plaintiffs.  Congratulations!

News photo

Photo by Kyodo News

(NHK 7PM also reported last night that three Supreme Court judges wrote dissents to the ruling, some claiming that the Diet should pass a law on this, not have the judiciary legislate from the bench.  Yeah, sure, wait for enough of the indifferent LDP dullards in the Diet to finally come round, sounds like a plan; not.)

Read on.  I’ll add more articles to this blog entry as they come online with more detail.  One more step in the right direction for Japan’s internationalizing and multiculturalizing society!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Top court says marriage requirement for nationality unconstitutional

TOKYO, June 4, 2008 KYODO

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9133QJG2&show_article=1

     The Supreme Court on Wednesday declared unconstitutional a Nationality Law article requiring parents to be married in order for their children to receive Japanese nationality, ruling in favor of 10 Japanese-Filipino children.

     The top court’s grand bench made the landmark decision in two separate cases, filed in 2003 by one such child and in 2005 by a group of nine who were born out of wedlock to Japanese fathers and Filipino mothers and who obtained recognition of the paternity of their fathers after birth.

     After the ruling, the children — boys and girls aged 8 to 14 years who live in areas in eastern and central Japan — and their mothers celebrated in the courtroom by exchanging hugs, with some bursting into tears.

     One of the children, Jeisa Antiquiera, 11, told a press conference after the ruling, ”I want to travel to Hawaii with on Japanese passport.”

     One mother, Rossana Tapiru, 43, said, ”I am so happy that we could prove that society can be changed,” while another said, ”It was truly a long and painful battle.”

     Hironori Kondo, lawyer in one of the two cases, said it is the eighth top court ruling that has found a law unconstitutional in the postwar period and that ”it will have a significant bearing on the situation facing foreign nationals in Japan.”

     Yasuhiro Okuda, law professor at Chuo University who has submitted an opinion on the case to the Supreme Court, said that in the past 20 years tens of thousands of children are estimated to have been born out of wedlock to foreign mothers, citing data by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

     A majority of the 15 justices including Presiding Justice Niro Shimada on the grand bench ruled the Nationality Law clause goes against the Constitution.

     The justices said in a statement, ”there might have been compelling reasons that the parents’ marriages signify their child’s close ties with Japan at the time of the provision’s establishment in 1984.”

     ”But it cannot be said that the idea necessarily matches current family lifestyles and structures, which have become diversified,” they said.

     In light of the fact that obtaining nationality is essential in order for basic human rights to be guaranteed in Japan, ”the disadvantage created by such discriminatory treatment cannot easily be overlooked,” the justices stated in the document.

     Without nationality, these children face the threat of forced displacement in some cases and are not granted rights to vote when they reach adulthood, according to lawyer Genichi Yamaguchi, who represented the other case.

     Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura told a press conference following the ruling, ”I believe the government needs to take the verdict seriously, and we will discuss what steps should be taken after examining the ruling carefully.”

     Three justices countered the majority argument, saying it is not reasonable to take into consideration the recent trend in Western countries that have enacted laws authorizing nationality for children outside marriages, on the grounds that the countries’ social situations differ from that in Japan.

     In both of the cases, the Tokyo District Court in its April 2005 and March 2006 rulings granted the children’s claims, determining that the differentiation set by the parents’ marital status is unreasonable and that the Nationality Law’s Article 3 infringes Article 14 of the Constitution, which provides for equality for all.

     Overturning the decisions, however, the Tokyo High Court in February 2006 and February 2007 refused to pronounce on any constitutional decisions, saying it is the duty of the state to decide who is eligible for nationality, not the courts.

     Under Japan’s Nationality Law that determines citizenship based on bloodline, a child born in wedlock to a foreign mother and Japanese father is automatically granted Japanese nationality.

     A child born outside a marriage, however, can only obtain nationality if the father admits paternity while the child is in the mother’s womb. If the father recognizes the child as his only after the child’s birth, the child is unable to receive citizenship unless the parents get married.

     In short, the parents’ marital status determines whether the child with after-birth paternal recognition can obtain nationality.

     Children born to Japanese mothers are automatically granted Japanese nationality, irrespective of the nationality of the father and whether they are married.

==Kyodo  ENDS

JAPAN TIMES EDITORIAL

EDITORIAL

June 6, 2008
Giving children their due

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ed20080606a2.html

In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court on Wednesday declared unconstitutional a Nationality Law clause that denies Japanese nationality to a child born out of wedlock to a foreign woman and Japanese man even if the man recognizes his paternity following the birth.

It thus granted Japanese nationality to 10 children who were born out of wedlock to Filipino women and Japanese men. The ruling deserves praise for clearly stating that the clause violates Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality under the law. The government should immediately revise the law.

The 12-3 grand bench decision concerned two lawsuits filed by the 10 children aged 8 to 14, all living in Japan. The Tokyo District Court, in two rulings, had found the clause unconstitutional, thus granting Japanese nationality to the children. But the Tokyo High Court had overturned the rulings without addressing the issue of constitutionality.

Under the Nationality Law, a child born to a foreign woman married to a Japanese man automatically becomes a Japanese national. Japanese nationality is also granted to a child of an unmarried foreign woman and Japanese man if the man recognizes his paternity before the child is born. If paternal recognition comes after a child’s birth, however, the child is not eligible for Japanese nationality unless the couple marries.

The law lays emphasis on both bloodline and marriage because they supposedly represent the “close connection” of couples and their children with Japan.

The Supreme Court, however, not only pointed out that some foreign countries are scrapping such discriminatory treatment of children born out of wedlock but also paid attention to social changes. It said that in view of changes in people’s attitude toward, and the diversification of, family life and parent-child relationships, regarding marriage as a sign of the close connection with Japan does not agree with today’s reality.

The ruling is just and reasonable because children who were born and raised in Japan but do not have Japanese nationality are very likely to face disadvantages in Japanese society.

The Japan Times: Friday, June 6, 2008
ENDS

Japan Times’ Colin Jones on Japan’s offer to sign Hague Convention on Child Abductions by 2010

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s a professional assessment by legal scholar Colin Jones in the Japan Times, on Japan’s recent offer to sign the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, and promise to do something about Japan becoming a haven for international kidnapping. As Colin puts it, results remain to be seen–when an abducted child to Japan actually gets returned. But it’s never happened.  

And I know from personal experience that Japan’s signing a treaty doesn’t mean the legal structure actually enforces it, such as in the case of racial discrimination in Japan. Read on:

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

Hard work begins once Japan signs child-abduction treaty
By COLIN P.A. JONES, June 3, 2008

THE JAPAN TIMES COMMUNITY PAGE
THE ZEIT GIST

 

News photo
CHRIS McKENZIE ILLUSTRATION

If my own mailbox is any indicator, the Internet is buzzing as international family lawyers, family rights activists and others share an exciting piece of news: Japan is reportedly planning to join the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction! Perhaps Japan’s days as a haven for international parental child abduction are numbered. Perhaps Japanese courts will stop giving the judicial seal of approval to one parent’s selfish desire to erase the other from a child’s life. Fingers crossed.

Though one could question the timing of the very low-key announcement two months before the Hokkaido G8 Summit, the Japanese authorities should be commended for taking what will be a big step forward in the sphere of private international law. The concerted pressure of diplomats from a number of countries (including several G8 nations) who have pushed Japan on this issue for years, and the efforts of activists often parents who have lost any hope of being part of their own children’s lives but have continued to speak up for the benefit of others must also be acknowledged and appreciated.

I must confess to having been skeptical that this would happen so soon (it could happen as early as 2010) if at all. I will be glad–ecstatic–to be proved wrong. However, I do not plan to crack open any champagne until an abducted child is actually returned home. International treaties, like marriages and childbirth, are events to be celebrated, but all of the hard work comes afterward.

By entering into the convention, Japan will be agreeing with other signatory countries that children wrongfully brought to Japan even by a parent will be promptly returned. One key aspect of the convention is that it limits the role of judges in these decisions. Rather than deciding whether remaining in Japan is in a child’s best interests (which has almost always been the conclusion of Japanese judges in abduction cases), in cases under the convention judges are limited to deciding whether a child has been brought from his or her home country “wrongfully” (in violation of foreign law or court orders, without the consent of the other parent, etc.). If the removal is found to be wrongful, absent exceptional circumstances the judge is supposed to order the child’s return. All this is supposed to happen on an expedited basis in order to prevent a new status quo from developing in the child’s living environment.

Two other aspects of the convention are noteworthy. First, signatory countries are obliged to help locate abducted children. This would be a great improvement over the current situation in Japan, where parents who are able to commence what is likely to be hopelessly futile litigation in Japan’s family courts are actually the lucky ones, since this means they at least know where their children are. Less lucky parents have to try and find their children somewhere in the country, often disadvantaged by barriers of language and culture. The act of trying to find or communicate with your own child may even be deemed a form of stalking.

Second, the convention protects rights of access (or visitation, as it is called in some countries). Thus even foreign parents who do not have custody over their children can use the convention to try to preserve contact with children brought to Japan. Courts in some convention countries have been aggressive in interpreting this provision to ensure that even a parent with full custody does not use those rights to frustrate visitation by the other by relocating to a foreign country. Since Japanese courts typically only award visitation if both parents agree, and visitation orders are unenforceable anyway, any improvement in this area would be welcome.

Enforcement of return orders is likely to be the big hurdle for Japan in implementing the convention. Enforcement is an obstacle even in strictly domestic disputes between Japanese parents over child abduction or denial of access. Since family court orders are unenforceable, one wonders what will happen when the first return order is issued by a Japanese judge under the convention. It is, after all, clearly limited to the civil aspects of child abduction it does not require that children be returned by force.

In the U.S. or Canada, whether a case arises under the convention or not, court orders are backed by quasi-criminal sanctions such as contempt. In some states interfering with custody or visitation is itself a criminal offense. Even if it is not, a parent in these countries seeking to enforce access rights or the return of a child can usually call upon the police to help them. In extreme cases intransigent parents resisting enforcement may be arrested or jailed.

In Japan, however, police typically do not get involved in family matters or in the enforcement of court orders in civil matters. The only remedy available to parents with even a whiff of penal sanction involved is habeas corpus (which requires an abducting parent to appear with the child in court), though access to this remedy in disputes between parents has been limited by the Supreme Court.

It seems unlikely that Japan joining the convention alone would change this basic aspect of the country’s legal system, since it would involve the police (and prosecutors) in a vast new area of law enforcement family disputes when only a tiny fraction of such disputes would involve the Hague Convention. Perhaps some enforcement mechanism limited to convention cases will be developed, though it would be an odd (though not impossible) result if parents and children from abroad got a better deal in the Japanese legal system than those actually living in Japan. Furthermore, bureaucratic imperatives being at least as important as actual law in Japan, it is difficult to imagine how the police and prosecutors could ever find it in their interests to be arresting Japanese parents (more often than not mothers) in order to return Japanese children to foreigners.

Thus, if Japan joins the convention, its implementation may develop in one of three ways. First, it may be implemented as it is in other major countries and abducted children will be returned through its procedures–great! Or judges will issue return orders that prove impossible to enforce, leaving things largely as they are now. Perhaps convention cases will be given greater access to habeas corpus, which could be an improvement.

A third possibility, however, is that rather than issuing orders they know are unenforceable (or to avoid being seen as favoring foreigners), judges aggressively take advantage of the exceptions in the convention. One of these is that children do not need to be returned if it would “expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.” In some countries this exception is limited to cases where the child would be returned to a war zone, or similar situations. However, if the reasons used for denying visitation are any indicator–excessive present-buying, visitation making the custodial parent ill, etc. are any indicator, the bar for applying the psychological harm exception may end up being low.

Under the convention, another reason for refusing to return the child is if “the child objects and has attained an age and degree of maturity at which it is appropriate to take account of its views.” Since the convention does not specify what this age is, it gives courts a high degree of flexibility. Thus Japanese courts could continue to reward parental alienation by placing the burden of deciding on children. Getting children to say “I don’t want to see Daddy/Mommy” seems to work pretty well for getting a court to deny visitation, so getting them to say “I want to stay in Japan with Daddy/Mommy/Grandma” may work in convention cases too.

I feel like a bit of a wet blanket writing this. Make no mistake, it will be great if Japan actually does join the convention. Whatever help Japanese authorities need in understanding and implementing the convention should be offered unstintingly. Anything which improves the situation of children abducted to Japan is to be applauded. And if joining the convention somehow leads to improvements for the many more Japanese children in strictly domestic cases who lose one parent through judicial action (or inaction), it would be almost revolutionary.

Colin P.A. Jones is a professor at Doshisha University Law School. Send comments and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp
The Japan Times: Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Wired Magazine on 2-Channel’s Nishimura Hiroyuki

mytest

HANDBOOKsemifinalcover.jpgwelcomesticker.jpgFranca-color.jpg
Hi Blog. Here’s an excellent article on the Japanese internet, particularly 2-Channel and Nico Nico Douga. But as far as the Debito.org Blog is concerned, here is the pertinent section to excerpt:
==========================
WIRED MAGAZINE: 16.06
TECH BIZ : PEOPLE
Meet Hiroyuki Nishimura, the Bad Boy of the Japanese Internet
By Lisa Katayama 05.19.08
Courtesy of the Author, Gene van Troyer, and Tim Hornyak
(excerpt)
===============================
…His online fans may adore him, but 2channel is becoming increasingly controversial. There have been stalking incidents and suicide pacts supposedly planned through the site. (Nico Nico Douga is more supervised: Users must log in, there’s a six-page agreement, and Dwango responds to takedown notices.) Nishimura’s nonchalant response to complaints and libel suits probably doesn’t help. “I used to show up in court,” he says. “Then one day I overslept, and nothing happened. So I stopped going.”

Nishimura has lost about 50 lawsuits and owes millions of dollars in penalties, which he has no intention of paying. “If the verdict mandates deleting things, I’ll do it,” he says. “I just haven’t complied with demands to pay money. Would a cell phone carrier feel responsible when somebody receives a threatening phone call?”

Japan is just now having the debate about free speech online that roiled America a decade ago, but it seems to be reaching different conclusions. A government panel recently proposed to start regulating “influential widely read news-related sites in the same way that newspapers and broadcasting are regulated.” Many believe this move was triggered by outrage over 2channel.
Nishimura giggles at the prospect of a government crackdown. “Our lawmakers aren’t that dumb,” he says. “Besides, 2channel’s servers are in San Francisco.”…

===============================
http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/16-06/mf_hiroyuki?currentPage=all

COMMENT: I was one of the 50 lawsuiters mentioned above, winning against Nishimura on a charge of libel in Iwamizawa District Court in January 2006.

While the article focusses on quirky iconoclasm (Nishimura’s success despite being an indecorous “slacker”, especially in Japan), two things must be mentioned:

One is the fact that Nishimura is once again lying. Do a Google Search for “2ch”, アルドウィンクル (my former last name in katakana, which is how I was rendered in the problematic copy-pasted text), and イラク (the topic which I was alleged to have commented about), page down to the bottom to click and see duplicate results, and you’ll see that you get 1130 hits (as of May 23, 2008).
http://www.google.com/search?q=2ch+アルドウィンクル+イラク&num=100&hl=en&safe=off&client=safari&rls=en&filter=0
This is a larger number than ever before, and you’ll see that most of the web addresses are “2ch” for 2-Channel. More than two years after the verdict was handed down, mandating that things be deleted, they clearly still haven’t. Sorry, folks, the slacker is a liar.

Not to mention a deadbeat. Like it or not, iconoclast or not, internet hero or pioneer or whatever, Nishimura must abide by this country’s laws (and their judicial interpretations). He has been ordered fifty times to pay damages (he is the sole public owner of the media, and a telephone call between two individuals is not the same kind of media in public scope or impact). He won’t. Simply taking advantage of the Japanese judiciary’s inability to convert civil suits into criminal ones through Contempt of Court does not further justify or lionize this person’s negligence. In the end, it’ll be easier to pass laws to hinder freedom of internet speech, the lynchpin of Nishimura’s existence, than to reform the judiciary–and that is precisely what looks to happen.

“Our lawmakers aren’t that dumb,” he might claim. Oh yes they are. And at the end of the day when the damage is done, the question will remain, “How could Nishimura have been that dumb?”

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

See full information on my unrequited libel lawsuit win against Nishimura and 2-Channel, January 2006, here.
ENDS

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

mytest

HANDBOOKsemifinalcover.jpgwelcomesticker.jpgFranca-color.jpg
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
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080408a3.html
Courtesy of notnotchris and Red at Stippy.com

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 Stippy.com. 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
http://www.stippy.com/japan-news-and-media/chopped-up-filipina-body-found-in-tokyo-coin-locker/

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!)
ENDS

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

Tabloid Tidbits: Clumsy cop the link between mutilated Filipina, slain stalker victim
Nikkan Gendai (4/10/08) Courtesy of Mainichi Waiwai
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/culture/waiwai/news/20080412p2g00m0dm004000c.html

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)
ENDS
================================

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)
http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/news/20080407k0000e040041000c.html

遺体の一部が見つかったコインロッカー(右)=東京都港区浜松町で2008年4月7日午前11時47分、石井諭撮影

 東京都港区台場のマンションの一室で、腰の部分とみられる肉片などが見つかった事件で、警視庁捜査1課は7日、この部屋に住む職業不詳の野崎浩容疑者(48)を死体損壊容疑で逮捕し、東京湾岸署に捜査本部を設置した。また、被害者は同居のフィリピン国籍の女性で、東京・六本木の飲食店店員、カミオオサワ・ハニーフィット・ラティリアさん(22)と判明した。

 野崎容疑者は、交際していたフィリピン人女性(当時27歳)の遺体を99年春ごろ切断したとして00年1月に埼玉県警に死体損壊・遺棄容疑で逮捕され、懲役3年6月の実刑判決を受け、服役している。

 調べでは、野崎容疑者は3日夜、この部屋でラティリアさんの遺体を刃物などで切断、解体した疑い。「黙秘します」と供述している。捜査本部は、ラティリアさんを殺害した疑いでも追及する。

 野崎容疑者は6日夜、埼玉県川口市内の路上で手首を切り自殺を図り、自ら119番通報した。その際、持っていたメモに基づき、東京都港区浜松町2のビル2階のコインロッカーを捜索したところ、7日未明、スーツケースに入った胸などの肉片十数個が見つかった。

 部屋の肉片はDNA鑑定でラティリアさんと判明、ロッカーの肉片もラティリアさんとみて調べる。捜査本部は頭部など見つかっていない遺体の捜索を続ける。野崎容疑者とラティリアさんは、ラティリアさんと同じ店に勤めるフィリピン人女性2人と同居していた。【川上晃弘、佐々木洋、古関俊樹】

OFFICIAL TRANSLATION OF THE ABOVE JAPANESE

Man arrested for mutilation of Filipina hostess
(Mainichi Japan) April 7, 2008
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/national/archive/news/2008/04/07/20080407p2a00m0na026000c.html

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.
ENDS

イドゥボ氏の 第2回公判4/23(水)14:30陳述書記載

mytest

HANDBOOKsemifinalcover.jpgwelcomesticker.jpgFranca-color.jpg
元町カフェ準強姦冤罪事件、イドィボさんの第2回公判が近づきました。
◇4/23(水)14:30
◇東京高裁 803号法廷
この裁判について詳しくはこちらです。
==============================
陳述書
2008年4月16日
オサユワメン・イドゥボ(東京拘置所在監)

 私は1969年11月26日生まれのナイジェリア人です。1990年から日本に18年間住んで来ました。2年前に日本で知り合ったポーランド人と結婚しました。横浜市の元町で「Big Y’s Cafe」という飲食店を経営しています。

 私はそのBig Y’s Cafeで2007年1月22日に加賀署の警官に逮捕されました。容疑は、告訴人の日本人女性の言うところによれば、酔っていた彼女を2006年11月1日の朝にレイプしたというものでした。まったく身に覚えがありません。逮捕は物証なく、一転二転して相互にくいちがいのある申立てにのみ基づいて行なわれました。告訴人の女性の友人が彼女を利用して私に対する訴訟を起こさせたものと思います。告訴人の友人は私の店の客でしたが、以前、私との間にトラブルがありました。警察は、私に有利な証拠を破壊することによって彼女らを助けて起訴に至りました。告訴人が店で身動きできないほど酔っていたというのも事実に反します。

 私は2007年12月10日に横浜地方裁判所で懲役3年の有罪判決を言い渡されました。しかし、私は無実です。私はこの犯罪を犯していません。私はレイピストではなく、犯罪者でもありません。完全に潔白です。そこで、直ちに控訴しました。

 控訴の趣意は弁護人から2008年2月25日に控訴趣意書を提出しました。私は次の事項を付け加えて述べたいと思います。警察官による供述調書は、署名すれば不起訴にするとの約束で、署名させられたものです。また、警察官は重要な証拠を隠したり、なくしたりしました。例えば、私の携帯電話のアドレス帳から告訴人の友人の電話番号が消され、彼女から私へ送られてきた脅迫メールの記録も消されていました。また、私の店の監視カメラの記録を調べなかったために、新しい内容が自動的に上書きされ、当日の記録は消されました。また、警察官は彼女たちの意図が分かるような告訴人とその友人の詳細な関係を調書に書きませんでした。

 最期にもう一度申し上げます。私は無実です。私はこの犯罪を犯していません。

 結婚した妻を心から愛しています。私達は幸福な家庭を営んできました。平穏な日常生活へ戻れるよう、公正に判断していただきたくお願いいたします。
以上

在日韓国・朝鮮人高齢者の年金訴訟を支える会: 4月25日判決傍聴と呼びかけ

mytest

HANDBOOKsemifinalcover.jpgwelcomesticker.jpgFranca-color.jpg
Hi Blog. Court decision due April 25 on elderly Korean Zainichis being denied their Japanese nenkin pension contributions due to being foreign. Details below FYI. Arudou Debito

===================================
Subject: 4月25日判決傍聴と呼びかけご協力のお願い
Date: April 17, 2008 9:42:55 AM JST

お疲れ様です。
在日韓国・朝鮮人高齢者の年金訴訟を支える会の鄭明愛です。
いつも、貴重な情報をありがとうございます。
この場をお借りしまして、ご案内させていただきます。

在日韓国・朝鮮人高齢者の年金訴訟の大阪控訴審が判決を迎えます。
4月25日(金)15時30分〜大阪高等裁判所202号法廷で、
終了後、16時〜大阪弁護士会館で報告集会を行います。

1月18日の第3回控訴審で、
原告側代理人の発言にも耳をかさず、裁判官の暴挙とも言える、
いきなりの結審、そして判決を通告しました。

大阪高裁裁判長のスピード結審、
昨年12月25日の在日無年金障害者の年金訴訟の最高裁の不当判決、
それに続く、大阪地裁提訴の高齢者年金訴訟の上告受理せずの通知

合わせると、言いたくありませんが、
不当判決の可能性です。
大阪高裁、そして、その後の大阪弁護士会館での報告集会で
ぜひとも、抗議の声をあげていただきたいと思っております。

傍聴、抗議の声、報告集会での応援の声をいただきたいと思っております。
ご参加くださいますようお願い申し上げます。

ご参加いただけます方は、
15時に大阪高等裁判所門前に集合してください。
15時15分には、横断幕を持って行進して裁判所へ入場します。

原告のオモニは、五名おられますが、
90歳のオモニは腰を骨折されて入院され、
87歳のオモニは裁判に関わるには体の負担が大きく無理で、
80歳のオモニはお仕事で参加できなくて、
このたびは、原告団長の玄順任オモニと高五生オモニがチョゴリを着て
参加してくださる予定です。

在日一世の方々は、何の補償もなく、また保障もないまま、
ずっと働いてこられ、私たちを育ててくださり、生活の基盤を築いてくださった一世の方々、
苦労されたオモニたちが、また、今、私たちの代わりに、日本社会の差別を是正するために、闘ってくださってます。
玄順任オモニの言葉、
「私が言いたいことは一つだけです。
戦前は「非国民」としてなじられ、戦後は「外国人」として排除され、そんなことってありますか。」
原告五名は、「死ぬまで、最後まで闘う」
とおっしゃってくださってます。
ぜひとも、応援の声をおかけくださいますようお願いいたします。
また、お知り合いの皆様へ傍聴の呼びかけのご協力をお願いいたします。

追伸
4月25日15時30分大阪控訴審判決を迎えますが、
何とか政治的決着をつける道筋を作りたいと思います。
今年、おそらく国会が解散総選挙をした後に、国会請願署名の提出と厚労省交渉に行きます。
また、10月には、国連の自由権規約委員会が開催されますので、
障害者年金の原告団長、金洙榮さんがジュネーヴに行って日本政府と日本裁判所の差別を報告する予定です。

鄭明愛

***************
在日外国人「障害者」の年金訴訟を支える会
在日韓国・朝鮮人高齢者の年金裁判を支える会京都

〒601-8022京都市南区東九条北松ノ木町12エルファ内
電話075-693-2550
FAX075-693-2555
携帯090-6753-6993
e-mail lfa AT h7.dion.ne.jp
エルファ http://www.h2.dion.ne.jp/~lfa/
在日外国人「障害者」の年金訴訟を支える会
http://munenkin.hp.infoseek.co.jp/
在日韓国・朝鮮人高齢者の年金裁判を支える会・大阪高裁判決4月25日15時〜
http://zainichi-nenkin.hp.infoseek.co.jp/
ENDS

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

mytest

HANDBOOKsemifinalcover.jpgwelcomesticker.jpgFranca-color.jpg

Hi Blog. It takes The Economist some time to come to its senses on many things regarding reporting on Japan, but it’s done a fine job this time in this tight little article, on how bent the Japanese criminal justice system is. Read on. The more attention brought to these sorts of injustices, the better. Debito in Sapporo

====================================
Criminal justice in Japan
Throw away the key
Japan’s Supreme Court misses a chance to right a 42-year-old wrong
Mar 27th 2008 | TOKYO
The Economist (London), March 27, 2008
http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10925858

IN 1966 Iwao Hakamada was accused of killing a family and setting fire to its house during a robbery. He denied it. But after 19 days of 12-hour interrogations by police and prosecutors, he confessed. He saw a lawyer just three times for a total of 37 minutes. At his trial he said the “confession” had been coerced: the police had beaten and threatened to kill him. Judges noticed discrepancies in the confession, and demanded he redo it—45 times—until they were satisfied.

Mr Hakamada was found guilty in a 2-1 decision. The dissenting magistrate, Norimichi Kumamoto, quit the bench in silent protest. Last year he broke 39 years of silence to denounce the verdict. Requests for retrials and appeals had been denied from the 1970s onwards. But armed with the former magistrate’s words, supporters of Mr Hakamada, who has come to symbolise the rot in Japan’s criminal-justice system, felt their case was strong.

Yet on March 24th the Supreme Court turned down a retrial plea, citing a lack of “reasonable doubt” about the verdict. His lawyers plan to appeal against the decision. As for Mr Hakamada, now 72, he is losing his mind as he languishes in solitary confinement on death row.

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.

Slow reform is coming. First, to tackle an acute shortage, the government is to let more people pass the bar exam and become lawyers: at present Japan has a mere 24,000, ten times fewer per head than Britain. Only 7% of students pass the bar exam. Second, a jury system will be brought in next year for serious cases. This will open the judiciary to greater public scrutiny. Third, the police are to introduce procedures for monitoring interrogations (though they rejected proposals to videotape them). All too late for Mr Hakamada.
ENDS
==================================

In a similar vein…
economist031308.jpg
The death penalty in Japan
Just plead guilty and die
Mar 13th 2008 | TOKYO
From The Economist print edition
http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10854797

The wheels start to wobble on Japan’s judicial juggernaut

IT WAS a rarity for Japan: two notable acquittals within a month. On March 5th Mitsuko Katagishi, a 60-year-old from southern Kyushu island, was acquitted of charges that she had killed her brother and set fire to his house. The case against her rested on prosecution claims that she had confessed her crime to a cellmate during months in police detention. The presiding judge chided the police for planting the cellmate and dismissed the evidence as not credible. In a country with a conviction rate of over 99%—and where even defence lawyers urge clients to plead guilty—this was a deep embarrassment.

It follows a farcical trial in February of 11 mainly elderly defendants accused of vote-buying in Kagoshima, also on Kyushu. The trial collapsed when it became plain that the police had fabricated the evidence—though not before one defendant had died and another been subjected to over 700 hours of interrogation and 400 days in detention. All the accused had been ground down until they signed confessions of guilt.

In response to these problems, the authorities have closed ranks. Japan’s justice minister, Kunio Hatoyama, argues with casuistic skill that the vote-buying case cannot be described as a false prosecution: that would imply the real culprits are still at large when, happily for all, there are no culprits at all. But such complacency is wearing thin. Two changes are afoot in Japan’s criminal-justice system. One is the introduction next year of trials in which a lay jury of six will join three judges to adjudicate in criminal cases, with convictions secured by majority vote. This may encourage more popular involvement in the criminal-justice system. The other is the emergence of establishment figures prepared to question the shortcomings of that system, and especially of the death penalty, which means victims pay an irreversible price for miscarriages of justice.

Shizuka Kamei, a former chief in the National Police Agency and now a member of the Diet (parliament), describes Japan’s high conviction rate as “abnormal”. The police, he says, are under more pressure to find any culprit for a crime than to find the real one. To save face, senior officers are reluctant to highlight mistakes made by subordinates. Worse, prosecutors are not bound to disclose material that they choose not to use in court. Many false prosecutions never come to light.

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.

Growing concerns about such miscarriages have helped forge an unlikely parliamentary alliance between politicians of the left pushing to abolish the death penalty, Mr Kamei (who in other areas is an arch-conservative) and Koichi Kato, a former secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Last year Japan executed nine people, compared with America’s 42; it also has 106 people on death row. But its murder rate is only one-fifth that of America so its execution rate is roughly comparable. Some of Mr Hatoyama’s predecessors have been unwilling to sign death warrants, but in the past 18 months executions have leapt (see chart), including several accused who were elderly and infirm.

Executions take place in extreme secrecy under the auspices of the Justice Ministry. Prisoners are kept in near-isolation and are not usually informed that their time is up until less than an hour before the sentence is carried out—often after waiting for decades. The names of those executed were made public for the first time only in December. Not even Diet members may inspect a working gallows, and many people do not know that hanging is Japan’s method of execution. Bureaucratic secrecy has served to suppress debate about the death penalty—and give ordinary people a sense that justice is something best left to the authorities.
ENDS

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

mytest

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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
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080313a3.html
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.
ENDS
=================================

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
http://sundaygazettemail.com/News/200803060766

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 japantoday.com, 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.”
ENDS

“Foreign crime” in reverse: The Miura Kazuyoshi Case

mytest

HANDBOOKsemifinalcover.jpg
Hi Blog. A lot of people have brought this to my attention, and it’s of interest to Debito.org for reasons quite convoluted.

We usually hear about the crimes NJ commit in Japan. Very rarely about crimes committed by Japanese abroad, when we are the foreigners. Even more interesting is where a murder is committed and blamed on “foreign crime” overseas, namely the Americans and their society allegedly riddled with random crime.

Then we have the case of Miura Kazuyoshi. As you can see by the details below, we had a person convicted of killing his wife in a lower Japanese court unusually vindicated by a higher court. Then the guy gets arrested in US territory (which avoids double jeopardy) for the same crime nearly 25 years later. Wouldn’t it be yet another black eye for the Japanese judiciary if the US convicts him instead? We won’t know for a little while (but it will take definitely less time than the Japanese judiciary; hey, it took Miura four years for his High Court verdict, and Asahara has been on trial for more than a decade now…), but it should be interesting.

As an aside, crooked Dietmember Suzuki Muneo just got put away yet again today after his case was on appeal for close to four years too (in the interim he forms his own party and gets reelected; Hokkaido no haji!). About time. Still, he didn’t kill anybody. Couldn’t blame his corruption on foreigners, I guess.

Is Miura the Japanese O.J. Simpson or what? Instead of using the race card, he uses the “foreign crime” card… Debito in Sapporo

//////////////////////////////////////////////
Japan interviews arrested businessman
By THOMAS WATKINS, Associated Press Writer
Sun Feb 24, 5:58 PM ET
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080224/ap_on_re_us/businessman_s_wife_19;_ylt=AgwOdRE1FDr6pXh63kG7nMQE1vAI
Courtesy Chad Edwards, Tony Kehoe, and Erich Meatleg

LOS ANGELES – Japanese officials on Sunday interviewed a businessman from their country who was arrested in a U.S. territory on suspicion of killing his wife a quarter-century ago in a Los Angeles parking lot.

Kazuyoshi Miura was apprehended by U.S. authorities late Friday as he tried to pass through immigration control at Saipan’s airport to take a flight home, said Toshihide Kawasaki, a Foreign Ministry official in charge of Japanese citizens overseas. Japanese consular officials later talked to him at a Saipan detention center.

“He seemed in good health, and was receiving a fair treatment,” said Kenji Yoshida, one of the two Japanese consuls in Saipan.

“We talked about an hour, but not so much about his past crimes,” Yoshida said. “Naturally, he expressed hopes to see his family, and was very anxious to know what may happen to him.”

Miura, 60, had already been convicted in Japan in 1994 of the murder of his wife, Kazumi Miura, but that verdict was overturned by the country’s high courts 10 years ago. The 1981 shooting caused an international uproar, in part because he blamed the attack on robbers, reinforcing Japanese perceptions of America as violent.

“Why now?” Japan’s Mainichi newspaper asked in a headline. “His turbulent life entered a new phase.”

The LAPD said Miura was awaiting extradition, and details on the arrest were not made available.

“I think U.S. investigators have all along believed that they can make the case with the evidence they had already collected,” Tsutomu Sakaguchi, a Tokyo Metropolitan Police investigator at the time of the shooting, told TV Asahi in an interview Sunday. “If they have a new evidence, that could be a decisive step.”

Miura’s attorney, Junichiro Hironaka, has said the latest arrest is astonishing.

Miura, a clothing importer, and his 28-year-old wife were visiting Los Angeles on Nov. 18, 1981, when they were shot in a downtown parking lot. She was shot in the head, went into a coma and died the following year in Japan.

Her mother said Sunday that she never gave up hope that the case would be resolved.

“I burned incense for my daughter and prayed at a family Buddhist altar, telling her that Americans will put an end to the case, so let’s hold onto our hopes and wait,” Yasuko Sasaki told Japan’s public broadcaster NHK.

Miura reportedly collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from life insurance policies he had taken out on his wife. In addition, an actress who claimed to be Miura’s lover told a newspaper that Miura had hired her to kill his wife in their hotel room on a trip to Los Angeles three months before the shootings.

Miura was arrested in Japan in 1985 on suspicion of assaulting his wife in the hotel incident. He was convicted of attempted murder and while serving a six-year sentence was charged under Japanese law in 1988 with his wife’s murder.

Miura was convicted of that charge in 1994 and sentenced to life in prison. Four years later, a Japanese court overturned the sentence.
___

Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.
ENDS

Mainichi: Chinese Trainees awarded big after taking exploitative strawberry farm to court

mytest

Hi Blog. Update to an earlier story on this blog. Good news about Strawberry Fields. You know the place where justice got real…

Congrats to the Trainees who didn’t just go home like good little disenfranchised Guest Workers, and managed to get the Japanese judiciary to establish deterrents to exploitative employers. Arudou Debito

============================
Employees win suit against Tochigi farms for unpaid wages, unfair dismissals
Mainichi Shinbun February 11, 2008
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/national/news/20080211p2a00m0na009000c.html
Courtesy of Ben Shearon

TSUGA, Tochigi — 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.

The farmers have also acknowledged that they took away some of the trainees’ passports and forced them to save their wages: which, if proved, would constitute an illegal act, barring the farmers from accepting future trainees, according to the Ministry of Justice.

The trouble began when the Choboen strawberry farm in Tsuga dismissed five Chinese trainees in December last year because of a poor harvest, and attempted to force them to go back to their home country.

The five joined 10 trainees at six other strawberry farms in demanding 52.25 million yen in unpaid wages and overtime allowances over the past three years.

The owners of the seven farms have apologized for forcing the trainees to work for long hours and paying overtime allowances below the legal minimum. They agreed to pay a total of about 30 million yen to the 15, and Choboen retracted its dismissals.
(Mainichi Japan) February 11, 2008
ENDS

毎日:イチゴ農園が解決金3000万円 栃木

mytest

ブログの読者、以前取りあげたトピックスをアップデートを載せます。有道 出人

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

中国人解雇:イチゴ農園が解決金3000万円 栃木
毎日新聞 2008年2月11日 2時30分 http://mainichi.jp/select/wadai/news/20080211k0000m040115000c.html

 栃木県のイチゴ農園が不作を理由に中国人技能実習生を解雇し、トラブルになっていた問題は、農家7軒が約3000万円の解決金を実習生計15人に支払うことで合意した。農家側は謝罪し、解雇を撤回した。

 同県都賀町のイチゴ農園「長苺(ちょうぼ)園」の実習生5人が昨年12月解雇され、無理やり帰国させられそうになったことからトラブルになった。5人は他の6農園の実習生10人と合流し、残業代など3年分の未払い賃金約5225万円を要求していた。

 農家側弁護士によると、最低賃金を下回る残業代だったことや、長時間労働を認めて謝罪。解決金として約3000万円を支払うことで合意した。

 農家側はこのほかに、パスポートを取り上げたり、貯金を強制したりするなどの行為があったことも認めている。法務省は「事実が確認できれば不正行為に該当し、受け入れ停止などの処分対象となる」と話している。【宮川裕章】

毎日新聞 2008年2月11日 2時30分
ENDS

Next Valentine Lawsuit Hearing Feb 12, 2008 1:30PM

mytest

【 Supporters wanted! 】

Mr. Valentine, a Nigerian national, is defending himself against the Tokyo Metropolitan Government after a police beating incident which took place in Shinjuku almost 4 years ago. This is an appeal, as the District Court not only exonerated the NPA for refusing him 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 testimony because it came from a black person.

More in the Japan Times, August 14, 2007.

At the last trial, the judge did not close the case. Many thanks to the audience (more than 50 people sat in the public seats) who watched the trial so closely. And now the date for the 4th trial has been set. We are asking for your support, especially your participation in this upcoming hearing at Tokyo high court. Please help him to get justice.

The 4th Appeal Tribunal Trial schedule: Tuesday, February 12 2008

Court opens at: 13:30

At Tokyo High Court / Court Room Number 808

Court appellant: Mr. Valentine U.C. < case number " (NE) 2429th of 2007" >

This time, tickets to attend the trial will be distributed between 12:50 and 13:10 near the main entrance of the court (right side).Then a lottery by computer will take place. 40 people who win the lottery can attend the trial.

Access : “Kasumigaseki station” on Tokyo Metro Marunouchi line, Hibiya line or Chiyoda line. A1 exit, 1 minute walk. Or “Sakuradamon station” on Tokyo Metro Yuurakuchou line, No. 5 exit, 3 minute walk.

homepage: http://sky.geocities.jp/team_vuc/

Hope to see you there!

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

『支援会Aさんよりメッセージ』

みなさま、以下の文章は一例です。
3連休のためもう間に合わないとしても、火曜日の朝に大量のFAXが届いているのを大使館員の皆さんが目にしてくれたら、少しは何か感じてくれるかもしれません。
私は、03-5425-8016と03-5425-8021の両方のFAX番号にFAXを送りました。
もし、FAXを送ることに賛同できる・・・という方は、どうかよろしくお願いします。

☆在日ナイジェリア連邦共和国大使館
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Japan

Fax : 03-5425-8016 / 03-5425-8021 / 03-5425-8022
(emailでしたら consular@nigeriaembassy.jp です)

これより以下は、文章例です。

〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓

(英語要請文の参考例 その1)

                              February9th, 2008

Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Japan

I STRONGLY ASK FOR YOUR ATTENDANCE FOR AN APPEAL HEARING OF MR.VALENTINE’S TRIAL

Dear Mr.Yahaya Tabari Zaria,

I really thank you very much for reading my sudden message that I
asked for your attendance for a Nigerian, Mr Valentine’s upcoming
appeal hearing on Tuesday, 13:30pm February 12nd 2008 at Tokyo High
Court room 808.

Before his last appeal on November 20th, 2007, Mr.Valentine submitted
an application letter that requests attendance of embassy officers for
the hearing, however regret to say, no officers attend the hearing at
all. It was very disappointed not only for Mr.Valentine but all his
friends and supporters who concern very much.

This time also, Mr.Valentine has submitted an application again to
ask you and your officers for attending the hearing and support him.

Your attendance will help him very much, and same time this will be
great help not only for him but also for all Nigerians living in Japan
to improve their human rights in Japan, furthermore it can say to
tighten good relationship between Nigeria and Japan.

Your attendance will be highly appreciated.

Thank you very much.

Yours Sincerely,

Midori KIKUCHI

Representative
( )

Tel:

Email

Valentine Trial Support Group

http://sky.geocities.jp/team_vuc/
ENDS

バレンタイン氏の国賠訴訟控訴証人喚問2月12日開催

mytest

【2月12日、裁判傍聴に来てください!】

この弁論で、新たな証人喚問をしてもらえるかどうかが決まります。
一人でも多くの人のご参加をお願いいたします。

ナイジェリア国籍のバレンタインさんは、新宿歌舞伎町で私服警察官に不当な暴力を振るわれ、障害が残るほどの怪我を負いました。

バレンタインさんは東京都に対し国賠訴訟を起こしましたが、昨年3月「歌舞伎町黒人コミュニティーの仲間である同国人の証人証言を、そのまま信用することは到底できない。」などの理由により敗訴。また、東京警察病院は「受診カルテを紛失した」とし、初診の際のカルテを開示しませんでした。

バレンタインさんは現在控訴中ですが、前回の第3回弁論では法廷に入りきれないほどの50名以上の方がご参加くださり、熱心な弁護団の先生方と皆さんのお陰により結審せず、第4回弁論につなげることができました。
しかし、時間もあまり残されておらず、次の弁論が正念場でもあります。

東京高等裁判所が公正な裁判を進め、法廷で真実が明らかにされるよう、多くの方々の傍聴参加をお願いします!

■ 【第4回・控訴審弁論日程】 ■

今回の裁判は、傍聴券交付となります。
(無料。誰でも傍聴できます。)

当日は、12時50分から、東京高等裁判所正面玄関の右側入口付近にて傍聴券交付手続きがおこなわれる予定です。締切り時間は13時10分までです。

●控訴人バレンタインさんの事件名 「平成19年(ネ)第2429号 」

●平成20年2月12日(火)13時半 開廷

●場所:東京高等裁判所 8階 808号法廷

東京高等裁判所は、東京地方裁判所と同じ合同庁舎内
〒100-8920 千代田区霞が関1−1−4
地下鉄丸の内線・日比谷線千代田線 「霞が関駅」A1出口徒歩1分,
または、
有楽町線 「桜田門駅」5番出口徒歩約3分

当日の交付手続きに関しては、直前に裁判所HPなどで発表されます。
傍聴希望者が少ない場合は、傍聴券交付手続き締切り後でも法廷に入れますので、間に合わなかった方も、808号法廷の隣の待合室までおこしください。

交付手続き以外の、申込の必要や、入口でどこの法廷に行くかなどの届出は不要です。
(ただし、裁判所の中に入る際、持物検査があります。)
早く来られた方は、隣接の待合室でお待ち下さい。
他の支援者の方々も同じようにそこで待っています。

傍聴券交付が行われる裁判についての掲示はこちら
(ただし、2月5日時点で未掲載)
http://www.courts.go.jp/search/jbsp0010?crtName=6

詳しい裁判傍聴案内はこちら
http://www.courts.go.jp/kengaku/

■ 支援会のホームページ http://sky.geocities.jp/team_vuc/

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

『支援会Aさんよりメッセージ』

みなさま、以下の文章は一例です。
3連休のためもう間に合わないとしても、火曜日の朝に大量のFAXが届いているのを大使館員の皆さんが目にしてくれたら、少しは何か感じてくれるかもしれません。
私は、03-5425-8016と03-5425-8021の両方のFAX番号にFAXを送りました。
もし、FAXを送ることに賛同できる・・・という方は、どうかよろしくお願いします。

☆在日ナイジェリア連邦共和国大使館
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Japan

Fax : 03-5425-8016 / 03-5425-8021 / 03-5425-8022
(emailでしたら consular@nigeriaembassy.jp です)

これより以下は、文章例です。

〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓

(英語要請文の参考例 その1)

                              February9th, 2008

Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Japan

I STRONGLY ASK FOR YOUR ATTENDANCE FOR AN APPEAL HEARING OF MR.VALENTINE’S TRIAL

Dear Mr.Yahaya Tabari Zaria,

I really thank you very much for reading my sudden message that I
asked for your attendance for a Nigerian, Mr Valentine’s upcoming
appeal hearing on Tuesday, 13:30pm February 12nd 2008 at Tokyo High
Court room 808.

Before his last appeal on November 20th, 2007, Mr.Valentine submitted
an application letter that requests attendance of embassy officers for
the hearing, however regret to say, no officers attend the hearing at
all. It was very disappointed not only for Mr.Valentine but all his
friends and supporters who concern very much.

This time also, Mr.Valentine has submitted an application again to
ask you and your officers for attending the hearing and support him.

Your attendance will help him very much, and same time this will be
great help not only for him but also for all Nigerians living in Japan
to improve their human rights in Japan, furthermore it can say to
tighten good relationship between Nigeria and Japan.

Your attendance will be highly appreciated.

Thank you very much.

Yours Sincerely,

Representative
( )

Tel:

Email

Valentine Trial Support Group

http://sky.geocities.jp/team_vuc/
ENDS

川崎いじめ訴訟で100万円の賠償命令–Ethnically-diverse Japanese bullied in school wins lawsuit

mytest

Hi Blog. Been meaning to put this up. About the U Hoden Case, where a Japanese grade schooler with Chinese roots (one parent a naturalized Chinese) was badly bullied–so badly she had PTSD medically diagnosed. Her parents took the bullies to court, and last December, they won! More background on this case here. Their supporters’ website here. Arudou Debito

テレビ神奈川の解説
川崎いじめ訴訟で100万円の賠償命令
07/12/21(金)12:59
小学生時代のいじめが原因でPTSD=心的外傷後ストレス傷害になったとして生徒と両親がいじめた側に損害賠償を求めた裁判の判決で横浜地裁川崎支部はいじめた同級生の両親に100万円の支払いを命じました。
 訴えを起こしていたのは現在、高校1年生の女子生徒とその両親です。
 訴えなどによりますとこの女子生徒は川崎市多摩区の小学3年生だった2000年に同級生2人から暴力を振るわれたり中国人の父と日本人の母を持つことについて「ハーフ」とはやし立てられるなど日常的にいじめを受けていました。
 女子生徒はこのいじめが原因でPTSDになったとしていじめた側に慰謝料を求めていました。
きょうの判決で横浜地裁川崎支部の駒谷孝雄裁判長は「いじめによって受けた精神的苦痛は相当大きい」といじめの違法性を認め、いじめた側の同級生の両親に合わせて100万円の支払いを命じました。
(弁護団のサイトはこちらです。)
asahi122207.tiff

Japan Today: Naturalized Chinese sues Hitachi for contract nonrenewal

mytest

Hi Blog. Here’s another lawsuit of note (sorry for not seeing it sooner).

Note the errroneous headline. This person is not a Chinese worker. She is a naturalized Japanese citizen, therefore a Japanese. Bishibashi for the copy editor (and the translation is pretty hokey too).

Quick comment follows article.

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

Hitachi sued by Chinese worker
Japan Today November 27, 2007
http://www.japantoday.com/jp/shukan/424

Hitachi is being sued for discrimination by a Chinese employee. The case is being watched by many major Japanese manufacturing companies because it’s quite a rare case that discrimination against their foreign workers becomes public.

The plaintiff graduated from a Chinese university and obtained a masters degree at a Japanese university. She joined Hitachi in 1994, and obtained Japanese citizenship during her career there. She is now 58 years old.

According to the plaintiff, after a one-year probation, she was hired by Hitachi and asked to work for a section dealing with China and assigned translation tasks. She was supposed to be given a full-time contract. But because of a working visa problem, she was given the status of a “non-regular staff,” which requires annual renewal of the contract. In April of 2004, Hitachi told her that they would not renew the contract.

In June of 2006, she sued Hitachi, saying, “The one-year contract as a non-regular staff is just an ad hoc measure, and I was virtually working full-time. There is no justification for making me quit.” In her suit, she has requested “confirmation of her rights in the contract,” unpaid salaries and 10 million yen compensation.

Hitachi says that she is just a non-regular worker whose contract had to be renewed annually and that the company let her go because her contract had finished.

However, on Oct 15, the plaintiff invited a former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, Hidenori Sakanaka, who is now a specialist in foreign worker issues in Japan, to court. Sakanaka questioned Hitachi’s appeal, saying, “The plaintiff was given a special status called ‘Specialist in Humanities / International Services.’ This special status is given only to those who work as full-time staff and never given to ‘non-regular staff’ because ‘non-regular staff’ is not a legally recognized labor status.”

A lawyer who specializes in corporate laws says, “It’s actually common for foreign workers to renew their employment contracts every three years in order to renew their visa. I think corporations generally don’t fire their foreign employees who work full-time.”

Hitachi has refused further comments on the case, saying it is still a court matter. However, Sakanaka says the Hitachi case is the tip of the iceberg. Since China is an important market for Japanese companies, labor problems with Chinese employees could become more common from now on, he says. (Translated by Taro Fujimoto)
ENDS
===========================

COMMENT: The thing I don’t get about this article is that the plaintiff got Japanese citizenship while she was working at Hitachi, so why is visa and employment even an issue? Is she a Japanese worker or not? And did her work status not changed when she naturalized? And wow, this case is taking a long time, if she first filed suit in 2006!

Anyway, her case might help bring about some consistancy in the arrayed grey zone between perpetually-renewed contracted NJ and part-time J workers–something employers have been using to keep their staff disposable at will. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Himu Case: Tokyo District Court orders Sankei Shinbun to pay NJ damages for reporting erroneous al-Qaeda link

mytest

Hi Blog. We’ve had enough rotten news recently. Now for some good news.

A Bangladeshi by the name of Islam Himu (whom I’ve met–he’s on my mailing lists) was accused during the al-Qaeda Scare of 2005 of being part of a terrorist cell. And the media, particularly the Sankei, reported him by name as such. Detained for more than a month by the cops, he emerged to find his reputation in tatters, his business rent asunder, and his life irrevocably changed.

This is why you don’t report rumor as fact in the established media. And as we saw in the Sasebo Shootings a few days ago, the papers and the powers that be won’t take reponsibility even when they get it wrong.

So Mr Himu sued the Sankei. And won. Congratulations. A good precedent. Now if only could get the Japanese police to take responsibility when they overdo things. Well, we can dream.

News article, referential Japan Times piece, and other background follows. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Sankei newspaper ordered to compensate foreigner over Al Qaeda slur
(Mainichi Japan) December 11, 2007
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/national/news/20071211p2a00m0na027000c.html

The Sankei newspaper has been ordered by the Tokyo District Court to pay a foreigner 3.3 million yen in compensation for implying he was linked to Al Qaeda and plotting a terrorist attack.

The court found the paper had defamed 37-year-old company president Islam Mohamed Himu of Toda, Saitama Prefecture, and ordered it to compensate him.

“It was inappropriate to publish his name,” Presiding Judge Hitomi Akiyoshi said as she handed down the ruling.

Sankei officials said they were not sure how the company will react to the case.

“We want to take a close look at the ruling before deciding how to respond,” a Sankei spokesman said.

Court records showed that Himu was arrested in 2004 for forgery and fined 300,000 yen. The day after his arrest, the Sankei ran a front page story under the headline “Underground bank produces terror funds, man with links to top terrorists arrested.”

Sankei proceeded to write that Himu had links to high-ranking Al Qaeda members and was suspected of involvement in procuring funds for terrorism.
ENDS
==================================

Alleged al-Qaeda link seeks vindication
Bangladeshi wants apology, claims he was falsely accused by police, press
The Japan Times April 2, 2005
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/nn20050402f4.html

A Bangladeshi businessman who was incorrectly alleged by police and the media last year as being linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist network is seeking vindication.

Investigators held Islam Mohamed Himu for 43 days but ultimately found he had no links to al-Qaeda.

Himu said that even since being freed, he has struggled to get his life and business back on track. He has filed a complaint of human rights violations with the Japan Federation of Bar Associations.

“I want to ask senior officials of the government or police: what was my fault?” Himu said in an interview.

“The Japanese police and media have destroyed my life,” said the 34-year-old, who runs a telecommunications company in Tokyo.

“I want them to apologize and restore my life,” he said, urging the government to help him obtain visas to make business trips to several countries that have barred his entry following the allegations.

Himu came to Japan in 1995 with his Japanese wife, whom he had met in Canada. After establishing a firm in Tokyo that mainly sells prepaid international phone cards, he obtained permanent residency in 2000.

Police arrested him last May 26 and issued a fresh warrant June 16. They alleged he had falsified a corporate registration and illegally hired two employees, including his brother.

While in custody, investigators mostly asked if he had any links to al-Qaeda, noting that a Frenchman suspected of being in al-Qaeda bought prepaid phone cards from him several times, according to Himu.

He said he tried to prove he had no connection with terrorists, telling police the Frenchman was one of several hundred customers and he had no idea the man used an alias.

However, police dismissed his claim, he said, and leaked to major media organizations, including Kyodo, their suspicions that he was involved with al-Qaeda, and all of them reported the allegations.

Himu said he believes police arrested him as a scapegoat even though they knew he had no link with al-Qaeda.

He was nabbed shortly after the media reported that the Frenchman had stayed in Japan in 2002 and 2003.

Prosecutors did not indict him on the first charge, while a court fined him 300,000 yen on the second charge. He was released on July 7.

Himu said the prosecutors’ failure to indict proves he was not an al-Qaeda member, but it did not necessarily constitute a public apology.

All his employees left following the release of the sketchy police information, and he now has 120 million yen in debts due to the disruption of his business, he claimed.

The Japan Times: Saturday, April 2, 2005

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

REFERENTIAL LINK:
Japan Times and Asia Times articles on 2004 police Al-Qaeda witch hunt, Himu Case, and police detentions in Japan.
http://www.debito.org/japantimes102305detentions.html

ENDS

アルカイダ報道:産経新聞に330万円賠償命令 東京地裁

mytest

アルカイダ報道:産経新聞に330万円賠償命令 東京地裁
毎日新聞 2007年12月10日 19時48分 (最終更新時間 12月10日 20時48分)
http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/news/20071211k0000m040054000c.html
 国際テロ組織アルカイダと関係があると実名報道され名誉を傷付けられたとして、バングラデシュ国籍の会社社長、イスラム・モハメッド・ヒムさん(37)=埼玉県戸田市=らが産経新聞社に330万円の賠償を求めた訴訟で東京地裁は10日、全額支払いを命じた。秋吉仁美裁判長は「慎重な裏付け取材を続ける必要があった。少なくとも実名報道は妥当ではない」と指摘した。 

 判決によるとヒムさんは04年、電磁的公正証書原本不実記録容疑などで逮捕され、出入国管理法違反で罰金30万円の略式命令を受けた。産経新聞は逮捕翌日に1面で「地下銀行でテロ資金 幹部と接触男を逮捕」との見出しで、ヒムさんがアルカイダ幹部と接触し、テロ資金の送金に関与した疑いがあるなどと報じた。【高倉友彰】
ENDS

Alberto Fujimori really gets his–6 years’ prison; and that’s not all

mytest

Well, well, well… Idi Amin escaped the rap. So did Augusto Pinochet. But Charles Taylor and Slobodan Milosevic didn’t. And now Alberto Fujimori–who foolishly left his safe haven provided by the Japanese government and has wound up getting his. Ii kimi da.

See why Debito.org has something against Fujimori here. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Fujimori convicted
Associated Press
Canadian Globe and Mail, December 11, 2007 at 6:15 PM EST
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071211.wfuji1211/BNStory/International/home

LIMA — Former President Alberto Fujimori was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison on Tuesday on a charge of abuse of authority stemming from an illegal search he ordered as his government imploded in scandal seven years ago.

Supreme Court Judge Pedro Guillermo Urbina declared that Mr. Fujimori was guilty of abusing his power when he ordered an aide to pose as a prosecutor and search the luxury apartment of the wife of his spy chief without a warrant in November 2000.

Mr. Fujimori, who ruled Peru from 1990 to 2000 before fleeing to Japan as his government collapsed, faces a total of seven human rights and corruption charges in multiple trials.

On Monday, an indignant Mr. Fujimori shouted his innocence and waved his arms in outrage as he went on trial in a separate case on charges he authorized an army death squad to kill leftist rebels and collaborators. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted for his alleged role in the killings, which came amid a government crackdown on a bloody Maoist insurgency.

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

Fujimori convicted and sentenced in illegal search

Peru’s former president gets six years behind bars for abuse of power. He still faces charges on other serious counts.
By Adriana León and Patrick J. McDonnell, Special to The Los Angeles Times
December 12, 2007
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-fuji12dec12,1,4508479.story?coll=la-headlines-world

LIMA, PERU — Former President Alberto Fujimori was convicted of abuse of power Tuesday and sentenced to six years in prison after a judge found him responsible for an illegal search at the home of the wife of his onetime intelligence chief.

It was the first conviction in a series of criminal charges Fujimori has faced since being extradited from Chile in September.

Human rights advocates have hailed the multiple cases against Fujimori as blows against impunity. But supporters of the ex-president call him the victim of political persecution.

The abuse of power charge is among the least serious faced by Fujimori, but his conviction was a setback for the ex-president.

His daughter, Keiko Fujimori, a popular congresswoman, was visibly upset afterward, and called the decision “unjust.”

However, she added that her father had conceded the “irregularity” of the disputed search, which took place in the waning, convulsive days of his administration.

The ex-president, whose legal team had hoped for a suspended sentence, indicated that he would file a partial appeal of the conviction.

The conviction came a day after Fujimori stunned Peruvians with an emotional outburst in a separate, far more serious, case in which he stands accused of dispatching death squads to kill 25 suspected leftists. The ex-president faces a 30-year prison term in that case.

During Monday’s court session, Fujimori, 69, shouted that he was “totally innocent” of ordering the killings and argued that his decisive tactics had saved Peru from terrorism and economic ruin.

The former president also faces charges of kidnapping, corruption and bribery.

Fujimori, who is being held in a special lockup without bail, was subdued in court Tuesday as the judge took three hours to read his findings.

As the ex-leader was being led away, local media reported, he flashed a smile at his three children, who were watching proceedings from behind a glass partition.

The search at issue took place Nov. 7, 2000, in the former apartment of the wife of Vladimiro Montesinos, Fujimori’s shadowy spymaster. At the time, Montesinos was a fugitive in a mushrooming corruption case that would ultimately topple Fujimori’s government. Montesinos is now jailed here and, like Fujimori, facing multiple trials and life behind bars.

Prosecutors suspect that Fujimori ordered an aide to conduct the warrantless search in an eleventh-hour effort to collect videos or other evidence that could have implicated his administration in corruption. Montesinos, a purported master of blackmail, was known to have made clandestine videotapes of lawmakers and others receiving bribes.

Fujimori eventually fled Peru and filed his resignation by fax from Japan, his parents’ homeland.

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

Fujimori outburst sets tone for Peru human rights trials
Christian Science Monitor December 12, 2007 edition – http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1212/p07s02-woam.html

Peru’s former leader let loose a tirade as his human rights and corruption trials began Monday.

By Lucien Chauvin | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

Lima, Peru
The multiple human rights and corruption trials of Peru’s Alberto Fujimori got off to a colorful start this week when the former president launched into a tirade denying the charges against him and taking credit for the country’s current economic boom.

Mr. Fujimori, who ruled Peru from 1990-2000, began facing a three-judge panel Monday on charges that he approved the death-squad murders of 15 people in 1991 and nine students and a professor the following year. The trial also includes the charge of authorizing the kidnapping and torture of a journalist and a businessman, also in 1992.

He also may face a seven-year sentence in a separate trial on abuse of authority charges.

Fujimori disrupted the mundane administrative chores of the initial hearings Monday when he asked permission to briefly address the court before entering a plea.

The former president immediately threw up his arms, contorted his face, and started screaming that he had saved Peru from imminent collapse when he first took office in July 1990.

“I received Peru in 1990 in a state of collapse, with hyperinflation, international isolation, and widespread terrorism… Peru is progressing today because there were reforms in the context of respect for human rights,” he yelled. “I totally reject the charges. I am innocent.”

After shouting down the chief judge for a few moments, Fujimori stopped, politely thanked the court for the chance to speak and, smoothing his dark gray, pinstripe suit, calmly returned to his seat in the center of the small courtroom built for the trial on a police base where he has been incarcerated since September.

The outburst fits the image that both Fujimori’s supporters and detractors hold of him, and it is likely to set the tone for the trials, which are expected to last at least six months.

“If he acts this way, in the context of a trial and while under arrest, imagine how he must have been when he had all the power in his hands as president,” says Gloria Cano, a lawyer representing victims of those killed in the 1991 massacre.

Fujimori is proud of his legacy

Fujimori, a math professor, stunned Peruvians in 1990 by coming out of nowhere to win the presidency. He took office with inflation galloping in four digits, the economy shrinking by double digits, and nearly 75 percent of Peru’s territory under a state of emergency because of the actions of two leftist rebels groups, the Shining Path and Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.

Fujimori’s economic reforms stopped inflation and reinserted Peru into the world financial community while new antiterrorism laws facilitated the arrests of the heads of the two subversive groups, effectively stopping them as threats to the Peruvian state. Fujimori and his followers hope that this is what Peruvians remember, and it is what he focused on in Monday’s outburst.

Opponents do not deny these successes, but say they came with a high cost to the country’s democracy.

When Congress balked at economic and legal changes, Fujimori simply closed it and the judiciary in April 1992, originally trying to govern alone with the Army and intelligence service. When that was not possible, he had a new Constitution written. The main change, foreshadowing a current trend in the region, allowed for immediate presidential reelection.

Fujimori ran and won again in 1995, and reinterpreted his own Constitution to allow for a third bid in 2000. He also won that contest, although later evidence would show that massive voter fraud committed throughout the electoral cycle helped him.

His third term only lasted four months. He fled Peru in November 2000, escaping a massive corruption scandal that would land his closest collaborators, including former Army chief Gen. Nicolas Hermoza and security adviser Vladimiro Montesinos, in prison.

Fujimori spent five years in Japan, his parents’ homeland, but flew secretly to Chile in 2005, with the alleged intention of returning home in time for elections the following year. He never made it. Chilean authorities arrested him and the country’s Supreme Court approved this past September seven of the 12 extradition requests filed against him.

Fujimori’s supporters are confident that he will be exonerated and make a comeback for the 2011 elections.

Supporters confident

“Today was an opportunity to the president to set the record straight. He is the man responsible for Peru’s good fortune. Peruvians are going to see through this charade. They are the real judges here and the verdict will be in our favor,” says Rep. Carlos Raffo.

Recent trials of former collaborators, however, are not promising. Ten of Fujimori’s former cabinet members were found guilty in late November of violating the Constitution because of their support for the 1992 move that closed Congress. Nine received suspended sentences, while one was given a 10-year sentence.

Even more damaging, his former security adviser and right-hand man, Mr. Montesinos, testified last week that he did not make any decisions on his own, always taking orders from Fujimori. That trial was about election fraud in 2000, but Montesinos, already found guilty in more than 20 cases from the Fujimori era, will also be one of the principal witnesses in the trial of his former boss.

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

Law and Order | 11 December, 2007 [ 12:00 ]
Peru: 30-Year Prison Sentence Recommended for Alberto Fujimori
Living in Peru.com
http://www.livinginperu.com/news-5281-law-order-peru-30-year-prison-sentence-recommended-alberto-fujimori
© La Republica

(LIP-ir) — In a 20-minute statement, government prosecutor, José Antonio Peláez requested that Peru’s Supreme Court sentence Alberto Fujimori to 30 years in prison and fine him 100 million soles for the massacre that took place at Barrios Altos, the death of students and a teacher from La Cantuta University and the kidnapping of two people.

The government prosecutor clarified that Alberto Fujimori was not being tried for his fight against terrorism but was on trial for the “dirty war” led by the Grupo Colina, a paramilitary death squad.

He added that Fujimori had been the person responsible for giving the Colina Group its orders and was therefore responsible for the people that were killed and the kidnapping of a journalist and a businessman.

These accusations and others caused Peru’s former president to cry out his innocence in the courtroom.

César Nakasaki, Alberto Fujimori’s lawyer stated that it was natural for a man that felt he was innocent to respond in this manner while unfairly being accused.

He added that the former Head of State was offended and that he could not ask an innocent man not to speak out against the unjust accusations that were being made.

Fujimori’s outburst was a desperate political speech made when he lost control after realizing that the trial was not going in his favor, said political analyst Carlos Reyna. He stated that this did not help the former president at all.

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

mytest

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
http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/422548

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.
ENDS

Valentine Lawsuit: Next Hearing Nov 20 11AM Tokyo High Court, join his support group.

mytest

Hi Blog. Nov 20 promises to be a busy day. If you’re not attending the Amnesty/SMJ Protest against Fingerprinting, then consider attending this event–in fact you can probably squeeze both of them in, since they’re both in Kasumigaseki.

About a person allegedly brutalized by the police, but undoubtedly denied medical treatment while incarcerated, and crippled in the event. Yet could not receive any compensation in court for his suffering or medical bills due in part to, according to the Lower Court decision, his (and his witnesses’) untrustworthy foreignness. I wrote about this in the Japan Times last August 14:

THE ZEIT GIST
Abuse, racism, lost evidence deny justice in Valentine Case
Nigerian’s ordeal shows that different standards apply for foreigners in court

http://www.debito.org/japantimes081407.html

Here are the details from the Support Group. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
SUPPORTERS WANTED FOR MR. VALENTINE’S TRIAL
== Please participate in his upcoming hearing ==

In Japan, when a witness is a foreigner, he can’t be trusted. And when an accused is a foreigner, he can’t have justice. At least, that is what is going on with his case…

Mr. Valentine, a Nigerian national, is defending himself against the Tokyo Metropolitan Government after a police beating incident which took place in Shinjuku almost 4 years ago. At the last trial, the judge did not close the case. Many thanks to the audience (more than 25 people sat in the public seats) who watched the trial so close. And now the date for the 3rd trial has been set. We are asking for your support, especially your participation in this upcoming hearing at Tokyo high court. Please help him to get justice.

The 3rd Appeal Tribunal Trial schedule:
Court opens at 11 am on November 20th. Tuesday, 2007
At Tokyo High Court 8th floor
Court Room Number 808
Court appellant : Mr. Valentine U.C.
< case number " (NE) 2429th of 2007" >

An application is not necessary to attend the hearing. Anyone can participate. Please come to the court before 11 am. You can enter the hearing room without any application or notification, but there will be a property check at the door. If you come earlier, please wait in the waiting room. Other supporters will meet you there. For more info: http://www.courts.go.jp/kengaku/

Access : “Kasumigaseki station” on Tokyo Metro Marunouchi line, Hibiya line or Chiyoda line. A1 exit, 1 minute walk. Or “Sakuradamon station” on Tokyo Metro Yuurakuchou line, No. 5 exit, 3 minute walk.

Mr. Valentine was arrested by Fuueihou violation in a back alley in Shinjuku Kabuki-cho on December 9th in 2003. Though he was handcuffed and did not resist during the arrest, he was brutally beaten by undercover police officers and it cost him a broken knee head bone. At the Tokyo police hospital, Mr. Valentine did not receive proper treatment. As a result, Mr. Valentine became a certified disabled person.

He brought a lawsuit against the Tokyo Metropolitan Government back in August, 2005, but lost the case. One of the reasons for the decision was based on the unaccountability of the eyewitness. The witness was also an African man. It stated anyone from the Kabuki-cho black people community can’t be taken as an accountable witness. And the Tokyo police hospital has not released his medical record, insisting it has been lost.

Read more:
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070814zg.html
Contact: Valentine Trial Support Group (Japanese or English)
E-MAIL: rakuritsu.green@hotmail.co.jp
ENDS

バレンタインさんの警察官による外国人への暴力事件:【裁判傍聴に ご参加をお願いします!】 平成19年11月20日(火)11時 開廷

mytest

【裁判傍聴に ご参加をお願いします!】
===警察官による外国人への暴力事件===

ナイジェリア国籍のバレンタインさんは、新宿歌舞伎町で私服 警察官に不法な暴力を振るわれ障害者となりました。東京都を 相手取り裁判を起こしましたが、一審敗訴。東京都は暴力の事 実を認めず、バレンタインさんが勝手に看板に足をぶつけて怪 我をしたと虚偽の主張。証拠となる防犯カメラが現場にありま したが、都は防犯カメラを撤去し最初からなかったと主張しま した。初診のカルテも東京警察病院が「受診カルテを紛失した 」として裁判所命令にもかかわらず提出を拒否しています。一 審判決は原告側証人を「外国人だから信用できない」としまし た。原告は強大な公権力に翻弄され窮地に追い込まれています 。

人権が無視されていいのでしょうか、税金による公権力の不当 行使を許していいのでしょうか。

バレンタインさんは現在、控訴審公判中です。前回の第2回目 公判では25名以上の方々で傍聴席がうまり、そのお陰により 結審せず、第3回目公判につなげることができました。法廷で 真実を明らかにするため、東京高等裁判所に公正な判決を下し てもらうよう、多くの方々の傍聴参加をお願いします!

■ 【第3回・控訴審公判日程】 ■

平成19年11月20日(火)11時 開廷  東京高等裁判所 8階808号法廷

控訴人 バレンタインさんの事件名 「平成19年(ネ)第2 429号 」

○最寄り駅:地下鉄東京メトロ丸の内線・日比谷線・千代田線 「霞が関駅」A1出口から徒歩1分

地下鉄東京メトロ有楽町線「桜田門駅」5番出口から徒歩約3 分

○東京高等裁判所へのアクセス・案内図⇒
http://www.courts.go.jp/tokyo/about/syozai/tokyotisai.html

* 裁判の傍聴は、申込不要・受付不要です。誰でも傍聴でき ます。当日、開始時刻前に法廷に行って下さい。申込の必要や 、入口でどこの法廷に行くかなどの届出は不要です。(ただし 、裁判所の中にはいる際に、持物検査があります。)早くこら れた方は、隣接の待合室でお待ち下さい。他の支援者が同じよ うにそこで待っています。詳しい裁判傍聴案内は次のURLを参 照下さい⇒
http://www.courts.go.jp/kengaku/

【暴行の経緯】

ナイジェリア国籍のバレンタインさんは、2003年12月9 日午後7時45分、新宿歌舞伎町の路地裏にて風営法違反で逮 捕されました。当時歌舞伎町でナイトクラブのビラ配りのアル バイトをしていたバレンタインさんは、逮捕時には手錠をかけ られた上全く無抵抗であったのにも係わらず、私服警官から過 剰な暴行を受け、右膝周辺を力一杯踏みつけられ蹴飛ばされ、 右膝頚骨は粉砕してしまいました。その結果バレンタインさん は身体障害者になり、障害者手帳(5級)の保持者になりまし た。

バレンタインさんが懇願した末に搬送された東京警察病院でも 、必要な治療(手術)を受けらずに新宿署に10日間身柄を拘 束されました。本来ならば、通常このような患者には緊急手術 が施されますが、しかしその間も取調べは行われ、怪我を負わ された足にギブスをつけただけでした。そして現在も歩行に支 障をきたし、今後は普通に走ることなど望めません。

バレンタインさんはこの暴行に対し2005年8月、東京都に 対し国家賠償訴訟を起こしましたが、2007年3月29日敗 訴判決が下されました。(一審では、「歌舞伎町黒人コミュニ ティーの仲間である同国人の証人証言を、そのまま信用するこ とは到底できない。」などの理由により敗訴。また、東京警察 病院では「受診カルテを紛失した」とし、カルテを開示しませ んでした。)

同年5月に控訴し、7月15日に控訴審初公判、9月25日に 第2回公判を済ませ、現在は次回第3回公判の準備中です。

■連絡先: バレンタイン裁判支援会(メールは日本語でもO Kです。)

E-MAIL: rakuritsu.green@hotmail.co.jp
ENDS

Documentary film on parental child abduction in Japan: Fundraiser Tues Dec 11 in Tokyo

mytest

Hi Blog. I have been quite closely associated with this project for more than a year now (I’m interviewed in the film–see the link to the trailer below) and have a personal stake in the subject. I encourage you to join us for the fundraiser, help out in any way you can, and even perhaps suggest venues we could appear at to get the word out. This is the Golden Age of the documentary, and this one ranks amongst the important ones. Help us get it launched. Downloadable movie poster available here. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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DOCUMENTARY FILM ON PARENTAL CHILD ABDUCTION IN JAPAN PLANS DECEMBER 11TH FUNDRAISER IN TOKYO

We first learned of this situation in January 2006 in a Metropolis article titled “Think of the children” by Kevin Buckland, and after some discussions we felt strongly that a documentary film would be an influential way to raise awareness about the issue. Both of us are married to Japanese and have started wonderful families, but hearing how easily and frequently a parent can be cut off from seeing their own kids was very disturbing. In reality, when a marriage in Japan or with a Japanese national(s) goes bad and there are kids involved, the situation easily becomes drastic and severe. Though the Japanese courts, government and police may not have intended it to be this way, Japan has become an abduction-friendly country, where the winner is the first one to grab the kids and run. We want to make this film to expose the depth of the current problem and how it affects everyone–worst of all, the children who are caught in the middle.

For the past year we have juggled our schedules to travel to several cities all over the world, talking to left-behind parents, attempting to speak with abducting parents, and conversing with experts on divorce, child psychology and law to gain and ultimately share a greater understanding of how and why this situation exists. We plan to take at least two months off from our current employment in spring 2008, and dedicate ourselves full time to edit and finalize the film. We aim for a screening at a film festival before the year is out. Our intention is to show it outside Japan first, garnering international support to create “gaiatsu” (outside pressure) that will force Japan to address and take responsibility for addressing the current situation. Matt and I want to make a film with tremendous impact in a prompt time frame, and to do that will require a much greater amount of funds than we have at this point. It is our goal to raise close to a quarter million dollars for this purpose. We ask all of you to consider making a donation within your budget toward our goal. For American tax payers we will soon have information about how you can donate tax free to our non-profit account at IDA.

We will have a Fundraiser at the Pink Cow restaurant in Shibuya on December 11th from 7:30 to 10:00pm. Tickets cost 10,000 yen include a beautiful buffet dinner two drinks (then cash bar), speakers and discussion about the current situation and a video presentation. For tickets contact: dave@fortakaandmana.com

Murray Wood, Steve Christie and Debito Arudou are among the list of attendees.

Please visit our website at:

http://www.fortakaandmana.com

View our trailer and find out more details about the film, links to other important websites, and donation details.

Matt’s e-mail is: matt@fortakaandmana.com
Dave’s e-mail is: dave@fortakaandmana.com

Thank you for your time and consideration.

David Hearn and Matt Antell
=======================================

MORE ON THIS ISSUE AT
“Remember the Children
One year on, has anything changed in the fight against international child abduction?”
Follow-up article in Metropolis by Kevin Buckland
http://metropolis.co.jp/tokyo/670/globalvillage.asp

Children’s Rights Network Japan
http://www.crnjapan.com/en/

http://www.debito.org/thedivorce.html
ENDS

NY1 News: Japanese Courts Make It Hard To Prove Innocence

mytest

Hi Blog. Word is getting out on what’s going on over here… Debito in Hirakata, Osaka.

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JAPANESE COURTS MAKE IT HARD TO PROVE INNOCENCE
NY1 News, October 13, 2007

http://www.ny1.com/ny1/content/index.jsp?stid=1&aid=74482
Courtesy of John Blade

In part four of her five-part series Tokyo Justice, NY1 Criminal Justice reporter Solana Pyne looks into the story of a man who finds himself swallowed up in the Japanese criminal justice system even though he’s done nothing wrong, bullied by police who want him to confess to a crime he didn’t commit. The story became the basis for an eye-opening movie in Japan.

The film “I Just Didn’t Do It” tells the story of a young Japanese man wrongly convicted of groping a woman on the subway. Director Misayaki Suo says the idea for the movie came from a newspaper story about a man who went through that ordeal.

“In theory, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty, but in Japan the defendant has to earn his innocence by proving that he is not guilty. It appears to be that way to me,” says Suo through a translator.

He discovered Japanese courts convict close to 99 percent of those who come before them. It’s one of the many things about the movie that those who watch it think is fiction.

“Many people are surprised and they ask, ‘Is this a true story?’” says Suo.

It was no surprise to Takashi Yatabe, pictured above, and his wife. It was his story that inspired Suo. Yatabe’s ordeal began in December of 2000, during his routine commute to work.

“A lady was pinching my sleeve. I turned around and she began jumping and to her girlfriend. Her friend came over and suddenly called me a groper,” says Yatabe through a translator.

He says he went willingly to the local police box to tell his side of the story. Already he says there were holes in the woman’s account: he wasn’t where she said he was, and she said he unzipped his pants, but his pants only had buttons. Still, over the next few weeks he was interrogated some four times. And he had no lawyer in the room with him because Japanese law doesn’t allow it.

“One detective suddenly pounded on the table and said, ‘you must have done it, you must have done it,’” recalls Yatabe.

But he refused. After three months he was finally released on bail. While out, he made videos, and diagrams to show the woman was not telling the truth. After a series of proceedings that took almost a year, a judge eventually heard his case. There are no juries in Japan.

“Guilty. The sentence was a year and two months in prison,” says Yatabe.

He was able to stay out of prison on appeal, finally changing his strategy to say something bad must in fact have happened to his accuser, but he was not to blame. After more than a year, his conviction was overturned – something that happens just a few percent of the time.

“Before this, I thought the court was the place that protected human rights. I never doubted it. I believed in police and prosecutors too,” says Yatabe’s wife Atsuko Yatabe through a translator.

Some might ask what it will take to prevent what happened to Yatabe from happening to others. He says the system needs to be completely overhauled.

“If the entire judicial system changes, then police and prosecutors might improve,” says Yatabe.

– Solana Pyne
ENDS

Chosun Ilbo: Korean sues for apartment refusal, wins in Kyoto Court

mytest

Hi Blog. Got enough stuff backlogged recently to have two updates per day. Here’s a quick one, which didn’t appear in the Japanese media in English or Japanese, according to Google News. Thanks to the Korean press for covering it. Good news:

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

http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200710/200710050017.html
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 en, 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.

(englishnews@chosun.com )
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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 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…

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Shuukan Kinyobi/J Times: Vietnamese worker lawsuit against JITCO & Toyota-related company

mytest

Hi Blog. 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. Thanks to Shuukan Kin’youbi and people at the Japan Times for bringing this to the fore. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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EXPLOITING VIETNAMESE
Apocalypse now
Japan Times Sunday, April 29, 2007
By MARK SCHREIBER
Shukan Kinyobi (April 20)

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20070429t2.html
Courtesy of Steve Silver

For 22-year-old Thi Kim Lien, Japan was the shining city on the hill, glistening with the promise of a better life for her family of 10 in Ho Chi Minh City. Buoyed by such hopes, she arrived in Japan in 2004.

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.

JITCO arranged to place the six as “trainees” (and later “interns”) at TMC. Their tasks involved stitching the covers onto armrests for use in vehicles produced by nearby Toyota Motor Corporation.

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.

Language training drills heaped further humiliation upon them, as they were encouraged to hone their Japanese pronunciation with such tongue twisters as “When nipples are large, the breasts are small. When the nipples are small, the breasts are large.”

“We really wanted to go back to Vietnam,” Lien says. “But we couldn’t.” It seems the trainees had posted a bond of $ 8,800 — the equivalent of six or more years of earnings in Vietnam — before leaving. Their families had borrowed to scrape together the money, which would be forfeited if they failed to fulfill their contractual obligations.

Truly, opines Shukan Kinyobi, this is a form of modern-day slavery that enables Japan to “abduct” Vietnamese.

According to TMC’s chairman Masaru Morihei, an organization called the Toyoda Technical Exchange Cooperative, comprised of 20 businesses, promoted the hiring of Vietnamese.

“We were told we could obtain low-cost labor that would address the problem of worker shortages,” he explains. “From the standpoint of a subcontractor factory at the bottom of the cost structure there was no reason for us to reject low-cost labor.”

Other firms in the area that employ Vietnamese trainees were reluctant to discuss the ongoing lawsuit. But one remarked off the record, “The only way for small subcontractors like us to survive is to hold the line on the cost of manufacturing by reducing labor costs.”

So what it comes down to is that the foreign workers who are helping to support a trillion-yen industry get penalized for responding to the call of nature. If that isn’t disgusting, huffs Shukan Kinyobi, what is?
ENDS

J Today on NJ workers, unions, NOVA, and job security in Japan

mytest

Hi Blog. 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 decent roundup.

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

And 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.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Foreign workers get mixed results from joining unions in Japan
By Oscar Johnson
Japan Today Feature Friday, September 28, 2007

http://www.japantoday.com/jp/feature/1293
Courtesy of Guregu

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.”

Tench speaks from experience. For years, his union has sparred with Nova over pension insurance, long-term contracts and other issues. “We haven’t gotten one demand,” he says. “The company has given nothing — zero.”

Indeed, there’s little incentive for companies like Nova, which did not respond to questions for this article, to publicly discuss its labor disputes. Unions, for their part, uniformly decline to reveal membership numbers, for fear of showing their hand to management. The relationship between the two is not always contentious, but in Japan the situation is hindered by a tendency to view foreign workers only as transitory, says Louis Carlet, deputy general secretary of the National Union of General Workers Tokyo Nambu (NUGW).

“The biggest issue we deal with is job security — dismissals, contract non-renewals and shaky contracts,” Carlet says. The typical one-year work agreement, he adds, can leave foreign employees in a state of limbo, fearing arbitrary non-renewals — a concept alien to most Japanese workers. Carlet admits that foreigners are often paid more than Japanese, but says there’s a tradeoff in job security and benefits, including unemployment and health insurance, that are needed by permanent residents. “One of our biggest goals is to achieve permanent employment status for foreign workers,” he says. “Right now, they’re regarded as what’s called `perma-temp’ (permanently temporary) workers.”

NUGW boasts about 65 workplace branches, and it has 200 more members at companies without on-site branches. Approximately 20% of its 2,600 members are foreigners, and 80% of those are teachers; another 10% work for newspapers. NUGW, whose foreign members are mostly from Western countries, is one of the Tokyo area’s few general unions with a large non-Japanese representation. Others, such as Zentoitsu Workers Union and Kanagawa City Union, have significant Central Asian, African and Brazilian members. Both unions put a priority on such issues as workplace safety and help with visas.

“If there’s a union branch, members can choose demands and submit them to management,” Carlet says. “We can help individuals, but it’s much more difficult. We can collective-bargain, but management sees one person as simply causing a problem. Often we tell them to come back with one or two of their coworkers.”

On the topic of Nova, Carlet and other union officials say that as Japan’s largest English language school, it sets the industry standard — for better or for worse. And these days, many agree, it’s the latter. After attempting to negotiate with the English school and even organizing strikes, NUGW Nova Union last year filed a suit with the Tokyo Labor Relations Board, and is now awaiting a verdict that Tench says could force Nova to negotiate more amiably. But that’s likely the least of the company’s concerns.

In April, the same month that Nova posted a net loss of 2.5 billion yen for fiscal 2006, it lost a Supreme Court decision in a lawsuit filed by a former student who was bilked out of a refund after canceling his contract for English lessons. By June, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry slapped the firm with an unprecedented six-month ban on signing new long-term customer contracts after determining such practices were routine. The ministry cited other violations, including misleading advertising, according to media reports.

In response, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry yanked job-training subsidies for Nova language courses. And this month, as the school mulled over issuing new shares to stay afloat, the French financial group BNP Paribas unloaded its 11.85% stake in the company for 30 yen a share — 41 yen less than it paid for them, according to media reports. Recent revelations of shady business practices may be the source of Nova’s current woes, but some say they mirror labor practices its unions have been fighting for years.

NUGW Nova Union and its sister organization in Kansai were founded in 1993 following a dispute over random drug testing of Nova employees, a policy that was established after two instructors were arrested for drug possession. The Osaka Bar Association, whose decisions carry significant weight but are non-binding, ruled that the policy discriminated against foreign staff and violated their right to privacy. The association made a similar ruling against a Nova policy barring teachers from socializing with students outside of school in 2004, and the following year Nova settled out of court with one teacher after trying to enforce the policy. Yet both rules reportedly remain in place to this day.

“If a company doesn’t treat its workers fairly, then it will do the same to its customers,” says Tench. “Management at many companies resist improving working conditions, which seems to me to be an extraordinarily stupid thing for any company to do.” Despite such grievances, Tench and Dan Bain, an executive officer of the Osaka-based General Union, say they now worry about Nova’s future —especially after the chain announced last week that it may shutter 200 of its 900 schools. “Our concern is where the company is going — whether we’ll be able to keep our jobs,” he says. “One thing we’re looking at is possibly petitioning the government. That six-month suspension of new costumer contracts is not just penalizing the company but also teachers; some 5,000 staff could be out of work.”

Berlitz also under fire

Other English language school unions, however, say they have been more successful. Catherine Campbell is president of Berlitz Union NUGW (or BEGUNTO), which is lauded by many longtime members. “Currently, we are in dispute to see some of the profits Berlitz has been making reflected in the working conditions,” she said on a recent afternoon after passing out leaflets to passersby. “We’ve seen a steady decline in work conditions. The company introduces new contracts, and what we see is the newer people making a lot less money for the same work that people under older contracts are doing.” (Michael Mullen, a Berlitz human resources manager in Tokyo, said he or others at the company would not comment on unions for this article.)

Campbell is optimistic about union efforts, citing past successes. “In 2004, the company had a bad year, so it announced that teacher salaries would be frozen. The union didn’t accept that, so we went on strike and the company agreed to pay increases.” She also notes smaller victories, such as a dispute over a closet-size teachers’ room at one school, which led to Berlitz agreeing to consider teacher input when making renovations and choosing facilities. But not everyone is so upbeat.

Mark Jennings is a Berlitz Teacher and founding member of BEGUNTO who once held a series of executive posts in the union. After being actively involved with the group for much of his two decades in Japan, he had an epiphany: “I resigned because I finally figured out that NUGW is just a scam. I think unions in Japan are not serious and are not meant to be. NUGW keeps active just enough to maintain credibility.”

Jennings says unions are just an extension of management, more interested in collecting dues than creating change. Teachers have been fired for joining NUGW, yet the group took no real action, he says, and teachers have not had a base-pay raise since 1993, which indicates the union’s passive approach to collective bargaining.

Carlet, whose job as deputy general secretary pays 250,000 yen a month — less, he adds, than many of the members he works for — says union policy and how aggressive to be with management is decided by the members themselves. As proof of successful negotiations, he points to unemployment insurance for teachers at Nova and most other eikaiwa, which was a right won by the union. “If you have a problem with the union,” Carlet says, “then join it and change it.” It’s similar to the challange unions make regarding the workplace.

That’s a call that Mark Goldsmith, a copy editor for The Japan Times, heeded more than once — with mixed results. A former BEGUNTO member, Goldsmith moved on to the Daily Yomiuri in 1999, where he used his contacts to help start NUGW’s Daily Yomiuri Workers Union branch.

“After being there a few months and seeing the conditions, I asked if others were interested in starting a union, and there was considerable interest, especially among foreigners,” he says. The union was able to get late-shift payments and curtail indefinite “trial-period” contracts that excluded staff from health insurance, pension and unemployment benefits, Goldsmith and other sources say.

Asahi Shimbun used union-busting tactics

“It was stressful at first, but at least it wasn’t the union-busting tactics used by Asahi,” he says of his next job. As a copy editor at the International Herald Tribune/Asahi Shimbun, Goldsmith says he didn’t plan to start a union. Yet in 2002, he found himself right in the thick of another battle. “I thought Asahi, being a liberal paper, would be labor-friendly. I had no idea they had Japanese writers and translators being paid as freelancers that were required to be there the same hours as regular workers.”

Although Goldsmith and others managed to form the IHT/Asahi Employees Union branch of NUGW, collective bargaining proved fruitless. The last union member at the paper resigned after three remaining co-members refused to sign contracts that would have resulted in termination after five years. The three are now appealing a lawsuit they lost against the company.

Firms such as Asahi and Yomiuri have their own unions, but if they are open to all workers, Goldsmith, Carlet and others say, they’re unlikely to challenge management, much less stand up for a minority of disadvantaged coworkers. It leaves some feeling that the only option is to organize, which is not without its challenges — especially in the English conversation school industry.

“We like to say unionizing ALTs is like herding cats,” Carlet says. “They’re so scattered around that they never see each other.” Scant Japanese-language skills also put an undue burden on unions attempting to address foreign-worker issues. “Most foreigners in Japan are illiterate — they can’t read the rules and laws. I spend a lot of time translating affidavits and interpreting.” Carlet even jokes that the best thing about his 15-hour-a- week kidney dialysis treatments is that it forces him to rest. “Before dialysis, I used to work morning to night.”

Then there are the fence-sitters. “One of the most frustrating things,” says BEGUNTO’s Campbell, “is people say one of the reasons they joined Berlitz is because of the union, but they haven’t gotten around to joining. Some don’t want to spend 2,500 yen a month on union dues, and others say, `I don’t know how long I’m going to stay.'”

Tench of the Nova Union argues that many mistake the collective benefits of union membership with self-interest when weighing whether to join. “The reason a lot of foreign workers in Japan are not interested in joining unions — especially in the eikaiwa industry,” he says, “is they are not committed to the job and they’re not committed to the country.”

Signing up

If you are interested in joining a union or learning more about labor issues in Japan, check out the following organizations.

National Union of General Workers — Tokyo Nambu (NUGW)5-17-7 Shinbashi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3434-0669. Email: info@nambufwc.org. http://nambufwc.org

NUGW — Nova Union Branch Can be contacted via NUGW in Tokyo.

General Union — Osaka OfficeTel: 06-6352-9619. union@generalunion.org, http://www.generalunion.org

General Union — Nova branchCan be contacted via General Union in Osaka. http://www.generalunion.org/nova

Berlitz General Union Tokyo (BEGUNTO) Can be contacted via NUGW in Tokyo.

General Union Berlitz Branch (BEGUN) Can be contacted via General Union in Osaka.

IHT/Asahi Employees Union (NUGW branch) Can be contacted via NUGW in Tokyo. webmaster@iht-asahiunion.com, http://www.iht-asahiunion.com

Zentoitsu Workers Union http://www.zwu.or.jp (Japanese)

Kanagawa City Union http://www1.ocn.ne.jp/~kcunion (Japanese)

September 28, 2007
ENDS

Japan Today/Kyodo: Japan remains haven for parental abductors

mytest

Hi Blog. Another article cataloging 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 http://www.crnjapan.com

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 that in a future blog entry when the directors are good and ready for publicity.

The article below, by the way, disappeared from the Japan Today archives not three days after it appeared, oddly enough. I managed to retrieve it through a search engine cache. This is why I blog whole articles on Debito.org–to make sure information doesn’t just disappear. Enjoy. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Japan remains haven for parental abductors
September 25, 2007, Japan Today/Kyodo News
By Alison Brady

Courtesy http://www.japantoday.com/jp/feature/1287

LOS ANGELES — More than a year has passed since Melissa Braden was abducted to Japan by her mother, Ryoko Uchiyama. Brokenhearted and fearful, her father, Los Angeles resident Patrick Braden, prays for the day when he will see his daughter again.

Unlike in many cases of abducted children, there is little mystery about Melissa’s location. Braden is nearly 100% certain of his daughter’s whereabouts in Japan. But there is nothing he or the U.S. government can do to get her back.

On March 8, 2006, after months of custody proceedings, Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Gretchen Taylor ordered that Melissa’s passport, which Uchiyama had obtained, be turned over to Braden to prevent Uchiyama from fleeing with the child.

For the next eight days, Braden’s attorney fought Uchiyama’s to recover the passport, but to no avail. On March 16, they were gone.

The FBI issued an arrest warrant for Uchiyama within days of her departure. The FBI said she had committed a federal offense by fleeing the country to avoid prosecution.

But once on Japanese soil, Uchiyama was out of reach of U.S. law enforcement agencies. What is more, an injunction filed within hours of her arrival in Japan prevents Braden from following his former girlfriend to locate and negotiate the return of his daughter.

Experts identify several factors in Japan that have created a haven for parents who kidnap. First, Japan is not party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a civil legal mechanism to deter parents from abducting their children to other countries.

More than 75 countries worldwide have [e]ffected the treaty, thereby agreeing to return any child abducted from his or her country of habitual residence to a party country in violation of the left-behind parent’s custodial rights, according to the U.S. Department of State website.

Another factor is that parental kidnapping is not considered a crime under Japanese law and Japan refuses to extradite parents who have kidnapped their own children and face arrest in other countries.

Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare statistics show that since 1976, the time of the Hague treaty’s inception, the rate of marriage between Japanese nationals and foreign spouses has increased more than 800%.

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?

Cases like Melissa Braden’s are not uncommon. If the breakup occurs in Japan with custody proceedings taken to Japanese family court, foreign parents must battle what critics call a one-sided and often discriminatory system that almost never awards foreign parents custody of their children.

“An American parent in Japan may not be awarded any visitation rights at all in a divorce action,” explains a U.S. government official at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.

Even if custody is awarded to a foreign parent in Japan, there is little means of enforcing such a court order as Japanese police rarely get involved in family cases, says Colin Jones, a professor at Doshisha University Law School in Kyoto.

Walter Benda, 50, a publisher living in Virginia, spent more than a decade and $100,000 trying to gain visitation rights to his two daughters after his wife disappeared with them in 1995 from their home in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture.

“I’ve tried every legal avenue available to me in Japan,” Benda told Kyodo News by phone. “I’ve gone to the Supreme Court with my case twice seeking visitation rights, partial custody rights, or any sort of way to see my children and I have not even had one scheduled visit with my children in all the legal efforts I’ve undertaken in Japan.”

“The police would not do anything,” Benda says, recalling the time his children first went missing. “They basically called my ex-in-laws, and the ex-in-laws said that they didn’t know anything but that they were sure the kids were okay. So, the police said that was good enough from them and they wouldn’t help me anymore beyond that except to say go see a lawyer.”

Benda went on to co-found a support group called the Children’s Rights Council of Japan, or CRCJ, to offer parents like himself a resource in the struggle to see their children again.

Issue ignored by Japanese government

CRCJ’s online group has over 90 members and in recent years the group has organized events in Washington and Tokyo aimed at increasing awareness about an issue the Japanese government has long ignored.

“No one is putting any pressure on the abducting parents right now,” Benda said. “They’re actually kind of being rewarded for their actions. Just by virtue of being born a Japanese citizen or by virtue of having abducted your children to Japan, you’re able to have 100% control of your children and deny contact to every other person…including the father and the extended family.”

There are no exact figures on how many children have been abducted to Japan. The 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.

In an increasingly global society, bi-national children have the potential to be key allies between Japan and other nations. But Japan’s failure to sign the Hague treaty is creating a barrier to good relations.

“People like me, and especially my daughter, we’re the bridge between the two countries,” Braden says, “and that fact that Japan wants to make enemies of us is a very clear demonstration of their lack of foresight on this issue.”

Not everyone believes Japan’s signing the Hague treaty will rectify the child abduction issue.

In an article for the spring 2007 edition of the Whittier Journal of Child and Family Advocacy, Doshisha University’s Jones argues, “…it might even make the situation worse by removing a red flag to judges in foreign countries who might otherwise be inclined to disallow custody or visitation arrangements that involve travel to Japan.”

But that does not deter others from fighting for progress toward Japan signing the treaty. With a growing voice, people like Braden and Benda and the CRCJ have finally begun to be heard by U.S. politicians.

California Sen Dianne Feinstein wrote a letter to Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato in Washington in June 2007, imploring him to take action in returning Melissa Braden to her rightful home.

Governor of New Mexico and Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson wrote Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in May of 2007, lamenting that “no progress has yet been made” on the Braden case, and urging her to “pursue this important issue with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.”

Asked about Melissa’s case, Kazumi Yamada at the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s First North America Division in Tokyo told Kyodo News, “We are looking into the issue and attaching priority on the welfare of the child.”

“With regard to The Hague…we are still looking at the Convention to determine what our position will be,” she added.

The longer these children are kept from their non-Japanese mothers and fathers, the more likely their welfare is to be jeopardized.

Often fed lies about the left-behind parent and kept from school and regular socialization with other children because the abducting parent is afraid of being caught, children abducted by one of their own parents are likely to suffer deep developmental and emotional scars.

“It is very clear that the position that Japan takes is bad for the children. Bad for families. Bad for all people,” Braden says.

September 25, 2007, Japan Today/Kyodo News
ENDS

Next Valentine Lawsuit Hearing Tuesday Sept 25

mytest

Hi Blog. Just received this from Valentine:

Dear Debito.
Please, kindly remind your bloggers about the date for my court attendance. 25th Tuesday September, 2007 at the Tokyo High Court, Kasumigaseki. by 1.30pm 8 floor Rm 808. Thanks, Valentine

Attend if you like. More on the Valentine Lawsuit, where he was denied medical treatment for a broken leg while being interrogated by police (and is now crippled), and then the lower court exonerated the police of any respnsiblity on extremely flimsy grounds, at http://www.debito.org/valentinelawsuit.html

Debito in Sapporo

「川崎W女児いじめ裁判」傍聴参加のお願い

mytest

Next hearing for the Kawasaki Schoolgirl Ijime Lawsuit–where a Japanese grade schooler was bullied for having Chinese roots and was afterwards diagnosed with PTSD, will be September 20, 4:30 PM, at Yokohama District Court, Kawasaki Branch. Details in Japanese from their support group below. Arudou Debito

「川崎W女児いじめ裁判」傍聴参加のお願い
2007年9月11日

拝啓
猛暑の時季は通り越したものの、まだまだ厳しい残暑が続いておりますが、「裁判を支える会」の皆様におかれましてはますますご健勝にてご活躍のことと思います。 「川崎W女児いじめ裁判」の支援につきましては、日頃大変お世話になっております。
さて、来る9月20日(木) に開廷されます第13回公判では、最終弁論として原告、被告双方のすべての主張を記載した陳述書類が裁判官に提出され、裁判所の裁定を待つことになります。
原告側では日夜全精力を傾注し、最終弁論の書類作成に取り組んでおります。「裁判を支える会」でも、有志で結成した「精読会」メンバーにより、これまでの被告答弁書・準備書面に対する反対尋問案を作成し、原告に提供するなどの活動を行ってまいりましたが、このたび「いじめ裁判」のホームページを開設すべく準備を進めております。開設時にはあらためて皆様に閲覧のご案内をさせていただきます。
9月20日の公判では裁判官への書類の提出が主となりますが、ひとりでも多くの支援者が公判傍聴に参加していただくことにより、原告を励まし、あくまでも「いじめはなかった」と主張する被告に精神的な圧力を与えるものと思います。日頃ご支援を頂いております皆様の9月20日公判の傍聴を是非お願い致します。
敬具

― 第13回公判のご案内 ―

(1) 日時: 2007年9月20日(木)
(2) 開廷: 午後4時30分
(3) 閉廷: 午後5時(予定)
(4) 場所: 横浜地裁川崎支部第一法廷

* 傍聴終了後、原告を励ます支援者懇親会(参加は任意)を予定しております。
川崎W女児いじめ裁判を支える会
ENDS

Japan Times Aug 14 on Valentine Case, plus new JT column Aug 28

mytest

Hi Blog. About to jump on my bicycle again for a few days and catch the tail-end of the Hokkaido summer, but here’s a link to a Japan Times article on the Valentine Case, which came out shortly before my last cycle trip.

Japan Times column: “ABUSE, RACISM, LOST EVIDENCE DENY JUSTICE IN VALENTINE CASE: Nigerian’s ordeal shows that different standards apply for foreigners in court” (August 14, 2007).

Column 37 for the Japan Times Community Page
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070814zg.html
More information and documentation on this case at http://www.debito.org/valentinelawsuit.html

Excerpt:
===============================
In 1999, a Brazilian resident of Japan named Milton Higaki was involved in an accident that killed a schoolgirl. Rather than face justice in Japan, he fled to Brazil fearing “discrimination as a foreigner in Japanese courts.”

Although the domestic media quickly saw this as a case of crooked-foreigner-as-flight-risk, human rights attorney Yasuko Morioka took a more nuanced view, criticizing Japan’s “lack of legal hearings that consider the rights of foreign(ers).”

While fleeing from justice is not to be condoned, cases like Higaki’s are more understandable considering the increasing awareness of the scarier aspects of Japan’s judicial system.

Not only is the United Nations aware of the potential for torture in Japan’s prisons (more below), but courts here also tend to use different judicial standards when coming to decisions in cases involving non-Japanese.

Consider the Valentine case…
===============================

Webbed with links to original sources on Debito.org at http://www.debito.org/japantimes081407.html Original blog report on this case at http://www.debito.org/?p=497

Meanwhile, next Tuesday, August 28 (Wednesday in the provinces) will see my next column coming out in the Japan Times Community Page, on how NJ are being blamed for just about anything these days, and how that adversely affects any possible assimilation.

Enjoy. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

レポート:イドゥボ逮捕と物的証拠なき半年拘留事件

mytest

 皆様こんにちは。Debito.orgの有道 出人です。たいへんご無沙汰しております。

 猛暑日のなか、この事件を申し上げることは恐縮ですが、報告を送信します。これは物的証拠がなくても拘留して迅速な裁判にしてもらう権利を問う事件です。

イドゥボ・オサユワメン,準強姦被告事件
iduborphotocrop1.jpg
 2007年1月22日、本日からちょうど7ヶ月前、横浜市で飲食店を経営しているナイジリア国籍のイドゥボ氏は加賀町警察に逮捕されました。容疑は、2006年11月1日に当飲食店にて酩酊している日本人女性が彼にレイプされたという訴えでした。イドゥボの弁護士津留崎基行(つるさきもとゆき)によると、「平成19年1月22日に準強姦罪で逮捕され,平成19年2月9日に準強姦罪で起訴されました。上記逮捕とそれに引き続く拘留により平成19年5月11日まで加賀町警察署に留置されていましたが,同日,横浜拘置支所に移監になり,現在も同所において留置されています。当職は,平成19年5月21日付けで保釈の請求をいたしましたが,却下されました。」物的証拠がないというものの、イドゥボ氏は未だに拘留されている。筋によると、一つの理由は外国人容疑者の場合、「海外に逃亡する可能性がある」と刑事裁判官が思われているかもしれません。

 アムネスティ・インタナショナルからの紹介で、私はイドゥボ氏の妻(ポランド国籍)から連絡をいただき、彼女は彼の健康状態について大変心配しております。半年以上拘留された結果、彼の頭皮に蕁麻疹が発生し脱毛となり、耳からも血が出ています。にもかかわらず、適切な看病や病院へのアクセスが拒否されているようです。

 (実は、これはバレンタイン裁判と同様です。03年、ナイジリア出身のバレンタイン氏は警察に足が折られたと主張したものの、警察署は10日間の留置で適切な医療行為を拒否して、保釈した本人は現在に至り有害者となりました。損害賠償を要請したバレンタイン氏は東京地裁に今年3月に却下され、現在控訴中。高裁判決全文、警察署の陳述と私が書いたジャパンタイムズの記事はhttp://www.debito.org/valentinelawsuit.html。ちなみに、国連の反拷問委員会が本年5月に発行した日本に対する留置中の「拷問に等しい待遇」についての批判はhttp://www.debito.org/?p=415)

 イドゥボ氏の弁護士からのメモを全文転送させていただきます。問い合わせ、ご取材などをどうぞ津留崎弁護士に直接ご連絡下さい。次回の裁判期日は9月3日(月)14:30〜午後5時です。宜しくお願い致します。有道 出人

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

〒231-0011
神奈川県横浜市中区太田町1-20三和ビル4A
つるさき法律事務所   弁護士 津留_ 基行
TEL:045-663-6874 / FAX:045-663-6895
email: tsurusaki AT tsuruhou DOT com

被告人イドゥボ・オサユワメン,準強姦被告事件の不合理な点

1 裁判で争われている公訴事実
 平成18年11月1日午前6時30分ころから同日午前9時30分ころまでの間に,飲食店店長であった被告人が,酩酊して抵抗不能な状態になっている客の女性を姦淫したというもの(準強姦)。

2 証拠の概況
 かかる強姦の事実があったことを示す物的な証拠は全くないと言っても過言ではなく,被害者の女性の供述がほぼ唯一の証拠となっている。

 もちろん,被告人は強姦の事実は否定しており,姦淫の事実すらないと述べている。

 ところが,被害者の女性の供述は以下の通り極めて不合理な点が多い。

3 被害者女性による供述の不合理な点
 被害者女性は複数の供述調書を残し,かつ公判廷でも証人として証言したが,供述する度に供述内容が変遷しており一貫していない。

 例えば,被害者女性は店の中でテキーラの一気飲みを3回したと供述しているが,最初の1杯を飲んだときに酔いが回って店の中で寝てしまったと供述したこともあれば,3回目に飲むまでは酔っていなかったと供述していることもある。また,レイプされている最中,自分の顔の上に被告人の顔があったと供述したこともあれば,被告人の顔は見えなかったと供述していることもある。

 また,被害者女性の供述は,客観的証拠とも合致していない点がある。

 例えば,被害者女性は被害に遭った後,パンティーに血がにじんでいたと供述しているが,証拠として提出されているパンティーの写真には血は付着していない。また,被害者女性は被告人に店舗の床の上で引きずられたと供述しているが,証拠として提出されている着衣の写真は全く汚れていない。

 その他,被害者の供述は,その供述内容自体が不自然である点が多い。

 例えば,被害者は,強姦の際に抵抗できないほど酔っていたと供述しながら,その直後に床上を這って店舗の入り口付近まで進んだと述べ,また,這って動くくらいかできないはずであるのに,その場所で足も届かないような高い椅子に自ら腰掛けたと述べ,そのようにする力があるにもかかわらず施錠もされていない店舗の外に逃げようともしていない。

 また,強姦の被害に遭った後,強姦した犯人であるはずの被告人の運転する車で友人宅まで送ってもらったと被害者は供述しているが,この点も通常は信じがたいところである。

 また,強姦の様子についても,その所要時間は1,2分程度で,犯人は射精もせずに自発的に姦淫行為を中断したと被害者が供述している点についても,通常は信じがたいところである。

 強姦被害に遭った当日の行動についても,被害者は当日の朝に抵抗できないほど酔った状態で強姦の被害に遭ったと供述しているにもかかわらず,同日の昼には友人の彼氏と2人でレストランに行って食事をとったと供述しており,強姦被害者の行動としては不自然といわざるを得ない。

 以上指摘した他にも,被害者の供述の中には,多数の不合理な点が含まれている。

4 弁護人の考え
 本件に関する証拠を吟味し,被告人との面会を重ねてきた弁護人は,被告人が本件について完全に無罪であることを確信している。

 そこで,是非とも無罪判決を勝ち取りたいと切望している。

5 要請事項
 時折,ニュースにおいて,真実は無実であるにもかかわらず有罪判決を受け,それが後に無罪であることが判明したという事件が報じられることがあるが,このようなケースは氷山の一角である。

 日本の刑事裁判の実態としては,起訴されれば99.9%有罪判決が出されるのが現状であり,どんなに弁護人が無罪を確信し,弁護活動をしたとしてもなかなか無罪判決が出されることはない。

 刑事裁判官の側に立てば,別の見方もありうるが,上のような現状認識が刑事弁護に携わっている多くの弁護士の共通認識であろうと思われる。

 とはいえ,このような現状を打破し,刑事裁判の結果を左右させるために,直接的に担当裁判所に対して政治的な圧力をかけるような行為は,裁判の公正を害する行為であるから慎まなければならない。

 有効なことは,公正な裁判が実現されるのかどうかを多くの人々が見守っているという事実を裁判所に何らかの形で知ってもらうことである。そのような監視の目があることを裁判所が認識すれば,公正な裁判を実現するために裁判所としては拙速を避けて慎重な審理を心がける可能性がある。

 例えば,裁判の傍聴は広く認められた権利であることから,多くの人達が裁判を傍聴することになれば,それによって裁判所も監視の目があることを意識するものと考えられる。

 もしも,次回の裁判期日(平成19年9月3日(月)14:30〜午後5時)に多くの傍聴希望者がいるとすれば,できる限り多くの傍聴人が裁判を傍聴できるように,広い法廷に変更してもらったり,傍聴人用の補助椅子を用意してもらうなどの要求を当職から裁判所に伝えたいと考えている。

平成19年7月6日
以上