JT: Anchorwoman who fled Japan during Fukushima crisis to get lost salary from NHK: So much for “Flyjin” myth.


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Hi Blog.  Here’s something else that happened a few weeks ago that warrants mention on Debito.org, if only to show that NJ do sometimes get the justice they seek in Japanese courts (it only took nearly three years).  And given the text of the court decision itself, so much for the accusations made about NJ “Flyjin” deserting their posts.  Rubbish then, verifiably so now.  It was all just bullying, and in this case lying about the record by NHK in court (also known as perjury, but this being both Japan and NHK, nothing will come of it).  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito


Anchorwoman who fled Japan during Fukushima crisis to get lost salary from NHK

The Tokyo District Court on Monday nullified a decision by NHK to end the contract of a French anchorwoman who temporarily fled Japan during the Fukushima nuclear crisis in March 2011.

The ruling also declared that Emmanuelle Bodin’s decision to leave Japan in the face of the nation’s worst-ever nuclear crisis and prioritize her life over work did not represent professional negligence.

“Given the circumstances under which the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima No. 1 plant’s nuclear accident took place, it is absolutely impossible to criticize as irresponsible her decision to evacuate abroad to protect her life,” the ruling said.

Although lauding those who remained at work with the public broadcaster following the disasters, the court said NHK “cannot contractually obligate people to show such excessive allegiance” to the company.

Bodin’s attorneys said it is not clear how the ruling will affect similar cases, if any, that involve non-Japanese often labeled as “flyjin,” a play on the word gaijin (foreigner), who missed work because they fled the disaster.

“My pursuit of justice has finally been vindicated,” Bodin, 58, told a news conference in Tokyo.

“Today, we are reminded once again that it is the responsibility of a company, regardless of how powerful an organization it is, to take good care of its employees and treat them with fairness and compassion,” she said in Japanese.

The court ordered NHK to pay her ¥5.14 million in unpaid salary that she would have received had she been allowed to renew her contract for the following fiscal year.

Bodin, who worked as an anchor and translator for NHK radio programs for more than 20 years, fled Japan in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima crisis in accordance with an instruction issued by the French government to evacuate the country.

Prior to departing on March 15, 2011, Bodin asked her colleague, a veteran French anchorman in his 70s, to substitute for her while she was away to ensure her absence would cause no major trouble for the company.

She then called a superior in her radio news section notifying the person that she was temporarily leaving the country but would return by the end of the month and that she had arranged for her colleague to cover her shifts. The manager responded by giving approval, according to the ruling.

A week after that, NHK sent Bodin a letter notifying her that her contract would shortly be discontinued, providing no detailed explanations as to why.

The terse letter only reminded her of abstract provisions of her contract that stipulate employees can be sacked if “the circumstances demanded so” or if their work performance is deemed “so inadequate it has no sign of improvement.”

Over the course of the nearly three-year-long trial, NHK squarely contradicted Bodin’s claim, even going so far as to say that she did not call her French colleague in the first place, according to her lawyers. It also said Bodin’s call with her superior lasted just 20 to 30 seconds, and that in it she had “unilaterally” conveyed her intention to skip her anchoring duty scheduled for hours later and promptly hung up. The French colleague also testified in favor of NHK, claiming that he had received no such call from her.

However, her phone records, presented to the court by her lawyers, clearly showed she had spoken both to the colleague and her superior for more than five and two minutes, respectively, Bodin’s lawyers said.

21 comments on “JT: Anchorwoman who fled Japan during Fukushima crisis to get lost salary from NHK: So much for “Flyjin” myth.

  • Imperial Japan Inc DOES try to “contractually obligate people to show such excessive allegiance” to the company.” I got labelled a “deserter” when I vamoosed, but hey, my Embassy advised me to. As I am an “Outsider” and not a particularly well paid one at that, and my company was also reluctant to pay Shakai hoken, why the f*** would anyone give unswerving allegiance to a company in Japan??

    It is the direct consequence of denying NJs any meaningful stake in J society. The denial of the local vote was shortly before the 3/11 meltdown, and I saw the writing on the wall and left. Mr Abe’s “I want NJs to work here for 3 years and leave” is what you will get in a time of crisis.

    Japan Inc, do not expect loyalty as you have not EARNED it. You cannot have your cake and eat it, although you may foolishly try.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Flyjin #1

    I 100% agree with you!
    As you rightly point out about the way NJ staff are treated in Japan by employers and government, I think that we should more correctly understand the ‘Flyjin’ myth if we accept it for what it was; a ‘pre-emptive’ deflection of criticism by NJ of the way Japan treats them. That is to say, that rather than Japan having to look at why many NJ took off, ask themselves why and realize it was due in large part to the way Japanese society marginalizes and oppresses them, the Flyjin myth was born from Japanese inverting that logic as a means of dodging ultimate responsibility; ‘it’s ‘ok’ to marginalize and oppress NJ in Japan since they aren’t really committed to Japan’.

    It doesn’t make any difference how the Japanese try to rationalize it, at the end of the day, they need NJ. Even the J-gov wants ‘elite’ NJ and nurses and caregivers. And for all the NJ blaming the Japanese live to do, the essential fact is that Japan isn’t attracting or keeping *even* the NJ it admits it needs now.

    If they ever attempt to attract the millions they really will need in the next few decades, they haven’t got a hope in hell.

    — Problem is, the “Flyjin” epithet was created by a NJ.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Dr. Debito,

    Good point about NHK perjuring themselves;
    In Japan, Japanese can break the law in court when the victim is NJ with total impunity! Japan as ‘a country of law’ needs to go on the list of Japan myths along with ‘Japan is a safe country’ and ‘there is no racism in Japan’!

  • Ive never been able to grasp the hunker down and tough it out mentality that many Japanese feed gaijin; its like Japan is the center of the world and there is nothing else better out there, how dare you suggest leaving? If you dare mention leaving or getting something better, you have committed a crime or there seems to almost be a jealousy, like you cant leave. I remember the flyjin and propaganda during the Fukushima crisis, it was quite absurd. Japan is a good place, but there are other good places as well. I dont know where all this comes from but its very real.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Tim #5

    Yes, it boggles the mind, but I think that it is an outcome of ‘Japan is the best country in the world, and Japanese are special’ mentality myth-making when it clashes with the reality of NJ (and some Japanese even!) trusting their survival instincts.
    It’s a classic ‘cognitive dissonance’ reaction to delusional world-views under threat; double down on the delusional world view, because the only other option is to accept that everything your world view is based on is wrong (and we NJ know that it’s wrong).

  • @ Dr. Debito #2

    Point taken about the terminology and who coined it, and yes, it was propagated by other NJ, but look at what the guy says in his Hoofin comment;

    ‘the television was showing hordes of foreigners queueing at Narita Immigration to get out ‘.

    He was inspired to coin the phrase because the Japanese media were already demonizing NJ who were leaving, and the ‘flyjin’ terminology amongst NJ phenomena took place alongside a pre-existing Japanese media attack on NJ, such as the one at NHK that was over-turned on appeal.

    — Point taken back.

  • OnceAGaijinAlwaysAGaijin says:

    I know this is treading old ground a little, but the hypocrisy of this was amazing. My partner (heavily pregnant at the time) evacuated out west, like so many others, and for her as a Japanese it was seen as a sensible decision. Once the explosions started…

    Anyway, you could hardly move because of the hoards of Japanese shipping out west and leaving the country. But I guess it was OK for them; they weren’t traitors or cowards, they were just making apparently/ actually sensible decisions.

    One rule for them and other for us.

  • Yes, the level of cognitive dissonance is truly mind boggling.

    My Japanese colleagues, amidst much gleeful cackling, reported “flyjin” stories that they’d heard from staffers in Tokyo. Admittedly this was before the true extent of the meltdowns was known to the Japanese public (remember how awful it was having to rely solely on foreign news sources for information about what was going on here in Japan?) and they were singing a different tune later on.

    One of them solemnly asked me if all foreigners had a tendency to panic and flee in emergencies.

    Yet less than a month before, her own brother had hightailed it out of New Zealand in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake. When I reminded her of this, she didn’t get the point at all.

    It’s one rule for them, and another for everyone else.

  • Well done to Ms Bodin on winning her case, but it’s hardly going to encourage people to stand up for their rights when a 3 year battle gets such a pathetic award. 5 million for wrongful dismissal, supposedly a year’s salary, for someone of her age and experience…

  • I left Japan less than 6 month before the disaster, after spending about 5 years living there.

    At the time I was still registered on the French Embassy mailing list and remember receiving a flood of emails concerning the disaster and very clear instructions from my own government to leave the country (with detailed flight information) and information that the embassy itself would be shut down and its services transferred to Osaka for the time being.
    I believe I still have those emails archived (thanks Google and its huge storage space) somewhere.

    I can perfectly understand the reaction, and being abroad when the disaster happened, switching between Japanese and French & English media, comparing information was quite appalling, especially when you add the panic conveyed by the embassy mails.
    When orders come form such an official source, you tend to follow them, especially if you have your family to worry about.

    And with the latest event in Paris, the Japanese company I work for now wants to suspend any business with France of course. Irony at its best maybe…

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Dillion #11

    Absolutely. I was getting my news on the Internet from CNN and BBC whilst my wife had NHK on constantly in those early days, and I would tell her what I had seen reported on international news, and about 24 hours later NHK would report the same thing. My wife would tell her friends ‘it’s like he’s from the future!’, and I just thought, yeah, the Japanese government kisha clubs can only pressure the J-media until a story breaks internationally, then they are kind of in a bind. And I was right! After all, look at the reporting of the Olympus scandal, Toyota brakes, or Takata airbags.

    Anyway, I’ve been conducting on-off research into Japanese who fled during the disaster. I’m not ready to publish yet and I have to be careful of the law if I do, but tens of thousands of Japanese left in the first month- mostly to Hawaii (I have a long list of hotels booked out by Japanese customers at that time) amongst them families of the rich and famous, and some of those have since decided to get Green Cards and stay in America. You can increase by a factor of ten the number of Japanese who left eastern Japan to get further away from Fukushima (I have one source who says that this is the reason that the NPA pushed the government for a law enabling the police to close all expressways after a disaster; they want to prevent Japanese from fleeing Tokyo so that everyone has no choice but to ‘carry on as normal’).

    Maybe some NJ did panic and leave (and why should anyone blames them? TRIPLE MELTDOWN + government lies) but I know that a lot more Japanese left than NJ.

  • #11 Dilon

    And here is the corollary:-

    “…When orders come form such an official source, you tend to follow them, especially if you have your family to worry about…”

    From the Japanese perspective…their official sources were telling them all is ok, don’t panic. It does work both ways…

    But of course, if it were not for the international media et al, reporting otherwise, one wonders how much would have been reported to the J-public?

  • Dear Jim & John #12 & 13

    Thank you for the reply.

    My point was mostly to underline the role of the French authorities in this case. Like Jim said, I was alternating between NHK at the time available on Ustream, and local media (plus BBC & CNN) and reports varied greatly, which can be expected in these troubled times. But one thing was for sure, the state of impending doomsday conveyed by most foreign media made people there (i.e. my family and friends) a lot more worried than people in Japan (ex-colleagues & friends).

    Somehow, I understand that anyone would flee, rather than stay, and as John mentioned the “everything is ok” conveyed by official sources makes it even more questionable when your second source of information or the embassy of your former place of residence is urging you to leave. After all, what harm could be done by taking a few days a little far away and wait for things to clear up ?

    I was glad to read that “the court said NHK “cannot contractually obligate people to show such excessive allegiance” to the company” but stil appalled to learn that such a court case existed in the first place. I hope the NHK does not try to appeal on this judgement.

    For the fun of it I found the whole list of email, here’s the one I mentioned on comment #11. Sorry for not taking the time to translate



    1- Compte-tenu de l’évolution possible de la situation, il est recommandé
    aux Français de Tokyo de quitter la région pour le sud du pays ou pour la

    En complément des capacités aériennes d’Air France, les autorités
    françaises mettent à disposition deux avions gouvernementaux. Ceux de nos
    concitoyens, ainsi que leurs conjoint et enfants, ayant manifesté le souhait
    de profiter du dispositif d’aide au retour depuis Tokyo ont été priés de
    se présenter jeudi 17 mars 2011 à partir de 11 heures du matin à
    l’aéroport de Tokyo Narita Terminal 1, îlot D (à côté du comptoir Air
    France dans le hall “Départs”).

    (Skipped the rest of the mail, but you get the point)

  • 1 Flyjin – this begs the age-old question – do you (the employee) give loyalty to get better treatment, or require better treatment before giving loyalty? In Japan, it is usually the case that you give everything to the company, and maybe they let you stay. It has been this way for a long time.
    2 JDG – These are the people who came up with the term “gaman” to express they spend so much of their lives doing.
    5 Tim – Japan IS the center of THEIR world. This is ground zero. This is where they dominate. This is where the pecking order is enforced. If you are the right Japanese, with the right pedigree, went to the right schools, with the right family connections, this is the place to be! So many Japanese people buy into this b.s.
    8 OnceAGaijin – in most countries, the majority rules. This is especially true in Japan. Whether they were jealous (we can leave, they were afraid of what their friends/neighbors would say), or just mean spirited, they do what majorities everywhere do – they dump on the minority. Foreigner running away? Terrible! But the same action by a Japanese person is understandable, even heroic. Human nature.

    I lived in Japan, ran a Japanese company in Hawaii, and have learned that Japanese people are not as unique and special as they’d like to think they are. They are also often bitter – at the system, at anyone with freedom. So when someone above them dumps on them, they look for someone they can dump on. It won’t be another educated, connected Japanese person – that could be costly. The easiest/best target is a foreigner – usually less than fluent language skills, no connections, minimal applicable working knowledge of J-culture.

    Bottom line – The J public & J media dump on foreigners because they can. And there is never any price to pay. That is like robbing the bank, and not only making a clean getaway, but having a patsy to take the blame! Why and how will this change? More NJ need to do the heavy lifting, build bridges, earn trust – and push back each time the media falsely accuses NJ of anything, no matter how petty, and seemingly unimportant. Until there is a price to pay, these bullies won’t quit.

    — And speaking of bullies quitting, anyone else notice that one of the Stalker Sites, Tepido.org, courtesy of Ken Yasumoto-Nicolson, has disappeared from the Internet? (Last archived in the Wayback Machine on February 2, 2015.) I wonder what price there was to pay.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    RE: #15

    Their apologetic troll site(under different name, with different url) remains open, but there hasn’t been any updated posts for over three months. Whether this is due to prurient owner’s running out of topic or warning from web administrator’s is anybody’s guess.

    @JDG, #16

    I think ‘kowaijin’ sounds more appropriate to this move.

  • realitycheck says:

    Ah, the stupid and hypocritical Flyjin nonsense – good for the Frenchwoman for winning out over it. This faux controversy is simply the same ol Japanese ‘Exceptionalism’.

    It’s interesting how the Japanese can easily flee any western country they willingly went to whenever they feel it has become ‘kowai’ or cancel their travel plans to a western country because a different western country had a terror attack or an influx of refugees, with no criticism forthcoming from non Japanese.

    However, a non Japanese who quite rightly does not put their trust in the Japanese government or society to deal with emergencies such as natural disasters and nuclear accidents, and knows full well that their inferior status in the Japanese legal and other systems will leave them vulnerable to all sorts of negative possibilities should they stay, is treated with scorn and bitter humor by many Japanese.

    Japan likes and will maintain its in-group and out-group distinction. Forget all the window dressing talk of diversity – as long as there is a Japanese society, non Japanese will be deemed outside. Many Japanese are very comfortable with this and will continue to vote in politicians who publicly endorse this as normal.

    Never forget that you can judge a society by its laws. Regardless of the faults of western countries, they give Japanese temporary residents such as those studying, more rights than working, tax paying foreigners in Japan.

    Always have an exit plan for your Japanese life especially as the increasing, not decreasing, nationalism will not be pleasant to deal with in a bigger crisis than that of 2011.

    ‘It can’t happen here’ is a strong delusion at present regarding Japan but I for one feel that when crunch time comes and Japan will be short of resources in the future, it will do something such as attack Sakhalin to obtain the presently Russian held islands’ resources. The increasing military role and the shameless. disgraceful flying of the Japanese war flag tells you what you need to know.

    When it comes to this kind of situation, make sure you go as soon as the signs are manifesting themselves. A re-militarised Japan is actually a reality now and be prepared to escape it in the not so distant future.

  • @ realitycheck

    What do you mean, exactly by this:

    ” they give Japanese temporary residents such as those studying, more rights than working, tax paying foreigners in Japan.”

    Can you flesh this out. To start with, I’m not sure what a Japanese temporary resident is. You mean a Japanese citizen? If so, well, that’s pretty normal, globally speaking.

  • @TJJ –

    Your question was about who RealityCheck was referring to with that word “they” in that paragraph.

    It’s clear to me “they” was referring to the immediately preceding “western countries”.

    “Never forget that you can judge a society by its laws. Regardless of the faults of western countries, western countries give Japanese temporary residents such as those studying, more rights than Japan gives working, tax paying foreigners in Japan.”

    RealityCheck’s points are very logical, and very important.

    Western countries don’t say, “Our laws don’t protect non-western victims.”

    Japan says “Our laws only protect Kokumin = Japanese (quietly interpreted as ‘Japanese Race’) Citizens.”

    In Japan, Japanese (Race) Citizens can legally sue and win when companies violate Japan’s Labor Standard Laws. Non-Japanese, for example “trainee” modern-day-slave-laborers in Japan are NOT protected (since, as Japan claims, “those trainees [working all day for Japanese companies and paying taxes all day for Japan] aren’t really WORKING, they’re simply receiving valuable TRAINING from generous information-giving Japan.”)

    In Japan, Japanese (Race) Citizens can legally sue and win when police officers violate Japan’s Constitution and Japan’s Police Duties Laws.

    For example, here is a Japanese judge awarding a Japanese citizen money for being the victim of Japanese police officers initiating illegal Questioning (ihou na Shokumu Shitsumon) (“Questioning of this individual was begun, about a specific CRIME without Reasonable Grounds of Suspicion, in that case it is illegal Questioning.” = “Kono kojin ni shokumu shitsumon hajimata, gutaiteki ni nanka HANZAI ni tsuite Utagau ni Tariru Soutou na Riyuu ga nai nara, ihou na Shokumu Shitsumon desu.”) http://www.ombudsman.jp/policedata/130528.pdf

    Meanwhile non-Japanese tax-paying residents are told that the Japanese Constitution forbids illegal government actions against: Japanese Citizens only.

    Even though Japan’s Police Law #162 claims that Japan’s Police Laws protect ALL individuals, Japan’s Constitution (from which Japan’s Police Laws are based) is still being interpreted as “The ‘people’ protected by Japan’s Constitution from illegal government actions means ‘Japanese people ONLY’.” And thus, it seems, unfortunately, the ‘individuals’ protected by Japan’s Police Laws from illegal police actions means ‘Japanese individuals ONLY’.”

    So yes, just as RealityCheck correctly reminded us:

    Western countries give Japanese TEMPORARY-RESIDENTS (even those who are merely STUDYING in western countries) MORE RIGHTS [e.g. rights to be protected from illegal private and governmental actions, and rights to receive justice when victimized by illegal private and governmental actions] than Japan gives even Permanent Resident WORKING TAX-PAYING foreigners in Japan.

    Japan demands foreigners pay Equal Taxes,
    Japan REFUSES to give foreigners Equal Rights.


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