Kyodo: Foreign trainee slain, colleague wounded in rural Ibaraki attack, in oddly terse article (UPDATED with news of another underreported NJ death)


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Hi Blog. Article first, then comment:


Foreign trainee slain, colleague wounded in rural Ibaraki attack
THE JAPAN TIMES, FEB 23, 2015, courtesy of JK

MITO, IBARAKI PREF. – Two Chinese men taking part in a foreign trainee program on a farm in Hokota, Ibaraki Prefecture, were attacked by a group of men with knives Sunday evening, leaving one dead and the other wounded, police said.

Sun Wenjun, 33, was pronounced dead at a hospital and the other man, identified only as being 32 years old, was being treated for his wounds, the police said.

They were attacked by several men, apparently non-Japanese, at around 9:50 p.m. near the farm. The two were riding bicycles on their way from the home of an acquaintance about 1.5 km from the farm.

A kitchen knife with bloodstains was found near the scene, NHK reported.

The surviving trainee was quoted as saying the men came out of nowhere, attacked with knives and left in a car.


COMMENT:  And that’s all we get?  It’s been a couple of days, and I have an unusually busy week with several deadlines, so let me ask Readers to look around the Japanese and English-language media and see if there has been anything more afoot (especially since the article alleges that NJ were perps as well as victims).  Please place articles with links in the Comments Section below.

Or if you find little to nothing more in the media, that’s also a significant indicator — on how crime perpetrated against NJ is reported and handled in Japan, so please comment on that too.  This would be a much larger media scrum if Japanese were stabbed to death allegedly by NJ.  Thanks.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

28 comments on “Kyodo: Foreign trainee slain, colleague wounded in rural Ibaraki attack, in oddly terse article (UPDATED with news of another underreported NJ death)

  • I remember reading this story.
    Maybe the media doesn’t care because the victims are NJ, BUT the perps are NJ, so that should cause a media storm (it usually does). But not this time.
    I think that the media has been ‘warned off’ this one, since it looks like the victims and the perps are connected to the ‘trainee’ system, and that’s the only plan this government has got to counter the population decline.
    If the general public become so frightened by this story being sensationalized that they start to reject the ‘trainee’ system, then the J-Gov has got a real problem.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    Japan Times: 6 sentences
    Sankei Shinbun: 5 sentences

    Geez, what kind of standard does Japan have in journalism and news report? Japan Times article(Is it even considered as an article?) is just an English translation of Sankei’s, plus one short sentence from NHK. This is even worse than stupid advertisement in the newspaper. It makes me wonder how much money will be thrown into this kind of crappy news reporting.

  • It’s in the online edition of the Sankei:

    中国人実習生、胸切られ死亡 茨城、もう1人も負傷…複数犯?車で逃走




  • 47 News has a bit more detail; is actually a Kyodo article (more detail than the article Debito posted the beginning of the thread):

    中国人実習生切られ死亡 茨城・鉾田、殺人で捜査





    2015/02/23 11:24 【共同通信】

  • Nevin’s article is particularly helpful. The “attacked by foreigners” claim is reported as coming from the survivor, one of the two trainees, via the police. I wonder how the police give this information to journalists and whether or not the journalists have opportunities to ask what the “外国人” (foreigner) assessment is based on. I also wonder whether or not the victim was speaking through an interpreter. Is it possible that, a Chinese speaker in Japan might use a word that could be translated as “foreigner” to mean “not Chinese”? When I first came to Japan, a Japanese friend asked me what I was listening to on my portable cassette player. I replied that I was studying 外国語 (foreign language). The foreign language was Japanese. The Japanese friend told me I should say “日本語” because, in Japan, Japanese is not 外国語. Nonetheless, the point is that 外国 and 外国人 can be either relative or absolute terms — just as Japanese people are sometimes surprised by how many 外人 they see when the first travel abroad.

  • Jim, gaijin kills gaijin, why is that big news in Japan? No Japanese were involved thankfully (sarcasm intended). I suppose it is just mentioned to illustrate the “violent behavior” of NJs. It is oft said that if there is some accident involving Japanese overseas, its major news, and the reporting of any other victims are almost coincidental.

  • irezumi_aniki says:

    @6 Kirk Masden

    To partly answer your question:


    毎日新聞 2015年02月23日 11時16分





  • @ Kirk #6,

    That is an interesting point.
    China has, what, 60+ ethnic groups.
    A Chinese would presumably know from experience in his own country that you can’t judge nationality by appearances.
    Therefore the police/interpreter have dicided that the perps are ‘NJ’, or the Chinese victim was able to identify them as NJ due to;
    1. Skin color (if the perps were black or white, as opposed to Asian, it would seem reasonable- although not reliable- for the victim to have assumed they were NJ). Or,
    2. The perps spoke to him in Chinese, and he is assuming that no Japanese are fluent in Chinese. Or,
    3. The perps are known to the victim, hence he knows that they are not Japanese. In which case I would suggest that he knows the nationality of the perps, which makes the blanket description of them as simply ‘NJ’ by the police rather unhelpful, if not deliberately disingenuous.

  • The language in the article introduced by Irezumi_aniki (and in some of the other articles) is clear but, nonetheless, we have yet to hear directly from victim. It will be interesting so see what happens. I think it is reasonable to assume that the police might have been inclined to report any indication that the perpetrators were not Japanese in the interest of avoiding a link to the hate speech issue. It should also be noted that, though I monitor the coverage of several national news programs rather closely, I have not seen anything about this case on TV. On the other hand, it is virtually impossible to miss coverage of the murder of the Kawasaki youth

    in the media. Netizens who have taken it upon themselves to spread hate speech are speculating that the murders of the boy are Zainichi Koreans — something with no basis in fact as far as I know.

    For many on the right, any information that doesn’t fit the “Japanese, good; Koreans and Chinese, bad” narrative is unwelcome. It’s conceivable that that thought process may have influenced the reports issued by the police.

    Finally, note that the men were attacked at night, in the countryside where visibility was probably very poor. Skin color was probably not visible. If it was a hate crime, would it not have been a good strategy for the attackers to feign foreignness by yelling something in English (or in some other way) in order to assassinate character of foreigners in general as they assassinated the flesh of the two men? I think Debito has archived examples of criminals trying to send the police on wild goose chases in this way.

    — Indeed I have.

  • from Tokyo Weekender:

    A short article reporting the death of a 29-year-old English teacher who fell into a coma after being restrained by the police raises more questions than it answers.

    The Jiji Press reported that the teacher, who was from the US, died in a hospital following a February 11 incident in the Akasaka area of Minato Ward. The Jiji article, reprinted on the Japanese version of the Wall Street Journal, is scant on details, aside from the following: At around 5:30 pm on the Foundation Day holiday, police received a call about a foreigner behaving violently . When police approached the man, who was reported as a resident of Setagaya Ward, he responded violently. A total of six officers restrained the American by his arms and legs. In the struggle, the man went into cardiac arrest and was taken to a nearby hospital.

    The man did not regain consciousness after the incident, and died on March 1. Police stated that the man did not seem to have suffered any external injuries.

    No other information—the man’s name, his home town, employer, or additional details about the conflict—has been provided thus far.

  • police gang tackle a US-born English teacher at 5:30 pm on a holiday, probably in broad daylight, in ritzy Akasaka. So man probably wasn’t blind drunk. No information, but I imagine this happening:

    –Show us your ID

    –Why? I’m not doing anything

    –You must do it

    –No, I won’t. I’m an American living in Setagaya, teaching English

    Police call for back up. They rush to scene and gang tackle man. They break his ribs, puncturing his lung. They rush him to hospital. He dies later “of a coma”.

    In other words, cops killed him. Murdered him in the streets of Akasaka. On Foundation Day.

    Yet almost nothing from Tokyo media on this.

    I have never been more disgusted in all my time in Japan.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    It’s been three weeks and half after the incident, and there’s still no further information about his toxicology? Kind of job you are doing, NPA. You’re already getting ahead of notorious Ferguson police and NYPD for ‘procrastination’ record.

  • 保護した米国人男性死亡=2月路上で暴れ、病院搬送—警視庁
    Wall Street Journal Japan 2015 年 3 月 2 日 16:30 JST 更新




    Courtesy of ES.

  • Why the hell would someone report a “foreigner” behaving violently? Why not just say “a person”? Evidence that foreignness in itself is seen as criminal here. Enough that people feel the need to report “foreigners” to the police rather than “people.” Subtle racism at work there, and a good example of how systematic racism is not always openly hateful. Disgusting that people refuse to just refer to “people” as “people.”

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Chester #17

    It’s a sign of how deep the institutional racism is in Japan.
    Like when japanese guy killed a Nepalese guy in Osaka a couple of years back, then told the police ‘I can’t believe I killed a ‘gaijin”.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @Chester, #17

    I’m not exactly sure that’s always the case. I know there’s a moot point in how to describe person’s appearance (i.e., foreigner, Asian-looking), but when it comes to the behavior that looks abnormal, erratic or disturbing(let’s say, wearing a thick coat in a muggy summer day as if you were hiding an assault rifle or a handgun inside, or wobbling in the street from left to right as if you were bumping into each and every passenger to block them), that’s a different story. If people encounter such scene, yes, they will likely call the cop because it looks quite suspicious. That’s not the same situation in which you suddenly get stopped by the police for an ID at a local train station or at the airport for no reason. When ‘erratic’ behavior–not facial expression–gets public attention, yes, the police have the right to stop anyone for questioning because that’s a clear sign of suspicion. It’s very likely that the police will stop you–regardless of nationality or ethnicity– especially when they are on investigation by following crime alert.

    Based on my reading of the news report, I’m suspecting that the person might have been on drugs or health problem (i.e., seizure, epilepsy) for alleged “violent behavior.” I know this makes us feel uncomfortable, but the media and police normally describe the characteristics of person based on witness’s account. Of course, how it will come out from their mouths often becomes the point of contention for biased criminal report, as you know. If this is the case for Japanese, their typical description of witness account is something like, “男が刃物(又は凶器)を持って暴れている.” In case of non-westerners, it is usually described in generic term such as “外国人風,” “東洋系,” “東南アジア系,” etc. Beware that there’s a lot of temptation and secret drug dealings in such areas like Roppongi and Shinjuku, and because of that, local police will sometimes, if not very often, play in hard way.

    Anyway, in case of abnormal situation like this, police have certain rights to sedate him/her, although I am not tolerant of excessively coercive action(e.g., suffocation) exemplified by Ferguson police department, riot police or immigration authority enforcement, or anyone who tries to defend such conduct in the media or any outlet.

    — In any case, we don’t (by design) have enough information to judge either way. The fact that we do not is significant. The police killed somebody. And the negligence that resulted in that homicide should mean somebody is held accountable. Nobody will be, due to the lack of information. This lack is less the media’s fault, as I believe they would get more details if the police would release them, more the NPA’s, and I say this based upon their past behavior of not coming clean. So as the preponderance of the evidence indicates that there is something being undisclosed here, I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to the victim here, because it fits a pattern: too often we have seen excessive police force used on NJ.

  • The police are not going to give out information, if they are negligent in a man’s death. This is likely similar to the Suraj case, where nobody gets charged, but the family wins in civil court.

    Where is this man’s family? Why are they not going public so far? What about US consular officers?

    This is also a case showing the extreme sloth and incompetence of journalists in Japan. If they are waiting for a police leak, forget it. In most countries, an industrious reporter would call around to diplomats and ESL schools and keep asking until they hear something.

    Nobody dies alone. Everybody has friends, family, co-workers, landlords, etc…. Somebody knows the name of this unfortunate man. You mean to tell me that more than a thousand journos in Tokyo can’t find this out?

    Police know the name of this man. They would have to file records on that. Somehow that info should go to other agencies that track people in Japan: ward offices, tax departments, health insurers, bankers, embassies, foreign ministry, justice ministry, immigration department and so on. This is a massive cover-up underway.

  • Courtesy of ES: A protest on Mar 8:







    On February 11, 2015 a 29 year-old American man was detained by six police officers from the Akasaka Police Department for “behaving strangely”. While in police custody he had a heart attack and went into a coma. He died in the hospital on March 1, 2015. We do not know the man’s name. We do not know why he had a heart attack while in police custody. We do not know which hospital he was taken to. And we do not know why he died.

    No one should be able to vanish from society and die anonymously. This is not something that is supposed to happen in a democracy. Where there is no information, there is no accountability.

    The U.S. Embassy has not responded to a request for more information. The Tokyo government has not responded to a request for more information. The news media have not pursued this story to determine who this man was and why he died.

    This is not acceptable. Foreign residents and foreign visitors in Japan are human beings with human rights, and they should not be injured or die at the hands of the police for “behaving strangely”, and they should not disappear.

    Governments should not be able to conceal the deaths of foreign residents and foreign visitors by refusing to release their names and the circumstances surrounding their deaths, and the news media should not be complicit in a “news blackouts” to conceal embarrassing incidents.

    “Everyone’s Life Matters!”


    Date: Sunday, March 8th
    Time: 4 p.m. (16:00)
    Place: Akasaka Police Station
    Closest Station: Akasaka-mitsuke Station (exit A)
    8 minute walk to the police station
    When you exit the station, walk straight ahead.
    There should be a busy highway on your right.
    After you pass the Hotel Monterey Akasaka, continue straight ahead, the police station will be on your left. Meet in the triangular space next to the road.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    Maybe this guy was drunk, on drugs, or mentally ill, and was resisting arrest, and the police are covering up the fact that they handled this badly.
    Or maybe….
    This guy was going about his own business when some O-yaji with a chip on his shoulder decides that he doesn’t like NJ swanning around and reported him to the police – maybe the police didn’t even get the right guy!- so the NJ did what suggest; video the whole thing on his phone, explain in Japanese that he knows his rights? At which point over zealous J-cop who has a lesser understanding of the law feels humiliated, takes offense, and gets physical, leading to a call for back-up and ‘death by cop’.

    We don’t know the truth because of a lack of police transparency, which in itself does not engender good faith.

  • Jim, three facts trouble me. Incident happened at 5:30 pm on Foundation Day in Akasaka, which has a large police station prominent on a busy street.

    Imagine this disturbing scenario. There’s a large right-wing gathering, with sound-trucks and megaphones. A gaijin happens to see this and doesn’t like it. The uyoku attack him. Police are standing around and rush in to subdue the foreigner. They suffocate him in a choke-hold, or fall upon him and break his ribs and puncture his lung or crack his skull.

    They take him to a hospital. They see his ID but don’t inform the US embassy, his employer, family or anybody else. They destroy video tape from surveillance cameras.

    It’s possible the man’s family don’t even know he’s dead. Maybe they assumed he’s working in Japan and hasn’t communicated for awhile.

    But if this man was working as an ESL teacher, surely his employers or private students would know something is strange. Or are they so dehumanized that they don’t even care?

    Bravo to the protesters on Sunday. They should barge into the FCCJ and demand journalists there report this story.

  • Here’s another scenario.

    Maybe the police did the right thing. Maybe they had to subdue the man to protect others. Maybe he was armed and dangerous or attacking somebody. We simply don’t know. So I don’t want to rush to judgement and blame the police on scene, just yet. And I certainly don’t want to falsely blame a dead man who can’t defend himself.

    But this we know for sure: Tokyo media are negligent for not covering this. They are not even asking questions, or in the very least posting what little they know from the Jiji press story.

    This stinks

  • Most likely 6 of them sat on him until he stopped moving. That seems the standard operating practice. “Cardiac arrest” is standard j-speak for “dead”, it doesn’t indicate any underlying medical problem (prior to being sat on). “Died in hospital” just means certified dead in hospital (officially, you aren’t allowed to die until a doctor gives you permission).

  • Jim di Griz says:

    About my above post;
    Never mind all the ‘maybe’s’, since when did ‘acting strange’ come with a death sentence in Japan?

    I would suggest that since there are so few details, and since the J-news media aren’t clamoring for more info, that this story is, or has been hinted to be (see Suga’s response to the media following questions of the governments handling of the hostage crisis that ‘that information might be covered by the secrecy law’) covered by the secrecy law to stop it from getting legs. After all, it shows the honne that Japan is desperate to hide.


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