Few thing we have written, gathered as many responses as: In Japan, Teenage Girls Folding Paper Cranes Has Taken on a Whole New Meaning. The article is a companion piece to the VICE Documentary, “Schoolgirls For Sale” which examines Japan’s weird and creepy industry that makes money off the backs of high school girls and boys.
The response from readers to both the English article and the Japanese translation of the article was tremendous. We are not saying that if you’re an AKB48 fan that you’re a pedophile. We are using the band as a means of discussing the endemic and exploitive nature of the JK Business. Maybe if you really are fans of these girls, you should lean on the management to pay them better and ensure they have a decent life after their youth is misspent.
Two trolls in particular have jumped all over the article—the two trolls seem to be a team. I usually ignore them but since they seem intent on defaming my co-worker I’ll address them briefly.
I know you’re not supposed to feed the trolls, but sometimes I feel like stuffing their mouths with information until they choke on it. (Trolls: please confine your spiteful attacks to me in the future. Thank you)
In the journalist community we know them as Creepy Johnson and Creepec for their habit of harassing other journalists, especially women. Creepy Johnson began harassing me in 2011 after I failed to respond to his demand that I clear his name. (He had been denied entry into Japan). He writes to every publication I work for hassling my editors; he harasses and stalks anyone who he thinks might be my friend, especially if they’re female.
I gave him the benefit of the doubt, by not naming in him the first time I dealt with him, because it’s standard journalism policy in Japan to shield the names of the possibly mentally ill, but he outed himself anyway. I’m not giving these two the attention they crave by using their real names or twitter handles. If you want to find them, you can.
Creepy Johnson, the top half of the duo, is infamous for getting fired from Japan’s Public Broadcaster NHK, after threatening to sexually molest the children (boy and girl) of another reporter there. He left a recording on the answering machine—a not very brilliant move. Here’s an excerpt:
By all means, do go and tell your side of the story to them, motherfucker.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I heard that your daughter gives really good head… and so does your son.
Hey, I wanted to hear if your children are getting a good sleep because… when you get fired, and I get fired, you’re going to have to put your kids out of international school and into Japanese school and I’ll be waiting for them. (2007)
So Creepec, who apparently approves of his idol’s behavior sent me a list of questions demanding answers, for an “article” he’s writing. The letter is very much like one Creepy Johnson sent me years ago. I bring up the association between these two because I feel like it’s important to understand the motives of the trolls. And wow, these guys are persistent. The questions themselves are nasty and unpleasant and belittle the efforts of a friend and co-writer. This really makes me angry. But okay, here are my brief answers.
Q & A with a troll.
1). Did VICE fact check your work in any way?
*Journalism 101. If you ask a “yes/no” question, you will get a “yes/no” answer more often than not.
2. What was Angela Kubo’s contribution to this piece? Does she have any significant journalistic experience? Is she a 23 year old full-time employee of an accounting firm who you hired when she was working at a bar in Roppongi
Angela Kubo was an assistant editor at the Diplomat when I hired her to work for me and she was paid a good salary in a time when many interns work for free. She had graduated from college. She writes for The Japan Times and is a very talented young bilingual writer. This means she can read Japanese, something you don’t seem able to do. Her former boss Jeff Quigley certainly vouched for her work (see his full comments below) and also, as I do, finds your insinuations cheap and low. He is angry with your underhanded smears.
Unless you’re a rich kid, you have to work to pay your way through college. She did not work at “a bar in Roppongi.” She worked at an event space that serves food and drinks. I won’t name the restaurant because you’ll simply harass them. “Roppongi bar-girl”– you seem to be making some sly allusion that she was doing something shady. That’s mean-spirited. She is just starting her career but has been writing for two years. She writes ten times better than Creepy Johnson did at the peak of his self-destructive career.
For the article, she read books and numerous articles on AKB48, in Japanese, did research on the group in Japanese, proof-read for grammatical mistakes, and reached out for comments. Angela Kubo is also a Japanese-American woman who understands both cultures and went to high school in Japan. She is uniquely qualified to comment on the JK Business and how it generates problems for all women in Japan.
Where she works now is not something I feel would be acceptable to divulge to someone who I believe is a cyber stalker. Nice fishing attempt. Also: creepy question.
3. Do you feel it is fair to label the manager of AKB48 as having yakuza connections based on only rumor. Would you, for example, accuse Katy Perry’s manager of being tied to the mob if you heard such a story and were writing for an American publication?
I’m not a Katy Perry expert. It’s not based on rumour.
See a portion of the article on this page in Japanese. There are photos. There is HUMINT from the police force. I have a list of 800 former members of the Goto-gumi and spent months nagging at them until I found some that confirmed the photos and explained to me what they knew of the AKB48 management’s past relation to organized crime. I did the same with police sources. The management has never sued the magazine or other publications for making these allegations.There are several other sources related to this. If I have time, I may put a list of them here. They are not all on-line. Some of them only exist as books and printed materials. Yep.
I have written about AKB48’s unsavoury ties in 財界展望 in Japanese and haven’t been sued yet. What else would you like? A signed confession from the management?
4. I don’t see any evidence that you actually interviewed a girl from the sex trade or a cop. Why would you expect me to believe you? Jason Blair fabricated stories. How is this piece diffeemet from one of his that got him fired.
In journalism, we don’t reveal our sources, especially if they are police officers. Or if they are victims of certain crimes which still carry a social stigma, such as rape or sexual assault. This is why VICE blurred out the faces of the women they interviewed. It is not difficult to interview women who have been in the JK business. It’s done all the time. We do it at Lighthouse, a non-profit organization in Japan.
I don’t really get your Jason Blair question but let’s take your logic and ask you a question. Your friend threatens to sexually molest children and stalks women. Since you have never publicly disavowed him, why should I believe you are any different and not a sexually perverse, potentially harmful individual? What proof do you have that you are not?
Also, you misspelled “different”.
5. Many claim that you were mainly used for fluff pieces at the Yomiuri but you claim you were on the crime beat. What is your response.
Who is many? You and Creepy Johnson? I was at the Yomiuri Shimbun from 1993 to 2005. I was in the 警視庁記者クラブ for nearly two years. Go to G-Search and look for articles written under my name. Most reporters don’t get by-lines but I wrote several feature pieces where I was credited. I have contributed to books on crime in Japan written while I was at the newspaper.
Try doing some research. You may have to take time and money to do it and translate it but be my guest. I have a real job. I’m not going to do your work for you.
I have no idea what the hell you do for a living or why you have such a man-crush on me and why you seem to be a sexist creeper who is overly sensitive to being made fun of. 😛！
PS. “Japan has one of the worst levels of gender equality in the developed world, below that of Tajikistan and Indonesia, coming in 104th out of 142 assessed countries in 2014, according to a study released Tuesday by the World Economic Forum.” That’s from a Japan Times article. You can find the original study if you like. It’s very hard for women here to break into any profession. So when white self-entitled elitists like yourself ridicule young women here trying to make it as journalists because 1) they didn’t go to journalism school 2) they worked at an event space (that served drinks) to pay their college tuition and 3) imply they must be using their looks to get work—and ignore their efforts, the articles they have written, and their past experience just for the sake of trolling–you discourage other young women from entering our profession. And that’s unfortunate.
It’s condescending and sexist attitudes like yours that encourage women and girls to go into the JK Business in the first place, because they are made to believe that they will never be taken seriously or valued for their intellect and ability. Shame on you. 恥を知れ.
Jeff Quigley, Angela’s former editor has this to say about her and the accusations made by her troll.
Angela Kubo was my editorial assistant at The Diplomat for about six months in 2013-2014. She was still an undergraduate at this point, with a full courseload, but managed to put in 20 hours a week. She not only managed all of our social media postings (for anyone in online media, this is a job usually delegated to at least one full-time staff, if not a team, as it can make or break your visibility and thus success), but contributed two pieces a week. On top of all that, she even co-hosted our weekly podcast about current events in Japan.
Angela was punctual and dedicated despite the limited intern budget, and was always available to help me with quick translations or tracking down potential sources. To call her a ‘bar girl’ is not only grossly inaccurate, but an insult to anyone who didn’t grow up privileged enough to sail through higher education on their parents’ coin.
I myself worked multiple part-time jobs to get through university while pursuing media internships in the hopes that they would turn into a career down the road. If Angela is a “bar girl” then I suppose I’m just a “cash register boy” since I worked in retail while interning and pursuing my degree. I wouldn’t have survived without working outside of my internships, and insulting Angela for her hard work is disgraceful