Letter to the editor published in Japan Times

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In response to an article from Debito Arudou on discriminatory foreign persecution in the Japanese legal system, I just had to write to the editor to tell them what I thought about the article:

Debito Arudou does paint a bleak picture of the travails of many foreigners at the hands of the Japanese legal system. I do have issues with a couple of his points, though. First, he asserts that “bail [is] impossible for non-Japanese to get.” Yet, simply typing “foreigner bail” into The Japan Times’ online search engine reveals a story about a foreigner getting bail.

Second, Arudou concludes the article by painting the Japanese with a broad brush that I suspect he would be quick to condemn if others made such a claim. He states that the Japanese are “actually scared stiff of the police and the public prosecutor.” He provides no evidence to back this up.

However, in December 2006, a survey by Japan’s Cabinet Office found that 56.7 percent would always report crimes they witnessed and 41.1 percent would sometimes do so, depending on the circumstances. Fear of reprisals from criminals was the main reason people would not come forward. Additionally, 96.6 percent of those surveyed would cooperate to a greater or lesser degree with investigations. These attitudes hardly demonstrate that the Japanese are scared stiff of the authorities.

The statistics I refer to can be found in Q10 and Q11 here, in a survey that highlighted the average Japanese person’s perception that the breakdown in law and order is caused by foreigners.

I could bore you silly by addressing each point in his original article, but instead I’ll point you at Jun Okamura’s reply on GlobalTalk21 and the lively discussions at Japan Probe.

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Why I started this blog

This Japan Times article (well, it’s just a translation, the original weekly tabloid is more to blame) on kiddie fiddling teachers features the following frustratingly incomplete statistic.

Of the 166 cases, 46.4% of the victims were students, while 2.4% were graduates.

Eh? What happened to the other 51.2%? Do they mean that 46.4% were current students of the kiddy fiddling teacher? This sort of hopelessly incomplete datum point just leaves me all hanging in the air!

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