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Hi Blog. I’m still on writing hiatus (except for my monthly SNA columns) after the release of my Second Edition of “Embedded Racism” (Meanwhile, Debito.org Readers are contributing noteworthy articles to the Comments Sections of the Debito.org Newsletters.)
But let me emerge to report from Senaiho, on his case of school bullying against his multiethnic daughter in 2018. We’ve covered it for years on Debito.org (original Senaiho post here, then Updates One, Two, Three, Four. and Five), and it’s gone from a criminal case against his daughter’s assailants (which Senaiho lost last May 2021) to a civil case against the authorities (for mental duress from official negligence). After three years of this rigmarole, we’ve just heard that he won the civil case. His briefing follows.
UPDATE DEC 15, 2021: Here is his full court decision text, redacted. PDF. 23 pages. Click on: SenaihoHighCourtDecision2021
Although the court award is a pittance (it almost always in the cases of racial discrimination), it still holds the authorities culpable. Congratulations on setting another positive precedent, Senaiho and family! Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
Subject: Judgment in our case against the city of Yamanashi
Date: November 30, 2021
To: “Debito Arudou Ph.D.” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
We finally have it. I am sorry it was not in time to be included in the latest edition of your excellent book. Maybe next time.
In the final judgment in our civil case against the city of Yamanashi and the school system, the court awarded 110,000 yen to us, the plaintiffs. A bitter/sweet, long and hard fought victory.
First the positives. Any judgment against a public entity in Japan is almost unheard of. In 99% of the cases of suits brought against a public entity, the private party almost always loses. It is so rare that the government does not even keep statistics on it, and they keep statistics on everything. There really is no point of reference for those not familiar with the legal system in Japan. It is hard to even find anything to compare it with in other countries, especially the US, where everybody sues everybody. The reason for this is because the court and everyone who works at and for them are all public officials themselves. To render a judgment against another public entity would be akin to shooting oneself, so to speak. This is also why judgments are always a pittance against any public official in Japan in the rare cases where there are any.
In the brief of the judgment the court found the teachers/school and city of Yamanashi liable for the damages of cutting our daughter’s hair. There are laws against doing this, the history of which I will not go into. It vindicates us as parents, who were put to public shame and blamed for the fact that our daughter was bullied. She also received some satisfaction for having been teased to the point of desperation that resulted in her unable to attend school for several years while receiving treatment. It also vindicated her from the some of the extensive damage to her self-esteem. Unfortunately, these scars she will most likely carry for the rest of her life. No mention was made of the root causes of her having her hair cut; racism and abuse against her for the sin of being born from a mixed racial couple.
Our lawyer gets to celebrate a rare victory for any legal professional in Japan. A judgment of any kind against a public entity will most likely propel him into the rare air of lawyers in Japan who have won judgments against public officials. He will most likely get appointed to various prestigious committees and professional elite boards. A boost for his career. Good for him.
The downside of our small victory is that it is small. One judgment in a regional court in Japan changes nothing really. There will be some media coverage for a little while. After that dies down, the bullies will continue to bully, the racists will continue to rant, and the public officials will continue to cover up their culpability. The amount of the judgment itself is an insulting pittance, and does nothing to deter anyone from the actions that caused it. It is just a spit in the street for public officials who have no personal skin in it anyway. They get to go on with business as usual. We get to pick up the pieces of our lives. Unless the city of Yamanashi appeals the judgment (actually I kind of hope they do) we get to carry on, older but wiser? Hmm, not sure about the wiser part.
Thank you again to everyone here at Debito.org who supported us with your encouragement and prayers.
The bullying haircut, as demonstrated in court by Senaiho. Image courtesy of Bunshun and Senaiho.
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