Japanese Giant Robot Thief is Caught

Update August 19, 2014: The toy store thief has been arrested. The president of the company which runs the store issued a statement on August 19th saying, “We would like to thank the media who brought up the Tetsujin 28 theft incident. It became a hot topic and attracted a lot of interest, and because of that the police put their dignity on the line to investigate the crime. The culprit was successfully arrested, and the goods will probably be returned. This is all thanks to everyone and I am really grateful. Thank you very much.”

 

Sometimes, to catch a toy thief, extreme measures are required. We can only ask ourselves –what would Tetsujin 28 and his boy detective master do in a similar case…

 

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“If you don’t return the wind-up robot, we’re going to expose you as a thief to the world.”

Most leave the punishment of criminals to the police, but one toy and comic book store in Japan has decided to take the law into its own hands and see justice done—or maybe give a thief a chance to redeem himself. “Mandarake”, a used anime and manga (Japanese comics) goods chain of stores is threatening to publicly release the picture of a man who allegedly shoplifted a rare wind-up robot doll from the store. They have given him fair warning and posted the equivalent of a WANTED poster on-line

On August 4th, the thief stole a tin wind-up toy robot valued at 250, 000 yen ($2,500) from a Mandarake store in Tokyo’s Nakano ward. The company, Mandarake, which owns the store put up a public notice on its website which said that if the thief did not return the item within a week from the day it was taken (August 4th) they would show his face to the world.

The deadline is midnight August 12th Japan time.

The store already posted a blurred image of the man (taken from a security camera) on their web page (see picture) and if their demands are not met they will would remove the mosaic from his face and reveal his identity.

The shop’s stunt raises questions of whether or not they are committing a crime themselves, amongst the legal community and has created a lively on-line debate.

“Under the provisions of the Penal Code, it’s criminal intimidation if you threaten someone, even if it’s to take back a legitimate loan,” said Hisashi Sonoda, a criminal law professor from Konan University Law School, according to the Sankei Shimbun. A Tokyo police officer in the criminal investigative division told JSRC on background, “Technically speaking, the way the store is handling it could constitute criminal intimidation but no sane police officer would want to take that case. And I doubt any prosecutor would actually file charges. The wording of their warning could be a little better.” The detective also noted that if the store exposed an innocent man, they could be held liable for criminal defamation, which is a crime punishable with time in jail. In fact, even if the man is guilty, in some cases it could still be considered defamation under the current law.

Despite the risks involved, the company intends to carry out their warning if the goods aren’t returned.

Return Tetsujin 28 evil-doer and all might be forgiven.
Return Tetsujin 28 evil-doer and all might be forgiven.
警告 8月4日17時頃 まんだらけ中野店4F変やで25万円の野村トーイ製 鉄人28号 No.3 ゼンマイ歩行を盗んだ犯人へ_Page_2
You can ride but you can’t hide from a giant robot. (Okay, he stole a mini version of it it but still. This is the crime in action. The face of the wind-up robot doll thief will be revealed on August the 13th. Unlesss

 

“We are really just hoping that the thief will return the stolen goods,” Masuzo Furukawa, the president of the company, told the JSRC via email. “Our basic principle is ‘condemn the offense, but not the offender,’ but if he doesn’t return the stolen item we will release his photograph and take actions to identify the criminal.” He said that they had footage of the suspect stealing the robot and there was no doubt that they had the right man.

A source familiar with the investigation said that they suspect the suspect likely stole the figure because he is an avid fan who could not afford the doll but desperately wanted it. It would now certainly be an item hard to resell.

The toy is a model of Tetsujin 28. Tetsujin is a giant robot, who first appeared in a manga written and illustrated by Mitsuteru Yokoyama, which was popular in the 50s. In the original story, the robot was developed in the final days of WWII, by Japan’s Imperial army as a secret weapon to help the empire win the war. After the war, numerous heroes and villains fought for possession of the remote control that would allow anyone to use the giant robot, for good or evil. Finally, he comes under the control of a young private detective used Tetsujin 28 to stop crime and fight other robots. Sometimes, Tetsujin 28 and his boy master even worked with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police.

Speaking of police, according to the National Police Agency, shoplifting in Japan is a persistent problem. Although shoplifting incidents have slowly decreased since its peak of 158, 020 cases in 2004, in 2013 there were 126, 386 cases that amounted to more than 2 billion yen in damages. There were 85, 464 people arrested in 2013. 37.7 percent of them were over 65. Many elderly cite economic hardships or debt as a reason for stealing, with many of the items being inexpensive items such as groceries and daily necessities. The plump young man in the photo released by Mandarake doesn’t appear to be starving.

The hours are ticking away. Will the thief do the right thing and turn back in the toy—taking advantage of a generous offer—and follow the righteous path of a superhero and reform his thieving ways. If anything, he should at least be grateful that the owners of the store didn’t have a life-sized Tetsujin 28 robot hunt him down—because those days of killer robots may not be that far away. In any event, all will be revealed on by August 13th, and for one toy thief—this 13th may be a very unlucky day indeed.

Update: Due to pressure from the police, “Mandarake” decided to not release picture of the male thief’s face, the Asahi Shimbun reported on August 14th. The Nakano Police Department allegedly said that the store’s threat and the media attention surrounding it “hindered the investigation” and they asked the shop not to make the suspect’s face public.

A female claiming to be a friend of the male suspect also allegedly called the store approximately 7 P.M. and asked whether the store would really forgive the suspect if he returned the item by 8 P.M. No return was made.

While the store was unable to carry out their own justice by unmasking the criminal the media attention surrounding the story serves as a warning to robot-stealing bandits everywhere.

“We’re struggling to respond to everything. I think it raised a problem, but the response was greater than expected. From now on it will be difficult for us to respond by making the photo of the face public,” the Asahi Shimbun quoted public relations director, Katsuya Nakamura.

 

Fight For Your Right To (Dance) Party Past Midnight In Japan!

You have to write for your right to (dance party)

夜明けまで踊りたいなら警察庁に意見を伝え、政府を踊らせよう!

Put on those dancing shoes!…in a few months. Maybe.

The National Police Agency of Japan is at long last (and after much public pressure) considering revising Japan’s archaic adult entertainment laws to allow dancing past midnight!  Yes, Japan may finally be going footloose. From today, July 25th, they are accepting public comments. You can mail them at hoan@npa.go.jp or better yet, FAX them at 03-3581-5936. For more details please see the National Police Agency home page. The current draft of the revised bill is here (警察庁の改正案はここです。最低と言わないがよくはない). Frankly, it seems pretty sucky.

The National Police Agency wants to know what you think about these issues:

Should people be allowed to dance all night?  Should dance clubs and discos be allowed to go all night? How should they be regulated? (クラブの深夜営業は許可すべきか。規制すべきか)

Should dance clubs be removed from the province of the adult entertainment laws? (クラブなどのダンス社交の場所は風営法の対象外とすべきなのか)

If we allow dance lessons to be conducted anywhere, will it corrupt the morals of Japan? (ダンス教室の無許可営業は日本の風紀を乱すのか)

What is the danger that dance clubs turn into places singles go to meet other singles and possibly hook up?  (If you don’t even consider that a danger or a problem, let them know) (クラブは出会い系の場所となる危険性(?)はどう思うのか)

What if dance clubs are used to facilitate prostitution? (ダンスクラブは売春の温床となるのでは?)

There are probably more silly questions that the NPA is coming up with but these seem to be the issues they are most concerned about. Because as we all know, late night dancing could lead to sex, which could lead to people having more children, which could be a serious problem in this overpopulated country. Oh. Wait. Actually, Japan is having a population crisis because people aren’t getting married and having children. That also requires sex. So maybe late night dance clubs could be good for Japan?

Well, if men and women meet in clubs and start dating each other or have consensual sex without paying a third party, how will this affect Japan’s legal sex industry? Think of the economic blow this could do to blow-job parlours and sexual massage parlours, not to mention hostess and host clubs!

The National Police Agency plans to submit a revised bill, perhaps the current draft, to the National Diet this Autumn. On the 15th of this month, they will set up a panel of experts (who will probably be virulently opposed to dancing, social conservatives, and mostly men)  and interview dance club operators. They will hold hearing sessions to create a revised law, which hopefully will allow Japan’s nightlife to come back from the dead.

A Brief History Of The War On Dance 

You may be wondering why the Japanese police have been raiding dance clubs and criminalizing “rhythmical movement to music” and other lascivious acts in recent years. Allow me to explain. I’ve covered some of this ground before in other articles, so please forgive me while I repeat myself.

         If you’re thinking about dancing the night away to some great trance music, or even old-fashioned rock, you may have a tough time finding a venue in Japan these days. In fact, you may end up waltzing away hours inside a police station, pissing into a cup after being rounded up in a raid. It’s not just Tokyo, in Kansai as well, “The War on Dance” has been raging on for the last few years.

On September 2nd (2012), at 3:40 am, members of the Kanto Rengo gang burst into the VIP room in Roppongi’s Club Flower and clubbed a man to death in front of 300 people. Since then, the police have been making regular raids on the nightclubs, discos, and live houses that make night life in this city vibrant and fun. The intensity of the raids have gone up, but in fact, they are simply a continuation of what began in Osaka in 2012.

Ostensibly, the clubs are being raided for violating Japan’s archaic Adult Entertainment Laws which forbid dancing after midnight. The police are simply enforcing the laws. That’s the official party line.

But anyone who has lived in Japan for several years knows that wasn’t always the case. The laws existed on the book, gathering dust, but were rarely enforced

So why now is there a “War on Dance?” Is it a part of the “War on Drugs”?

Who do we blame? Do we blame the police? Do we blame the Kanto Rengo for killing a man after dancing hours, thus reminding everyone that the Adult Entertainment Laws (AEL) were being ignored?

The answer is complicated.

Let’s start with the obvious answer: it really is against the law to dance after midnight in most venues in Japan. This is well explained in the book Odotte wa Ikenai Kuni, Nihon (Japan: The Land Where You Can’t Dance) .

The Adult Entertainment Laws originally were revised after WWII to clamp down on the infamous “Dance Halls” which were thinly disguised venues of prostitution. Several decades later “Dance Halls” have been replaced by clubs, discos, and bars with dance floors; they are not proxy brothels. The places people dance have changed, as have the customers; the laws have not.

I don’t think there is anyone who would argue that dancing itself is dangerous or unhealthy. Dance is part of the educational curriculum in Japan. Some forms of dance are considered cultural treasures. So why would dancing at a club after midnight miraculously transform what is a healthy form of entertainment into a threat to the public welfare? Do dancers transform into rampaging werewolves as the clock strikes midnight?

There is no logical answer.

One unofficial answer from the police is this: “It’s much easier to raid a dance club on violations of the AEL than it is to get a warrant for a drug search. Dance clubs are hotbeds of drug activity.”

Maybe, that’s partially true. At some dance parties, there will be people using ecstasy (MDMA). There will also be people getting so drunk that they get alcohol poisoning. There will also be people just dancing. Should the rest of us be banned from the dance floor because of a few reckless people?

The hardline enforcement of forgotten laws may make the police look good. It is a nuisance for everyone else. It hurts the business of legitimate clubs. It discourages people from staying out late, making nightlife boring. If there’s no place to dance after midnight, than many people will go home. It’s bad for tourism as well. “Tokyo: The City That Always Sleeps Before Midnight”—try attracting people to Japan with that slogan. Ultimately, it hurts the economy and encourages corruption.Clubs relying on late-night traffic will go out of business. Clubs that want to stay in business will pay bribes and protection money to avoid the raids.

That brings us to another reason for the “War On Dance”. It stems a bit from the Organized Crime Exclusionary Ordinances that went nationwide on October 1st, 2011. In the old days, the clubs paid off the local yakuza. In return, they often got advance notice when a token raid was coming. The yaks provided muscle when customers got out of line and kept local street crime down. No muggings, purse snatching, or theft allowed. The smart clubs avoided getting shut down, kept pushers off the premises, and people felt safe going to them.

The police knew the clubs were operating way past legal hours, but looked the other way. The enforcement was so sparse that late-night dancing existed in a comfortable grey zone.

But when doing business with the yakuza became a crime in itself, the clubs stopped paying them. The non-designated organized crime groups, like Kanto Rengo, cut in on the dance. They became the unofficial security guards. They soon found the clubs lucrative venues to peddle drugs and in some of the high end clubs, prostitutes as well.

Dance Hall days were here again.

The Flower killing made it clear that the “new yakuza” were now running the nightlife. The investigative journalist Atsushi Mizoguchi coined a term for these outlaws: hangure. It comes from the Japanese word for “half” and Gurentai. After the war, Gurentai were the undisciplined youth gangs who preyed on the general population, engaging in theft, robbery, and violent crimes. The “half” in the term is also an acknowledgement that these new groups are “half” yakuza as well. Many of them are backed by yakuza or ex-yakuza that can no longer operate in the open, and have no code of honor to burden them.

A few weeks after the Club Flower murder, the National Police Agency reportedly issued a directive to all police departments to strictly enforce the Adult Entertainment Laws. The directive was meant hurt the hangure and deflect criticism of lax enforcement. And the cops have been doing their jobs.

The Japanese police are no longer comfortable with grey zones; everything has to be black and white. Grey is the enemy. The dance clubs closings are the casualties of a badly run war. Coincidentally, Hangure, can also be read as “half-grey.” It’s the color of “illegal.”

Not everyone is taking this haphazard enforcement lying down. The Let’s Dance Committee, headed by a lawyer and run by a group of volunteers is lobbying for changes in the law that will protect Japan’s “dance culture.” They have already collected over 150,000 signatures for a petition to the government.  A recent court decision in Osaka may have also made the police here reverse course in the unpopular dance club crackdown.

 On April 25 2014, the Osaka District Court acquitted Masatoshi Kanemitsu, the owner of a nightclub called NOON, of charges of “corrupting sexual morals” and violating adult entertainment laws in what Kanemitsu’s lawyer, Kenichi Nishikawa, called Japan’s first trial challenging its archaic “no dance” laws. “It was a victory for common sense and freedom to dance,” Nishikawa said.  “It is historic and significant, and while not finding the current laws unconstitutional, the courts ruled both that the police were too broadly interpreting the laws and that dance in and of itself is not a corruptor of public morals. Nor does it make people throw off their clothes.” For the rest of that story see The Japanese All Go Footloose To Protest The Nightlife Crackdown in The Daily Beast.

         If you want to join the tango, check out www.letsdance.jp.  And of course, write the National Police Agency.  In the meantime, until someone brings the laws up to date, the War on Dance will keep on moving to the music of the National Police Agency marching band. For a limited time, you may have a say in the tune that we hear in the future. So speak now or learn to love “Dancing By Myself.” 

“My pussy (まんこ) is not indecent!” Japanese artist fights sexist obscenity laws

“My pussy (マンコ) is not obscene.”

The Japanese artist, Megumi Igarashi, who was arrested July 12th (a Saturday) for distributing “obscene” design files that can be used to make 3-D-printed models of her vagina was released from custody last Friday the 18th, in Japan.

The artist Rokudenashiko holds up the comic book she wrote explaining why she makes art about female genitalia & her own vagina. (After being released from custody for obscenity charges)
The artist Rokudenashiko holds up the comic book she wrote explaining why she makes art about female genitalia & her own vagina. (After being released from custody for obscenity charges)

Ms. Igarashi had sent the data to over 30 people around the country who had donated to a crowd-funding project she started last year to build what she called the “pussy boat”–a kayak in the shape of her genitals. She will also be giving a press conference today, July 24th, at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan, in which various foreign media outlets are expected to be in attendance. After her detainment, the lawyers for Ms. Igarashi protested to the court that the prosecution’s request to hold her for ten days was unwarranted, and in an unusual decision, a panel of judges agreed. Typically, once someone is arrested in Japan, release from custody is rare. The working assumption is presumed guilty until proven guilty

Takashi Yamaguchi, one of the lawyer’s for Igarashi said, “We were delighted by the court’s decision which would also seem to be a rebuke to the police for arresting her in the first place. There was no need to put her in detention. ” At the press conference, the demure Igarashi, also known as and prefers to go by Rokudenashiko (ろくでなし子・good-for-nothing child), said that she had received no warning from the police that her activities and artwork were considered obscene and was taken aback when the police stormed her residence unannounced Saturday morning (July 12th) and arrested her on “obscene electromagnetic record distribution charges.” Ms. Igarashi has not denied distributing data that would allow people to make a 3D printing of her vagina; however, she does deny that the images are obscene.

“My pussy (マンコ) is not obscene.”

For many in Japan, it is puzzling that Ms. Igarashi was arrested at all, when you consider that events such as the Kanamara Festival (かなまら祭り), which celebrates fertility and penis worship, is held every year.  The festival centers around penises, which are carried as sacred objects and appear as candy, hats, and trinkets. Phallic-shaped objects or anything that has to do with sex are sold all around the shrine. As part of this year’s festivities, men and women carried a gigantic pink penis shrine with testicles attached while visitors, including children, watched on. For a detailed description, please see this year’s earlier photo essay.

Ms. Igarashi in response to JSRC’s question as to why penises are not considered obscene under Japan’s obscenity laws but her vagina images were, bemusedly responded, “It baffles me, too. I think it’s a kind of sexual discrimination. For instance, on television, (you can say the word for penis but) you can’t say manko (Japanese slang for vagina)—they’ll bleep it out. In my artwork, which celebrates female genitalia, I try to challenge this concept of women’s sexual organs themselves being obscene. They’re just another part of the body.” Well, apparently as far as the police are concerned that’s not the case. And obviously, the penis must not be obscene because otherwise the Kanamara Festival would result in more arrests than a raid on a club where people dance illegally past midnight. What is even more surprising about here arrest is that in sex shops across Japan you can buy replicas of famous porn star vaginas that are far more graphic than a 3D printer and made of surgical silicone. The purpose of these artificial vaginas are obviously not just to display on the mantle.

Apparently this 3D "functional" model of a Japanese porn star vagina is not obscene but an artist's 3D data for her vagina is obscene. Go figure.
Apparently this 3D “functional” model of a Japanese porn star vagina is not obscene but an artist’s 3D data for her vagina is obscene. Go figure.

As has been pointed out before, Japan is a country which only banned possession of child pornography last month—with a one year grace period for possessors of the material (estimated to be 1 in 10 Japanese men by a government study) to get rid of their contraband. The portrayal of child pornography in manga was left out of the law due to protest from the publishing industry—so it seems surprising that distributing images of an adult woman’s vagina to those who request it would lead to an arrest. It’s even more ironic when you consider that most sexual services are in Japan are legal, so if a man wants to see a real vagina or play with one, he just has to pay for it. Yet, as long as he does this behind closed doors—it’s not obscene or illegal. On the other hand, under Japanese law, genitals have to be blurred out in pornography, though restrictions have loosened in recent years.

When asked why the word for vagina can’t be mentioned on television, Ms. Igarashi was stumped for an answer. So were her lawyers. Maybe that’s because like so many things in Japan, men get to decide what’s obscene and what’s not. The lawyers for Igarashi, and Ms. Igarashi herself stated they intend to fight the charges of obscenity and plead innocent. They believe that she was arrested and detained by the police primarily in the hope that she would “confess” to the charges, thus making the case a slam-dunk; she did not cooperate. They will argue that the data does not constitute obscenity as defined in the Supreme Court verdict in 1957 that found DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover to be salacious and in violation of the law. In that case, The Supreme Court concluded, “the description of the sex acts contained therein at twelve passages, as pointed out by the prosecutor, is all too bold, detailed, and realistic”.

Rokudenashiko shares a moment of levity with her lawyers after being asked why "vagina" (manko) is such a taboo word on Japanese television. The absurdity of Japanese obscenity laws is funny---unless you get put in jail for them.
Rokudenashiko shares a moment of levity with her lawyers after being asked why “vagina” (manko) is such a taboo word on Japanese television. The absurdity of Japanese obscenity laws is funny—unless you get put in jail for them.

Rokudenashiko is a slightly eccentric artist—this is certainly true. She has written an entire comic book about her obsession with her genitalia with wild surrealistic drawings. In the book, she even explains why she had cosmetic surgery on her womanhood to make it more attractive. A literary agency is currently considering putting out an English translation of it in the near future.

Ms. Igarashi, at the press conference, was generally in good spirits, laughing and chatting with the press but when asked how far she was willing to fight, she said with resolve, “I’ll take the case all the way to the Supreme Court. I refuse to accept that part of me is obscene just because certain people looking at it choose to see it that way.”

Angela Kubo contributed to this article. 

Ninkyodo, dude! Even The Yakuza Are Speaking English Now

You may remember this this year, Japan’s largest organized crime group, the Yamaguchi-gumi, launched its own website in Japan. But as I wrote in the article on April 1st for VICE News, if you were hoping to see guys covered in tattoos, epic gun battles, bloody sword fights, and fingers being chopped off — as one might— it wasn’t so exciting. And it was in Japanese only. There were other minor problems with the initial effort.

Learn the way of the Yakuza. In English! !
Learn the way of the Yakuza. In English! !

For starters, the site looks like it was created in the late 1990s. Still, the criminal syndicate is hoping it’ll serve as a recruitment tool as the membership of yakuza organizations shrink and public support for them falls. And the branding reflects this; the site at first appears to be for an organization known as the Banish Drugs and Purify The Nation League — or Drug Expulsion of Land Purification Alliance, as Google translates it. The “purify the nation” thing is potentially unsettling, but it still doesn’t sound like a criminal organization.

But it was founded by one. The then-leader of the Yamaguchi-gumi founded it in 1963 as a group “dedicated to the eradication of amphetamine abuse.” Sources familiar with the syndicate told VICE News that the site was launched under the Banish Drugs… monicker to, one, remind Yamaguchi-gumi members to behave themselves, and two, to convince people that the Yamaguchi-gumi is not “an anti-social force,” as they’re called by police, and are instead a “humanitarian organization.”

However, veteran police detective told us that they suspect the site may be a signal that the Yamaguchi-gumi plans to expand their operations. (for the rest of the article click here: Japan’s Biggest Organized Crime Syndicate Now Has Its Own Web Site and Theme Song

Maybe the detective was right, because while the Yamaguchi-gumi may not have substantially expanded their operations, they are certainly trying to expand their appeal internationally. Recently, they debuted their own English version of the website, NINKYOUDOU (任侠道). Ninkyodo is the supposed to be the philosophy of the yakuza, an ethical code and way of life which places importance on helping the weak and self-sacrifice. The old-school yakuza, while still being essentially criminals, but mostly professional gamblers or street merchants–also maintained a code of honor which forbid theft, robbery, sexual assault, fraud and dealing in drugs. (Of course, racketeering, extortion, and other money-making ventures were not off-limits. Even a noble semi-samurai has to earn a living, right.)

The website contains footage of the yakuza distributing supplies to victims of natural disasters and a history of the yakuza written in slightly awkward English. The main point of the website seems to be to hammer in this simple point–all yakuza are not bad. And in perhaps one of the most surprising pieces of rhetoric I’ve ever seen put out by the yakuza—they also suggest that the yakuza may be one of the last things to prevent Japan from descending into a fascist police state, where no one is free.

“”Yakuza is bad” “Everyone else who is associated with this practice is wrong” This thought is not only oppressive but also dangerous. If people presumably believe this type of discrimination is allowed under the name of equality and human rights, it is possible that pre-World War II way of thinking can get out of control in today’s society. Prime Minister Abe’s recent comments suggest that Japan is leaning towards nationalism. Therefore, we are facing the reality that our citizens’ equality is on jeopardy. Moreover, we need to realize that this nation is heading towards to fascism.”

If you’ve been tracking how the Abe administration has passed one of the most oppressive state secret laws in the Western world, which makes it a crime to ask the wrong question, and threatens press freedomor how it has reinterpreted the constitution to allow Japan to remilitarize itself–suddenly the yakuza don’t seem quite as bad. Of course, it’s mostly a pose but who’d expect gangsters to make complaints like this:

“The number of vicious crimes has increased in this country; people generally are devastated. No one notices if an elderly from his or her neighborhood has passed because there is no communication, not even greetings exchanged any more. No one is interested or cares enough about what is going on around them except about his or herself. Unfortunately, this sensation has become normal in today’s generation.”

These are strange times indeed when the voice of reason, press freedom, humanitarianism and anti-discrimination are being spoken by tattooed gangsters. Well, sometimes even the bad guys say good things. And in English as well. Maybe they’re taking a hint from Rakuten? In any event, if you’re interested in Japan’s tattooed outlaws, it’s worth a read.

 

Get ready to dance in the streets–Japan to revise anti-dance laws! (Maybe)

DSC_0169-448x298

 

The Japanese government will submit a bill to revise the controversial laws regulating dance clubs this fall in a special Diet session, the Mainichi Shimbun reported.

National Public Safety Commission Chair Keiji Furuya told reporters after a Cabinet meeting that the government will soon establish a group of experts at the National Police Agency to discuss the issue. Furuya said that the proposed revisions to the current Entertainment Business Law will reflect the recommendations submitted by a government committee which asked the government to relax the laws.

In Japan it’s technically illegal to dance past midnight or 1 A.M. at an establishment that serves alcohol under an outdated law called the Law on Control and Improvement of Amusement Business. The law requires businesses who wish to operate as nightclubs to register and forbids the establishment of clubs that have “dancing which results in the disruption of public sexual morality.”

For years the police have turned a blind eye to all the nightclubs which had been operating illegally, but starting in Osaka in 2010, the police had been arresting nightclub owners for breaking the law. The crackdown moved to Tokyo after a man was clubbed to death in the VIP section of a nightclub by members of a gang called Kanto Rengo in front of hundreds of dancers. Since then, several nightclubs in the area were closed down.

In April the dance laws were challenged when an Osaka court acquitted Masatoshi Kanemitsu, the owner of a nightclub called NOON, of charges of “corrupting sexual morals” and violating adult entertainment laws. Kanemitsu’s lawyer, Kenichi Nishikawa, told the Daily Beast: “It was a victory for common sense and freedom to dance. It is historic and significant, and while not finding the current laws unconstitutional, the courts ruled both that the police were too broadly interpreting the laws and that dance in and of itself is not a corruptor of public morals. Nor does it make people throw off their clothes.”

Yesterday’s announcement is a victory for anyone who just want to go out for a night of fun. While it’ll be several months before you can go out in the streets and celebrate with a dance, Japanese politicians are beginning to realize that the dance laws won’t help out the country as the 2020 Olympics approaches.

Picture from Let’s DANCE

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.

 

Tokyo Vice: Interview with Jake Adelstein

Read an exciting (sort of) interview with the author and chief editor of the web-site,  Jake Adelstein.

I’ve been working on this thing now for almost three years and its nice to finally see it in print. If you’re curious about the sex industry in Japan, about yakuza, cops, journalists and all that can go terribly wrong in the little island country of the rising sun, please read the book.   The following interview was done for Random House, who have been kind enough to publish the book.

adelsteintokyo

Continue reading Tokyo Vice: Interview with Jake Adelstein

Daily Prophet Flash: DanRad gets Press Pass for Tokyo Vice; The Last Yakuza to be published in 2014

Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter On The Police Beat In Japan…a movie starring Daniel Radcliffe!?

Radcliffe-san has been preparing to play the role of a newspaper journalist for over 10 years. To write for a newspaper, you have to read the newspaper.
Radcliffe-san has been preparing to play the role of a newspaper journalist for over 10 years–more or less. To write for a newspaper, you have to read the newspaper. The Daily Prophet is one of the most respected in the industry; almost always first with the scoop and only occasionally very wrong.
text courtesy of William Clark 
May 1st, 2013

Mike Fleming broke the news on Deadline this afternoon that Daniel Radcliffe will play Jake Adelstein in the film adaptation of TOKYO VICE:  An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan.

The text of the release is as follows:

Tokyo Vice (UK edition)
Tokyo Vice (UK edition)

Daniel Radcliffe is set to star in TOKYO VICE. Veteran music video and commercial director Anthony Mandler will direct, based on a script by acclaimed playwright JT Rogers. Le Grisbi Productions’ John Lesher and Adam Kassan are producing. The film is eyeing a start date of first quarter 2014.

Radcliffe will play American reporter Jake Adelstein who, while working at the Yomiuri Shinbun newspaper in Tokyo, covered a beat that included murder, vice, and the yakuza. The film will be based on Adelstein’s memoir of the same name and focus on his encounters with yakuza boss Tadamasa Goto, also known as the “John Gotti of Japan”. Adelstein investigated the notorious gangster at great personal cost and sacrifice, braving death threats, before finally exposing Goto.

Adelstein, who will be working with Rogers on the script, is still an investigative reporter. He currently writes for The Daily BeastThe Japan Times, and The Atlantic Wire. His second book, THE LAST YAKUZA(editor Tim O’Connell), will be published in 2014.

Radcliffe has had a busy schedule since starring in last year’s thriller THE WOMAN IN BLACK. He starred as Allen Ginsberg in this year’s Sundance hit KILL YOUR DARLINGS, which was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics. He also recently wrapped the horror film HORNS and the romantic comedy THE F WORD and he has just signed on to star in FRANKENSTEIN for 20th Century Fox and Davis Entertainment. This June, Radcliffe will return to the West End stage, starring in Martin McDonagh’s acclaimed comedy THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN.

Mandler has helmed videos for such artists as Rihanna, Jay-Z, The Killers, and Muse.

Rogers’ plays include BLOOD AND GIFTS (National Theatre, London; Lincoln Center Theater, New York City) and THE OVERWHELMING (National Theatre, London; Roundabout Theatre, New York City). He was nominated for the 2009 Olivier Award as one of the writers of GREAT GAME: AFGHANISTAN. He is also a winner of the prestigious Pinter Prize.

Lesher produced last year’s END OF WATCH, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. He also produced BLOOD TIES, Guillaume Canet’s English language debut, starring Clive Owen, Marion Cotillard, Billy Crudup, Mila Kunis, and James Caan, which will premiere at Cannes. Lesher is currently in production on Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s BIRDMAN, starring Michael Keaton, Ed Norton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, and Naomi Watts. He is in pre-production on BLACK MASS, to be directed by Barry Levinson and star Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger, as well as David Ayer’s war film FURY, which will shoot in the fall and star Brad Pitt.

Radcliffe is represented by UTA, UK agent Sue Latimer at ARG, and attorney Fred Toczek. Mandler is represented by UTA, Management 360, and attorney Michael Schenkman. Rogers is represented by WME and attorneys Marc Glick and Stephen Breimer. Jake Adelstein is repped by UTA and William Clark Associates.

You can learn more about Jake Adelstein in Peter Hessler’s excellent profile, “All Due Respect: An American Reporter Takes on the Yakuza” in the January 9, 2012 issue of The New Yorker. 

Jake’s next book, THE LAST YAKUZA:  A Life in the Japanese Underground, a singular, in-depth, occasionally humorous, often dark, but inspiring tale about the life of former gang boss T. Mochizuki, aka “The Tsunami,” his unlikely friendship with the author, and the history of Japan’s ubiquitous mafia is being edited by the incomparable Tim O’Connell at Pantheon as this is being written, and will be released in Fall 2014.  Other English language publishers are James Gurbutt at Constable & Robinson in the UK, and Henry Rosenbloom at Scribe in Australia/New Zealand.

Police Officer Punished For Raising A False Alarm With The Police

(November 23rd, Japan)

The Shizuoka Police Department announced yesterday that they had punished a low-ranking police officer (巡査) for making a fake 110 call, in which he reported an imaginary crime, in order to avoid going to a real crime scene and doing laborious paperwork . (In Japan, dialing 110 is the equivalent of dialing 911 in the United States).

According to the Shizuoka PD announcement and other sources, in August of this year, Officer D was wracking his brain trying to think of a way to avoid having to go to a messy destruction of property crime scene, inspect the damage, and write up the paperwork. From his own cell-phone he called up his police station and said, “There’s a girl in the park I’m walking through surrounded by four or five tough guys. Help her!”

The Shizuoka Police Department punished a low-ranking police officer for phoning in a fake crime to the Shizuoka Police Department to avoid doing the paper work on a meddlesome destruction of property case.

The police officer sped to the scene of the crime but when a fellow police officer called back the “notifier” (通報者), he was connected to Officer D and all was revealed. The next day Officer D was transferred from the community patrol bureau to the traffic bureau.

The prosecutors filed charges of “obstructing work” against the police officer, who also had his pay reduced to 1/10th for a month. The officer supposedly said he would work very hard to regain the trust of the police force and the public.

 

Japanese Police Women To Go Up To 10% Of Force….by 2023.

The National Police Agency 2012 Edition of the annual White Paper on Crime hit bookstores last week with details of Japan’s shocking plan to raise the number of women in the police force from 6.8% to a stunning 10% by 2023.  The winds of change are blowing like a typhoon here in this insular island country.

In a special section of the report,  Concerning the hiring and use of female police officers (女性警察官の採用・登用の拡大), for the first time in the history of the report, the National Police Agency laid out concrete plans for integrating more police officers into the overwhelmingly male police force. The report was even nice enough to add, “For maintaining public order and the vigor of the organization, highly skilled female police officers are indispensable.”  Currently female police officers constitute roughly 7% of the 250,000 police officers nationwide.

Traditionally, Japanese police women have been relegated to the traffic section but increasingly are being made detectives and handling consultations about domestic violence and stalking. Stalking cases are reportedly growing in number every year. One reason that may exist for the growth in stalking cases is that police departments which were reluctant to take such cases have become much more pro-active. The reasons for this involve several very public cases of police officers failing to act on stalking complaints and people getting killed as a result. For example, in March it became apparent that Chiba police officers postponed investigating a suspected case of assault and stalking and instead took a three-day fun-filled trip to Hokkaido. The suspect in the case killed the mother and grandmother of the 27 year old woman he had been stalking. There were outcries for increased enforcement and revision of the stalking laws.

And of course, recent cases of police officers acting lewdly toward teenage girls and sexually harassing their own police woman co-worker haven’t been good for the image of the Japanese police either. It may be that 1% of the future female 10% of  the force will be devoted to policing fellow police officers. Let’s hope conduct improves and there are better things for lady cops to do by then.