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Gulag for gaijin

thomas

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I have just stumbled over this story of a Canadian journalist who used to live in Tokyo and was denied entry to Japan after a short trip to Korea last December.

His story has been published by the Economist, not exactly known for sensationalist reporting:

Gulag for gaijin

Here's his blog. He claims to have been detained without reason, shaken down by guards, threatened at gunpoint and put on a plane to Canada. Can this actually happen in Japan or is there more to it? Quite distressing.
 

Davey

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What a weird story, and to be honest it's so weird that I wonder if this is the whole story.

Living in Japan, and having a family must makes it extra painful for him. I wonder what will happen next, and if he will ever be able to go back to Japan (something he might not even wants to do).
 

mozda

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this story is really weird, I agree...but misses a lot of important details, don't you find this also important:
"Mr Johnson’s visa status is unclear: in an interview, he said his lawyer advised him not to discuss it."
don't get me wrong, this guy was really in a strange trouble but...idk...
 

Mike Cash

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The Economist may not be known for sensationalist reporting, but that is a blog on The Economist, which presumably is not held to the same editorial standards.

I am always leery of reports where people require interpreters then give lucid reports of everything that was said in Japanese. I am also leery of someone using sensationalist language such as being threatened "at gunpoint" when even his own account doesn't include a gun pointed at him.

There's probably at least some truth to his story, but I doubt any of us will ever be able to winnow the truth from the Debito-ish self-serving hyperbole.
 

Uncle Frank

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Private security company employees packing pistols also strains credulity.

LOL, Blackwater Security(ex-CIA/ex-SEAL) in Japan having a shootout. I thought the gun bit was way over the top for in Japan.
 

Glenski

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I cringe to think about what he has had to say since he left. Must....control....fingers....on.....keyboard......
 

Mike Cash

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It took me a while to figure out who the "KB" he talked about were. I've never heard anybody use the term before. Finally figured out he meant 警備 and that put me even farther in doubt about his claims of Japanese ability and literacy. Why? Because 警備 refers to the task of guarding something, and not to the guard. The guard is either 警備員 or 守衛, but never 警備.

I know the system has problems, but his style of "reporting" it leads me to doubt him severely.

Does he ever say what type of visa he was on? How was he on a "work visa" when he was a freelance who apparently wrote a few stories for outlets abroad and mostly for his own blog? Was he perhaps actually just gaming the system by bouncing in and out on a series of tourist visas and the government finally just bounced him for it? He wouldn't be the first guy to work that particular visa dodge, nor the first to end up getting tossed out on his ear for it. There was no mention of a reentry permit, nor of any employer or visa sponsor's reaction to his being denied entry. What this guy chooses not to tell us probably is more revealing than what does choose to tell us, and is self-serving in either case. Sounds to me like another case of "I'll do anything to go live in Japan with my girlfriend!.....except marry her, of course. Let's not be ridiculous!".....and then getting busted for what amounts to visa fraud.

So what I want to know is: what type of visa was he here on when he left. Did he have a reentry permit? What type of visa did he try to enter on this time?

If he was running on a string of tourist visas and using overseas reporting trips to break them up, then it was visa fraud and I have exactly ZERO sympathy for him. If that wasn't the case, then I would appreciate some straightforward reporting on it that doesn't smack of The National Enquirer.
 

Glenski

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On his blog, he wrote:

I first had a work visa for Japan in 1989, and my last renewal began in 2008.

So, if it was a 3-year visa that started in 2008 (which month we do not know), it's possible it was still valid, but seeing as it was Dec. 23 that they stopped him it would have barely been. Who's to say when it was due to expire, though? Perhaps this is what was meant about his visa status being unclear, but why can't he just come right out and discuss such a simplistic thing? He went into so many other details (including supposedly being allowed to wander from room to room with his cell phone looking for a strong signa; yeah, right!).
When I refused to sign his falsely-determined expulsion order, he gave me another document, a "right to appeal" to the Minister of Justice.

"You should sign here, immediately," he said. I looked over the document. It said I had three days to make an appeal.

"How long will it take for the Minister of Justice to reply? It's a Friday afternoon on a long weekend over Christmas. What if he's out of the country until after the New Year holiday?"

"I cannot say," he said arrogantly.

"I'm going to call my embassy," I said.

He laughed at me and bolted out of the room. I tried to make a mobile phone call but there was no signal in the room. I wandered into other rooms, hoping for a signal that didn't appear.

Even so, I agree with Mike:
I know the system has problems, but his style of "reporting" it leads me to doubt him severely.

Perhaps his own admissions on the blog about his abrasive reporting about TEPCO and other stuff pissed off someone, but I doubt that would have raised immigration's ears.
Though I had work visas dating back to 1989, and done hundreds of feature stories promoting Japanese tourism and culture, the Immigration Bureau in 2011 made it impossible for me to continue living and working in Japan. It was either bureaucratic incompetence, for which Japan has no shortage, or it was a back-handed way to kick a critical journalist out of the country. I believe it was the latter. My articles and TV reports were indeed very critical of TEPCO, Japan Tobacco, Olympus, JAL, gangsters, fascists, and state neglect of tsunami survivors and nuclear refugees.

BTW, has anyone here actually seen any of his articles, whether in English or Japanese?

Maybe it was his disheveled look, too:
Tired after 3 hours sleep overnight in Seoul, I nodded off.

Officers apparently didn't like that, and they woke me up. With uncombed hair, an unshaven face, and tired red eyes, they perhaps thought I was drunk or high, though I wasn't.

I find it still hard to believe. Morover, his blog dscribes an "updated" version of his original story, which had been written "from notes". Don't know when the second version came out, but it begins with a totally unnecessary prologue. One would think that after so many weeks have passed, that he'd have more to relate about his own plight, but that seems to be conspicuously missing.
 

Glenski

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More dirt on Johnson.
Christopher Johnson Under Fire For “Gaijin Gulag” Article | Japan Probe

The thing to note above all others is this:
"And all this just so happened to occur when he was about to release a novel – which is an “uncompromising look at the inner turmoil behind the stoic face of Japan.” Quite a profitable coincidence."

Coincidence, my eye. Excerpt is more like it!

EDIT: Even more interesting stuff at the Debito blog. If CJ is really Johnson there, he still does himself no favors about his visa status.
http://www.debito.org/?p=9868
Note comments #30 especially.

Comment #61 now states he is saving juicy pieces of the story for the Washington Post!

Comment #75 says "My visa status has been explained on my blog" Oh, really?! Someone else please show me this jewel.
 

Mike Cash

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Glad to see I wasn't the only one to call shenanigans on the gun-toting private security guard nonsense. Or the only one to have doubts about the whole damned story. Or the unprofessional way The Economist did a hook-line-and-sinker cut-n-paste.

How did we fail to get a mention or a link?
 

thomas

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This story has certainly evolved. Glad it did.

How did we fail to get a mention or a link?

Because we neither belong to any of the ESL waterholes, nor to Mr formerly-called-Aldwinckle's bandwagon. The funny thing is that this thread ranks 4th on Google when querying "Gulag for gaijin"

=> Gulag for gaijin - Google Search
 
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