All posts by sarah

MAFF staff, teacher, doctor show that pervs come from all professions

One usually inane but occasionally fun thing about the Japanese media is that they almost always list the professions of those who appear in news articles. This really made the headlines pop today as a number of randy men who happened to work in either the public sector or in some kind of care profession got caught red-handed in unfortunate incidents.

A head clerk at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forest and Fisheries was arrested June 19 for groping a woman on a train while riding the Kawagoe Line in Saitama. Over a period of about 10 minutes, the man reportedly touched the left breast of an 18-year-old woman sitting next to him. A man sitting across from the pair noticed what was happening, and succeeded in restraining the suspect when he attempted to run. The man denies the accusation and says he was just sleeping.

An employee at a tax office in Kanagawa was arrested June 20 for groping the breast of a female acquaintance while at an izakaya. The man denies having touched her on purpose, saying she came and leaned on him.

A grimmer tale: Police apprehended a 47-year-old elementary school teacher on June 19 for distribution of child pornography. Police say between March 16 and 19, a shared folder on the Aichi man’s computer, visible through eMule, contained a porn video with what appeared to be an elementary-aged girl in it. The man admits to the charges, saying he had shared the video so others would share files with him. The school district superintendent made a public apology to the town, and said it feels like the district has been betrayed.

In Wakayama, an ear, nose and throat doctor went to trial June 16 for charges of attempted indecent assault of a female office worker at the clinic. During the incident, which happened last July, the doctor is accused of molesting the woman during a staged tuberculosis examination.

In similar news, we occasionally hear of bad behavior in the SDF, but this one is grimace-worthy: A 22-year-old private in the Maritime Self Defence Force was arrested for public obscenity and assault in Kyoto prefecture after he reportedly flashed his man bits at a 55-year-old woman then splashed what police believe to be urine on her back. All this in a public library.

Moe Yamaguchi's high-rolling husband arrested for running illegal hostess club

My husband run a hostess club illegally? Never!

Actress and talento Moe Yamaguchi was “really stunned” when she learned her husband, web entrepreneur Shigeo Ozeki, has been illegally running a posh hostess club without a license.

Ozeki and two other men were arrested May 26 for their suspected connection with “Birth Nishi-Azabu“, an exclusive but unlicensed hostess club hidden in a residential neighbourhood in Tokyo’s Minato ward. Opened in 2004, the cabaret club entertained an exclusive list of clientele with attractive young women such as models and students from famous universities. The club is said to have welcomed Tokyo politicians and celebrities, and pulled anywhere between 7 million and 8 million yen in profits per month.

Ozeki denies having anything to do with the club, saying he sold the goodwill to an acquaintance (who was also arrested) after opening it in 2004. Authorities are suspicious of monthly deposits from Birth into Ozeki’s bank account between 3 and 4 million yen, and believe he may have continued to directly manage the operation.

Police say Yamaguchi was present when they searched the couple’s Hiroo home. She released a statement Tuesday evening through her agency apologising for her husband’s behavior. “I was just really stunned when I heard the news,” she said.

Along with being married to his celebrity wife, Ozeki is known as the founder of the online shopping website EC Navi. The couple were married in 2002. According to Cyzo, Ozeki has often fancied himself a high-rolling businessman and bragged about his lavish lifestyle. In recent times, however, weekly magazines have carried rumors of embezzlements and dismissals from one of his own companies, along with stories of some rather conspicuous womanizing. Cyzo says that although Yamaguchi has been disturbed by the news, she still believes her husband.

Read the Japanese articles here, here and here.

Hidden love hotels come out of the closet thanks to law revisions; It's a love fest in post-quake Japan

It seems business is booming for the love hotel industry. The number of registered businesses has jumped by a whopping 2,700 hotels since the beginning of the year, a hefty number considering that, at the end of 2010, there were only 3,692 love dens on the books.

While it looks like the entire country has decided to tackle head-on Japan’s infamous declining birth rate problem, the apparent boom in love hotels is less due to demand than it is to changes in the adult entertainment law that we reported on last December.

The 2011 revised adult entertainment law is aimed at regulating the operation of deai-kissa and gisou love hotels, or establishments registered as hotel or ryokan that are effectively operating as love hotels to get around legal restrictions on things like location. Gisou love hotels have managed to park themselves far beyond the borders limiting normal adult entertainment venues to certain areas. Some are even located within spitting distance of elementary schools and municipal buildings such as libraries, and many believe this may contribute to child prostitution, such as enjo kosai, despite the fact that people under 18 are not supposed to be allowed in.

The revisions have broadened the definition of love hotel, and closed many of the loopholes previously used by gisou love hotels. New hotels must, of course, be planned, constructed and registered according to regulations. The 2011 revisions contain a vested rights clause, however, allowing all existing gisou love hotels to be exempt from legal action if they formally registered as love hotels before January 31. Needless to say, many took advantage of the opportunity.

And residents are saying, what’s the point? The law, meant to keep love hotels away from things like schools and hospitals has instead given the go for thousands of the businesses to operate openly.

A representative from the “Rid Japan Of Gisou Love Hotels” party told Sankei News, “By allowing for vested rights, nothing changes, and now hotels that hide near schools before can operate out in the open.” Uh huh.

The owner of a love hotel argued against the accusation that gisou hotels can contribute to the rise in child prostitution, saying, “There’s been a big increase in ‘city hotels’ that are aimed towards couples, not just traditional love hotels.” With regards to minors using the facilities, he added, “We can’t ask everyone’s age. All we can do is post a sign saying under-18s aren’t allowed.”

Jake’s note: It turns out that the new love hotels are great earthquake shelters as well. Solidly built and once you’re in bed with your partner and you turn on the “body sonic” *–the earthquake tremors won’t bother you at all or become indistinguishable from other more intimate tremors. The earthquake has also resulted in a rise in marriages and hook-ups as the confrontation with mortality has made people realize the importance of carnality, and intimate relationships.)

Read the original article here.

Fuzoku lite: "Aquarium of girls" offers thrills for herbivore men

Girls in uniform, some as young as 15, sit sprawled out on the floor of a small room, chatting or reading books. Skirts are rolled high, some have their legs folded up against their chest, and none the girls give much notice to the fact that their colorful panties are on display–to the paying customers in the next room.

Welcome to a joshi-kousei kengaku club.

As an evolution of the deai cafe and other fuzoku phenomenon, “high school girl viewing clubs” began appearing at the end of last year. The number of establishments has rapidly increased in Kanagawa and Tokyo prefectures, with many opening in locations such as Akihabara and Suidobashi.

Authorities investigated a club in Yokohama late last month under suspected violation of the Labor Standards Act. The venue, located amongst the restaurants and bars of the city’s Naka ward, has no sign, and those looking to visit must call ahead and get the location of the building.

Inside a club, bubbly Jpop music is piped into dark rooms and corridors. “You can relax and enjoy your time here because it’s not a brothel and it’s not illegal,” says a woman at the reception. Five small booths await paying customers with waiting times reaching far beyond an hour during busy periods.

Visitors choose between 3,000 yen for 30 minutes or 5,000 yen for 50. Upon paying, customers enter their booth, which is divided by a curtain, and look through a one-way mirror into the room full of young girls. For an extra 2,000 yen, a customer can select a girl to have sit directly in front of his booth for 10 minutes.

Because the booths are separated by curtains, customers are conscious of the men next to them. Inside the rooms there is nothing; no box of tissues, no garbage bin. A sign on the wall prohibits photos and videos.

Girls’ voices can be heard from outside. “After this let’s go get something to eat.” “I’m knackered today..” Dribs and drabs of daily life. Some chat, others read manga, but none show any sign of embarrassment at revealing their goods to the men on the other side. Some girls come in wearing normal clothing, and grab uniforms that the venue provides for them. They change, showing little sign they even know men are watching.

As the Sankei put it, “It’s like an aquarium with high school girls on display.”

The girls who populate the clubs see it less as a sexual service than just an easy way to make money. According to police, the girls get paid between 800 and 1,000 yen per hour at the club, and no sexual services are involved. About 40 girls in Kanagawa alone have registered for the job, and some girls reap up to 10,000 yen per day.

The shop advertises itself as offering enticing glimpses of real schoolgirls, and requires all potential “employees” to show their school ID to prove they’re in high school. Middle school students and girls over 18 aren’t allowed.

Police point out that, while the room is walled in one-way mirrors, the girls can still partially see the men, and have some idea of what they’re doing.

According to fuzoku journalist Yukio Murakami, the popularity of “high school girl viewing clubs” comes from how well they target a specific clientele. “Men are becoming more herbivorous,” he says. “I think ‘lite fuzoku’ that provides no actual sexual service kind of matches the generation.” Although herbivores are interested in girls, Murakami says, they’re also afraid of what might happen if they get caught looking on the street or in a train. Clubs give them a space to peep without fear.

Fuzoku writer Chuya Nakao says, “While there’s a lot of regular sex shops that have closed down because of the economy, ‘lite fuzoku’ has definitely taken off.” He predicts that fuzoku itself is certainly not going anywhere, as women learn they can have fun and make easy money through this kind of shop.

Police are attempting to target the clubs to curtail this new expansion into the fuzoku industry. Club “Yokohama Mambo” was investigated by police last month in an attempt to press child welfare laws against the venue, but because the girls are free to come and go as they please, the law wasn’t applicable. Authorities finally landed upon the Labor Standards Act, as it stipulates youth may not work in places that are hazardous from a hygienic or social welfare standpoint. They hope to investigate similar premises under the same law.

Read the original article here.

See the layout of Yokohama Mambo here.

Evacuees forced to pay rent at Miyagi yakuza home

Straight out of a suspense film: A yakuza couple have been arrested for abuse after they coerced a pair of tsunami evacuees to stay at their home, demanded rent and wouldn’t let them leave. The details are sketchy but according to reports, Daiju Omura, believed to be a high-ranking member of a group related to the Yamaguchi-gumi, and his ex-wife visited a Miyagi evacuation center at the end of March and persuaded a husband and wife to stay at their home in Natori City. The couple, having evacuated from Sendai, agreed to go, but once they arrived the Omuras threatened them with violence unless they agreed to pay rent and living expenses. Police say the wife payed them 50,000 yen, but Omura demanded more. When the husband attempted to leave, the yakuza pair proceeded to beat his wife, leaving her with minor injuries on the face.

Japanese stories here and here.

Yakuza looking to get a piece of the reconstruction pie

Sankei News is  reporting that suspect groups from west Japan have rolled into the Tohoku area, eyeing a piece of the estimated 15 trillion yen that will be spent on reconstruction efforts, including cleanup, rebuilding of neighborhoods and new urban developments. Police say they’ve found proof of activities in the disaster area by a group believed to be associated with the Yamaguchi-gumi. (memo from Jake: The National Police Agency has also issued a directive to all police departments in earth quake stricken areas of Japan to keep a watch out for organized crime attempts to muscle in on reconstruction and waste disposal projects related to the disaster.)

In Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture, authorities report that recently groups called “West Japan Retail Association” and “West Japan Volunteer Club” have been seen distributing envelopes containing around 30,000 yen in cash to victims living in evacuation shelters. City officials who saw the groups feared residents who didn’t receive money would feel hostility towards those that did, and pleaded that the men contribute the money as a large donation, but were ignored. Similar groups have been sighted in Minami-sanriku. Authorities have investigated the groups, and believe them to be operated by the Yamaguchi-gumi Kodo-kai.

Police sources say they suspect yakuza groups are already involved in cleanup work in the disaster zone. They’re currently keeping careful watch over trash processing facilities and monitoring the purchase of construction equipment that will inevitably become necessary when rebuilding begins.

Just as they always do, police are trying to rally together cooperation in the industry to keep out the yakuza, amongst disaster-struck businesses, builders, landfill owners and the like. Authorities stress to disaster victims that it’s illegal to accept money from organized crime groups, or to use their services. Experts say, however, that as groups become more clever in the way they operate, it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate between them and normal businesses.

The mob has always been on the lookout for business opportunities in desperate times, and the Yamaguchi-gumi is known to have profited off of cleanup work after the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995. Authorities say that “Piles of rubble are like mountains of treasure for organized crime groups.” One man’s trash, eh?

Child pornography, government corruption color 2010 US Report On Human Rights in Japan

One that totally flew under our radar:

On April 11, the US State Department released their 2010 Human Rights Report for Japan, detailing human rights conditions on everything from the right to collective bargaining to institutionalized hazing. While Japan is hardly a major violator like, say, friendly neighbours China and North Korea, it is surprising (and in some cases, unfortunately, not so surprising) to see some of the areas where the country falls short of ideal.

As brought to our attention via Polaris Project:

“Child prostitution is illegal, with a penalty of imprisonment with labor for up to three years or a fine of up to one million yen ($12,150) for offenders, including the intermediary and the person involved in solicitation. However, the practice of enjo-kosai (compensated dating) and easy facilitation by means of online dating, social networking, and delivery health (call girl or escort service) sites made de facto domestic child-sex tourism a problem.

“The country continued to be an international hub for the production and trafficking of child pornography. The distribution of child pornography is illegal; the penalty is imprisonment with labor for not more than three years or a fine not exceeding three million yen ($36,460). … The law does not criminalize the simple possession of child pornography, which often depicts the brutal sexual abuse of small children. While this continues to hamper police efforts to effectively enforce existing child pornography laws and fully participate in international law enforcement in this area, child pornography investigations increased 40 percent in 2009 to 935 cases. New measures announced in July included instructing Internet service providers to voluntarily block Internet access to child pornography, increased cooperation with foreign law enforcement agencies, and boosting resources for investigations … But children’s advocates criticized the measure to block access, noting that it does not require Internet service and cellular data providers to block the images and, in fact, the law prohibits providers from censuring any user access.

“The new measures also do not address the unfettered availability of sexually explicit cartoons, comics, and video games. While the NPA maintained that no link has been established between these animated images and child victimization, other experts suggested the situation harms children by creating a culture that appears to accept sexual abuse of children.”

This one is hardly a revelation, as any long-time JSRC reader would know. Other highlights:

Continue reading Child pornography, government corruption color 2010 US Report On Human Rights in Japan

Mind your f**ks and s**ts: Localizing Yakuza 1 龍が如く翻訳物語

By Demian ‘Ryu Ichinose’ Smith

Ryu ga Gotoku, or Yakuza, as it was unfortunately titled for international distribution, was the first major localization project I was assigned to as a young proofreader and translator. As one could imagine, I was tremendously excited to work on a SEGA title, especially one about the seedy underbelly of Japan.

Five months earlier, I was hired to work as a re-writer, proofreader and translator at a mid-sized (now small time) translation company in Tokyo. I’ll refrain from dropping its name because I’d rather not give them any publicity.

When I first heard we got the contract I was extremely enthusiastic, but by the end of the debugging process I pretty much hated the game. I’d like to recap some of the highlights and low points of localizing a game that, although pretty damn good, could have been better translated.

Initially, we spent hours in meetings detailing the workflow, outsourcing a translator to get the long script drafted, sorting out voice actors and a director, and working out all the other technical and clerical aspects. When I finally got the script, several hundred pages of it, I was a bit overwhelmed. I was expected to read the entire thing, which I admit I didn’t complete before deciding to tediously go through each line over and over, re-translating and re-writing the confusing draft version.

Aside from scanning the script, my boss, who resembled Master Onion from PaRappa the Rapper (both visually and olfactorily), assigned me some research. This included watching DVDs of The God Father and Brother, composing a glossary of yakuza terms with some sort of English equivalent, and some field research in Kabukicho.

Here are a few interesting/ridiculous excerpts from the glossary we mocked up for Yakuza.

Continue reading Mind your f**ks and s**ts: Localizing Yakuza 1 龍が如く翻訳物語

Someone had to do it: Man arrested for telling politician to STFU

Doing a bit of asa-dachi?!

An English teacher was arrested this Easter Sunday after he did what many Japan residents dream of doing: Telling those pesky campaigning politicians that they’re loud and obnoxious.

English citizen Edward Jones, 34, was in Tokorozawa, Saitama, and had been having a few drinks with friends when the group happened upon a local politician campaigning with microphone and loud speaker outside of JR Higashi-Tokorozawa Station. Jones grabbed the mic from the politician’s hand and yelled at him, amongst other things, “nihon no senkyo wa urusai!” (Japanese elections are loud!) He was arrested for “obstruction of freedom” (自由妨害).

To this we say, “Right on, Jones-san!!” Noisy campaign trucks plague neighborhoods around the country during the weeks leading up to any election, as hopeful candidates mindlessly repeat their names and manifestos for hours on end, finishing each loop with an unwelcome “yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

Japan’s outdated election rules disallow politicians from using the Internet to campaign (though for a few years now there have been hopes this will change), and candidates are forced to rely on newspapers, TV and public appearances to make their appeal.

Fun fact: The custom where candidates and politicians to stand out in front of a station or other public place and greet passer-bys first thing in the morning is known as asa-dachi (朝立ち). Asa-dachi has a few other meanings, one of which is morning wood.

Original article here.

Reports of sexual violence remain a rarity in disaster zones as both women and the media keep quiet

FNN news is reporting on the arrest of one Kyo Matsunaga, a 28-year-old man who is accused of raping a woman in her Iwate home during a blackout following a major aftershock. The case has caught media attention because Matsunaga’s DNA matches DNA left at the scenes of two other rapes in Tokyo’s Musashino area back in 2005. Police plan to transfer the suspect back to Tokyo and press additional charges.

This report is a rarity. It’s a known fact that rape and other forms of sexual violence are common in the wake of natural disasters. Accounts of rape and violence after the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake still trickle in today, despite the fact that they remained largely uncovered by the media at the time.

Just days after the March 11, the foreign media showered endless praise upon the ‘noble’ Japanese for their orderliness and honesty in numerous articles about how had been so little looting. (Check out this interesting Slate article hypothesising why) The next week some were redacting their astonishment as reports of theft and more widespread crime began to emerge. There are still very few reports of sexual violence, with articles instead focusing on police warnings against false rumours of rapes in evacuation centers (as noted by Debito). This April 1 Nikkei article even goes as far to say that, along with there having been no rapes reported in the disaster zone, rates of reported rape in Hyogo Prefecture–center of the Hanshin Quake–were the same in 1995 as they had been in 1994.

A few organizations have been working to prevent any further violence, documented or not, from occurring. Perhaps the newest of these, The Post-Earthquake Support For Women and Children Project (震災後の女性・子ども応援プロジェクト – English here) was started through the cooperation of several women and children’s rights groups, including Polaris Project. The group has been working to distribute cards advising women and children to put their safety first and not hesitate to report sexual violence.

One wonders how many rape- and violence-less disasters it’ll take before both the media and authorities realize the problem is real and needs to be given attention. Word of some evacuation centers setting up “Women Only” areas, much like a Tokyo train, are a start, but likely a small comfort for those who are forced to walk alone down streets with no electricity, or return to homes that lie empty because family members have been stolen by the tsunami.