From: Peter Rivard
Date: Fri Aug 30, 2002 6:24:08 PM Japan
To: Newsletter

Subject: Staples of Japanese News

Hi, all,

You may remember what a big deal was made about an apology when the US sub sank a Japanese fishing boat a couple of years ago. Confession and apology are very big here--and when someone is arrested, there is usually a confession, which always include the motive. I've been told that getting caught puts one outside the social system, which is unbearable for many in a world where your entire identity depends on your position within the system, and confessing and apologizing puts one back inside--at least, by following the rules, the criminal is taking a step back toward society. This may be why rapists and murderers, especially of children or women, routinely get very short or only suspended sentences (except every great once in a while someone gets life or even death). When the confessions are translated into English, the tone is usually pretty strange. Although people describe their feelings and motivations, their confessions, no matter how sentimental in content, come out as very matter-of-fact in English. The confessions usually seem to follow the same few formulae; I suspect they're scripted by the prosecutor.

The (office sugar poisoning) suspect reportedly told police: "I hate my work and thought if I created an incident, I might be able to quit the company."

"I have been planning to do a robbery; I'm out of a job and I'm having a hard time," Hosokawa allegedly said.

Chiaki Ushirono, a 47-year-old assistant police inspector, initially denied but later admitted to the theft, saying, "I did it because nobody would know it, since no one was around." (to a charge of "stealing merchandise coupons from the home of a theft victim while conducting an investigation there.")

Tanaka said he ordered branch officials in late October to pass off the beef as domestic so it would be eligible for the subsidy program "because we had excessive inventories at that time. I ordered the disguising," Tanaka told reporters in front of the branch office. "There was no instruction (to do so) from the parent company."

Police quoted Koike as saying that she had stabbed her daughter because she was pessimistic about the girl's future.

Sometimes, a bit of feeling seeps through. My new favorite confession is from a guy who's been haunting train station mens' rooms for years to watch men use the urinals before "he finally went a step too far Tuesday, embracing a 19-year-old man who had just finished urinating. Fujii, arrested for assault, admits to the allegations. 'He looked so lovely standing there after he had finished his wee that I simply couldn't resist giving him a cuddle,' the old man told the police."

But lest you think it's all bad in Japan, there are still days with so little major crime that the following can be headline news in a national paper (note that ¥3000 yen is about $25):

100 watermelons stolen from field in Kanagawa Pref.

Monday, August 12, 2002 at 09:20 JST
YOKOHAMA One hundred watermelons with a retail value of around 300,000 yen have been stolen from a field in the town of Tsukui, Kanagawa Prefecture, police said Sunday.

The 73-year-old owner of the field found his watermelons stolen Saturday morning when he visited the field to take them, the police said. The man planned to sell the watermelons at about 1,000 yen each on the street against a retail price of 3,000 yen. (Kyodo News)


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