Translation of a Shuukan Asahi interview on screwball Justice Minister “my friend of a friend is in al-Qaeda” Hatoyama Kunio, on capital punishment. And a window not only into how screwed up the Japanese justice system is, but also into the people who run it.
A translation of Chapter 2 (Yakuza to gaikokujin ni jinken wa nai ) from the book Kenji Shikkaku ( A Prosecutor Debarred ) by Hiroshi Ichikawa. Published by Mainichi Shinbunsha, 2012. Copyright, 2019-Japan Innocence and Death Penalty Information Center, excerpt reprinted on Debito.org with kind permission.
Translator’s Introduction: Hiroshi Ichikawa was born in Kanagawa in 1965. In 1990, he passed the notoriously difficult national bar exam after graduating from Chuo University. Those who pass the exam then serve a two year judicial apprenticeship and work along judges, prosecutors and attorneys. At the end of this period, the apprentice can decide, for the most part, to become a lawyer, prosecutor, or judge.
“A Prosecutor Debarred” is the tale of a young idealistic jurist whose career began with a commitment to fairness and justice. This is finely demonstrated when Ichikawa anxiously consults a superior after forgetting to advise a suspect of the right to silence during investigation. Some years later, Ichikawa would become mercilessly violent. In 2000, he was working in Saga prefecture in Kyushu, and undertook investigation of a financial scandal involving the Saga city Co-op. While interrogating a recalcitrant suspect, Ichikawa became enraged. He would later be called to testify in court, and admit on the stand to screaming “You lousy SOB. I’ll beat you to death!” in the face of a suspect.
The event was widely broadcast in the media. The suspect was tried and found not guilty in both the court of first instance, and the appeals case. Ichikawa would later be dismissed as a prosecutor, but allowed to continue to practice law, hence ‘debarred’ and not ‘disbarred.’ He performed a dogeza, a deep bow on hands and knees, in public, to the former defendant who was found not guilty. Until recently, this was viewable on YouTube. This chapter begins with Ichikawa’s first day on the job at the Yokohama prosecutor’s office. In Japan, the fiscal year, the employment year, and the school year begin in April.
From Michael Moore: The richest 400 Americans — that’s right, just four hundred people — own MORE than the bottom 150 million Americans combined. 400 rich Americans have got more stashed away than half the entire country! Their combined net worth is $1.6 trillion. During the eight years of the Bush Administration, their wealth has increased by nearly $700 billion — the same amount that they are now demanding we give to them for the “bailout.” Why don’t they just spend the money they made under Bush to bail themselves out? They’d still have nearly a trillion dollars left over to spread amongst themselves!
Of course, they are not going to do that — at least not voluntarily. George W. Bush was handed a $127 billion surplus when Bill Clinton left office. Because that money was OUR money and not his, he did what the rich prefer to do — spend it and never look back. Now we have a $9.5 trillion debt. Why on earth would we even think of giving these robber barons any more of our money?
I would like to propose my own bailout plan… after consulting with a number of people smarter than Phil Gramm, here is my proposal, now known as “Mike’s Rescue Plan.” It has 10 simple, straightforward points. They are:
Tokyo Reader: I am currently in a dialogue with company HT. Over the winter, HT looks to have lowered rents on the 1K apartments. What used to be advertised as 150,000 yen a month is now 135,000 yen. (I say “used to be advertised” because there is some evidence that different parties are paying different rents, having nothing to do with a discount system.)
Since I had been paying the higher rent, I proposed paying the new advertised price. According to the Land & House Lease Law (“LHLL”), Article 32, a tenant can propose a rent reduction when there is evidence that rents in a given neighborhood have declined. The landlord may disagree and then a mandatory arbitration panel is supposed to decide the matter.
Company HT insists that my 1K is somehow special that it requires the higher price (150,000 yen). Funny is that when I moved into the building, there was no such tiered pricing. Further, Company HT claims that my lease is not covered by the Land & House Lease Law, but rather is a “Loan for use” under Civil Code, Article 593…
Michael Fox: Can anything be done if your rent is increased unfairly? Or what if people moving into your building are paying less? Good news, there is a designated process for alleviating overcharges…
If negotiation fails, the next step is to deposit the money into escrow (kyoutaku 供託）with the local government. The papers for such procedure can be obtained from the Legal Affairs Department (Houmukyoku法務局) of your city/town office.
Economist on jury systems:
European countries are restricting jury trials; Asian ones expanding them
MARK TWAIN regarded trial by jury as “the most ingenious and infallible agency for defeating justice that human wisdom could contrive”. He would presumably approve of what is happening in Russia and Britain. At the end of 2008, Russia abolished jury trials for terrorism and treason. Britain, the supposed mother of trial by jury, is seeking to scrap them for serious fraud and to ban juries from some inquests. Yet China, South Korea and Japan are moving in the opposite direction, introducing or extending trial by jury in a bid to increase the impartiality and independence of their legal systems. Perhaps what a British law lord, the late Lord Devlin, called “the lamp that shows that freedom lives” burns brighter in Asia these days.
Article in Kansai Time Out regarding a person who naturalized in 1985, for bureaucratic reasons quite different to mine.
Tangental to Debito.org, but UN News: “Japan is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which legally obligates States Parties to ensure strict safeguards when applying the death penalty. It is widely accepted that [capital punishment] executions cannot be carried out in secret and without warning, as this could be seen as inhuman punishment and treatment under the ICCPR.” And this is what Justice Minister Hatoyama Kunio was referring to recently about the higher value placed on life in Japan than the West?
1) DOCUMENTARY FILM ON CHILD ABDUCTION: TOKYO DEC 11 FUND RAISER
2) NJ FINGERPRINTING POLICY FOLLOW-UP:
a) EUROPEAN AND ANTIPODEAN BUSINESS ORGANIZATIONS LODGE PROTESTS
b) US MILITARY SOFA EXCEPTED FROM FP LAWS
c) PROBABLE USG INVOLVEMENT IN FP POLICY INCEPTION
d) DIET DEBATES ON ANTI-TERROR POLICY NOT OVER YET
e) MOJ MINISTER HATOYAMA JUSTIFIES FP POLICY THRU HIS OWN AL-QAEDA LINKS
3) THE DRAGNET TIGHTENS: USG: PROVE NO CRIMINAL RECORD OVERSEAS FOR GOJ LONG-TERM VISAS
4) JAPAN FOCUS: “JAPAN’S MULTICULTURAL FUTURE OF MIGRANTS BECOMING IMMIGRANTS”
5) JAPAN TIMES: “JAPAN’S UNSCIENTIFIC HUMAN RIGHTS SURVEY”
6) WE ARE BEING LISTENED TO: ARTICLES ON SUMO AND EXCLUSIONARY SPORTS LEAGUES
Here’s an article which will hopefully start the pendelum swinging backwards on the whole “foreigners are potential criminals” starting point whenever NJ interact which the police. Some advice follows from the US Embassy (gleaned after a recent email exchange over yet another case of post-assault police negligence) which would have made my closing comments a little more informative.
Foreigners who turn to Japan’s justice system for help find themselves ignored. Is incompetence to blame—or racism?
METROPOLIS MAGAZINE #677 MARCH 16, 2007
By Oscar Johnson
1) SAKANAKA ESSAY ON NEW FRAMEWORK FOR J IMMIGRATION POLICIES
2) KEIDANREN WANTS MORE FOREIGNERS
3) NIIGATA PREF CITY TO ABOLISH “NATIONALITY CLAUSE”
4) TOKYO GOVERNORSHIP HEATS UP: ASANO DECRIES ISHIHARA’S XENOPHOBIA
5) PM ABE: “OK OK, I APOLOGIZE FOR THE ‘COMFORT WOMEN’ ALREADY”. KINDA.
6) FOREIGN MINISTER ASO: DIPLOMACY AS A MATTER OF HAIR AND EYE COLOR
7) MANUAL: BEWARE FOREIGN P*NISES! WITH CHART OF SIZES
8) DEBITO.ORG UPDATES: KARA KIKAN, NATURALIZATION, APARTMENT “SHIKIKIN” REFUND
9) MEDIA UPDATES: JET INTERVIEW, DEBITO.ORG MAKES JAPANZINE’S BEST FOR 2007
10) 2-CHANNEL UPDATE: NISHIMURA WILL PAY FINES “ONLY ON PAIN OF DEATH”
11) CONCLUDING GAIJIN HANZAI ISSUE WITH JT AND J FOCUS ARTICLES
and finally… JAPANESE ONLY T-SHIRTS ALSO ON SALE IN FRONT OF JR TOKYO STATION
Some odds and sods waiting to be webbed: Concluding articles to the GAIJIN HANZAI Case for posterity (Japan Times and Japan Focus), an article on how your overseas work can count towards a J pension (kara kikan), other countries’ attitudes towards citizenship (some deprive it at will, some sell it), and, yes, a handbook cautioning J women about foreign men because of drug use and penis size…
“In March of 2005, after overstaying their visas, the family of VU VAN THANG applied for special permission to remain in Japan. Their applications are currently being reviewed by the Kobe branch of the Department of Immigration… I strongly urge you to grant visas to these fine people, and allow them to continue to dwell in Japan and contribute to a healthy multicultural society.”
Japan’s Immigration Bureau Detention Centers (aka “Gaijin Tanks”) are an extra layer of incarceration that only non-citizens must deal with. Regular Wajin Japanese, when detained, arrested, and/or incarcerated, go through Japan’s criminal justice and prison system. However, because non-citizen detainees cannot renew their visas while in detention, any arrest and incarceration by police increases the probability of detention later in separate Immigration detention facilities (specifically reserved for non-citizen visa overstayers and refugees/asylum seekers). Detainees in these Immigration facilities (nyūkoku kanri sentā) face a different system both in terms of criminal procedure and living conditions.
In terms of living conditions, rights of detainees to adequate food, exercise and living space in Immigration Bureau detention centers are less regulated than in Japanese prisons (which are subject to international oversight regarding standards of favorable treatment). Consequently, inhospitable, unsanitary, and generally unmonitored conditions in these detention centers have occasioned protests both from human rights organizations and from the detainees, in the form of hunger strikes and suicides. Immigration detainees have also suffered and died from their medical conditions being neglected by detention officials, and from the over-prescription of sedatives and painkillers.
In 2021, the senseless death of a Sri Lankan named Ratnayake Liyanage Wishma Sandamali, due to medical negligence in a detention center, brought national attention and protest against the GOJ’s treatment of visa overstayers and asylum applicants—and the withdrawal of a bill before the Diet that would have only strengthened the ability for bureaucrats “to keep any foreign national in custody without the approval of a judge”, thus violating constitutional guarantees of due process.
Sources follow. There is no defense for this inhumane extralegal detention system that is killing people through willful negligence simply because they are foreigners incarcerated. We catalog it all here on Debito.org for the record.
Table of Contents:
MORE OFFICIAL OVERREACTION TO NJ INVITED INFLUX
1) Record 2.73 million NJ residents in Japan in 2018; media also shoehorns in mention of NJ crime, without mention of NJ contributions
2) MC on new Minpaku Law and NJ check-ins: Govt. telling AirBnB hostels that “foreign guests” must have passports photocopied etc. Yet not in actual text of the Minpaku Law. Or any law.
3) XY: Hotel calls cops on NJ Resident at check-in for not showing passport. And cops misinterpret laws. Unlawful official harassment is escalating.
4) Fox on getting interrogated at Sumitomo Prestia Bank in Kobe. Thanks to new FSA regulations that encourage even more racial profiling.
5) “Gaikokujin Appetizer Charge” in Osaka Dotonbori restaurant? Debito.org investigates.
THE SENAIHO CASE OF SCHOOL HAIR POLICING TAKEN TO COURT
6) Senaiho on criminal complaint against Jr High School “Hair Police” in Yamanashi
7) UPDATE: Senaiho on the stacked Board of Education committee investigating his Yamanashi jr. high school Hair Police complaint
8 ) UPDATE 2: Senaiho School Bullying in Yamanashi JHS: How people who file complaints for official harassment get harassed back
9) NYT: Hair policing soon to be treated as “racial discrimination” by NYC Commission of Human Rights. Compare with JHS & HS Hair Police in Japan.
HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN
10) Debito.org’s stance on the Carlos Ghosn Case, at last: A boardroom coup making “thin legal soup” that might shame Japan’s “hostage justice” judicial system into reform
11) Debito article in Shingetsu News Agency: “The Japan Times Becomes Servant to the Elite” (Feb 2, 2019)
… and finally…
12) Japan Times JBC 114, “Top Ten Human Rights Issues for NJ in Japan for 2018” column, “Director’s Cut” with links to sources
Table of Contents:
1) AP: Where Japan’s Post-Fukushima rebuild cash really went: Corruption and coverup on grand scale in a crisis that even TEPCO admits “could have been avoided”
2) Wash Post: A declining Japan loses its once-hopeful champions (including Ezra Vogel!) — as Japan is eclipsed by an ascendant China
3) Sakanaka in Japan Times: Japan as we know it is doomed, only immigrants can save it
4) Japan Times: Japan Post Office unilaterally decides old “Gaijin Cards” no longer acceptable ID, despite still valid under MOJ
5) Kyodo: NJ on welfare (unlike Japanese on welfare) now need to pay pension premiums, says Japan Pension Service
6) Shuukan Kin’youbi: Protests against NJ businesses in Tokyo turn ugly, yet J media compares Chinese protests against J businesses to Kristallnacht
7) BV: “Victimizing the Young, Featherbedding the Old?” On how Japan’s elite bureaucratic rot is adversely affecting Japan’s children
8 ) ZakSPA!: “Laughable” stories about “Halfs” in Japan, complete with racialized illustration
9) Ishihara resigns Tokyo Governorship, seeks Diet seat as new party head. I say bring it on.
10) The first version of my Oct 2012 JT JUST BE CAUSE column (rejected for publication) blogged for your comments, on “sanctioned reality”: Do you “get” it?
… and finally…
11) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 56 on the Senkakus/Takeshima Disputes: “Revisionists marching Japan back to a dangerous place”
ANTI-NJ POLICY PROPOSALS, AND CONCOMITANT PROTESTS
1) Amnesty Intl May 24 Tokyo protest against Diet bills under deliberation to further police NJ residents
2) Japan Times: DPJ slams new Gaijin Cards and further tightening of NJ policing
3) Asahi: Domestic resistance to new IC Gaijin Cards
4) TIME Mag, Asahi, NY Times: “Japan to Immigrants: Thanks, but go home”
5) Economist.com blog piles on re Nikkei Repatriation Bribe
6) What if the GOJ was not a barrier to multiculturalism?
Asahi on Multiethnic Japan in LA’s Little Tokyo
MORE ASSISTANCE AND MIXED SIGNALS
7) The GOJ’s economic stimulus plan (teigaku kyuufukin):
Tokyo pamphlet on how to get your tax kickback
8 ) “Tokyo Reader” on odd rental contracts for apartments:
“lease” vs. “loan for use”? Plus Kyoutaku escrow for disputes
9) Economist on Japan buying LNG from Sakhalin (finally!) and Hokkaido’s missed opportunities
10) From the archives: How criminals fool the police: talk like foreigners!
11) Japan Times: Police surprisingly mellow when dealing with Japanese shoplifting
… and finally…
12) Get Japan Times next Tuesday May 5:
My next JUST BE CAUSE column out on Fujimori’s 31-year sentencing.
Hi Blog. Here are two articles about a mysterious death of a NJ, found dead in his apartment 3 1/2 years ago, deemed not a product of foul play by Fukuoka police (with no autopsy performed). An autopsy overseas reveals the cause of death to be a blow to the head. The Japan Times took …
1) GOJ’S HUMAN RIGHTS SURVEY WITH ODD QUESTIONS
2) NEW JUSTICE MINISTER TO GET TOUGH ON FOREIGNERS AGAIN
3) UN NEWS: UN PASSES RESOLUTION ON RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
4) UN NEWS: UNHCR URGES HUMAN RIGHTS REVIEW OF EVERY COUNTRY
5) TPR NEWS: SHASETSU COLUMN ON SNAFU AT MOFA
6) LETTER FROM GRASSROOTS UYOKU, DISRUPTERS OF AUG 31 MOFA MEETING
7) “ISSHO KIKAKU REP” TONY LASZLO IN COURRIER JAPON
8) FUN FACTS FROM SEIDENSTICKER’S “TOKYO RISING”
9) ACTIVIST REBECCA WALKER ON THE “IDENTITY POLICE”
Hi Blog. Friend Michael Fox sent me this article from Heeb Magazine, Issue 13. An interview with Writer/Activist Rebecca Walker. Now, while the focus may be on how one person grew up straddling two cultures within the same country (Black and Jewish), the points she makes about having a healthy attitude towards people who would …