Category Archives: Organized Crime

Rape in Japan is a crime but justice is rarely served. A Non-Arrest & Shiori Ito’s Full Statement

(originally posted in October 2017. periodically updated)

Japan’s ruling coalition, headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has been mired in scandal for several weeks amid allegations Abe personally bent the law or broke it to benefit his political cronies and friends. Even a senior member of Abe’s own Liberal Democratic Party says, “There is nothing this administration wouldn’t do to crush its enemies and reward its pals.”

But new allegations have raised the possibility that the administration may have gone so far as to quash a rape investigation on behalf of a close friend of Abe: the dapper, hipster-bearded broadcast journalist Noriyuki Yamaguchi, who also penned two laudatory books on the prime minister

The story became national news on May 29 when a 28-year-old journalist named Shiori Ito held a press conference at the Tokyo District Court as she sought to reopen the closed investigation into her case….(Click here for part one: Is Japan’s Top Politician Behind a Shameful Rape Cover-Up  and for the follow up Japan’s Big #MeToo Moment) . She did not win a reopening of the case but filed a civil suit at the end of September. Last March, the civil courts did essentially find a man guilty of rape and fine him for damages—after police failed to file charges in time for a criminal case to be possible. Shiori Ito also came forward with her full name and published a book, Black Box, referring to the fear of sexual assault victims to come forward in Japan, (only 1 in 5 do, and half of cases resulting in arrest are dropped by prosecutors) and the government and police discouragement of sexual assault investigations and their refusal to discuss why they drop cases, even to the victims. Shiori Ito has gained a groundswelling of public support in recent months. 

There is dispute to what happened and Noriyuki Yamaguchi has categorically denied raping Shiori Ito, “I have done nothing to touch the law.” And this month, he has even published a long rebuttal implying that Shiori Ito is a tool of shadowy anti-Abe political forces in ultra-right magazine, Monthly Hanada  (月刊花田). The editor of Hanada is famous for having okayed publication of an article denying that there were gas chambers at Auschwitz, implying that there was no holocaust. However, there is on undisputed fact: an arrest warrant on charges of rape (準強姦) was issued for Yamaguchi, only to be revoked by a political and personal friend of the Abe administration, Itaru Nakamura. See below. 

The Non-Arrest of Shiori Ito’s Alleged Rapist (an annotation in The Daily Beast)

The arrest warrant for Noriyuki Yamaguchi was reportedly pulled by Itaru Nakamura, the acting chief of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department Investigative Division at the time, on June 8 2015.

The chief detective waiting to arrest Yamaguchi, the alleged rapist, informed Ito over the phone, “We have to let him go. The arrest has been stopped from above. I’m terribly sorry. I didn’t do enough.”

Itaru Nakamura is a more important figure than his title as an acting police chief might suggest. He is also a former political secretary to Cabinet Minister Yoshihide Suga and a friend of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He immediately moved the investigation from the original police department, Takanawa PD, to the police headquarters so that it was under his control.

The prosecutor who had signed off on the arrest warrant was taken off the case. The new detectives handling it drove Shiori Ito to a lawyer to convince her to make a settlement with the accused and drop charges, a highly unusual move.

The Daily Beast has tried to reach Nakamura for comment several times with no luck.

Nakamura is currently the chief of The National Police Agency Organized Crime Control Division, which gives guidance on the controversial and Orwellian criminal conspiracy laws that the Abe administration ramrodded through the parliament.

“I’ve sent him letters,” says Ito. “I’ve tried to meet him now six times––the first time I’ve ever done a stakeout. He won’t talk to me. I just want him to look me in the eye and tell me why he stopped the arrest and scuttled the investigation.” She even once chased him as he ran to his chauffeured car–only to be nearly ran over as he sped away.

Only in Japan do rape victims have to chase the police to seek justice. In a better world, the cops would be actively chasing the suspected rapist.

It is possible that Prime Minister Abe, his second in command, and Nakamura may be pursued in the Japanese Parliament by opposition party members seeking the truth. But don’t hold your breath. Many are reluctant to open the black box. If #metoo (#私も) ever starts trending here, it would do a lot to pry the lid open. Shiori Ito has at least made a dent in it…..and her press conference is something that says a lot about how things still work in Japan. 

For reference purposes, here is the text of her speech, translated from Japanese, with some editing for clarity.

 

Thank you for coming today.

Shiori Ito has come forward to talk about her rape and the lack of investigation of sexual assault in Japan.

 

First of all, I would like to address why I decided to hold this press conference.

Two years ago, I was raped. Going through the subsequent procedures, I came to the painful realization that the legal and social systems in Japan work against victims of sex crimes. I felt strongly about needing to change this adverse structure, and decided to go public with my case.

I will go into details later, but in the beginning, the police would not even let me file a report on this case. They told me that it was difficult to investigate sex crimes under the current law. Also, the person in question, Mr. Yamaguchi, was the Washington Bureau Chief of Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) at the time, and a public figure. During the investigation, I received insults that were unbearable as a victim.

However, my intention is not to criticize the entire police force. The Takanawa Police eventually became sympathetic to my situation and worked hard to investigate this case. Thanks to their efforts, investigations were completed and an arrest warrant was issued. But just as the warrant was about to be executed, the then-Chief Detective ordered investigators to call off the arrest. I question the existence of a police organization that allows such unforgiveable circumstances to transpire.

I also question the procedures that sex crime victims are required to undergo at hospitals in order to receive treatment and examinations, as well as the insensitivity of organizations that provide information for victims. A fundamental change needs to be made to this structure.

On the legislative level, the Diet is currently prioritizing discussions about conspiracy laws over the proposed bill to revise rape crimes, whose content is also something that we need to reconsider to ensure that they are truly satisfactory.

I hope that by talking about my experience publicly, I will help improve the current structure and start discussions that will lead to changes. This was my motivation behind making this announcement.

This afternoon, I made an appeal to the Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution about my case being dropped.

I will omit details of the incident itself, as it would be difficult to read them aloud. Please refer to the handouts for details. What I can say is that a sexual act was committed against me, unrelated to my will, against my will. I will talk about the events that ensued after the incident.

Circumstances of the Incident

 

I met Mr. Yamaguchi, then TBS’s Washington Bureau Chief, in the fall of 2013, when I was studying journalism and photography at a university in New York. I met him a second time in the US, but we did not engage in any deep discussions on either occasion.

 

After I graduated, I aspired to work as a freelance journalist because I wanted to lend an ear to unheard voices, and to listen to their stories over long period of time. But upon returning to Japan at the beginning of 2015, my parents convinced me to first work at a company for a few years. In March of the same year, I emailed Mr. Yamaguchi to ask if there were any openings at the TBS Washington Bureau, because he had previously told me that he could arrange for me to work there. And when I was interning at Nippon Television’s New York Bureau, there were people who had been hired locally. So I didn’t question Mr. Yamaguchi’s offer.

 

Mr. Yamaguchi’s replies were positive about my employment: “You could start working here while we look at getting you hired you officially;” “The biggest barrier will be the visa, but TBS could help you get one.”

 

After several email exchanges, he said that he would be coming back to Japan for business and asked me to meet him. We agreed to meet on Friday, April 3, 2015.

 

At the time, I was working as an intern at Reuters. I had to work late, and ended up being late for my meeting with Mr. Yamaguchi. When I called, he reassured me and told me that he would go ahead and start eating without me. This conversation led me to believe that someone else was joining us, as I had never met him alone before.

 

That night, he was already eating at one of his favorite restaurants, a kushiyaki place in Ebisu. I had 5 brochettes, two glasses of beer, and a glass of wine. At the restaurant, he made small talk and didn’t discuss the visa, which was supposed to be the objective of our meeting. He said, “There are other restaurants I need to pop by in Ebisu. I’ve made a reservation for the next restaurant, where I want to have a proper meal. Let’s have a quick bite here, and go to the next place together.” The next place was another one of his favorite restaurants, this time a sushi place.

 

At the sushi restaurant, he said, “I’ve heard good things about you and want to work with you.” An hour or so after we had arrived at the second restaurant, I suddenly felt dizzy and went to the bathroom, it was my second time to go to the bath room at this place. The last thing I remember is leaning my head against the water tank. I don’t remember anything else after that. As far as I can remember, I shared two servings of sake with him at the sushi restaurant. Prior to this incident, I had never lost my memory from drinking alcohol.

 

Investigators later told me that I left the sushi restaurant with Mr. Yamaguchi around 11PM. He apparently took me to a hotel in Minato Ward. According to the taxi driver who drove us to the hotel, I repeatedly asked to be dropped off at the nearest station. But Mr. Yamaguchi said, “Don’t worry, I won’t do anything. We’ll just talk about work,” and instructed the driver to head to the hotel. According to the driver’s testimony, I wasn’t able to get out of the taxi on my own, so Mr. Yamaguchi had to carry me. This scene was recorded on the hotel’s security camera. I plan to submit these testimonies and evidence to the Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution.

 

At 5AM the next morning, I regained consciousness. I was lying naked in a hotel bed, face up with Mr. Yamaguchi on top of me. I will refrain from providing explicit details, but what I can say is that a sexual act was committed against me, unrelated to my will, against my will.

 

After the Incident

 

Several hours after the incident, I went to see a gynecologist in my neighborhood. Mr. Yamaguchi had not used any contraception, and I did not know what do. As soon as I entered the consultation room, the gynecologist asked, “What time did you make the mistake?” without even looking at me. I was then given a pill and told to take it outside. That was it. I could not bring myself to explain my situation to someone so mechanical. So I decided to call a nonprofit that supported victims of sexual violence, hopeful for an introduction to another medical facility.

 

However, the person who took the call said, “I would like to interview you first.” I was devastated. I barely had the strength to get up from my bed, and had called in desperation. But the first word I heard from this organization was “interview.” I’m certain that other victims with similar experiences would be deprived of any will power at this point. What is critical at this stage is not an interview, but an introduction to a medical institution for an examination.

 

At first, the police would not let me file a report. Investigators repeatedly tried to convince me not to file and said things like, “This kind of thing happens often, but it’s difficult to investigate these cases;” “This will affect your career;” “You won’t be able to work in this industry after this;” and “All the effort you’ve made so far in your life will go to waste.”

 

I pleaded investigators to check the footage from the hotel’s security camera, and that by doing so, they would see that I was telling the truth. When they finally did check the footage, they agreed to handle this incident as a case and start investigating.

 

On June 8, 2015, several investigators were waiting for Mr. Yamaguchi at Narita Airport. Equipped with an arrest warrant, they were going to arrest him upon his arrival in Japan on charges of incapacitated rape. However, this arrest warrant was never executed.

 

At the time, I was in Germany for work. Immediately prior to the scheduled arrest, one of the investigators had contacted me to say, “We’re going to arrest him. Please return to Japan immediately.” So I was preparing to come back when I received another call from the investigator. Even now, I have vivid recollections of this call: “He just passed right in front of me, but I received orders from above to not make the arrest,” “I’m going to have to leave the investigation.”

 

Why did this happen? Surprisingly, the then-Chief Detective had ordered the arrest to be called off. In an interview with Shukan Shincho, this Chief Detective admitted that he had “given orders to cancel the arrest.”

 

Japanese laws do not protect us. The investigation agency has the authority to suppress its own arrest warrants. I will never forget the sense of helplessness I felt that day.

 

After the incident at the airport, the police sent criminal papers to Mr. Yamaguchi on charges of incapacitated rape. But on August 2, 2016, the prosecution decided to drop charges against Mr. Yamaguchi due to insufficient suspicion. This process took over 1 year and 4 months. The investigations revealed evidence of me being dragged into the hotel through testimonies from the taxi driver and the hotel bellman, as well as footage from the security camera. DNA test results also provided additional evidence. I could not accept the case being dropped, and conducted my own inquiries. And today, I finally made an appeal to the Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution.

 

I want to ask a question to all people living in Japan. Are we really going to continue to let this happen?

 

For the past two years, I often wondered why I was still alive. The act of rape killed me from the inside. Rape is murder of the soul. Only my body was left, and I was overwhelmed by the feeling that I had become a shell.

 

After the incident, I concentrated on seeking the truth as a journalist. I had no other choice. I felt like I would be mentally crushed if I considered myself a victim. Focusing on work was a way for me to protect myself.

 

I then came across a photo documentary of rape victims and their families by Mary F. Calvert in a World Press Photo exhibit. In the exhibit, there was a diary of a woman who had been raped. In this diary, there was a drawing of wrist cutting, accompanied by a message that said, “If only it was this easy.” In the end, this woman killed herself.

 

I understand this woman’s pain. She doesn’t exist in this world anymore, but I witnessed those photos and received her message. And this is what I thought: “I have to reveal the horror of rape and the enormous impact it has on the victim’s life.”

 

Becoming a rape victim myself made me realized just how small our voices are, and how difficult it is to have our voices heard in society. At the same time, I recognized the need to face this issue as a journalist. If I hadn’t been a journalist, I may have given up. I know there are countless women who have gone through the same experience, leaving them hurt and crushed. I know that, both in the past and still today, many of these women have given up.

 

How many media outlets have published this story? When I saw Mr. Yamaguchi repeatedly broadcasting his side of the story through his powerful connections, I couldn’t breathe. Where is the freedom of speech in this country? What are the laws and media trying to protect, and from whom? That is the question I want to ask.

 

I have travelled to over 60 countries, and have been asked if I have ever been in a dangerous situation. My travels have included interviewing the guerrilla in Columbia, going to the cocaine jungle in Peru, and other areas that would be considered dangerous. But I am sad to say that the only time I actually encountered real danger was in Japan, my homeland, which is considered a safe country. I wholeheartedly wish that no one else has to experience what I went through.

 

This could happen to you, your family, your friends – it could happen to anyone. If we remain silent and ignore this opportunity to change the legal and investigation systems, each and every one of us will be approving these crimes to continue.

 

That is all from me. Once again, thank you for your time.

 

 

 

Chronological order of events:

 

April 3, 2015                          Met Mr. Yamaguchi

20:00               Entered kushiyaki restaurant

21:40               Entered sushi restaurant

 

April 4, 2015   5:00                 Woke up in pain and realized that I had been raped. Memory

lost half way in sushi restaurant

April 9, 2015                          Consulted Harajuku Police Station

April 11, 2015                        Interview with lieutenant from Takanawa Police Station

(currently at Metropolitan Police Headquarters) at Harajuku Police Station

April 15, 2015                        Watched security camera footage with aforementioned

lieutenant at Sheraton Miyako Hotel

April 30, 2015                        Filed criminal complaint at Takanawa Police Station

Beginning of June 2015           Collected evidence such as: testimony from taxi driver,

testimony from hotel bellman, investigation results from DNA sample collected from underwear. Arrest warrant issued. (Due to the possibility of the rape being filmed, confiscation of Mr.

Yamaguchi’s computer was also a requirement)

June 4, 2015                           Informed about the scheduled arrest of the accused upon his

return to Japan at Narita Airport; requested to return from Germany

June 8, 2015

Informed by lieutenant that he had gone to the airport, but that the arrest had been cancelled due to orders from above. Also informed that the lieutenant had been relieved from this case. Subsequently, the case was transferred from the Takanawa Police Station to the First Section of the Metropolitan Police Department

August 26, 2015                     Criminal papers sent to Mr. Yamaguchi

October 2015                         My first interview with prosecutor

January 2016                         Mr. Yamaguchi’s interview with prosecutor

June 2016                               My second interview with prosecutor

July 22, 2016                          Charges dropped against Mr. Yamaguchi

 

Editor’s note: Mr. Yamaguchi has categorically denied all charges and his rebuttal can be read on his Facebook page and in the article linked above. This was originally published on June 18th, 2017 and was slightly updated on October 24th. 

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Some parting words from Yakuza movie icon Takakura Ken on yakuza films, his favourite movies, and acting

“I think that the reason the general public identified with the roles I played, was that they were struck by my stance as a man who unrelentingly stands up to absurd injustices. It wasn’t just that I was just going off to a sword fight, but that my character was willing to sacrifice himself in order to protect the people important to him.”–Ken Takakura, August 2013

In honour of Japan’s Celebration of Cinema Day, December 1st, we’ve reposted some reviews and articles on classic films. Some good, some bad, some epic. This was originally published shortly before his death. 

Japan’s best actor Ken Takakura has died of lymphoma, at age 83. The actor passed away at a Tokyo hospital on 10 November, his office said on Tuesday. He has been called  the “Clint Eastwood” of Japan.  Takakura was renowned for his stoic roles in scores of action films and yakuza movies–he was also adept at playing tough but caring men, clumsy in expressing their emotions. He played alongside Robert Mitchum in Paul Schrader directed film, The Yakuza in 1973. He also starred as a by-the-book, honourable and ultimately brave Japanese police officer alongside US actor Michael Douglas in the 1989 Ridley Scott film Black Rain. One of his lines in the movie, probably inspired millions of Japanese men to later study English conversation: “(I’m ) Assistant Inspector Matsumoto Masahiro, Criminal Investigation section, Osaka Prefecture police. And I do speak fucking English.”

Mr. Schrader told me in March of 2011 that Takakura was one of the most impressive actors he’d ever worked with and that his Kendo (Japanese fencing)  ability seemed top-notch. He had once offered Takakura the role of Yukio Mishima, the literary genius turned right wing extremist, in his bio-pic film Mishima and Takakura had seriously considered it. However, in the end for reasons he only obliquely hinted at, he politely declined the role. The film Mishima has never been shown in a film festival in Japan.

Among his well-known films were “The Yellow Handkerchief”.  He won the best actor prize at the Montreal World Film Festival for “Poppoya” (The Railway Man). He also appeared in some the final “real-life” yakuza bio-pics including 3rd Generation Leader of The Yamaguchi-gumi. During the filming, the former head of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Kazuo Taoka, actually visited the set and spoke with Takakura. Ken Takakura was the consummate professional and even in supporting roles such as in Mr. Baseball, he brought dignity to the Japanese characters that seemed to embody many of Japan’s virtues.

In August of last year, we were able to interview him via FAX and his polite and short responses give a good sense of the man. They are here in both English and Japanese.

 

昭和残侠伝 破れ傘(プレビュー)
Ken Takakura, in a scene from 破れ傘

originally posted on January 31st 2014

Ken Takakura, 82,  aka “the Alain Delon of Japanese cinema” was awarded one of Japan’s greatest honors on November 3rd 2012. The  Order of Culture was given to him by the Japanese Emperor at a ceremony held at the imperial palace. Four other notable people, such as researchers and literature academics also received the award.

Known as to be very quiet and tough, Ken Takakura (高倉健氏) rarely gave interviews to the media throughout his career. He is known for having stayed silent nearly  for 13 seconds (a record for Japanese TV programs) after a famous television caster asked him a question that he did not want to answer. “In Japanese show business, only a tough and well respected celebrity is able to stay silent during a live show and have that tolerated by the producer,” explained a newscaster for one of Japan’s largest broadcasters.

Ken Takakura became an icon of the so-called ninkyou eiga, (任侠映画) or yakuza chivalry movie, inaugurated in 1963 by Toei Production. In the 1960s, as Japan was still recovering from its lost war and musing over the the atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the Japanese audience wanted to see heroes in the black market making justice in the streets and feeding the dismissed hungry people, right after the war. The movie that kick started his career was Abashiri Prison. He also gained international recognition with the war movie Too Late The Hero, in 1970, and The Yakuza, in 1975. His role in Black Rain with Michael Douglas 1989, made him even more well-known in the West.

Takakura-sama, agreed to answer few questions for JSRC. We carefully translated it and have posted the entire interview. We are also posting it in Japanese, for our Japanese readers.

Interview with Ken Takakura, in August 2013

JSRC: At present, many film fans in the world see you as the personification of the yakuza on screen, almost a symbol. What are your feelings about this?

Ken Takakura: It’s true that I did many yakuza films in the past, but whether or not I’m a symbol or not, I don’t know. I have done many other roles besides those of a yakuza.

JSRC: What led you to join the world of cinema?

Ken Takakura: I had to make a living.

JSRC: What kinds of movies do you like?

Ken Takakura: As I get older, my tastes changed, but I like movies that pierce the human heart and linger with me.

The Deer Hunter, 1978.

The Godfather 1 & 2.

Gladiator  (2006).

Heaven (2002).

Posta Pappi Jaakobille (2009).

JSRC: Do you have any interest in the modern yakuza films?

Ken Takakura: None whatsoever.

JSRC: Mr. Takakura, you have been called the Clint Eastwood of Japan, what do you think of that?

Ken Takakura: It’s what someone else thinks, so I have no thoughts on the matter.

JSRC: Why did you leave Toei Production in 1976?

Ken Takakura: There is no short answer (to that question).

JSRC: After leaving Toei, people were able to see you in many different roles? Was that your goal?

Ken Takakura: (My goal) was to meet people.

JSRC: Directors Takeshi Kitano and Miike are said to be geniuses of yakuza film but what do you think?

Ken Takakura: I’ve never worked with either director so I can’t answer.

END.

But the most striking explanation Ken Takakura gave us was worth mentioning here.

Ken Takakura: You seem to be very focussed on the yakuza films I did while at Toei. If you want to understand, why the yakuza films were endorsed by the (Japanese) people, you can’t do it without thinking of the social situation at the time.

When low budget films (picture programs) were at their peak production in Japan, I’d have a schedule where I’d be doing in 4 or 5 films a months. That doesn’t leave much room to really put your heart into a role. But I think that the reason the general  public identified with the roles I played, was that they were struck by my stance as a man who unrelentingly stands up to absurd injustices. It wasn’t just that I was just going off to a sword fight, but that my character was willing to sacrifice himself in order to protect the people important to him.

The thing that really changed after achieving independence from Toei was that I could choose which films I wanted to be in. I had my own standards for what films I would act in. Who would I meet? The words and lines written in the script. But the most important thing to me was this: would I be able to like the person I was going to play?*

*Portions of this interview were originally published in a French film magazine 

 

Please read this review by Jake Adelstein on the yakuza movies.

 

高倉健様とのインタビュー(2013年、8月)

JSRC: 現在、高倉さまは世界の映画ファンにとって日本のヤクザのイメージシンボルとして見られていると思いますがその事をどうお考えでしょうか?

 

高倉健様:かつて、何本もヤクザ映画をやりましたが、シンボルかどうかは分かりません。そうではない役も、今まで沢山やっておりますので。

JSRC: 高倉様が映画の世界に入られたきっかけは何でしたか?

高倉健様:生きるため。

JSRC: 高倉様はどのような種類の映画がお好きですか?

高倉健様:年齢とともに好みは変わってきていますが、心に沁みるものが好きです。

The Deer Hunter, 1978, 監督:マイケル・チミノ

The Godfather 1, 2, フランシス・フォード・コッポラ

Gladiator, 2006, リドリー・スコット

Heaven, 2002, トム・ティクヴァ

Posta Pappi Jaakobille, 2009, クラウス・ハロ

JSRC: 高倉様は任侠道ヤクザ映画で活躍されましたが今時のモダンヤクザ映画には興味はございませんか?

高倉健様:ありません。

JSRC: 高倉様は日本のクリント・イーストウッド、安藤昇様は日本のアラン・ドロンと呼ばれていますがその事についてはどうお感じですか?

高倉健様:他人が思うことなので、分かりません。

JSRC: 高倉様は1976年に東映を離れたのはなぜですか?

高倉健様:一口では言えません。

JSRC: 東映を離れてからの高倉様の作品から世界は今までとは別の高倉様を見せられるわけですが、それは高倉様の目的でもあったのでしょうか?

高倉健様:人との出会いです。

JSRC: 北野監督、三池監督はヤクザ映画作りの天才だと思いますか?

高倉健様:両監督とは仕事をしたことがないので答えられません。

高倉健様:東映時代のヤクザ映画に注目されているようですが、ヤクザ映画が大衆の支持を受けられたのは、時代背景抜きには考えられないでしょう。

プログラムピクチャー全盛時代、一ヶ月に4、5本撮るようなスケジュールは1本に心を入れる余裕はありませんでしたが、その中で、私が演じた役に大衆の共感が得られた背景には、不条理に立ち向かうという姿勢が貫かれたからだと思います。

ただ、切り込みに向かうのではなく、自らを犠牲にしてまでも大切な人を守り抜くということです。

東映から独立して最も異なることは、出演する作品を選べるようになったことです。出演作を選ぶ基準は、人との出逢い、脚本に書かれた一言の台詞、最も大切にしていることとは、その役の人物を好きになれるかどうかです。

 

 

Confessions of A Yakuza Bodyguard/芸能界のドンの用心棒の告白

When Ikumi Yoshimatsu, the former Miss International, refused to join any yakuza linked talent agencies, including Burning Productions, she found that standing up in “Yakuza Hollywood” is a sure way to get knocked own.

In October of 2011, it became illegal to profit the yakuza in any business including showbiz. The attempts to ban yakuza from the entertainment world have sadly been more amusing than effective.
In October of 2011, it became illegal to profit the yakuza in any business including showbiz. The attempts to ban yakuza from the entertainment world have sadly been more amusing than effective.

In her support, Kazuo Kasaoka, the leader of the yakuza group, Matsurua-gumi (Kobe), submitted a statement to the court which details the time he spent employed by the head of Burning Production, doing his own dirty work for the firm, he says, and watching the sinister activities of others.

When there is a response from the individuals named in the statement and accused of criminal behavior, we will post it here.  The statements made here are the opinions of Mr. Kasaoka and not the views of Japan Subculture Research Center.

A Daily Beast reporter (Jake Adelstein)  obtained a copy of the statement and then interviewed Kasaoka to ask him why he would put his neck on the line to testify on the beauty queen’s behalf. One might speculate that Kasaoka is motivated by feelings of revenge because he feels he was ripped off by Suho in their past dealings, but he gives different reasons.

In a document, dated Nov. 13, Kasaoka begins by admitting that he is the leader of a right-wing group and the second-generation leader of the Matsura-gumi, with a criminal record.

“Based on my experience working for the CEO of Burning Productions, the harassment that Ms. Yoshimatsu has received is very similar to what I’ve seen and heard while working there,” the yakuza veteran wrote. “[For example], the threats Taniguchi [the alleged stalker] made to Yoshimatsu, ‘If you don’t work for us, we’ll make sure you can’t get a job in the entertainment industry,’ and the harassment that took place after she refused, such as stalking, the use of the media, bothering her family, applying pressure on sponsors [not to hire her] … I feel outrage that a group of so-called men would band together and bully a woman, and this is why I have come forward to make a statement.”

The rough English translation of the document is below, as referenceit has been augmented with material from a ninety minute interview. The original Japanese was also vague in some areas so we have clarified it to the best of our ability. For the full Japanese statement please click the following link. 笠岡和雄・松浦組長の証言

 

Statement of Facts

 

Nov.13

Tokyo District Court

 

 

  1. Overview of Personnel

I am the Kazuo Kasaoka, the president of Dai-Nihon Shin-Seikai, and the second leader of Matsuura Gumi.

I have been in the world of Ninkyo-Doh since my early days, and I am not of the respectable “Katagi”(honest living) world. I have a history of arrests and a criminal record, however what I write here are all things that I have seen and heard with my own eyes and ears, it is all true, none of it is fictional. I plead the judge to read my statement without judgement.

 

  1. Reason for Submission

I heard about the plaintiff Ms. Yoshimatsu and defendant Genichi Taniguchi and the sequence of events leading up to this litigation from the plaintiff ‘s attorney Mr. Norio Nishikawa at his office on October 16th.

 

I decided to submit my statement since the incident that triggered this litigation, in which Mr. Taniguchi requested and threatened Ms. Yoshimatsu that she will “not be able to work in the entertainment industry unless you sign with us” and the extreme measures he took after she declined the offer such as stalking and pressuring her, is something that overlaps in many ways with what I have experienced through my interactions with Ikuo Suoh, President of Burning Productions. I also feel a strong indignation towards their tactic, a group of grown men bullying one woman, which lead to myself agreeing to submit my statement.

 

Furthermore, I would like to add that I have not received any kind of reward or honorarium for submitting this statement.

 

  1. My Personal Standpoint

For 10 years I served as Mr. Suoh’s Yojinbou(bodyguard) by request of Mr. Suoh via a certain person. During those years, I held an office on the 5th floor of a building Mr. Suoh owned and I had a unit in an apartment building in Kantoh as my residence. The direct renter was a monk of a temple who had agreed to sublet the place out to a yakuza like me by request of Mr. Suoh.

 

After this period, there were unforgivable actions of betrayal towards me taken by Mr. Suoh and since then, I have been condemning his many wrongdoings centered around facts that I saw and heard during my time as his bodyguard on the blog of “Shin Nihon Shinsei-Kai”, the patriotic group I organize.

 

It should be noted that the relationship between Mr. Suoh and Mr. Genichi Taniguchi is that of a boss and his henchman. This is a widely known fact to anyone in the entertainment industry. I will later elaborate on this but I can say that I have been in a situation that will clearly prove this fact.

 

  1. Testimonies Related to Litigation
  2. The fact that Mr. Suoh has been using yakuzas
  3. The fact that Mr. Suoh and Mr. Genichi Taniguchi would use the yakuza and extreme right wing parties to intimidate and pressure talents, productions and TV networks if they saw them as insubordinate.
  4. Regarding A, the fact that I was Mr. Suoh’s bodyguard is the most credible evidence. If Mr. Suoh says “I do not know of a man Kazuo Kasaoka, the second generation leader of Matsuura Gumi and have never requested assistance with any matters to him”, I will directly fight him in court, I do not mind, if anything I would wish to do so.
  5. Regarding B, there is an entry on the blog of Dai Nihon Shinsei-kai I wrote, that depicts the scene of when Mr. Suoh ordered Mr. Genichi Taniguchi to “erase (Miki Mizuno an actress) from the industry”

 

 

  1. “Erase Miki Mizuno” Mr. Suoh’s Orders to Mr. Genichi Taniguchi

(Quote from Dai Nihon Shinsei-kai Blog)

 

Suoh: “(Kasaoka) President, is there any way you could destroy this website? I must kill it now that these things are written up so shamelessly.”

 

Kasaoka(Note:Stater):”What do you mean please kill it, Boss? You can’t say those things in vain to people in our business, we’ll take it the wrong way, you know?”

 

President Suoh was quiet again.

Then,

 

Suoh:”Erase her from the entertainment industry, please make Miki Mizuno disappear.”

 

Suoh:”No, President. If Mizuno decided to become independent, Burning will lose face. I don’t care how much money it takes, please destroy her. Please. Erase her.”

 

Kasaoka:”Boss, you better not use words like kill or erase.”

 

I warned him.

 

After that, Kasaoka mediated the reconciliation between Suoh and the counterpart(Note:Miki Mizuno) but Kasaoka having being concerned, recorded the conversation.

 

The events that followed after the talk, with only Suoh left in the room, was also caught on tape.

 

Suoh:”Taniguchi(K-Dash), call the producers of all the networks right now, notify all of them that they are not to use Miki Mizuno under any circumstance! No project, show, paper, none. Tell them if they disobey, we will take away any talent belonging to the Burning Group from their networks, erase them! Tell them we’ll send in propaganda vehicles and the right wings!” (end of quote).

 

This is the content of the Dai Nihon Shinsei-kai blog entry, that recalls the scene when I as a bodyguard of Suoh, received direct orders from Suoh himself, to erase Miki Mizuno who was his ex-mistress and a former actress at Burning Productions.

 

I decided to mediate between the two parties, while calming Mr. Suoh down, who was excited and blurting out abnormal things such as “please kill her” “please erase her”. Superficially Mr. Suoh accepted my persuasion and reconciled on the condition that Miki Mizuno, his ex-mistress, would not expose his secrets to the world.

 

However, Mr. Suoh only pretended to reconcile and he notified producers at each network that “Miki Mizuno is not to be used” through his orders to Mr. Taniguchi.

 

This is a base betrayal that disgraces myself and all involved parties. He could not take actions himself to keep up his appearances towards me, so he made orders to Mr. Taniguchi. This means that Mr. Suoh and Mr. Taniguchi are acting as one and that the producers at each network cannot go against orders from Mr. Taniguchi such as “don’t use this or that talent” when they know it is coming directly from Mr. Suoh.

 

Next is the reason why Mr. Suoh was afraid of Miki Mizuno. The reason is that she knew secrets of Mr. Suoh that he was terrified of the world finding out. I will quote furthermore from the Dai Nihon Shinsei-kai blog about the outcome of Mr. Suoh ignoring the conditions of the reconciliation and ordering Mr. Taniguchi to notify the network producers “ not to use Miki Mizuno”. Once you have read this, you will understand why Mr. Suoh was so intent on banishing one actress from the entire industry and medias.

 

  1. The Reason Ikuo Suoh Ordered the Banishment of Miki Mizuno

From Dai Nihon Shinsei-kai Blog

 

⚫︎Exposing drugged SEX! The misplaced rage and abomination of Suoh ordering the “banishment” of ex-mistress Miki Mizuno!

 

There was a revealing statement from ex-mistress that exposed Ikuo Suoh himself as a regular user of drugs. Actress Miki Mizuno, was formerly signed with Burning Productions.

 

She exposed Suoh and the malicious sex he would have using drugs that she experienced as his mistress on a website run by writer Manabu Miyazaki.

 

This was a remark she made during a round table talk between Miyazaki, Takagi and Mizuno. Suoh was enraged once he read the talk once it became an article. He came to President Kasaoka, who was in charge of solving any of his altercations at the time, begging him in his deranged state to “please erase Miki Mizuno from this industry, no, kill her!”

 

After all, a direct testimonial from Mizuno his ex-mistress was made public on the internet. Suoh’s panic is understandable but the request to “erase Mizuno” was rather unsettling. Moreover, Suoh having lost face, would become white as a sheet every time Miki Mizuno appeared on TV and would act in an unmanly and undignified manner such as taking his anger out on his entourage. Losing control over an exposition from an ex-mistress is unfit behavior for a man known as the “Don”(boss) of the entertainment world. Suoh himself should have accepted this as a lesson in life and kept stories between the sheets to himself but in deranged state of anger, his actions caused even more problems of more magnitude. Especially in the world of men, and the world of Ninkyo(way of the yakuza), it would never be acceptable for people to be betrayed and made such fools of by this double faced Suoh. I would like to make it clear that this is the extent of frivolousness that has been displayed time and again by this man.

 

⚫︎ The battle between Suoh, who betrayed all of his firm promises with President Kasaoka, and Nishiwaki Gumi who was enraged by his actions, declaring revenge! “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” was thus started!

 

There are many in the entertainment industry who hold grudges against Mr. Suoh for the way he ruthlessly climbed to the top of the industry. Kasaoka President was summoned to serve as his bodyguard by request of the Big Boss’ wife in Kantoh. He would try to see things in his favor. However, after Mr. Suoh went against every condition that was agreed upon when reconciling with Miki Mizuno, President Kasaoka had very little patience for the man. The sequence of events are as follows.

 

After the separation with Burning Productions, Miki Mizuno was side-lined from the industry for a while and laying low until she was taken under the wing of Nishiwaki Gumi in Kansai. Perhaps Mizuno was encouraged to make these expositions with the intense presence of those backing her up. Being on amicable terms with the Nishiwaki Gumi, President Kasaoka was chosen as the best mediator and after further discussion with Manabu Miyazaki who was the spokesperson, they concluded as follows. According to President Kasaoka, “Mizuno was side-lined from the industry once but was now independently back on her feet and it’s too late to erase her from the industry. However, her side of the deal was that going forward, she would never speak out about Suoh’s secrets including the fact that she was his mistress.” This was Mizuno’s proposal. After hearing these conditions Suoh accepted saying “he understood” and gave his word to President Kasaoka.

 

Nevertheless, Suoh’s words were makeshift lies. Unable to contain his wrath, Suoh called upon Taniguchi from K-Dash, a group company of Burning, to destroy Miki Mizuno by threatening producers at various TV networks.

 

“I won’t allow hiring Miki Mizuno on any of your shows!”.

 

This incident was naturally leaked by the producers who were tired of Suoh’s crude threats. The entertainment industry is a small world. One of the President members of Nishiwaki Gumi, Yamashita had always supported Miki Mizuno and he showed his disgust and rage towards Suoh breaking his word. Yamashita howled “This is not a joke. I will make Taniguchi regret! I will let him know that a man’s word is worth more than his life!”.

 

This threat took Suoh by surprise and scared him immensely. Suoh would not stand a chance against the Nishiwaki Gumi, widely known as the gang of alpha male warriors within the Yamaguchi Gumi, if they targeted him.

 

Hearing reverse orders such as “Destroy Suoh! Erase him from the industry!”, Suoh, with no Boss on his side left, came back to Suoh with his tearful apologies.

 

President Kasaoka, pitying Suoh who begged “They will kill me. Please stop them with your power”, brushed aside his doubts and warned Suoh once again.

 

“Look, never go after Miki Mizuno again. Let Taniguchi too”. He made sure Suoh understood and was completely under control.

 

“I understand. I will forgive Mizuno, I truly will this time “

 

President Kasaoka believed his words and notified Yamashita who was preparing an attack on Suoh. Yamashita stepped away since he could not go against the President’s mediation, and the conflict was resolved. However, after a while, attacks against Miki Mizuno to erase her from the industry was still very much alive, in forms of discreet threats to the TV networks.

 

President Kasaoka let out a deep sigh, after recalling the intense rage against Suoh’s repeated betrayals and how he came to sever their relationship.

“No matter how far we go, Suoh’s traitor mentality will not be cured. Nevertheless, this is the last warning”.

 

Ikuo Suoh, take in and reflect upon these words of the President.

Suoh is a pitiful man, indulging in drugged up sex with his mistress, becoming hysterical over an online expose article, running from the hands of Nishiwaki Gumi in fear of revenge like a coward, begging help from ones that he has already betrayed once, then repeating it all over again. His life will end in a lonesome tragedy! The amount of drugs(Cocaine, Heroine, Crack) that permeated the entertainment industry over the last 20 years is unfathomable. Ikuo Suoh has committed an unforgivable crime for polluting this industry with drugs.

 

One prominent example is that Suoh’s group initiated the induction of drugs at concert halls. I will warn repeatedly that Suoh must pay himself, for the sin of spreading drug abuse in the industry!

 

“Dai Nihon Shinsei-kai” Press Department

 

  1. Conclusion

Neither Mr. Suoh or Mr. Taniguchi have the means to sue, protest or explain themselves to defend themselves against the condemnations and criticisms I have made public to the world on the internet.

 

They cannot do so since all these things are based on facts.

 

Mr. Genichi Taniguchi was able to carry out such actions toward Ms. Yoshimatsu as a result of the two of them using any means, including the yakuza, to make their way to the top of this small industry. They used the K-1 producer and promoter Mr. Noriyoshi Ishii to bring Ms. Yoshimatsu to Mr. Suoh’s office, introducing him as the man who “decides the rules of the industry”. They promised her support for going independent, in return requesting her to belong under the umbrella of Mr. Suoh and Mr. Taniguchi’s group, forcing her to see Mr. Taniguchi, which is simply put, a threat. A normal person would be intimidated by Mr. Ishii’s looks and physicality alone and be pressured to listen to his demands.

 

I was also used by them for a period of time.

 

It may come across as an excuse but the entertainment industry will never see the end to altercations with the local yakuza regarding profit. When I was requested to be the bodyguard, I initially thought that I would serve as the fixer for yakuza issues. In actuality, Suoh asked me to work for him after the shootings targeting him, which later turned out to be staged by nobody but Suoh himself. I did not for a second imagine that I would be asked to “destroy” or “kill” an actress when I first took the job.

 

“Join our group, otherwise we will side-line you from the industry”. This kind of statement would only come out of their mouths because they were full of themselves, and arrogant enough to think they were the ones to define the rules of this industry.

 

I strongly believe that the court should rule in favor of Ms. Yoshimatsu, so that they will no longer be able to put pressure on or prevent Ms. Yoshimatsu from enjoying a successful career in the entertainment industry. I believe this because from my own experience I can say, that as long as there are people like Mr. Taniguchi and Mr. Suoh allowed to stay in power in the industry and the media, things may temporarily seem to calm down but Ms. Yoshimatsu’s career in the Japanese entertainment industry will suffer from their obstruction in the future again.

 

Furthermore, I hope that there will be a severe ruling brought upon Mr. Genichi Taniguchi who has abused the power of Mr. Suoh “the Don of the industry”, manipulating many yakuzas including myself with no integrity whatsoever. This is because people like Mr. Suoh and Mr. Taniguchi are the ones that prevent the healthy growth of the Japanese entertainment industry and interfere with the truly talented young people pursuing their full potential.

 

I do not have much longer in this life, and I agreed to submit this statement as my final act of service to Japan, the country I love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The JK Biz (日本語版)未成年の性的搾取(JKビジネス)と日本の異様な「カワイイ」

(本記は未成年の性的搾取(JKビジネス)と日本の異様な「カワイイ」。仮和訳が英文の下です。

This article was originally run for VICE NEWS as (元原稿→)

In Japan, Teenage Girls Folding Paper Cranes Has Taken on a Whole New Meaning

 

 

When weekly magazine Shukan Shincho reported on AKB48 management past ties to the yakuza, no one was surprised. The JK Business is a seedy con game and who knows how to run one better than former criminal associates & loan sharks?
週刊新潮がAKB48の経営者らが暴力団と関わりを持っていたことを特報した時は、大手マスコミがその記事を無視した。稼ぎ頭の秋元君を怒らせると、金銭的に損するだけだから。道徳的損害は配慮していない模様。

 

性は商品として売られることに日本人は男女を問わず寛容な傾向がある。大人が合意によって行っている前提であればそれは「寛容」と呼べるだろうが、未成年が対象となると全く別の話だ。また、「合意」の部分についても誤謬がないか。

日本の10代の少女たちが折る千羽鶴が全く別の意味を持ち始めた(2015年7月21日掲載)

禎子と千羽鶴という児童書の中で、1945年広島に原爆が投下されたとき爆心地の近くに住んでいた12歳の女の子が白血病と診断され余名宣告を受ける。女の子は鶴を折り始める。日本では千の鶴を折れば願いが叶うと言われているのだ。

 

禎子はこの作業を完遂すれば生きられると願って鶴を折るがやり遂げる前に亡くなる。実話に基づいた本である。

 

しかし最近、折り鶴は希望ではなく10代の少女搾取の象徴となった。5月、警視庁は池袋で下着姿の女子高生が鶴を折るのを男性客に見せる店を営業していた男3人を逮捕した。クリオネという名のそのクラブは警察が踏み込んだ際、18歳未満の少女2人を働かせていた。

 

客はマジックミラーのある半個室に座り、鶴を折っている少女たちのスカートの中を覗き見ることができた。入場料が40分間で5000円だが5分間に1000円払えば指名した少女を見ることができた。警察筋によると店はまた、個室で少女と2人きりになり性的行為を受ける機会も提供していたという。

 

クリオネの強制捜査は日本で急増するJKビジネスと警察の闘いの最新局面だ。JKとは女子高生を表しているが、10代の少年を搾取するビジネスもある。我々はドキュメンタリー「売りに出される女子生徒(Schoolgirls for Sale in Japan)」に見られるJKカルチャーを取材した。

 

https://news.vice.com/video/schoolgirls-for-sale-in-japan

 

最も広くみられるサービスにJKお散歩がある。「女子高生と一緒に歩かせてもらうこと」という意味で、客は金を払って日本のティーンエイジャーと出かける。こうした散歩の行き先は往々にしていわゆるラブホテルである。つまりJKビジネスの多くは10代の青少年の売春と違法な性的取引である。

 

「どうして男性が女子高生に夢中になるのか分からない。私たちが無力だからか、自分と同じ年頃の女性の相手をできないからかも。」と19歳のバーテンダー、リサは匿名を条件に我々のインタビューに応じた。リサは世田谷区でガールズバーと呼ばれるようなホステスクラブで働いている。女の子をカウンターの向こうから ―基本的には― 出さないことでガールズバーは風営法に触れるのを逃れてオールナイト営業している。

 

16歳のころ、リサは秋葉原のメイドカフェの店先に立ってJK体験をしたい男性がデートに誘ってくるのを待っていた。メイドカフェは主に男性客を相手にし、名前のように女性がセクシーなメイド服を着ている場所である。そこではしばしば客を「ご主人様」と呼ぶ。リサは店の外に立つだけで、中では働かなかったのだが、ただセクシーな服を着ていたのだという。

 

近づいてきた男性は20代前半から80歳くらいまでと様々な年齢だった。大抵リサに夕食をご馳走し、連れて歩いた。それでリサは1時間に5000円から1万円稼いだ。リサの下着を買いたがる男には12,000円くらいで売った。いつも何枚か用意して持ち歩いていたのだ。リサは当時母親と東京の郊外に住んでいて金銭的に豊かでなかったのだという。

 

リサは放課後や週末働いていたが、こうした男と性行為をしたことは一度もないと言う。また、自分が何をしているかを友だちには話さなかった。

 

「私は馬鹿だからそういうことをしていたわけじゃない。自分は賢いと思っていた。どんなバイトよりもたくさん稼げたし。」とリサは言う。

 

17歳のとき、30代前半の男性がリサを夕食に誘い、飲み物をおごったあとカラオケをしにラブホテルに行こうと提案した。男はその時間分もっと金を払うしセックスはしないと言って安心させた。しかしホテルの部屋に入ると男はドアを閉めてリサを押し倒してレイプした。事の後、リサが泣いている間に男はリサの携帯電話から電話番号を書き留め、財布から身分証明書を盗んだ。

 

「男は警察に行くなら行けと言ったの。警察にいって好きな事を言えばいい、おれは警察におまえはあばずれだ、金は払ったんじゃなくてお前に揺すり取られたって言ってやる、そうすればお前は未成年売春で少年院行きだ、って。ものすごく腹が立ったけど、すごく怖かった。私は被害者だったけど、男の言う通りで、警察に届けたくなかったの。」

 

JKビジネスはめったに強制捜査を受けない。ほとんどのJKビジネスが表向きやっていることは完全に合法なのだ。女子高生に話しかけるのは犯罪ではないのだから。JKビジネスには公開の撮影会で男と一緒に写真撮影しDVDを売り出すジュニアアイドルというものもあり、こうした中には13歳にしかならない少女もいる。

 

JKカルチャーの影響は社会の末端部分に留まらない。先月、ソニーの仮想現実ヘッドマウントディスプレイ、Project Morpheus用に作られたデモ画像では透けるセーターとホットパンツを着た若い白人女性がユーザーにむかって、先生になって日本語を教えてくれるかと尋ねていた。

 

JKビジネスへの寛容さはおそらく、絶大な人気を誇る少女「アイドル」グループ、AKB48にも繋がっている(アイドルとは公的人格において少女っぽい可愛らしさが強調される歌手、女優、モデル、テレビタレントなどの若い芸能人のことである)。頻繁に入れ替わるメンバー ―AKB48は88人ものメンバーがいて、全員がファンの間での人気でランク付けされている― が煽情的な歌詞の歌を歌いビキニで雑誌の表紙写真のモデルになる。

 

メンバーはセックスしたりデートしたりするのを禁じられている。2013年、メンバーの一人、峯岸みなみは恋人と夜を過ごしたのを見つかった後、いかに反省しているかを表明するため頭を剃った。AKB48は2013年の年間総売上が132億円と報じられた。2014年の3月までにグループは3000万枚を超えるアルバムを売り上げ、同年12月には3000万枚を超えるシングル盤の売上げ記録を作った。

 

日本最大の購読数をもつ読売新聞は「KODOMO新聞」にAKB48のコーナーを作っている。

 

AKB48はおニャン子クラブで成功を収めた秋元康が発案した。秋元は「会いに行けるアイドル」というコンセプトで2004年にAKB48を立ち上げた。彼は、たまにあるコンサートでしか会うことができない他のアイドルとはちがい、専用劇場で頻繁に公演する身近なアイドルグループを作ろうとしたのだという。東京にあるAKB48劇場は今やファンのメッカである。

 

秋元は日本の芸能界の請負人としてもてはやされている。ベテラン記者の庄司かおりは2014年にJapan Subculture Research Centerの記事で秋元をそれとは違う名で呼んでいる。

 

秋元康は50年前なら年配の日本人の多くが女衒(若い女性だけを売買する商人)と呼んだ存在である。女衒は少女を(多くの場合親のはっきりした同意を得て)性風俗や遊興業界に売買する仲介業者であった。戦後GHQは東京および周辺での女衒の営業を撲滅に努めたが、こうした仲介業者たちは単に同じ商売を続け「エンターテイメントプロデューサー」という別の名を持つようになった。彼らはセックスショーやストリップ劇場から売春宿や婉曲的にバーと呼ばれる場所まで、これという商売にはすべて関わり、一番売れそうな少女たちをヤクザと直接繋がりを持つ芸能界のために取っておいた。

 

秋元とパートナーの芝幸太郎は2004年にマネージメント会社オフィスフォーティーエイトを設立した。設立の資本の一部は東京の広域暴力団山口組系後藤組(現在は良知組に引き継がれた)が出資したと言われている。2013年5月、週刊新潮がAKB48のマネージメントと組織犯罪(山口組後藤組等)との繋がりについての暴露記事を掲載した。記事では2003年に芝が暴力団員や準暴力団員と一緒に撮った写真が紹介された。この写真で芝は暴力団組長後藤忠政の妻と並んで立っていた。

 

この記事によると ―我々VICE Newsも警察筋に確認済みであるが― 芝は背後に暴力団がついた高利貸屋でキャリアをスタートした。警察の情報では秋元は2008年の秋まで暴力団員と付き合いがあった。

 

オフィスフォーティーエイトは当初は暴力団の資金供与を受けたのだろうが、現在では日本の芸能界において存在を確立している。その芸能界では繰り返しヤクザを排除する試みがなされては失敗に終わっている。

 

秋元はまた2020年東京オリンピック組織委員会の理事を務め、内閣官房が日本文化の宣伝のために設置したクールジャパン推進会議のメンバーでもある。

 

AKB48のトップアイドルたちは何百万も稼ぐ事ができるが、残りのメンバーの多くは時給1200円も稼げない。AKBを「卒業」した ―言い換えれば失業した― 少女の多くは結局アダルトビデオ業界で働くようになった。しかしAKB48は日本の芸能界にとってドル箱なので秋元を糾弾する者はほとんどいない。2012年にCNNが行ったどうしようもないインタビューにおいてAnna Corenは秋元にこう問いかけた。「日本社会には10代少女の性的特質の強調が確かに行われていて、食い物にしているという人もいます。あなたの映像では、そういった少女に、制服やビキニやセクシーな下着を着てお互いの顔から食べ物を舐めとったりキスしたりお風呂に入ったりさせていますが、あなたは何らかの形でこの問題に加担しているのでしょうか。」

 

秋元の答えは「ないですね、それはアートですから」というものだった。

 

それ以来秋元は外国メディアを避けている。

 

今年、人身売買の被害者支援組織ライトハウスがブルーハートという10代の少女向けの漫画誌を発行してJKビジネスの危険について警告した。

 

ライトハウスの代表、藤原志帆子は我々の取材に答えて言った。「JKビジネスは日本の社会病理です。AKB48の存在がそれを助長していると言うことはできませんが、その名前は始終耳にします。『AKB48の誰それが今アダルトビデオ(AV)に出ているよ。それもスターになる道だよ。』―そんなふうに騙されて少女たちはポルノに出演するんです。」

 

藤原によると少女が「10代のアイドルになれる」契約をもちかけられるのは珍しいことではない。路上でスカウトされ「モデルエージェンシー」に連れて行かれる。そこで契約書にサインし、即、AVスターになるのだと言い渡される。スカウトはわざと未成年をポルノ出演に勧誘するが、スカウトだけが責任を負わされ、プロデューサーは少女が未成年だとは知らなかったふりをする。スカウトは高い報酬をうけてそのリスクを引き受けるが、起訴されることはまれである。

 

「日本には性は商品として売られるものという文化があります。男女に関わらず、そのことを問題だと思わない人が多いのです。でもJKビジネスで若い女性や少女が口車に乗せられ、欺かれ、搾取される場合、これはもはや人権問題です。」

 

 

 

I’m not the Jake Adelstein you’re looking for.

SQUEEZING TOKYO WITH A VICE

Jake’s note: I meet a lot of people and BG is a friend of a friend. So I took him to my usual haunts. One thing that you learn in life, is that there is a huge gap between how people see you and you see yourself. 灯台は元暗し. BG is an incredibly bright fellow and I hope he visits Japan again soon. The opinions expressed here as his own although most of them I found pretty true. 

Trying to sum Jake Adelstein up as simply “a character,” as I attempted to do so with my colleagues, doesn’t do him a shred of justice.  The Missouri-born journalist has been opening the kimono to expose everything from the complexities of the Yakuza to the expectedly bizarre Japanese porn industry for nearly 20 years now.   In addition to being print published hundreds of times over, he is also a prolific online publisher for the likes of VICE and the Daily Beast and is one of the most active journalists on social media, clocking more than 50k tweets to his handle. However, despite his apparent digital fluency, he strikes me more of a throwback to a hard boiled, hard drinking detective meets justice above all gumshoe reporter.

jake

I met Jake through a high school pal, a producer on the film adaptation of Jake’s personal memoir, TOKYO VICE.  Apparently, Daniel Radcliffe is in negotiations to play Jake-san.  I was intrigued a year ago when I saw the book on my pal’s shelf,  and borrowed it but never got to reading it until I boarded a plane for Tokyo last week.

I read half, and listened to the rest on mp3.  The stories were gripping and Jake’s commitment to his zig zag path was compelling, there was no question I had to meet dude.

The person that snuck up on me in the cinematic 25th floor Ritz lobby in Tokyo Midtown was not who I had expected.  I’m a pretty good gauge of character when I meet somebody in person, but it just goes to show that a book on tape, a one-way monologue, reveals only a shred of insight.

I expected a soft-spoken ex-pat with a respectful low pro, which would make sense on an island that has a derogative term for foreigners (gaijin.)  Or a writer who had chronicled his experience in TOKYO VICE as a nostalgic memoir, reflecting on the many brushes with death, unimaginable sex-capades, but who had thrown in the towel in exchange for some peace and quiet.

To the contrary, Jake is an anxiety ridden Tasmanian devil, both nervous and cocky. He surprised me as I contemplated my glass of Hibiki, instantly making me feel like a bourgeois pig.

“You Brandon?”

“Uh-huh”

“Here you go”

He presented me with a crumpled shopping bag containing a Foreign Reporter Press Club t-shirt, a gift of sorts and gesture that embodies his menschy Jewish roots with a far Eastern sensibility of hosting.

“You eat dinner?”

“No.  Let’s do it.”

I threw the 40 bucks of whiskey back like I had just joined the Tokyo beat, gumshoes have not time to swirl.  And then we were off, ears popping as the elevator free fell to the pristine Tokyo streets, the cleanliness now only a veneer after having read Jake’s book.

As we sped walked through the underground channels, I couldn’t help but feel like somebody may be following us, or maybe my imagination had grabbed a hold of TOKYO VICE and was running amuck.  Regardless, Jake walks like a shoplifter who knows better than to run and call attention to his lift.  I think this is his natural disposition, a neurotic energy, that if he were to cease moving may induce sempuku. A clumsy shark of sorts.

“I know this great Chinese place – it’s cheap and you can get a whole Peking Duck for next to nothing… you’ll like it and we can walk there.”

image

Cut to me just trying to keep up with his furious pace. He navigated us starting from the Ritz and through the underground walkways to our destination, the entire time, rifling from yakuza, the movie, and the Japanese porn industry. He led me into a magazine shop with no explanation, nearly bulldozing a few locals in the process.  He operates with either reckless abandon only a person with little self awareness can in a country that takes politeness very seriously or with over-confidence, only afforded to those who’ve managed to penetrate the most protected institutions in Japan, never mind as a gaijin… Another dichotomy Jake embodies.

He grabs two magazines that look to may be porn, “these are really rare now.  Here’s one for you and one for Adam [our mutual connection], I’ll explain what they are later.”

He never explains, but I know that they’re Yakuza fanzines from a reference in TOKYO VICE.  Think People magazine for mafia fanboys.

We continue on our way.  I consider jogging, two feet off the ground at once would be less strenuous.  We arrive at a hidden restaurant up a flight in a non-descript building, only to walk in and find a bustling dining hall filled with locals and smoke.

We get a vat of sweet Chinese wine that tastes like shit. Jake insists he can only have  a drink or two as he’s on deadline.  We’re seated next to a gaggle of Japanese girls in their mid twenties.  Our duck finally arrives, I’m drunk, and Jake offers the remaining bits to our neighbors.  He has them cackling, he’s a naturally charming guy – though questionable whether he’d have the same mojo stateside.  At this point, probably so.  His triumphs in Japan, cracking a notoriously isolationist society has earned him stripes of confidence he can take anywhere, that much is obvious.

His phone rings and he takes the call at the table, leaving me to kibitz in broken Japanglish with the girls.

He barks into the phone in a familiar tone that tells me he has a lady at home expecting him not to be home too late.  I can’t make out the conversation, as I’m struggling to not completely embarrass myself with my poor Japanese.

“I’ll do the translation tonight, don’t worry. [pause] Yes!  I’m with a friend of the producer of the film right now.  We’re eating.  I’ll be home in an hour and do it, I promise.”  The call is actually work related, however, all work for Jake is personal.

It seems that Jake’s always on deadline in an obsessive sort of way.

 

Jake shows me his phone, sharing a photo he claims is worth a billion dollars.  It’s a yet to be released shot of a crime family boss with the president of Japan University, who’s also the head of the Japanese Olympic Committee.  The implications for corruption are obvious.  “I’m publishing a story on this.  The reporter who originally had this was beaten severely.” It was my idea that we meet and get dinner in the first place so I naturally offered to treat when we first corresponded. When the waitress brings a to go bag with dishes never intended to be eaten during dinner I can only laugh to myself… journalism never has, and maybe never will pay, but I’m more than happy to subsidize the honest work of a damn good investigative journalist.

Jake clearly feeds off the danger. Sure enough the piece was published days later.  I get a strange feeling, not that I’m a clairvoyant, but just sometime tells me that Jake is pushing his luck.  He insists that he knows what he’s doing.  But that’s what I’m afraid of.

It was my idea that we meet and get dinner in the first place so I naturally offered to treat when we first corresponded. When the waitress brings a to go bag with dishes never intended to be eaten during dinner I can only laugh to myself… journalism never has, and maybe never will pay, but I’m more than happy to subsidize the honest work of a damn good investigative journalist.

TOKYO VICE the movie is scheduled to start production in 2015 – but it’s a small miracle getting a feature film made in today’s market.  I’m a fan of Daniel Radcliffe, so nothing against him, but I’ll be shocked if he can do justice to the real Jake-san.

BG

Half-Devil Vulcan

Reposted: The high price of writing about anti-social forces–and those who pay. 猪狩先生を弔う日々

In life, we only encounter the injustices we were meant to correct.

Igari Toshiro, ex-prosecutor, leading lawyer in the anti-organized crime movement in Japan. 1949-2010.

Igari Toshiro, was my lawyer, my mentor, and my friend. In the sixteen years I’ve been covering organized crime in Japan, I’ve never met anyone more courageous or inspiring–or anyone who actually looked as much like a pit-bull in human form. Igari-san was a legend in the law enforcement world, the author of several books on dealing with organized crime and preventing their incursion into the business world. He was the father of the “organized crime exclusion clause”, a simple but brilliant idea that is now embedded into most contracts in Japan and requires the signer to pledge that he is not a member of an organized crime group. It’s already been used to arrest one high-ranking yakuza boss, and is the basis for the legislation being adapted prefecture-by-prefecture that will make it a crime to pay off gangs or provide them with capital. He was rather disliked in the underworld.

The last time I spoke face-to-face with Igari was on August 8 2010.  It was a Sunday; he had come back from Brazil and went directly from Narita Airport to his office to meet me. I asked him if he would cooperate in a documentary I was working on as consultant and a reporter for ●●● television, owned by NewsCorp, on the yakuza.

I also had a problem.

It’s rather simple: In 2008, I angered a yakuza boss named Goto Tadamasa, who was head of a 1,000-member strong faction of the country’s largest gang, the Yamaguchi-gumi. In an article published in the Washington Post, I wrote how he had sold out his own group to the FBI in order to get a visa for the United States so he could receive a liver transplant at UCLA. The article along with a subsequent book I helped write for Takarajima Publishing resulted in him being kicked out of the Yamaguchi-gumi on October 14, 2008. Takarijma, without bothering to warn me, published his biography this May. It’s a great book–except for a bit of subtle language that amounts to a yakuza-style fatwa on my life.

I asked Igari to help me deal with the fallout from the book. After much discussion, he and his two colleagues came up with a plan. His parting words were: “It’ll be a long battle. It’ll take money and courage, and you’ll have to come up with those on your own. But we’ll fight.”

On August 28th, his body was found in his vacation home in Manila, wrists slashed. Time of death unknown. It’s been ruled a suicide. Personally, I believe he was killed. I probably will never be able to prove it.

Igari had been working on his final book, Gekitotsu (Collision). It’s an amazing work that pulls no punches, using the real names of the yakuza and the politicians and individuals connected to them. He wrote, “Wherever it was possible, I made it a point to use the real names here. I’m aware that poses a huge risk for myself. I took that risk because I wanted to honestly write about my battles with the injustices hidden in our society and the results of those struggles. It’s proper to write the name of those you’ve fought.”

Ex-prosecutor and lawyer, Igari Toshiro, was a famous crusader in the war against organized crime. These are some of the book he authored.

Igari has been probably more influential than any individual in the anti-organized crime movement in Japan. As discussed above, he was the lawyer who first came up with the idea of the “organized crime member exclusionary clause” (暴力団排除条項). It was inspired by problems the Westin Hotel had when Goto-gumi and his posse stayed there and refused to leave, pointing out, “there’s nothing that says yakuza can’t stay at a hotel.”  Igari realized that legally that could be accomplished since the Japanese government does designate organized crime groups and members officially. All it would take was adding a clause to any contract in which the individual signing has to clarify whether or not they are a yakuza, and if they are, the establishment reserves the right to unilaterally nullify the contract. It’s now part of almost any standard contract in Japan, even Sports Clubs. It has been used effectively by the police. A yakuza boss opening a bank account this year was later arrested for fraud because he lied about his yakuza affiliation on the contractual agreement with the bank.  The organized crime exclusionary ordinances (暴力団排除条例)which are sweeping the country, prefecture by prefecture, were also his brain child.  This year I met up with a high-ranking member of the National Police Agency, who had a copy of Igari’s book on his desk, and said, “In the war on organized crime, Igari-sensei was the equivalent of a five star general. He will be sorely missed.”  The current head of the National Centre For The Elimination of Boryokudan was also very vocally supportive of Igari, adding, “the organized crime exclusionary ordinances would have never made into legislation if it hadn’t been for the man.”  (There are now more than ten local governments in Japan with these ordinances on the book, which differ from prefecture to prefecture, but generally ban pay-offs to the yakuza or providing them with capital. Violators can be fined or jailed. Corporations that do business with yakuza will be publicly named. The ordinances have the potential of being a huge body blow to all organized crime groups, depriving them of protection money and capital. By punishing the individual or firm that capitulates to organized crime, it may have the same efficacy the change in the Commerce Laws had in eliminating racketeers-総会屋.)

Before leaving for Manila on vacation, he told his editor, “I’m nosing around in dangerous places. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. Let me sign the publishing contract now.”

In September, my best source in the Yamaguchi-gumi told me point blank: “Igari-san was murdered by the yakuza. It wasn’t Goto’s direct order. He was exposing yakuza ties to Sumo and professional baseball. It angered people. You should be careful too. The yakuza don’t warn people anymore, they just act.”

It’s a dangerous thing to expose the worst of the yakuza for what they are. Itami Juzo, directed the first realistic film about the yakuza, Minbo, in 1992. Goto-gumi members attacked him for doing it, slashing his face open. He would later tell the New York Times in an interview, “They cut very slowly, they took their time. They could have killed me if they wanted to.” Eventually they did. On December 20, 1997, after a weekly magazine wrote about his extra-marital affair, he allegedly killed himself. A former member of the Goto-gumi told me in 2008, “We set it up to stage his murder as a suicide. We dragged him up to the rooftop and put a gun in his face. We gave him a choice: jump and you might live or stay and we’ll blow your face off. He jumped. He didn’t live.”

In 2005, yakuza fan magazine writer Suzuki T wrote an article that poked fun at a yakuza group. They broke into his office and beat him to a pulp. In 2006, Yamaguchi-gumi thugs stabbed the son of non-fiction writer Mizoguchi Atsushi, because their boss was unhappy with one of his articles. Two members were arrested. Their boss was not. On April 17, 2007, the mayor of Nagasaki was gunned down after refusing local yakuza involvement in public works projects.

I try to be very careful when writing about the yakuza, and mindful of my sources, some of whom are members. I hate to admit it, but there are still those in the organizations that do follow a code of honor.

I understand the unwritten rules in Japan. Yakuza fan magazines are sold here in the open: three weeklies, three monthlies. They do interviews with current yakuza bosses, but the questions are limited and there is an implicit understanding that even after the interview is done, the boss reserves the right to edit or scrap it. As one veteran detective explained to me, “if you violate that rule, there will be harassment and often retaliation.”

I probably didn’t communicate that fact well enough to the ●●● television production crew that came to Japan. Through the sources I introduced they interviewed three current yakuza members, but didn’t alert me that they ran into trouble. The best I could do was warn the local National Geographic offices about it and talk to the head office in Washington DC. They were very responsive and hopefully nothing will come of it. But if it does, it will be my sources and the local Japanese staff who take the hit. I’m not an easy target because I’m under police protection. The staff are not.

The yakuza don’t have much pull in the US. They harass whoever will give them leverage. It’s why I don’t move my family back to Japan and why leaving Japan is not an option for me. I have to take care of my sources. It’s my responsibility.

I went to Igari’s offices in September to pay my respects; there was no funeral. There was a little shrine for him in his office, but everything was pretty much as he’d left it. On his desk, was an article about the Sumo Association and match rigging, heavily noted. His secretary told me, “Igari-san was really happy to take your case. He laughingly bragged to everyone, ‘I’m representing a reporter for National Geographic–that makes me an international lawyer!’ ” I could visualize him saying that with his deep, rolling laugh.

Grief is a funny thing. Seeing his empty desk, for the first time I got a little misty-eyed. Not too much, because there were people around, you know. It wasn’t very manly, but I didn’t cry.

You may wonder why I keep doing a job that is increasingly dangerous. I wonder myself. Partly, it’s because Japan is my home. I’ve lived here for more than twenty years. I’d like it to be a better place. In the old days, we’d call that civic duty.

I once asked Igari-san over wine, “Have you ever been threatened?  Do you ever fear for your life?” He didn’t answer my question directly.

“I became a prosecutor because I wanted to see justice done in this world. When I quit and became a lawyer, I didn’t go to work for the yakuza like many ex-prosecutors do. I continued to fight them. Not all yakuza are bad guys, but 95 percent of them are leeches on society: they exploit the weak, they prey on the innocent, they cause great suffering. If you capitulate, if you run away, you’ll be chased for the rest of your life. And if you’re being chased, eventually what is chasing you will catch up. Step back and you’re dead already. You can only stand your ground and pursue. Because that’s not only the right thing to do, that’s the only thing to do.”

And so I stay. Igari-san wasn’t an investigative journalist and he wasn’t a saint. But he fought for justice and for truth, and as an investigative journalist, I’ve always believed that’s what our job entailed. Forgive me if that sounds naive. I believe that, if no one stands up to the anti-social forces in the world, then we all lose.Igari-san wasn’t an investigative journalist and he wasn’t a saint. But he fought for justice and for truth, and as an investigative journalist, I’ve always believed that’s what our job entailed. Forgive me if that sounds naive. I believe that, if no one stands up to the anti-social forces in the world, then we all lose.

When I called Igari’s editor, he knew who I was. He told me, “Igari said you’re the most trustworthy, crazy, and courageous journalist he knew.” It’s the first time I’ve ever been praised by the dead, and more than I deserve. But it made me feel an obligation to live up to those words. Sometimes, the only way to honor the dead is to fight for what they died for. It’s the only way I know how to mourn.

An abbreviated version of this article was originally published on the Committee to Protect Journalists blog.

Memo: Autopsies are only done for 4% of the suicides in Japan. In the last two years several cases ruled to be suicides later turned out to be murder. Check out this excellent investigative article translated from the Yomiuri Shinbun. I would imagine staging a murder as suicide in the Phillipines is even easier than doing it in Japan.

originally published in 2010.

 

The Ides Of October: Japan’s nuclear reprocessing “dream” is the world’s nightmare

Japan plans to restart its troubled nuclear fuel reprocessing facility, Rokkasho (六ヶ所再処理工場)  in October of this year, but is that a good idea? Experts say Japan should simply shutter its nuclear reprocessing plants & avoid making more dangerous plutonium. Why doesn’t this happen? We decided to see if we could explain. Here is our short primer on the nuclear fuel cycle follies of the land of the rising sun.

Why do most nuclear power dependent countries including Japan want to reprocess spent nuclear fuel?

 This is a very good question. If you have no idea what reprocessing nuclear fuel is all about, please hold on. We’ll get to that. Let’s talk a little bit about nuclear plants in general.

The Rokkasho Nuclear Fuel Cycle PR Center can explain to you why nuclear spent fuel is so hand to have.
The Rokkasho Nuclear Fuel Cycle PR Center can explain to you why nuclear spent fuel is so handy to have.

Guess what? Building a nuclear power plant on a volcanic island isn’t a good idea. In fact, it’s probably very dangerous and stupid. This is the conclusion the island nation of Taiwan reached last week. Taiwan’s government said on Thursday it would seal off a nuclear power plant due to open next year. The public has repeatedly criticized the plant as unsafe, and it will be shut for three years, at a cost of nearly 162 million dollars, pending a referendum on its future.

Meanwhile, under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan is rushing to restart its nuclear reactors (despite widespread opposition) and plans to reopen the dysfunctional Rokkasho Nuclear Reprocessing Facility in October. Japan’s plans to have a self-perpetuating nuclear fuel cycle have been a colossal & expensive failure—and the Rokkasho facility (as well as many other nuclear facilities) pose a serious threat to the safety of those living near them and possibly the rest of the world. Japan’s nuclear security is poor at best and the workers are not screened making them a potential target for terrorists.

Mr. Frank von Hippel, Professor Emeritus of Princeton University, and Mr. Klaus Janberg, former CEO of a German nuclear service company and nuclear advisor, told reporters in Tokyo last month that storage of spent nuclear fuel should be an alternative to the reopening of the Rokkasho Spent Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Plant operational this year. Mr. Hippel is the former Assistant Director for National Security in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He advised the Clinton White House on aspects of the joint U.S.-Russian non-proliferation programs.

Why does Japan reprocess nuclear fuel even though it would be far cheaper to store it?
Why does Japan reprocess nuclear fuel  even though it would be far cheaper to store it (saving at least 2 billion dollars a year)? Because they don’t have enough space.

As mentioned above, Japan’s nuclear reprocessing plant is planned to finally start running by this October, after more than 20 years of disastrous attempts to make it work. In July of this year, the two nuclear experts proposed to the Japanese government, including the Foreign Ministry and METI (Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry) officials that it would be advisable to install dry cask spent fuel storage units at nuclear power plants sites and elsewhere to prevent the Rokkasho reprocessing plant from generating plutonium that would further increase Japan’s excess stock. They said their proposal could help implement possible alternatives to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s commitment made at this year’s March Nuclear Security Summit at The Hague not to possess plutonium reserves without specified purposes. Abe pledged to minimize stocks of separated plutonium by matching supply and demand.

The two experts spoke at the FCCJ on July 1st about Nuclear Security and Reprocessing: Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Option & an Alternative to the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant. We have summarized the Q & A below, adding exposition where we felt it was needed.

Frank von Hippel, Professor Emeritus of Princeton University (right)  Klaus Janberg (left), Former CEO of Gesellschaft für Nuklear Service, experts in the nuclear industry say Japan should leave Rokkasho nuclear fuel reprocessing plant shut and store nuclear waste.
Frank von Hippel, Professor Emeritus of Princeton University (left)
Klaus Janberg (right), Former CEO of Gesellschaft für Nuklear Service, experts in the nuclear industry say Japan should leave Rokkasho nuclear fuel reprocessing plant shut and store nuclear waste.

Why do most nuclear power dependent countries including Japan want to reprocess spent nuclear fuel?

 The Rokkasho plutonium plant was built to end Japan’s dependence on imported uranium, oil, gas and coal. Most countries started civilian reprocessing to acquire plutonium breeder reactors, like the Monju breeder reactor, in Japan. It turned out that such reactors are much more expensive and much less reliable than water-cooling reactors. Currently, the argument in Japan is that spent fuel pools are filling up and it is necessary to have a place where to send the spent fuel. Rokkasho is the only place.

This chart shows how nuclear fuel reprocessing would work ideally. "Let's recycle our limited important resources!" Yes, let's. Just don't spill any plutonium or let the bad kids get any.
This chart shows how nuclear fuel reprocessing would work ideally. “Let’s recycle our limited important resources!” Yes, let’s. Just don’t spill any plutonium or let the bad kids get any.

“TEPCO and KEPCO (Kansai Electric Power Company) built and completed in Mutsu city, in Aomori Prefecture, a spent fuel storage facility, which would be much enough for storing the spent fuel but Aomori, which also hosts the Rokkasho reprocessing plant is reluctant to use the storage facility unless the reprocessing plans begins,” says Frank von Hippel, He explained it was a political problem rather than a technological problem.

There is a nuclear fuel storage facility not being used due to political reasons rather than technical ones.
There is a nuclear fuel storage facility not being used due to political reasons rather than technical ones.

 

Several countries like the UK an the US have also tried to operate plutonium “breeder” programs but abandoned them after several accidents occurred and because they have come to the conclusion that it was not economically feasible. They are now struggling with what to do with the tons of leftover plutonium.

Japan is the last state without nuclear weapons to still reprocess spent nuclear fuel.

Japanese officials also know how costly it is to continue the project that started almost thirty years ago. But why do they insist continuing the process?

 “Keep the zombie alive”

 

Why does Japan cling to its spent nuclear fuel reprocessing program despite all the economic and technical problems?

Japan cannot stop its nuclear fuel cycle plans because the Japanese government has an agreement with Aomori Prefecture, where the Rokkasho plant (located in Rokkasho village) was built. If they can’t reprocess the spent fuel stored there, Aomori Prefecture will remove it immediately. According to high Japanese government officials, the agreement is equivalent to an international treaty, therefore it cannot be turned over. Besides, Japan has nowhere else to move away the fuel. And which country in the world outside of Japan could ever take it? Right now, all the spent nuclear fuel (使用済み核燃料) stored at Japan’s nuclear facilities, on the assumption that it can be reprocessed, is counted as an asset by the power companies.

If Japan abandons its nuclear fuel cycle plans, the “asset” would become a huge liability and every single electric power company would become insolvent. In other words, as long as the pipe-dream of nuclear fuel reprocessing is government policy,  the nuclear waste itself— is an asset; it has value. But if the stored fuel is found to have no value, than the fuel and the costs of storing it–all of this become a liability. If this were to happen, TEPCO, (Tokyo Electric Power Company) is already a de facto insolvent entity. The so-called nuclear village insists that this would be disastrous for the Japanese economy.

The current administration wants to make sure Rokkasho is ready to go and restart reactors to keep TEPCO alive. If TEPCO has another fiscal period where they are in the red, banks will stop lending them money. Restarting the reactors is one way to keep the TEPCO zombie alive.

Now, you may counter by saying, “Hey didn’t TEPCO make 4 billion dollars last year?” Yes, well part of that was a gift from the Abe government which agreed to pick up 47 billion yen (That’s $458,134,380) worth of cleanup costs for the water leaking out of Fukushima—because TEPCO was doing such a lousy job. Okay, well, 3.5 billion is still a great profit. And TEPCO will stay in the black—just as long as nuclear waste is considered an asset.

Some current and former U.S. officials said they expect Japanese officials will abandon their plutonium fuel program once they realize how much it will cost. But it isn’t happening.

The US has been building a MOX plant for its excess weapon plutonium, it was supposed to be operating in 2007 but experts are now saying it can start by 2020. But it has become so expensive that the Obama Administration is talking about abandoning the project and trying to find another cheaper way to the plutonium disposal management.

But for Japan, which is supposed to be a country of honor and promises kept, it is very unlikely. Reportedly, Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda in 1977 called the program’s promise of energy independence a “life and death” issue, and that attitude persists at the highest level of the Japanese government.

“It is in the Japanese mentality to never go back after they made an agreement,” a prominent anti-nuclear activist and attorney told JSRC when discussing the agreements in place that keep Aomori’s Rokkasho plant alive.

How safe is the Rokkasho plant from terrorism? The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) is formerly responsible for ensuring that plutonium does not get removed from the Rokkasho plant by a third party, how accurate is the system installed there since it is going to start operating this October?

The measures and accuracies for the IAEA checks that plutonium won’t leak from the plant is of about 1%. If operating at full capacity, it would separate about 8 thousand kg of plutonium per year. Therefore 1% accuracy is about 80kg. The IAEA considers 8kg is enough to make a nuclear weapon. In other words, if the 1% not accounted for was actually stolen, it would be enough material to produce the equivalent of 10 nuclear weapons in a year. The IAEA recognizes that that’s not good enough, and added a system they called “surveillance and containment,” to monitor all the doors to ensure the plutonium could not be stolen.

“I don’t know about Rokkasho. The problem is that there is no way to check within the accuracy measurement that everything is still there. Reprocessing is recognized as a serious problem for safeguards and for these reasons, even though the IAEA spends globally 20% of its safeguard budget on Rokkasho and Tokaimura, it is recognized as being a hugely costly operation,” Frank von Hippel explained.

The US spends about a billion us dollars a year for the security of nuclear materials. Even so, the US still has some problems. Last year, an 82 year-old nun reportedly penetrated the security system and went to the central part of a nuclear facility. There is no perfect security. “The only perfect security is to not have the nuclear material in the first place.” Von Hippel said. “If you aren’t making nuclear weapons, I’d argue that nobody needs to have the nuclear material that could be used to build them.” (Of course, some would argue that Japan wants plutonium precisely for those reasons.)

Final disposal of the spent nuclear fuel: at which stage is the nuclear material less harmful?

The fuel is the most dangerous when it’s in the reactor, becomes less dangerous when it goes into a pool, even less dangerous when it goes into a cask, and least dangerous when the cask is buried deep underground. The two countries that understood that it isn’t in their best interests to keep the spent fuel on the surface of the earth forever are Sweden and Finland. The issue in Japan may be the suitability of the geological situation of the country. Those casks that contains spent fuel elements under helium that keeps the fuel intact—they can keep the fuel for about 38 or 39 years.

Why do the power companies not want to abandon nuclear power? 

Nihon Gennen, the company which owns the Rokkasho plant, is currently bearing a huge debt for the construction of the Rokkasho reprocessing plant, and the electric power companies are guaranteeing/insuring this debt. The current law states that the money to pay back the debt with the fund raised by the consumers can’t be used if the Rokkasho reprocessing plant is not running. The moment you say that you stop the Rokkasho reprocessing plant, Nihon Gennen will go bankrupt. And the debt will be a loss for the electric power companies. The major electric power companies will register a collective loss of about 2 trillion yen and those companies can’t endure this.

Instead of thinking about all these impossible things, Japan believes it will be easier to start running the reprocessing plant. If the reprocessing plant becomes operational, there will be an additional amount of plutonium that will be produced, and that plutonium will be useless without the Monju plant running. In which case the plutonium will have to be burnt with (plutonium thermal use) MOX fuel. And therefore they can’t stop the MOX plant either.

As long as Rokkasho and Monju keep running, the power companies make money—if they are put out of commission, the power companies fail. All the politicians, scholars, ex-bureaucrats, investors and their cronies who are riding the nuclear gravy train will be left out in the cold and suffer losses as well. The so-called costs of nuclear energy do not take into account compensations for disaster, nor the costs of storing nuclear waste for centuries. The cost is only cheap for the power companies—the taxpayers pick up the rest of the bill. The storage facilities for nuclear waste in Japan are nearly full and no one wants to take them.

Kei Shimada, a japanese photographer and director of the documentary movie “Rokkasho Mirai” (2013) told JSRC that at the time under the DPJ, right after the Fukushima nuclear accident, when the cabinet proposed the zeroing out of nuclear power stations in all Japan, the head of Rokkasho village and the city hall members opposed the phasing out of nuclear energy and they repeatedly went to Tokyo to demand the continuation of the nuclear energy policy.

“As for the villagers, there are so many of them who work at the Rokkasho plant, that in case a zero nuclear energy policy in Japan is decided, and in case the Rokkasho plant has to close, they will all lose their jobs. That’s the kind of reaction I heard from the villagers of Rokkasho when the government was walking towards a no nuke policy. Therefore, I think that after the LDP started ruling the country, the people around Rokkasho were happy about the movement to restart the nuclear power plants. But it doesn’t mean that the anxiety has disappeared. I think the people are anxious, but they are also torn between the fact that they will loose their jobs and therefore their living.”

The Rokkasho reprocessing plant is designed to extract metal from spent reactor fuel. If it starts running this time, it will separate more plutonium, despite the fact that Japan already has about 45 tons of it stockpiled in Europe and domestically–enough for more than 5,000 nuclear bombs. The US and the IAEA has continually raised concerns that the lax security at Japan’s nuclear power plants—which do not even run background checks on the workers–and tolerate yakuza (gangsters) working on site–could make them a target for terrorists. However, when we examine the history of mismanagement and incompetence of the utility companies running the plants, it seems the greatest credible nuclear threat of them all is yet another accident.

 

 

Notes:

Several JSRC members contributed to this post. 

Frank von Hippel is Professor of Public and International Affairs, emeritus and co-chair International Panel on Fissile Materials. He served as Assistant Director for National Security in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (1994-5). Nuclear consultant Klaus Janberg managed the development and production of the casks at GNS that provide interim storage for spent fuel in Germany and a number of other countries.

 

 

 

 

And justice after all? Prosecutor Review Board Say “Charge TEPCO Execs with criminal negligence”

The Fifth Tokyo Prosecutorial Board announced a decision yesterday that three former executives of the Tokyo Electric Power (東京電力)company, including former Chariman Tsunehisa Katsumata (勝俣恒久元会長)  should be prosecuted for criminal negligence resulting in death and injury for the triple nuclear meltdown in March of 2011.  They also scolded the Tokyo Prosecutor’s Office (TPO)for letting them off the hook. The Prosecutorial Review Board oversees the decisions of the prosecutors to try or not try a case. The TPO now has to consider the decision and decide whether to reopen the investigation or attempt to close the case again.

The accident at Fukushima Nuclear Power plant resulted in over a 100,000 people being displaced and possibly a surge in thyroid cancer in children living in the area. TEPCO workers also drowned to death on site after being sent to check on equipment in the basement despite a looming tidal wave. The manager of the Fukushima plant died of throat cancer this year. TEPCO claims it had no connection to the radiation exposure he received while working at the facilities.

TEPCO executives might possibly be prosecuted for criminal negligence resulting in death and injury over the 3/11 triple nuclear meltdown in Fukushima. But will justice prevail? The odds are as good as there never being another nuclear accident in Japan. Ahem.
TEPCO executives might possibly be prosecuted for criminal negligence resulting in death and injury over the 3/11 triple nuclear meltdown in Fukushima. But will justice prevail? The odds are as good as there never being another nuclear accident in Japan. Ahem. TEPCO did admit after censure from a National Diet Investigatory Body that it had lied about it’s understanding of the risk, but it’s hard to believe that after being documented as lying to the public again and again that it will change its corporate. However, with the bad image they have now maybe a more honest name would win them back public confidence. Better the enemy you know than…..

 

However, if the Tokyo Prosecutorial Board again rules that prosecution of the TEPCO executives is warranted then a team of lawyers will be chosen to play the role of the prosecutors and the accused will be charged.  An independent government investigatory board, National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, concluded in 2012 that the nuclear accident could have been prevented and that TEPCO management was criminally negligent.

Last year TEPCO made 4 billion dollars in profits, much of it due to  the Abe administration’s decision to bear huge amounts of the costs of the Fukushima nuclear disaster clean-up.

The Tokyo Prosecutor’s Office is well aware of how unpopular their decisions to let the TEPCO executives go scot free would be. The news that there would be no prosecution was leaked on the day it was also announced that Japan would hold the 2020 Olympics.

Prior to the 2020 Olympics, Abe also assured that the nuclear clean-up at Fukushima was “under control”. The next day media reports about radioactive water seeping ing into the ground soil and contaminating the ocean made him look very foolish and dishonest. Perhaps that was the inspiration for the Special Secrets Act which his administration rammed into law on a night in December last year, which will cripple press freedom and allow almost all nuclear issues to be labelled “top secret”—criminalising reporting on them.  (We can be sure the Tokyo Prosecutor’s Office will leap to do those cases.)

A special prize to whoever figures out the day the TPO are most likely to bury the news that they are going to ignore the Tokyo Prosecutorial Board and do nothing.  We could be wrong. We’d like to hope we are.

Stalking in Japan: Another needless death

(This was originally posted on February 18th, 2014. A day later, a woman in Gunma Prefecture was most probably shot to death by her stalker) 

February 21st, 2014 . Updated again on February 22nd, 2014. 

Stalking in Japan is a serious problem and the laws can’t seem to catch up with it. On the 19th of this month, yet another woman was apparently killed by her stalker.

“To build a Buddha image but not to put in the soul (仏作って魂入れず/Hotoke tsukutte tamashii irezu)” is a well-known saying stemming from a folk belief that statues of Buddhist deities are meant to have a spiritual presence. In other words, it’s a metaphor for making something that’s structurally sound but missing the most vital components.

Japan’s antistalking laws are a good example. Although they have been on the books since November 2000, they are deeply flawed, outdated — and poorly enforced for a multitude of reasons, including problems endemic in Japanese police culture.

The result of these “life-less” laws is that innocent people keep losing their lives. The most recent victim appears to be a 26 year old female who was shot to death on the 19th this month.

According to news reports and other sources, on February 19th (2014) around 3pm,  Chihiro Suzuki, aged 26, was shot in the head at a supermarket in Tatebayashi City in Gunman Prefecture. She died almost immediately. The police suspect the assailant was her former boyfriend. Last November (2013), she consulted with the police in Tochigi Prefecture about being stalked by her ex-boyfriend. The police acted quickly and arrested him for assault. He was fined and released. The Tochigi Prefecure Police, in accordance with the anti-stalking laws, issued him a warning to stay away from Ms. Suzuki. The Tochigi police urged her to move out of the prefecture, advice that she followed and moved to Gunma Prefecture in December of the same year. The Gunma Police, in cooperation with the Tochigi Police, kept in contact with her on a regular basis to assure her safety but she was not under constant police protection.

Her wallet was found with cash still inside the car at the crime scene. The police believe that it makes the possibility of a robbery unlikely. They were unable to get in contact with her former boyfriend. (UPDATE) The suspect was found in his car on the 22nd, dead from what is presumed to be a self-inflicted shot to the stomach*.  

In October of 2013, 33-year-old Rie Miyoshi, a newlywed living in the Kanagawa Prefecture city of Zushi. She had repeatedly asked the police there to protect her from her ex-boyfriend, who was stalking her both online and stealthily in the real world.

Between January and August of 2012, police issued 1,511 warnings against stalkers — a figure already surpassing the all-time high of 1,384 for the whole of 2007. 1n 2011, when 1,288 warnings were made to alleged violators of the antistalking laws, only 205 arrests were made, according to the National Police Agency (NPA).

Recently, even the wife of the Prime Minister of Japan has raised her voice in protest about Japan’s lackluster stalking laws and a failure to enforce them. Together with former Miss International, Ikumi Yoshimatsu, they have launched a petition drive to encourage serious change in the laws and concrete actions. Ms. Yoshimatsu writes in the petition:

As a first step, I ask that you establish a taskforce to investigate stalking and violence against women with the objective of laying out an immediate national strategy to address these issues and offer real protection for women.Out of all the industrialized nations, Japan is by far the lowest ranking country on Gender Equality. –A disgraceful 105 out of 136 countries.We need strict anti-stalking laws and strong punishment for perpetrators of crimes against women. We need a police force that will protect women and immediately act to prevent stalking and intimidation.We need Restraining Orders granted by the courts for any woman who has been threatened, BEFORE she is actually harmed, murdered, or forced to commit suicide. We need media that report on these issues without fear. Without protecting the women of Japan, our country will never enjoy the economic and moral benefits of a truly equal society.

You can sign the petition by clicking below.

Stalker Zero –End the Japanese “Culture of Silence” toward crimes against women!

 

For those of you who don’t want to wade through a lengthy article, our resident social critic and manga writer, Kaori Shoji, explains it all for you in manga fashion (Note: the comic was written in 2013, so it’s a little out of date) If you encounter a stalker in Japan, go to the police. They are more helpful than they have been in the past.  Which isn’t saying a lot…but it’s better. The police are trying to deal with the problem but when stalkers are simply fined and let out of jail, can there victims really be safe?

 

 

Stalking Comic Book _Page_1 Stalking Comic Book _Page_2Stalking Comic Book _Page_3 Stalking Comic Book _Page_4 Stalking Comic Book _Page_5

 

Note to the stalkers of the world: If you want to prove to your victim how much you love them, kill yourself first before killing them. It will leave a lasting impression. Yes, if you kill yourself first it will be difficult to kill them so no one else can have them but at least they’ll know you loved them. Just skip the murder and go directly to your own suicide.