Ozawa's Angels — will they kick ass or pour tea?

A much-talked-about article with a slightly misleading headline about some lucky young ladies who were hand-picked by former DPJ president Ichiro Ozawa and ushered into seats of power.

Kumiko Hayakawa - House of Representatives Incumbent

NAGOYA, Japan — When Kayoko Isogai got the call from high-ranking officials at the Democratic Party of Japan asking her to stand for a seat in the national parliament, she was shocked.

It was just two weeks before the Aug. 30 election; she had spent most of the previous five years unemployed and taking care of her terminally ill parents; and she had no political or governing experience whatsoever.

“Impossible, impossible, impossible, impossible, impossible,” Isogai said recently, recalling her reaction to the offer. “I said it five times.”

But Isogai, 43, reconsidered and put her name on the DPJ ticket. Then, she watched in surprise as the party’s historic, landslide victory over the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party swept her into the House of Representatives of the Japanese Diet.

Politics meets porn in Japan [via Global Post]

Yakuza and Livers and The History Of Organ Transplants in Japan

If you don’t already know, between 200o-2004, several of Japan’s crime bosses, including the notorious Goto Tadamasa, received liver transplants at UCLA.  Goto Tadamasa, one of Japan’s most brutal dons in his day, made a deal with the FBI to get a visa into the United States for the operation.  The FBI did not help him set up his transplant but only gave him safe passage. The FBI wanted Goto’s information on yakuza (Japanese mafia) activities in the United States and probably information on yakuza dealings with North Korea and North Korea funding sources. I would never fault the FBI for making the deal. HUMINT requires some unsavory deals at times. I do have opinions about UCLA’s decision to give liver transplants to the Gang of Four, but that’s something else.

A physician friend sent me a link to this posting, which is written by a retired attorney who herself has a transplanted heart. She read the excerpt from TOKYO VICE in this month’s MAXIM (October edition) and did a follow-up piece on the story. Personally, I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t know half as much as she does about the history of organ transplants in Japan.  What I do know is that I find it appalling that four of Japan’s thuggish elite should somehow jump to the front of the line at UCLA and receive liver transplants while other Americans died, primarily because  1) most of them were in bad physical shape besides their liver problems alone and would normally be poor candidates for transplants  2) have a history of making people miserable for their own profit and 3) are felons from another country.  However, I have long lost any objectivity about the incident.  Her article is below:

Japan's strict laws regulation organ transplants and the difficulty of getting organ donations, forces many Japanese overseas.
Japan's strict laws regulating organ transplants and the difficulty of getting organ donations, forces many Japanese overseas. Including yakuza.

Continue reading Yakuza and Livers and The History Of Organ Transplants in Japan

Cabaret Club Girls in Japan: All You Ever Wanted To Know

The usually in-depth and well-written website Neojaponisme had a very interesting article about the Cabaret Club girl boom in Japan that is a nice companion/supplementary piece to Hiroko Tabuchi-san’s excellent article. The adult entertainment industry in Japan is a fascinating thing—and this piece, Kyabajo Japan, does a very good analysis of the social and cultural phenomenon behind the Cabaret Club Girl As Celebrity and examines some of the better Japanese writings on the subject. The hostess clubs and cabaret clubs of Japan seem to be permanently embedded in the landscape of the Japanese night, although the use of the these places to “conduct business” or “entertain clients” seems to be declining and several DPJ politicians recently came under fire for trying to claim their expensive hostess club forays as political activities and expensing them with political funds. Well, we’ll save that digression for another time.  An excerpt from the Neojaponisme feature is below and the full article is on their website.

Cabaret Club girls are neo-celebrities in Japan, even putting out CDs
Cabaret Club girls are neo-celebrities in Japan, even putting out CDs

Continue reading Cabaret Club Girls in Japan: All You Ever Wanted To Know

Marijuana (大麻) in Japan:Don't Smoke More Than You Can Eat

Japan has always had a fairly lax attitude towards marijuana and probably only criminalized it because of pressure from America. Unlike speed (覚醒剤)it’s not a crime to use it, only to possess it. Basically,  the implication in the law is that smoking marijuana probably doesn’t do much to a person and is unlikely to turn them into a menace to society.  I’m not really sure why the law was written this way but it sort of makes sense. Often the prosecution won’t charge someone caught possessing a small amount of marijuana but then again, you can still get arrested for having it.

I was drinking with a retired cop from the drug enforcement division a week ago and he had an interesting story about one perp who knew the flaw in the law almost well-enough to avoid arrest.  Detective X was questioning the suspect when he found a plastic bag of marijuana in the man’s backpack–he showed it to the perp, who immediately grabbed the bag, and stuffed the contents into his mouth.  Detective X relays the rest of the story like this.

“I was kind of pissed. Personally, I think marijuana is a benign drug but the law is the law and it’s my job to enforce it. But I’ve got this guy, who by eating the dope, now suddenly doesn’t possess it any more.  Once it is in his gut–it’s gone.   I’ve been outsmarted. But I’m looking at the face of the perp and his cheeks are full of marijuana and I can see he’s having trouble swallowing it. So I shrug my shoulders, and turn around and walk away and as soon as I do that, he walks a few steps and spits it on the ground–at which point I run back and say, ‘Hey, I saw you spit that out and that’s your dope! You’re under arrest for violations of the marijuana control laws, pal’.  Admittedly scooping up the half-chewed marijuana and putting it in the plastic bag was a little nasty but I got my man and made my case. I think the perp got fined and that was that.  So, I guess if you do think you’re going to get caught with marijuana the best things you can do is eat it if you don’t have time to flush it down the toilet. Of course, that also means you should probably never have more to smoke than you can eat at any given time.  If you’re a foreigner, a really bad idea–probably get kicked out of the country even if you don’t go to jail. By the way, also if  you fail to eat all  the stuff–you could also be arrested or charged for obstruction of justice and/or destroying evidence–so if you really want to smoke the stuff, best to go to Holland.”

I also have to say, I’m also not advocating getting stoned in Japan either.  Not worth the risk . However, it is kind of curious that it isn’t a crime to use marijuana to get high, but only to possess it. It ranks among other mysterious laws in Japan such as the Prostitution Prevention Law which makes prostitution illegal but sets no punishments for the prostitute or the customer.

Personally, as I struggle with nicotine cravings I’ve found the only thing I want to smoke are Orion’s Cocoa Cigarettes–such chocolately goodness and in a convenient neo-cigarette shape. Mmmm…..almost as good as the real thing. If only they’d add a little nicotine to the mix, I’d be completely happy.


Hosts and Hostesses: Some thoughts on Hiroko Tabuchi's great article

Tabuchi-san wrote an interesting piece about the resurgent popularity of hostess jobs in Japan in the New York Times last week. I contributed a commentary to the debate blog about it. Hopefully, the comments were edifying.  


Yakuza Superstitions #1

When a yakuza sees a hearse (霊柩車/reikyusha) coming towards him in traffic, he’ll often put down the cell-phone which he has semi-permanently attached to his ear, and hides his thumb in his fist to avoid bad luck. (親指を隠す). The thumb, called the oyayubi 親指 in Japanese, means “parent finger.” It represents to the yakuza, the oyabun (father-figure) who is their boss in the organization. The Godfather so to speak. 
 The idea is that by hiding the thumb from the hearse they are protecting their boss and themselves from death or misfortune.
Conversely, if you’re a tattooed man, finding yourself in traffic riding behind a hearse is considered lucky and it means that you are going to have especially good luck gambling.
No one is really sure what it means to crash into a hearse but this is probably not a good thing.


Yakuza love kewpies. They bring good luck, especially when they have tattoos. Maybe.
Yakuza love kewpies. They bring good luck, especially when they have tattoos. Maybe.

Amazon Japan Says Goodbye to Covert Child Porn

In the Empire of Child Pornography: AMAZON JAPAN REMOVES CHILD PORN FROM THEIR WEBSITE  May 2009

by Jake Adelstein and Polaris Project Japan

“Idols” in Japan refer to pin-up girls, teen pop stars,  and generally young models.  However, prepubescent “idols” are called “junior idols,”  a word which has been co-opted to distribute child pornography.
The internet and bookstores and major telecommunication companies subscription services often sell “junior idol” photos and movies, and the sexual depictions in them have become more extreme in recent years.

The term “child pornography” as used in  the Act on Punishment of Activities Relating to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and the Protection of Children bans photographs and recording media which depicts any pose of a child engaged in sexual intercourse or any conduct similar to sexual intercourse. Also, the Act terms child pornography as visual materials with any  pose of a child wholly or partially naked.

Although many of the “junior idols” DVDs and photo books don’t directly violate the law, they are full of scenes introducing young school girls and boys, wearing revealing, skimpy bikinis, or wet t-shirts and or speedo briefs– or posing for sexual acts—and these scenes clearly made to arouse or stimulate the viewer’s sexuual desire.  There’s no one who sincerely doubts it’s pedophile junk food.

Polaris Project Japan spent several months researching the photo albums and DVDs on major online store including Amazon Japan and made a list of 136 such DVDs and books with 8-17 year-old children depicted in sexually provocative poses and requested Amazon Japan to stop selling them.

Responding to the request, Amazon Japan removed 84 items from their online store this May. Polaris Project welcomes the initiative taken by Amazon Japan continues to advocate on this issue.

Author’s note: Japanese bookstores now regularly carry “junior idol” materials with sexual themes, text, and poses, and there are several pornographic magazines which include “junior idol” sections.  Japan is still one of the few countries where owning child pornography is legal.

For more information about Amazon’s decision to remove the DVDs read the article on Sankei Shimbun on May 18, 2009:
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/crime/090518/crm0905180136001-n1.htm (in Japanese)









確かに山口組弘道会には在日系ヤクザが多いと言われています。逆に山口組山健組には同和系ヤクザが多いそうです。ヤクザ社会全体を「在日」「同和」「日本人」の三種で成しています。(中国系ヤクザもいるそうですが)。これまでにみんなが仲良く活動してきました。だが、一部の人は「在日ヤクザは北朝鮮 (また韓国)の操り人形」と言いふらして彼らの愛国心と忠実心をけなすなどしています。そのため、某在日系暴力団幹部らがわざわざと靖国神社を参拝して自分が日本人と同じ心境を持っていることを見せなくちゃならない状況となりました。








後藤元組長が海外逃亡? 反逆の始まりとの声も

後藤組長が海外逃亡!?某政府幹部との密会?資金隠しの目的? 仏教の行脚ではないことが確か。(弘道会との和解が成立した証拠か?)










予告!後藤元組長の反逆PART 2! (4月27日掲載予定)


極道語(Yakuza Terms). #1. What is a yakuza pineapple?

It’s a hand grenade! Pretty poetic, don’t you think? I heard the term last week when a cop was discussing a series of incidents in Fukuoka Prefecture in which the trucks of a landscape gardening company had grenades tossed inside them while the drivers were away, none of which exploded.
It seems like a very evocative word for those little instruments of mass destruction. Of course, I probably seemed like an idiot asking, “Why would yakuza throw fruit inside a truck? Does a pineapple have some sort of cultural significance?”
Sometimes a pineapple is just a pineapple; sometimes, it’s a grenade.