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Opportunism and Foreign Crime


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
:: Posted on behalf of Debito ::

By Arudou Debito
July 30, 2003

July has been a busy month for the bigots. Statements from the uppermost
levels of Japan's political arenas demonstrate that any opportunity is a
good one for painting dire pictures of foreign crime. Especially if they
might get some new public policy out of it.

This post is structured thus:

1) JULY 12: Dietmember Etoh Takami claims "one million foreigners" in Japan
are "murderers and thieves".
2) JULY 11: Koizumi Cabinet ties Nagasaki youth murder with unconnected
"Brazilian youth crime".
3) JULY 28: Tokyo Gov Ishihara at it again: Appoints cop as vice-governor,
tours and bashes Ikebukuro
4) JULY 17: Shock/horror: GOJ announces crimes by Japanese abroad rising,

1) JULY 12: Dietmember Etoh Takami claims "one million foreigners" in Japan
are "murderers and thieves".

As the Asahi Shinbun reported on July 12, high-ranking LDP politician Etou
Takami (one of the leaders of the eponymous "Etou-Kamei" political faction,
famous for his "The Nanking Massacre is a fabrication" quote both several
years ago and, incidentially, on this occasion too), said the following
about foreigners at a regular LDP party conference in Fukui:

"Lots of these characters, all thieves and murderers, are in Japan"
(dorobou yara, hitogoroshi yara bakari iru yatsura de, ippai Nihon ni wa

What the Asahi article blurred out was that Etoh specifically said "100 man
nin" (one million people) are criminals, not "lots" (ippai). This fact has
been confirmed by reporter friends at both the Mainichi Shinbun and Kyodo
Tsushin. Given that there are only about 1.8 million "Registered
Foreigners" (gaikokujin tourokusha) in Japan, this is a sizable chunk of the
total. Moreover, the National Police Agency stated that in 2001, only
27,763 confirmed crimes were committed by 14,660 foreigners. So Etoh's
claim demonstrates a degree of research unbecoming to a public

Etoh then capped the sentiment with a hearty:
"Shinjuku's Kabuki-chou is a zone without laws, run by these 'third-country
foreigners' (NB: a term offensive to many Asians). These days, Chinese,
Koreans, and foreigners from other countries over here illegally are
forming gangs and robbing." (Shinjuku no Kabukihou wa dai sankokujin ga
shihai suru muhou chitai. Saikin wa, Chuugoku ya Kankoku ya sono ta no
kuniguni no fuhou taizaisha ga mure o nashite goutou o shite iru)

http://www.asahi.com/politics/update/0712/008.html (Japanese article)
The Asahi Shimbun (English)
来日外国人犯罪の現状 1993-2003年度の統計 警察庁来日外国人犯罪等対策室 出版 (foreign crime stats 1991-2001)

Nice stuff. But even this pales in comparison to a comment made by the
Prime Minister's Cabinet on July 11, while discussing the recent child
murder in Nagasaki:


2) JULY 11: Koizumi Cabinet ties Nagasaki youth murder with unconnected
"Brazilian youth crime".

First, a bit of background for those overseas unfamiliar a crime which
shocked the nation. A few weeks ago, a twelve-year-old (Japanese) boy
abducted and sexually assaulted a four-year-old boy in Nagasaki. After
cutting off the four-year-old's penis, the preteen threw him to his death
off a multi-story parking garage. Heinous in itself, but the public's
outrage has deepened due to a loophole in Japanese law:

Children under the age of fourteen cannot be tried and held guilty for major
crimes. Therefore, the preteen can get away with murder. This law was
passed shortly after WWII to give looting orphans and starving children
immunity from prosecution. It is still, although revised down recently from
16 to 14 years, part of our lawbooks.

Back to the Koizumi Cabinet. Public Safety Commissioner (Kokka Kouan
Iinchou) Tanigaki stated:

"Representative of the decline in public safety, one can raise the issue of
foreign crime and youth crime. For example, there has been a marked
increase in crimes committed by Brazilian youths." (chian akka no daihyou
to shite, gaikokujin hanzai ya shounen hanzai ga agerareru. tatoeba,
zainichi Brazjiru jin no shounen ni yoru hanzai ga kanari kencho na men ga

Given the fact that the Nagasaki murder didn't even INVOLVE Brazilians, this
is a painfully obvious attempt to incorporate foreigners into the public
outrage over an awful crime.

Prime Minister Koizumi capped this by stating that the incident in Nagasaki
"was not merely a simple crime, and should be dealt with from a more
complete perspective" (tan naru hanzai to iu koto de wa naku, sougou teki na
kanten kara taisho o suru beki da).

Link: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/politics/news/20030711it06.htm (Japanese)
(can't find an English link)

How these two events will be reflected in future public policy remains to be
seen. But it doesn't look favorable for the overwhelming majority of
Japan's international residents and citizens who, despite official
allegations, are not involved in criminal activity.

But wait. There's more:


3) JULY 28: Tokyo Gov Ishihara at it again:
Appoints cop as vice-governor, tours and bashes Ikebukuro

Ishihara vows to 'boot out' illegally residing foreigners
(Mainichi Shimbun, Japan, July 29, 2003)

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has promised to "boot out" foreigners illegally
residing in Japan, following a visit to Tokyo's lively Ikebukuro district.

The governor visited the busy streets between JR Ikebukuro Station's west
and north exits, which house numerous restaurants, bars and adult
businesses, on Monday evening. He was accompanied by vice-governor Yutaka
Takehana, who formerly served at the National Police Agency, and other

After the visit, Ishihara said illegally residing foreigners were a problem
in Tokyo.

"In the information magazines for Chinese people, there are advertisements
aimed at those who are overstaying," he said. "Foreigners who have illegally
entered Japan will be booted out (of Tokyo)."

The governor said that police had two few resources, and loopholes had
resulted in their efforts being in vain.

Ishihara has spoken against illegally residing foreigners in the past. He
caused a stir in April 2000 when he was reported as telling people to be on
the alert for rioting foreigners in the wake of a natural disaster.
(NB: See www.debito.org: Links Page for Japan Times Zeit Gist Article)

Ikebukuro and the Tokyo area of Shinjuku have been often been targeted by
the Metropolitan Police department in crackdowns on illegally residing

Media officials did not accompany the governor during his visit.
Link: http://mdn.mainichi.co.jp/news/20030729p2a00m0dm004001c.html

COMMENT: Although the governor may have a point about "illegals", he (and
the Japanese police, see
time and time again that "illegal" and "wicked" (furyou) foreigners are to
be sought out and removed from society. Result: in February 2002, Japan's
only neighborhoodwide police surveillance camera system was installed in
Tokyo's Kabukichou (the place with the highest concentration of foreigners
in Japan) at taxpayer expense. Yet not once has Ishihara ever mentioned how
policy will adequately differentiate between "legal" and "illegal"
foreigners on sight. Nor has he ever tried to balance the equation by
mentioning the social contributions that extranationals make to Japan's
industrial workforce and tax base. The basic mantra focusses on foreign
crime (exaggerated, and without any comparison to the rising Japanese crime
rate, see www.debito.org: 日本の「非国際化」の傾向: 内閣世論調査と石原知事圧勝). This causes
great social damage, to say the least, including justifiable "othering" and
targeting of foreigners (www.debito.org: Japan Times July 8, 2003 Community Page on Japanese Police Abuses of Authority and Ineffectual Bureau of Human Rights)

This leads us to today's final article. What happens if Japanese go abroad
and become foreigners themselves?

4) JULY 17: Shock/horror: GOJ announces crimes by Japanese abroad rising,

Forwarding an email from a friend:

>To: <[email protected]>
>Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003 10:57:14 +0900
>Just wanted to make sure you were staying abreast of the news regarding
the massive (26.6%) rise in Japanese accused of crimes abroad-- despite
what I assume must have been a drop in the absolute numbers of Japanese
traveling abroad last year, with SARS and all that.
>Obviously must have something to do with being in a foreign environment--
gaijin living in Japan, Japanese living abroad... THUGS all of them....

Missions had busy year (excerpt)
Japan Times, July 22, 2003
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.com/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20030722a2.htm

Japanese embassies and consulates offered assistance to 16,996 people
allegedly involved in crimes and accidents abroad in 2002, up 4.5 percent
from a year earlier, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

Last year, some 16.5 million Japanese traveled abroad, meaning that one in
every 970 travelers sought assistance from a diplomatic mission.

The number of crimes and accidents involving these people increased 1.8
percent to 14,364.

A 26.6 percent increase was registered in people who allegedly committed
crimes abroad and requested help. They totaled a record 585.

Among them were 153 who were allegedly involved in crimes relating to
immigration and visa matters, such as using fake passports to remain in
countries longer than their authorized stays, or helping foreign nationals
travel overseas illegally.

Those implicated in drug crimes totaled 77, the ministry said.

FINAL COMMENT: Let's play public official here:

"Japanese coming to our shores are committing more crimes! Statistics
indicate record highs. Last year alone, crimes by Japanese increased by
over 26%! They're faking passports, and overstaying! Let's boot out all
illegal Japanese! Or better yet, all illegal foreigners!"

But let's not mention that the total number of crimes committed by those
Japanese totalled only a miniscule 585 last year. A 26% rise is a 26% rise,
after all. I doubt there's much political capital to be gained--not once
has any newspaper article or public official in Japan ever talked about the
actual *fall* in some sectors of foreign crime (see
来日外国人犯罪の現状 1993-2003年度の統計 警察庁来日外国人犯罪等対策室 出版). Not as newsworthy, I guess

Anyway, as any basic scholar of statistics knows, headlining percentages,
given their relative bases of comparison, can result in exaggerations. If
not damned lies.

That is what is happening in Japan these days, folks. Be vigilant, because
years of repeated fearmongering about foreigners has now reached the highest
levels of government. A domestic policy watershed towards foreigners and
international residents may well be in the works.

Looks to be a long, hot summer.

Arudou Debito
July 30, 2003
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