The Australian/Japan Today on Kanagawa Police rape case lawsuit loss


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

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.

3 comments on “The Australian/Japan Today on Kanagawa Police rape case lawsuit loss

  • In 2005, a Kanagawa police officer told me that the vidtim of a chikan deserved what she got because she had been wearing a short skirt.
    Endemic sexim in the police here is nothing new. What would happen, I wonder, if the victim were the daughter of an ambassador, or some such?

  • That’s an easy scenario. Naturally, the media would be all over it within seconds. There would be a worldwide scrutiny of Japan’s legal process, including precedent-setting cases like this one, while the ambassador used his connections to exert pressure on the officers and ranking officials in charge of the case.

    Ultimately, the hypothetical girl might be on the receiving end of a more calculated, polite process, but the result would probably be the same.

    International attention would die down as the story becomes overhyped and exaggerated, and gradually fade altogether.

    Not guilty. She was wearing a short shirt. Why would she possibly think that’s acceptable, when more than half the women around her don the same clothes every day?

  • Kind of defeats the whole point of having a police “force” and “court” system, doesn’t it? I think the role of Japanese police and courts are mostly cosmetic. At least for “ware ware gaijin.”


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