TV Tarento Peter Barakan attacked, premeditated teargassing–with response from Peter


Hi Blog. Not sure what to make of this incident at this time–let’s keep our feelers out on this one. Translating from the Sankei Shinbun (off Yahoo News):

Sankei Shinbun Dec 8, 2007, 4:30PM
Translated by Arudou Debito, courtesy of Dave Spector

On December 8, 2007, at about 1:15PM, British TV Caster Peter Barakan (56) and four other men and women were sprayed with a substance similar to tear gas by an unknown male. The assailant escaped in a car. They were attending a monthly Christian church meeting in Tokyo Minato-ku Mita, and suffered pain to the eyes, but were said to have recovered. The Mita Police are currently searching for the male as a case of assault with intent to inflict bodily injury.

According to sources, the assailant had hidden his face with a black cap. The five had assembled for a speech to be given by Barakan starting at 2PM.

The assault took place in a residential area about 300 meters east of the Tokyo Metro Shirogane Takanawa Station on the Nanboku Line.

COMMENT: TV Asahi SUKKIRI this morning noted that the getaway car was a rental (and harder to trace), meaning the assault was quite premeditated. Is this one of a series of people becoming violent towards NJ who stand out and speak in public? Once may be happenstance, but…

I’ve already written to Peter to offer my condolences. If he has a comment to share with, of course you’ll read it here.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Thanks to everybody who has written to me about the incident last Saturday. I’m really grateful for your concern. Since I have received a large number of emails, I’m taking the liberty of replying in bulk, so please excuse the impersonal nature of this message.

What happened was that I did a talk show on a theme of songs about peace. It was held at a Quaker meeting house, as the person who asked me to do the show has an association with the Quakers and was able to get permission to use the unusual but charming venue. It’s just a regular house, in a semi-residential area in central Tokyo, but a small street, where no one would be unless they had business there.

We were due to start at 2pm, and I got there about an hour early to set up. We were just about to sit down to some lunch, when suddenly this guy walks in wearing a ski mask and immediately starts spraying some horrible stuff. There were five of us in the room at the time, and of course we all panicked and ran outside. The guy ran after us to begin with but then stopped his pursuit and took off in a van, but not before someone had noted the number.

I couldn’t open my eyes at first because the pain was too intense, but after 15-20 minutes the pain abated somewhat. There was also a burning sensation all over my face where it had been exposed to the spray, which I’m assuming was pepper spray, or something similar. That did not go off so quickly even after repeated washing with cold water, but even so, with some discomfort I was able to do the talk show as planned.

The police found the van, which turned out to be rented, and there was a can of spray in it, though the man in the car said he knew nothing about it. One of the organisers, who got a glimpse of his face as he adjusted his ski mask, was able to identify him from a photograph line-up, but not 100%, so we don’t know yet if he’ll be arrested or not.

Saturday being December 8th – the anniversary of the shooting of John Lennon, there were a number of peace related events around Tokyo, and I am told that right-wing thugs were out in force. Whether this was perpetrated by one of them I don’t know…..

Anyway, there doesn’t seem to be any lasting damage. I had a bath that night which brought back a severe burning sensation in my hands, but as of Monday evening I seem to be back to my usual state of health, for better or worse…..

Anyway, thank you all very much for writing. I’m amazed at how far and how fast news travels about even minor incidents like this. Power to the people!!!


16 comments on “TV Tarento Peter Barakan attacked, premeditated teargassing–with response from Peter

  • Hope Peter and his friends are alright, I imagine that would be frightening, even traumatizing.

    Didn’t Peter do an NHK radio show just two days earlier, on the MOJ’s new biometric processing of foreign residents? I shudder to think the attack could be a reaction to that.

    But just look at how the J-authorities/media systematically ostracize and demonize non-Japanese residents while condoning militant ultranationalists. Japan continues to construct a social environment of paranoid xenophobia, which can only engender hate crimes.

  • If indeed this is some sort of retaliation for his involvement in activism, this is very scary.

    It peeves me to no end that the very people being attacked are the ones being singled out for fingerprinting because they are supposedly dangerous!

  • I’m quite shocked. I’m glad Peter and his group recovered quickly. How terrifying.

    Wasn’t there an incident on a train a few months back where tear gas was used? It seems surprisingly easy to get tear gas..

    What was discussed on the NHK radio show? Is it available on the net somewhere? Even a snippet?

  • “Otoko”? A Japanese person, one would guess… “Logically,” no need to emphasize that, I guess. If the attacker were “foreign-looking,” I believe they would report “gaikokujinfuu” or “gaikokujin otoko,” putting it in the title, probably.

  • Andrew Smallacombe says:

    “I’m amazed at how far and how fast news travels about even minor incidents like this.”

    If the same thing had happened to Ikko, Toshi and Taka, or any former member of Morning Musume, it would have been front-page news.

    My condolences to all the victims and hope for a quick and complete recovery.

  • The police found the van, which turned out to be rented, and there was a can of spray in it, though the man in the car said he knew nothing about it. One of the organisers, who got a glimpse of his face as he adjusted his ski mask, was able to identify him from a photograph line-up, but not 100%, so we don’t know yet if he’ll be arrested or not.

    Peter and the other four victims should not simply depend and HOPE that the police decide to make an arrest or not. If the assailant is ‘connected’. he’ll get off quite easily. Legal counsel that is familiar with making a proper criminal complaint – and knows how to force all the way towards the Prosecutor’s Office – is the best solution.

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    And if the assailant is “connected”, Peter might find himself in more trouble if he actually pushes for an arrest.

    Just saying…

  • From the reports above, it doesn’t seem to be so much an attack on Peter, as an attack on the group. If that’s true, while it’s not exactly good news, at least it isn’t a case of targeting a gaijin who doesn’t know their place.

  • Gene van Troyer says:

    I recall when my colleague and long time resident of Japan, Thom Simmons, announced that he was leaving the country for good rather than seek continued employment. When I asked why, he said that he hated to see a good country going down the tubes, and that was happening to Japan. He didn’t want to be around to see things just go from bad to worse to intolerable.

    I hope they’re beefing up security at the international schools. It’s only a matter of time until some microcephalic ultranationalist thinks its a good idea to do something to the NJ kids and the tainted Japanese kids attending those schools. They have demonstrated amply that they have no aversion to perfectly atrocious actions.

  • Peter,

    This is an inexcusable act of violence toward an upstanding member of the Japanese community who has consistently acted only for the uplifting of this society! To my knowledge, you have not been so much an activist as a contributor to general cultural improvement.

    I do not recall ever listening to any other DJ who had such a deep knowledge and love for the music he/she was introducing on a radio show.

    I am somewhat more conservative than you, so I did not always agree with your comments on the 60 minutes segments on TV, but I always felt that you were sincere, and I never felt that you were in any way vitriolic or hateful toward anyone with a different opinion.

    If the police can’t track down who rented the car and who perpetrated the incident, or if they choose not to do so, this will be a clear signal to us all.

    In the U.S., this would be a clear hate crime in my opinion, the most unforgivable of all crimes.

    Kent Gilbert




    Visited a restaurant I have patronized in a well-to-do section of Tokyo for over 20 years and for the first time saw 2 things: a sign in English outside the restaurant stating that the policy was not to seat parties unless all of the members were present and ready to sit {same policy they have had for 20 years, no discrimination) and on a nearby telephone poll, a broadsheet from a right-wing organization.

    The right-wing’s broadsheet, in typical mustard yellow crammed with tiny Japanese characters, bellowed against foreigners in Japan.

    The web site of the Revolutionary Political Party “New Wind” (Shimpu) is at

    spends most of its time lambasting Chinese residents of Japan. It does, however, attack the notion of protecting the human rights of foreign residents or promoting a pluralistic society. Shimpu is particularly incensed that Chinese residents are now making enough money in Japan to buy services such as lawyers, doctors and prostitutes.

    So, as some contributors have suggested, the right wing is manipulating the foreign residents issue.

    Don’t know exactly where this will fit on your web site…maybe near the Peter Barrakan attack.

  • Things do travel far and fast – this comes from Italy. Very sorry to hear of the attack against Peter and his friends. I really hope he does not feel too discouraged: he brings his appreciation of many types of beauty into homes around the world with his programme and it is fitting that he should be based in Japan, a country that exports so much that is beautiful. I agree with all those who have stressed the emotional impact of such an attack: it is scary stuff because it is meant to be scary. But it is also depressing, because we are reminded of the dangerous possibilities of history repeating itself. However, the implications do not apply to Japan alone – the faultlines are global. Therefore, long may the Barakan Beat continue to promote harmony and understanding (as well as good taste!).

  • is there any update on this..
    or is it just likely to wither out without the police doing



  • From what I understand, the police did find the car, together with the mace can inside and they spoke to the guy who had rented it. But that’s all we know so far.

    If it had been a gaijin attacking a Japanese, that’s all the evidence anyone would need.

  • japan is really in a sad state, the brainwash there owm people into believeing that gaijins are a criminals and thiefs. but they want a seat on the UN security council. BULL-SHIT



    Two of the people attacked by the tear gas guy were a Japanese student of mine and her daughter. Her daughter was sent to the hospital where she quickly recovered.
    Apparently the guy was hiding in a closet or side room.

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