By Arudou Debito
July 30, 2003

July has been a busy month for the bigots. Statements from the uppermost levels of Japan's political arenas demonstrate that any opportunity is a good one for painting dire pictures of foreign crime. Especially if they might get some new public policy out of it.

This post is structured thus (click to page down):

1) JULY 12: Dietmember Etoh Takami claims "one million foreigners" in Japan are "murderers and thieves".
2) JULY 11: Koizumi Cabinet ties Nagasaki youth murder with unconnected
"Brazilian youth crime".

3) JULY 28: Tokyo Gov Ishihara at it again: Appoints cop as vice-governor,
tours and bashes Ikebukuro

4) JULY 17: Shock/horror: GOJ announces crimes by Japanese abroad rising,


1) JULY 12: Dietmember Etoh Takami claims "one million foreigners" in Japan
are "murderers and thieves".

As the Asahi Shinbun reported on July 12, high-ranking LDP politician Etou Takami (one of the leaders of the eponymous "Etou-Kamei" political faction, famous for his "The Nanking Massacre is a fabrication" quote both several years ago and, incidentially, on this occasion too), said the following about foreigners at a regular LDP party conference in Fukui:

"Lots of these characters, all thieves and murderers, are in Japan"
(dorobou yara, hitogoroshi yara bakari iru yatsura de, ippai Nihon ni wa iru).


What the Asahi article blurred out was that Etoh specifically said "100 man nin" (one million people) are criminals, not "lots" (ippai). This fact has been confirmed by reporter friends at both the Mainichi Shinbun and Kyodo Tsushin. Given that there are only about 1.8 million "Registered Foreigners" (gaikokujin tourokusha) in Japan, this is a sizable chunk of the total. Moreover, the National Police Agency stated that in 2001, only 27,763 confirmed crimes were committed by 14,660 foreigners. So Etoh's claim demonstrates a degree of research unbecoming to a public representative.

Etoh then capped the sentiment with a hearty:
"Shinjuku's Kabuki-chou is a zone without laws, run by these 'third-country
foreigners' (NB: a term offensive to many Asians). These days, Chinese,
Koreans, and foreigners from other countries over here illegally are
forming gangs and robbing." (Shinjuku no Kabukihou wa dai sankokujin ga
shihai suru muhou chitai. Saikin wa, Chuugoku ya Kankoku ya sono ta no
kuniguni no fuhou taizaisha ga mure o nashite goutou o shite iru)


http://www.asahi.com/politics/update/0712/008.html (Japanese article)
http://www.asahi.com/english/politics/K2003071500387.html (English)
http://www.debito.org/crimestats.html (foreign crime stats 1991-2001)

Nice stuff. But even this pales in comparison to a comment made by the Prime Minister's Cabinet on July 11, while discussing the recent child murder in Nagasaki:


2) JULY 11: Koizumi Cabinet ties Nagasaki youth murder with unconnected
"Brazilian youth crime"

First, a bit of background for those overseas unfamiliar a crime which shocked the nation. A few weeks ago, a twelve-year-old (Japanese) boy abducted and sexually assaulted a four-year-old boy in Nagasaki. After cutting off the four-year-old's penis, the preteen threw him to his death off a multi-story parking garage. Heinous in itself, but the public's outrage has deepened due to a loophole in Japanese law:

Children under the age of fourteen cannot be tried and held guilty for major crimes. Therefore, the preteen can get away with murder. This law was passed shortly after WWII to give looting orphans and starving children immunity from prosecution. It is still, although revised down recently from 16 to 14 years, part of our lawbooks.

Back to the Koizumi Cabinet. Public Safety Commissioner (Kokka Kouan Iinchou) Tanigaki stated:

"Representative of the decline in public safety, one can raise the issue of
foreign crime and youth crime. For example, there has been a marked
increase in crimes committed by Brazilian youths." (chian akka no daihyou
to shite, gaikokujin hanzai ya shounen hanzai ga agerareru. tatoeba,
zainichi Brazjiru jin no shounen ni yoru hanzai ga kanari kencho na men ga


Given the fact that the Nagasaki murder didn't even INVOLVE Brazilians, this is a painfully obvious attempt to incorporate foreigners into the public outrage over an awful crime.

Prime Minister Koizumi capped this by stating that the incident in Nagasaki "was not merely a simple crime, and should be dealt with from a more complete perspective" (tan naru hanzai to iu koto de wa naku, sougou teki na kanten kara taisho o suru beki da).

(Link was http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/politics/news/20030711it06.htm (Japanese) but Yomiuri soon removed the article. However, I managed to print it up beforehand. See scan of the print at http://www.debito.org/yomiuri071103.jpg No links in English.)

How these two events will be reflected in future public policy remains to be seen. But it doesn't look favorable for the overwhelming majority of Japan's international residents and citizens who, despite official allegations, are not involved in criminal activity.

But wait. There's more:


3) JULY 28: Tokyo Gov Ishihara at it again:
Appoints cop as vice-governor, tours and bashes Ikebukuro

Ishihara vows to 'boot out' illegally residing foreigners
(Mainichi Shimbun, Japan, July 29, 2003)

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has promised to "boot out" foreigners illegally
residing in Japan, following a visit to Tokyo's lively Ikebukuro district.

The governor visited the busy streets between JR Ikebukuro Station's west
and north exits, which house numerous restaurants, bars and adult
businesses, on Monday evening. He was accompanied by vice-governor Yutaka
Takehana, who formerly served at the National Police Agency, and other

After the visit, Ishihara said illegally residing foreigners were a problem
in Tokyo.

"In the information magazines for Chinese people, there are advertisements
aimed at those who are overstaying," he said. "Foreigners who have illegally
entered Japan will be booted out (of Tokyo)."

The governor said that police had two few resources, and loopholes had
resulted in their efforts being in vain.

Ishihara has spoken against illegally residing foreigners in the past. He
caused a stir in April 2000 when he was reported as telling people to be on
the alert for rioting foreigners in the wake of a natural disaster.
(NB: See

Ikebukuro and the Tokyo area of Shinjuku have been often been targeted by
the Metropolitan Police department in crackdowns on illegally residing

Media officials did not accompany the governor during his visit.


Link: http://mdn.mainichi.co.jp/news/20030729p2a00m0dm004001c.html

COMMENT: Although the governor may have a point about "illegals", he (and the Japanese police, see
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#police) has espoused time and time again that "illegal" and "wicked" (furyou) foreigners are to be sought out and removed from society. Result: in February 2002, Japan's only neighborhoodwide police surveillance camera system was installed in Tokyo's Kabukichou (the place with the highest concentration of foreigners in Japan) at taxpayer expense. Yet not once has Ishihara ever mentioned how policy will adequately differentiate between "legal" and "illegal"
foreigners on sight. Nor has he ever tried to balance the equation by mentioning the social contributions that extranationals make to Japan's industrial workforce and tax base. The basic mantra focusses on foreign crime (exaggerated, and without any comparison to the rising Japanese crime rate, see http://www.debito.org/ishiharahikokusaika.html). This causes great social damage, to say the least, including justifiable "othering", a marked decrease (according to a April 2003 Japanese government survey) in the number of people thinking foreigners deserve to have their human rights protected (Asterisk), and social targeting of foreigners (http://www.debito.org/japantimes070803.html)

Overall, 54% said that foreigners should have the same protection of
human rights as Japanese (nihon kokuseki wo motanai hito demo, nihonjin
to onaji you ni jinken ha mamorubeki da). This is a steady decline from
68.3% 10 years ago, and 65.5% 5 years ago.


This leads us to today's final article. What happens if Japanese go abroad and become foreigners themselves?

4) JULY 17: Shock/horror: GOJ announces crimes by Japanese abroad rising, too!

Forwarding an email from a friend:

>To: <arudoudebito@hotmail.com>
>Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003 10:57:14 +0900
>Just wanted to make sure you were staying abreast of the news regarding
the massive (26.6%) rise in Japanese accused of crimes abroad-- despite
what I assume must have been a drop in the absolute numbers of Japanese
traveling abroad last year, with SARS and all that.
>Obviously must have something to do with being in a foreign environment--
gaijin living in Japan, Japanese living abroad... THUGS all of them....

Missions had busy year (excerpt)
Japan Times, July 22, 2003
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.com/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20030722a2.htm

Japanese embassies and consulates offered assistance to 16,996 people
allegedly involved in crimes and accidents abroad in 2002, up 4.5 percent
from a year earlier, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

Last year, some 16.5 million Japanese traveled abroad, meaning that one in
every 970 travelers sought assistance from a diplomatic mission.

The number of crimes and accidents involving these people increased 1.8
percent to 14,364.

A 26.6 percent increase was registered in people who allegedly committed
crimes abroad and requested help. They totaled a record 585.

Among them were 153 who were allegedly involved in crimes relating to
immigration and visa matters, such as using fake passports to remain in
countries longer than their authorized stays, or helping foreign nationals
travel overseas illegally.

Those implicated in drug crimes totaled 77, the ministry said.


FINAL COMMENT: Let's play public official here:

"Japanese coming to our shores are committing more crimes! Statistics indicate record highs. Last year alone, crimes by Japanese increased by over 26%! They're faking passports, and overstaying! Let's boot out all illegal Japanese! Or better yet, all illegal foreigners!"

But let's not mention that the total number of crimes committed by those Japanese totalled only a miniscule 585 last year. A 26% rise is a 26% rise, after all. I doubt there's much political capital to be gained--not once has any newspaper article or public official in Japan ever talked about the actual *fall* in some sectors of foreign crime (see http://www.debito.org/crimestats.html). Not as newsworthy, I guess

Anyway, as any basic scholar of statistics knows, headlining percentages, given their relative bases of comparison, can result in exaggerations. If not damned lies.

That is what is happening in Japan these days, folks. Be vigilant, because years of repeated fearmongering about foreigners has now reached the highest levels of government. A domestic policy watershed towards foreigners and international residents may well be in the works.

Looks to be a long, hot summer.

Arudou Debito
July 30, 2003

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