Saturday, June 17, 2006

Imprisoned for dancing

This sort of stuff scares me about living in Japan. The police have completely draconian powers, and routinely hold suspects for up to 3 weeks - completely incommunicado, their families often don't even get told what has happened - on any completely trivial charges while they try to coerce the victim into signing a confession. Conviction rates are about 99%, by the way.

In this case, the offence was that a bar owner didn't have the correct set of licenses for late-night dancing. So this apparently warranted 60 policemen storming the bar on a Saturday night, harassing all the foreigners who happened to be there, and imprisoning the owner for 10 days. I understand the standard treatment in Japan for suspects is several days of sleep deprivation, and interrogation with threats. And this guy got 10 days of it for a technical licence violation. It doesn't seem overly cynical to suspect that his real crime was the posession of a Peruvian nationality.

I suppose the majority of Japanese shrug their shoulders and assume it will not happen to them (and of course they are right). Perhaps it's not so different to how things are heading in the rest of the world. Indeed, you could perhaps argue that it is still better here - at least they didn't shoot him, beat him up, or kidnap him and send him abroad to be tortured. But still, it leaves me feeling somewhat uneasy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

...or shoot him

take your pick of NYC examples, but here's one: