Posts Tagged: Crime

Photo Set

Jon Stewart compares the media’s treatment of Justin Bieber and Rob Ford to the treatment of Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.

people seriously got mad at the athlete who won a football thing? fucking hell, america, what are you becoming in my absence?

(via trinandtonic)

Source: sandandglass

I love everything in this photo

  • they are called “destroyer masks”
  • only 500 yen?! I’ll take both.
  • the Japanese version warns against entering a convenience store because no one in Japan robs banks
  • the Japanese warning is written in Osaka-dialect, which means this is likely in Osaka, Japan’s most-crime-ridden area
  • (I live in Osaka)

original image, thanks Alex for retweeting this my way


It’s been almost one full year since Japan criminalized the act of downloading copyrighted material from the Internet. NHK looked at what has changed since October 1st, 2012, and it doesn’t look like anyone is reaping any rewards so far.

First, the obvious occurred: fewer people are using peer-to-peer file sharing software now. NHK reports that P2P users are down 40% this year vs last year.

However, the copyright holders got the government to pass that legislation in the hopes that more people would buy music, movies, etc, but there’s no evidence that’s happening.

NHK’s numbers are confusing here, but here they are: between October 2012 and June 2013, CD/DVD sales were up 5% over the same period a year earlier. BUT 2013 sales overall (through August) are down 7% compared to 2012.

One definite piece of bad news for the media companies: digital sales of music are way down, 24% lower between October 2012 and June 2013 than the previous year.

Kenji Takasugi, managing director of the Recording Industry Association of Japan, claims that rentals are up (neither he nor NHK supports this with figures) but even he admits that no one’s buying music like they used to. Remember that whenever you read stories about the success of AKB48: those insane sales figures are driven by fans buying CDs by the caseload for the giveaways inside, then throwing the discs away.

While I’m sure the loathsome creator/owner of the AKB franchise is laughing all the way to the bank, everyone else in Japan is wondering how to get people to spend money on music. And so far, “punish people who download it” isn’t the answer they hoped for.

My crazy, crazy suggestion: find a way to sell CDs for less than $15 and movies for less than $20, because your plan thus far of doubling (or even TRIPLING) those prices hasn’t paid off.

Thankfully, even Japanese people are calling this guy out as weird. Better you call home and tell Mom you’re alive than disappearing for eleven days.

Thankfully, even Japanese people are calling this guy out as weird. Better you call home and tell Mom you’re alive than disappearing for eleven days.

Source: inkpanic

My mouth is agape and my fists are clenched with rage at some news items circulating Japan this week.

As you may recall, a tragic case of bullying left unchecked has put the issue of abuse in the spotlight as of late. Schools and police are responding to the concerns of the public and stepping up to fight the problem. Others choose to ignore it or, worse, defend the abusers from harm. Seriously.

A high school student in Sendai complained to his teachers that he was being bullied. Seeking an apology, he said classmates forced him to burn his own arm with a cigarette. The school agreed to hold a meeting between the boy and his attackers, but after it was over the student was expelled because he “showed off the burns to other students and made them anxious.” I’ve heard of blaming the victim before but this is insane.

Fortunately, the local police were more receptive when he showed them his arm. Now that they’ve accepted his report and have begun asking questions, suddenly the school says they will re-investigate the matter.

Unfortunately, not every victim is so lucky. A middle-schooler in Saitama went to the police four or five times over the past year to report being abused at school, alleging that his homeroom teacher knew what was happening. The cops turned him down.

This past January, a classmate bashed the boy’s head against concrete, knocking him unconscious and sending him to the hospital. Doctors say he had a broken rib (or ribs). The boy again went to the police and they said, quote, “Please forget this happened” and “Even if we accept your report, the accused is 12 so nothing will come of this.” The victim has since changed schools while his parents explore their legal options.

And in case you needed a reminder of how women’s rights are overlooked in Japan, we have this case of a Fukushima woman who attempted to file domestic abuse charges against her husband only to be dismissed by the police. Despite telling police that her husband “handcuffed her, choked her neck, and covered her mouth several times” the police shrugged their shoulders and said “There is no law that tries someone for causing inner (psychological) trauma.”

"You need to tolerate it because you are a married couple" said a heartless, misogynistic monster who had assumed human form and currently works as a police officer.

As if that weren’t enough, somehow word of the woman’s attempts to notify the police got back to her husband who, and this is shocking, objects to his wife’s repeated criminal complaints. Luckily the woman has already moved out and is filing for divorce, so presumably she is out of immediate danger. No word on where her kids are though.

Yet hope remains in all of these cases, because once a story makes it into the paper it becomes an embarrassment to the organizations involved, often prompting corrective action.

Case in point: I was repulsed when I heard last month of a female police officer in Yokohama who was ordered to strip by four male officers. She complained, they admitted to their behavior but no charges were filed because there was “no case.” Since that story broke, the police were flooded with angry calls and, whaddya know, they are now reconsidering their decision.

The Japanese word of the day is gaiatsu, (外圧) meaning “external pressure.” If anything like this ever happens to me, my wife, or our kids, I’m speed-dialing every media source I can. And I won’t stop until everyone who was wrong resigns, gets fired or goes to jail. Fuck any bureaucrat who turns away a victim.


In the wake of the Otsu bullying case, Japanese school districts are constantly in the news now with tales of students being abused. Take this one:

The five are suspected of using a cigarette lighter to set fire to the victim’s hair at a local public park on May 20 this year — an incident one of the accused apparently filmed with his mobile phone — and punching him in the face and breaking his nose on May 28. According to police, the victim has also said he had been “giving the boys several thousand yen a month” since his first year of junior high school.

Once again we have tales of reprehensible, criminal behavior that somehow takes place in a world where no one sees anything. Note that he gets caught stealing under order from the bullies, who later break his nose for talking to the police. How did his conversation with police not immediately get his attackers locked up?

Regardless, this case has a happy ending of sorts. A teacher took notice of the victim’s wounds and informed the principal. Now the five (FIVE, jesus) bullies are under arrest.

I believe the Otsu case is the only reason this boy is still alive. It took a national media circus for Japanese schoolteachers to wake up and realize maybe, MAYBE, students who inflict pain and misery on other students should be reprimanded. I don’t know why that had to happen first, but it happened. Let’s embrace it and move forward, with the goal of next time standing up to bullies before the police need to be called in.

PS: in case you thought the Otsu situation had cleared up, no. The city is still mishandling their response at every possible juncture.


This sordid tale of crime strikes me as a “only in Japan” sort of thing: a 50-year-old elementary school vice-principal was arrested for using counterfeit money to pay for sex.

Where to begin?

First of all, yes, Japan has what amounts to legalized prostitution. Some places are more coy about their services than others (usually under the guise of a massage) but there’s only the thinnest veneer of pretense. In this case, the woman worked for a dispatch company (aka “delivery health”) and the service took place in a hotel. The dispatcher noticed the money - two 10,000 yen bills - was phony and called the police. When confronted, the suspect immediately admitted that he made the false money himself.

This is where I can’t stop giggling. Can you imagine that conversation the dispatcher had with the cops? Despite its omnipresence in urban areas, it’s not like prostitution is a reputable business. It’s entirely probable that the establishment was run by gangsters. Yet even in the Japanese underworld they call the cops first when there’s a problem.

Also, I have to wonder about the timeline of events. The story specifically says a man at the dispatcher determined the money was counterfeit and called the authorities, so it wasn’t the call girl herself. Presumably the client paid in advance (that’s the number one rule of prostitution, I am told). Did he pay the girl who then brought the cash back to the office where a man realized it was fake? Did the client pay a dispatcher first and that man realized the money was fake while the couple was in the hotel? In other words, did this moron get laid for free?

There’s no image of the fakes but they were apparently “quite detailed” and hard to distinguish from real money at first glance, but they lacked watermarks.

Oh, and a personal aside, the suspect has a really weird name: Kimotsuki (肝付). As in “attached liver.” Eww.


…because the “It’s me, it’s me” scam (aka oreoresagi オレオレ詐欺) has been on the rise in the United States of late, particularly in upstate New York of all places.

This scam has been making the rounds in Japan for years and I’ve always been baffled as to how a society could be so gullible. It’s the laziest con ever: perpetrators simply cold call old people and say “it’s me!” in the hopes the victim will fill in the information (“Oh Yoshi, is that you?”) so the criminal can then ask for money. What made the crime particularly Japanese (or so I thought) was that the caller always emphasized that the money was needed to avoid embarrassment.

But no! The US version works almost exactly the same way: strangers cold call elderly people and say “Hi Grandma!” and hope that the victim is stupid enough to send money to a voice on a phone. And it works. So much so that the New York Attorney General has released a statement about the scam with helpful tips to avoid falling for it. I’m still taken aback that people need to be told that an unexpected phone call from another country asking for money might be a ruse.

(FYI, the only significant difference between the US scam and the Japanese scam is the international angle. US officials can’t retrieve the money because the crooks receive it in another country beyond their jurisdiction. I’m not sure why Japanese cops can’t track Japanese crooks who use domestic ATMs to get their money)

Here’s the question I have to ask: is gullibility on this scale a product of old age, or is it more that today’s elderly grew up in a simpler time so they lack the bullshit detectors that modern society requires?


This story has been floating around for the last week. It hasn’t gotten much English press, but it’s been on Japanese TV a fair amount. A Nepalese man, Bishnu Dhamala, was beaten to death - on camera - right here in Osaka. The four attackers (two men and two women, all 21-22) have all been arrested. So far, they do not deny beating Dhamala but they do deny trying to kill him. What did they expect a bicycle to the head of a man on the ground would do, wake him up?

It’s a scary crime, no doubt. So far no motive for the attack has been made public, and the killers did not claim to know Dhamala prior to the incident. I hope the headlines keep coming. In the meantime, I still take comfort in knowing that Japan is a very safe place to live, but I am increasingly aware that certain neighborhoods in Osaka* are among the most dangerous parts of the country. I should make an effort to spend less time alone in the city as I was on Saturday night. Next time I’ll just take a nap in McDonald’s. It’s what the Japanese do.

*Note to family/friends back home: I do not live anywhere near these notorious neighborhoods


June 8th has become a day of infamy in modern Japan, at least to those who remember their recent history. It was three years ago today that a man drove a truck into a heavily congested pedestrian area of Akihabara and then started stabbing people. The slow wheels of justice sentenced him to death only three months ago, so he’ll be with us for a few years more.

But today is also the day, the ten-year anniversary in fact, of what I consider the scariest spree killing imaginable. On June 8th, 2001, a deeply disturbed man (off his meds) entered an elementary school in Ikeda, Osaka and attacked the children with a knife. He gave no clear motive, only expressing a desire to be put to death (his wish was granted in 2004).

At the time of the murders, I was prepping for my first trip to Japan, so I was watching Japanese language news on cable a lot. While the attack certainly drew the attention of the US media, it (understandably) dominated the Japanese news cycle for at least a week. It didn’t make me rethink my plans at all, but it certainly shook my image of Japan as a crime-free nation.

What makes the school killings all the more frightening is that Mako and I have been looking into buying a house in the area, and our number one choice is right down the street from the elementary school where the attack took place. If we end up moving, our son would at the very least walk past it everyday and he might even attend (the school is public, but it requires an entrance exam).

So whether you live in Japan or not, take a moment out of your day today and honor the victims of these crimes with silence. And don’t forget about the people of Tohoku. Three months later and thousands of them are still essentially homeless. 黙祷してお願いいたします。