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Hi Blog. As several Debito.org Readers have been digging around and submitting to this forum under the aegis of a similar but separate event (start from here), there has been a suspicious death of a Non-Japanese (NJ) that warrants more investigation and attention. So let’s promote it to its own blog entry.
First, the Tokyo Weekender of March 5 reports tersely:
English Teacher Dies after Being Restrained by Police
Tokyo Weekender, News & Views – March 5th, 2015
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. ENDS
Here are the quoted sources in Japanese, also glib:
Wall Street Journal Japan 2015 年 3 月 2 日 16:30 JST 更新
However, we can speculate with some certainty on the following:
- This happened on a Wednesday afternoon before it was fully dark, meaning the chances of this person being drunk and disorderly were pretty low.
- This happened in a part of Tokyo that sees NJ as a public-security threat, with cops trained to racially-profile potential perps and carry out legally-questionable search activities.
- This happened on National Foundation Day, a day where there were nationalistic demonstrations by Japanese celebrating the accession of Japan’s first emperor. While demonstrations on a day like this are not newsworthy enough to indicate that there was a concurrent demonstration in Akasaka, it is not a stretch to imagine this person being targeted by violent xenophobic elements, and the NPA taking the side of the rightists and targeting the NJ.
- The NPA not only has a record of lethally subduing NJ in custody, but also of covering it up.
- We don’t even have the basic information on who he is or even if international officials have gotten involved in the investigation. All we have is the deceased’s age, nationality, and occupation. That is insufficient, and the fact that more details are not forthcoming suggests a mishap or a coverup on the part of the NPA. (It’s happened before. Many times.)
- There have been cases of police arresting people for looking “suspicious”, but whose only apparent crime was standing around looking foreign in the eyes of local busybodies who called the cops (we know about this because these involved cases where persons arrested were Japanese citizens who just looked “foreign”). So the accusation of violence on the part of the NJ is also not taken when Japanese cops have a history of overreaction towards NJ (those six cops sure got there in a hurry).
We simply don’t have enough information for a more informed assessment. And we should. Were there no witnesses? With this much commotion and no doubt an ambulance called, didn’t anyone see anything in this densely-populated part of Tokyo? Or is this just another case of another unknown fungible NJ winding up as the Dead Gaijin on a Gurney?
One speculation is that the lack of press investigation and scrutiny is because this case has somehow come under Japan’s newly-enacted Special Secrecy Law. Seems a bit of a stretch, as this doesn’t seem to be something that ought to be fodder (how does the case one dead NJ qualify as an issue of national security?). But if it did, this would really be the acid test that demonstrated just how far this law will be abused, and thus warrants further investigation.
If you have any friends in the Japan news media, point them towards this site and see if we can pique their interest and get them investigating. I will too. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito