An article in the July 22 issue of Shukan Bunshun (武蔵川と中井洽疑惑の参院選で「料理停密会」page 146) reports on a suspicious meeting between the chairman of the Japan Sumo Association, Musashigawa, and National Public Safety Commission chairman Hiroshi Nakai, organized by Nihon University board chairman Hidetoshi Tanaka.
According to the article, the trio drank and dined at a sophisticated restaurant run by a third-generation geisha in Tokyo’s Kagurazaka district on June 21, days after numerous wrestlers were ousted one by one as having participated in baseball gambling and it was announced that a special investigation committee would be set up to look into the scandal.
Over sumptuous Japanese food and sake, sources within the sumo world say that Musashigawa was likely attempting damage control, trying to find out the nitty gritty on the investigation committee.
Politician Takeshi Fukaya, who once held Nakai’s position, said about the meeting in an interview with Bunshun, “By around June 21, the background behind the entire gambling ordeal had already been revealed. The National Public Safety Commission Chairman obviously knows information that hadn’t been released to the public, and it’s unbelievable that he’s just go and have drinks with the chairman of the Sumo Association. Reason enough for him to be fired in my books.”
Earlier that day, Nakai had reportedly been in Miyazaki overseeing activities on prevention of foot & mouth disease. There, he had taken heat from locals after he twice misread the names of areas when talking to the press. Says Bunshun: One can only imagine that he was busy worrying about his plans for that evening. After he made his way back to Tokyo, Nakai stealthily evaded the media and made his way to Kagurazaka.
Nakai is well known for his “roadside kiss” with a hostess that made the news after being published in Shukan Shincho in March, causing a stir after it was discovered he had given the woman a key to his apartment in the Lower House dormitories.
Hidetoshi Tanaka too is well known–in the sumo world as a Nihon University board chairman who in the past has helped a number of promising wrestlers make it to the top. Bunshun says, though, that Tanaka’s connections have a dark side; ex-Nichidai wrestler Kise Oyakata was eventually demoted in May of this year after it was discovered he was selling sumo tickets to the Yamaguchi-gumi.
Just popping in for a second to post this article by Richard Smart (or @tokyorich as we know him) on Polaris Project’s hand in busting a child pornographer who had wrapped a young boy into an unusual web of sexual slavery. It was printed in the Japan Times on Monday. Jake makes his appearance having played a large role in the case in question, in working with the police to see a tip was turned into a criminal case, but overall the article is a great look into the efforts Polaris Project is making here in Japan and the struggles they face as an NGO.
For Polaris, the work of helping to catch abusers of children will continue, along with its battle against human trafficking. The organization sees the two crimes as linked.
“Child abuse can be physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect, it happens anywhere,” Polaris Japan director Shihoko Fujiwara tells The Japan Times. “The kids (that are abused) are especially vulnerable though, because they don’t have anybody to protect them. I meet a lot of kids who survive by selling their body because that is how they have to survive. Those kids who are abused are easy targets for traffickers, whose aim is huge profit from sexual exploitation.”
Fujiwara says that the Japan branch of the organization, which is run by two full-time staff, a part-time worker and around 22 volunteers, helped around 35 to 40 victims escape sexual exploitation at the hands of traffickers last year. In addition to this, the organization helps to train employees in fields such as teaching, social work and law enforcement on the dangers and signs of trafficking.
Ironically, the day before the above article was published, the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly killed an ambiguous bill that would prohibit the sale to minors of manga, anime and video games that depict children in sexualized situations. The idea doesn’t seem to hold much popularity with lawmakers or those involved in the industry, as illustrated by coverage at Anime News Network and The Japan Times.
Like most prefecture-level governments in Japan, Tokyo already has an existing Youth Healthy Development Ordinance to prohibit the sale of “harmful publications” to minors. The Tokyo Metropolian Government’s bill would specify that such “harmful publications” would include sexualized yet non-explicit materials that do not involve actual people. 1,421 manga creators, 10 publishing companies, the Japan Pen Club, the Japan Cartoonists Association, and the Writers Guild of Japan voiced their opposition to the bill.
The Japan Times quotes Meiji University associate professor Yukari Fujimoto as saying that hiding depictions of minors in sexual situations “can hamper the ability of children to develop a ‘healthy’ attitude about sex.” The proposed bill does stink of a conservative book-burning, but one would wonder what American study Fujimoto got her statistics from on exposure to sexual material and rates of sexual crimes. And while there are dozens if not more studies on the affect of pornography on children, why is the focus not more on keeping sexualized images of youth out of the hands of adults?
The article concludes with Fujimoto saying that the authorities should work harder on “preventing real children from being sexually attacked.” While this is true it could be said that the lightness with which sexualized images of youth are looked upon–from pornographic manga to junior idols, not to mention legalized possession of child pornography–is at the root of the problem and an excuse for police and authorities to remain slow-to-act when the few laws that do exist actually have been broken.
Jake’s note: In the Japan Times article it’s mentioned but I’ll mention it here as well: legal possession of child pornography makes it very hard for the police to initiate any kind of investigation into the production of child pornography and related sexual abuse/exploitation of children. While there may be room for debate about sexualized images, Japan is still one of the few countries in the world where real child pornography is allowed to exist as a legal possession and this facilitates its production and distribution across the world. Child pornography is also used to blackmail victims into continuing to sexually service their victimizers or to work for them as virtual slaves. It’s also used to indoctrinate children into working in the sex industry or becoming pedophile victims. It’s not only a black market commodity; its a weapon of criminals and like all weapons in Japan, should be strictly regulated and its possession banned.
If child pornography and border-line materials didn’t bring so much money to so many people, it would have been made illegal a long time ago.
While Prime Minister Hatoyama’s approval ratings continue to sink, it seems attention paid to his sense of style is at an all-time high, as most recently pointed out by this article by CNN correspondent Kyung Lah.
Hatoyama, whose wife garnered almost more attention than he did during the election last year with her “Venus” and “eating the sun” statements, has always dressed a little unusually–though we have to wonder if Miyuki is the one choosing his clothes. The madness seemed to surface little-by-little, starting with Yukio’s gothy shirt during a Fuji TV visit to the Hatoyama residence in July of last year (click here for Japan Probe coverage–unfortunately the YouTube videos seem to be gone), but his latest checkered getup seems to have been the final straw before the media pounced.
News of Ichiro Ozawa’s questioning by prosecutors in relation to the Rikuzan-kai campaign fund scandal has flooded the dailies and the news for much of the past few days as investigators dig deeper into what may be a possibly destabilizing blow to the DPJ. Ozawa was put in the hot seat after the arrest of Tomohiro Ishikawa, a DPJ lawmaker who was formerly the secretary general’s privately hired secretary.
Something interesting about the incident is the language used in Ishikawa’s statements to prosecutors, where he refers to Ozawa using the word oyabun. The term is widely used by the yakuza to describe a gang boss they’ve pledged allegiance to.
This isn’t an isolated incident; former prime minister Taro Aso also peppered his speech with yakuza terminology. He referred to the act of earning money as shinogi — a term almost exclusively used by yakuza to describe their (illegal) methods of money making. Not only the actual connections between yakuza and politicians, but the way they speak and think also make it seem like they are two sides to the same coin.
Edit: The Japan Times recently published an article that touched on this subject as well. Check it out!