Sunday, October 31, 2004

Scary Ignorance

This article is from PIPA's website (www.pipa.org). This is the article that the next post in this blog is supposed to link to (but doesn't).

Bush Supporters Still Believe Iraq Had WMD or Major Program,Supported al Qaeda

Agree with Kerry Supporters Bush Administration Still Saying This is the Case

Agree US Should Not Have Gone to War if No WMD or Support for al Qaeda

Bush Supporters Misperceive World Public as Not Opposed to Iraq War, Favoring Bush Reelection

Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points.
Similarly, 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Here again, large majorities of Kerry supporters have exactly opposite perceptions.
These are some of the findings of a new study of the differing perceptions of Bush and Kerry supporters, conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes and Knowledge Networks, based on polls conducted in September and October.
Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments, "One of the reasons that Bush supporters have these beliefs is that they perceive the Bush administration confirming them. Interestingly, this is one point on which Bush and Kerry supporters agree." Eighty-two percent of Bush supporters perceive the Bush administration as saying that Iraq had WMD (63%) or that Iraq had a major WMD program (19%). Likewise, 75% say that the Bush administration is saying Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda. Equally large majorities of Kerry supporters hear the Bush administration expressing these views--73% say the Bush administration is saying Iraq had WMD (11% a major program) and 74% that Iraq was substantially supporting al Qaeda.
Steven Kull adds, "Another reason that Bush supporters may hold to these beliefs is that they have not accepted the idea that it does not matter whether Iraq had WMD or supported al Qaeda. Here too they are in agreement with Kerry supporters." Asked whether the US should have gone to war with Iraq if US intelligence had concluded that Iraq was not making WMD or providing support to al Qaeda, 58% of Bush supporters said the US should not have, and 61% assume that in this case the President would not have. Kull continues, "To support the president and to accept that he took the US to war based on mistaken assumptions likely creates substantial cognitive dissonance, and leads Bush supporters to suppress awareness of unsettling information about prewar Iraq."
<<>>
This tendency of Bush supporters to ignore dissonant information extends to other realms as well. Despite an abundance of evidence--including polls conducted by Gallup International in 38 countries, and more recently by a consortium of leading newspapers in 10 major countries--only 31% of Bush supporters recognize that the majority of people in the world oppose the US having gone to war with Iraq. Forty-two percent assume that views are evenly divided, and 26% assume that the majority approves. Among Kerry supporters, 74% assume that the majority of the world is opposed.
Similarly, 57% of Bush supporters assume that the majority of people in the world would favor Bush's reelection; 33% assumed that views are evenly divided and only 9% assumed that Kerry would be preferred. A recent poll by GlobeScan and PIPA of 35 of the major countries around the world found that in 30, a majority or plurality favored Kerry, while in just 3 Bush was favored. On average, Kerry was preferred more than two to one.
Bush supporters also have numerous misperceptions about Bush's international policy positions. Majorities incorrectly assume that Bush supports multilateral approaches to various international issues--the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (69%), the treaty banning land mines (72%)--and for addressing the problem of global warming: 51% incorrectly assume he favors US participation in the Kyoto treaty. After he denounced the International Criminal Court in the debates, the perception that he favored it dropped from 66%, but still 53% continue to believe that he favors it. An overwhelming 74% incorrectly assumes that he favors including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements. In all these cases, majorities of Bush supporters favor the positions they impute to Bush. Kerry supporters are much more accurate in their perceptions of his positions on these issues.
"The roots of the Bush supporters' resistance to information," according to Steven Kull, "very likely lie in the traumatic experience of 9/11 and equally in the near pitch-perfect leadership that President Bush showed in its immediate wake. This appears to have created a powerful bond between Bush and his supporters--and an idealized image of the President that makes it difficult for his supporters to imagine that he could have made incorrect judgments before the war, that world public opinion could be critical of his policies or that the President could hold foreign policy positions that are at odds with his supporters."
The polls were conducted October 12-18 and September 3-7 and 8-12 with samples of 968, 798 and 959 respondents, respectively. Margins of error were 3.2 to 4% in the first and third surveys and 3.5% on September 3-7. The poll was fielded by Knowledge Networks using its nationwide panel, which is randomly selected from the entire adult population and subsequently provided internet access. For more information about this methodology, go to www.knowledgenetworks.com/ganp.


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Political Animal by Kevin Drum

Washington Monthly
October 21, 2004
GEORGE BUSH AND HIS SUPPORTERS....The good folks at
PIPA have yet another interesting report out. The primary gist of the report is that when
it comes to foreign policy, Bush supporters have a much worse grasp of factual
matters than Kerry supporters. It's worth reading, and yes, it's sort of scary,
but I have a sneaking hunch that exactly the opposite might be true on some
domestic issues. So I'm going to leave that alone for now.
Instead, take a look at this table that deals not with factual matters, but with whether Bush
and Kerry supporters even understand their own candidate's positions:

Issue:
1. Labor and environmental standards in trade agreements. (Oct.)
Bush: opposes Bush supporters who correctly perceive Bush: 13%
Kerry: supports Kerry supporters who correctly perceive Kerry: 81%
2. Participation in Land Mines Treaty.
Bush: opposes Bush supporters who correctly perceive Bush: 20%
Kerry: supports Kerry supporters who correctly perceive Kerry: 79%
3. Participation in treaty that bans the testing of nuclear weapons.
Bush: opposes Bush supporters who correctly perceive Bush: 24%
Kerry: supports Kerry supporters who correctly perceive Kerry: 74%
4. Participation in the International Criminal Court. (Oct.)
Bush: opposes Bush supporters who correctly perceive Bush: 38%
Kerry: supports (*) Kerry supporters who correctly perceive Kerry: 65%
5. Participation in the Kyoto agreement on global warming.
Bush: opposes Bush supporters who correctly perceive Bush: 39%
Kerry: supports (*) Kerry supporters who correctly perceive Kerry: 74%
6. Building a missile defense system. (Oct.)
Bush: build now Bush supporters who correctly perceive Bush: 47%
Kerry: research only Kerry supporters who correctly perceive Kerry: 68%
7. Defense spending.
Bush: Expand Bush supporters who correctly perceive Bush: 57%
Kerry: keep same Kerry supporters who correctly perceive Kerry: 43%
8. Who should take the lead in Iraq on writing a new Constitution and
building a democratic government.
Bush: the US Bush supporters who correctly perceive Bush: 70%
Kerry: the UN Kerry supporters who correctly perceive Kerry: 80%
(*) supports in principle but wants to negotiate terms for US involvement.

That's pretty remarkable. There are only two issues on
which even a majority of Bush supporters know Bush's actual position. As the
PIPA report puts it, "Apparently in the absence of evidence to the
contrary, Bush supporters assume Bush feels as they do."
That seems to be at least partially true, and it's been the essence of George Bush since 2000. He won the primary and the
election that year by being the friendly face of movement conservatism, a guy
who seemed much more moderate than he really was. And now, even four years
later, he still looks to his supporters much more moderate than he really is. If
the electorate understood just how conservative Bush really is, he wouldn't have
a snowball's chance of winning the election this year.
What's more, this goes beyond George Bush: it's actually one of conservatism's greatest
weaknesses. On a wide range of issues — the environment, Social Security,
Medicare, abortion, and so forth — conservatives are unable to get support for
their actual positions, so they're forced to couch their conservative policies
in surprisingly liberal terms. We're environmentalists! We want to save Social
Security! We're tolerant of gays!
In the long term, though, this is disastrous, since eventually they'll either have to surrender and adopt genuine liberal policies or else come clean about their conservatism and get swamped at
the polls.
But that's for the future. In the meantime, the compassionate
conservative schtick is working pretty well. I wonder how much longer they can
pull it off?


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Saturday, October 30, 2004

Life After Baseball

Yakult secured second place behind the Dragons. That means that the Giants slipped to third, and that is the only reason why I'm happy with second.

The Dragons went on to lose the final two games of the Japan Series at home. The Seibu Lions walked all over them in the final game--very similar to the ease with which the Sox dismantled the St. Louis offense in game 4 the other day. There are now sales as far as the eye can see at Seiyu (same parent company as the Lions), so I'm happy with the result. The win brings badly needed attention and revenue to the Pacific league.

There's only one more game this year. I paid five thousand yen for a nose-bleed seat at Tokyo Dome when the American All-Stars make it over here next weekend. My prediction is that the Japanese team will wipe the floor with the Americans. I imagine that Ichiro, Matsui and a couple of the guys who played in the World Series will have good showings, but aside from that there won't be a whole lot to write home about.


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Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Rain

It's been drizzling all day long, and the Yakult--Yokohama game got cancelled again. I think it's the third time that they've had to reschedule this game.

I spent all day in the studio again today doing another extra's job. This time it was for NTT Flet's, and they kept us there way longer than was necessary. We're going to get cut out of just about every scene anyway, so I figure that we spent at least two hours too long doing the same scenes over and over again. My goal for next year is to increase the number of print jobs that I land. I want to keep beefing up my portfolio.

More rain slated for tomorrow.


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Sunday, October 10, 2004

Near Miss

The typhoon hit eastern Tokyo yesterday evening. We got some strong gusts, and plenty of rain, but no damage that I've noticed so far. Apparently there was a lot of destruction out towards Chiba. It seems like the typhoon travelled right up the bay, drilling Yokohama, Disneyland and the Funabashi area in the process.

The biggest typhoon to hit Tokyo in more than a decade was just a bad storm from our vantage point. I hope that there wasn't too much flooding around the Yamanote loop!


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Saturday, October 09, 2004

Typhoons and Stuff

Haven't experienced the true force of a typhoon before. T-minus one hour and counting... The electricity is probably going to go soon, so I thought I'd get one of these fired off before that happens. The news says that this is one of the more powerful ones to ever bear down on Tokyo. Oh, joy.

The Swallows are in second and battling to hold off the stupid Giants. There are a few games left, so it could go either way.

Not too long ago I heard 'no' on about three or four auditions in a row. However, things have picked up again. I just got the last two jobs that I tried out for. The law of averages is a wonderful thing.

The misinformation campaign has entered its final stages, and the American people are probably very used to getting lied to by now. Whether or not that means that their instincts to ask more difficult questions, and demand straight answers, have been sharpened has yet to be seen. My ballot should be arriving in the mail shortly. Not that it matters. I'm from Vermont. Back home, phrases referring to something that 'swings' are usually descriptions of people's dating styles.


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Saturday, September 25, 2004


Yong-nam, Arata and Junko at the dinner table. Good food and way too much to drink for everyone involved. It's nice having an apartment big enough to have people over every once in a while. Posted by Hello


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My cricket partner, Yong-nam, watching from the kitchen. Posted by Hello


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How is it possible that we're losing? Posted by Hello


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Arata tossing a spear. Posted by Hello


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5 minute break. Too much sam-gyeop-sal, kim-bap, kimchi, soju and beer to deal with at one time! Posted by Hello


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Junko and Arata during the darts game in the living room. Posted by Hello


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Hiroshima 6--Yakult 3

The Swallows have been playing quite well as of late, but the result of this afternoon's game just shows you how even the teams in the Central league are this year. Chunichi is in first, but they haven't exactly been drilling everyone into the ground this season. They've just been slightly more consistent than the rest of the division.

Hiroshima and Yokohama, the two teams bringing up the rear this season, can take any of the other teams in the division down on any given night (as is evidenced by the fact that the Baystars are currently up 12 to 6 against the Giants at the ugly egg next to Suidobashi station.)

Hiroshima undid Yakult's momentum by holding the first three batters in our order hitless. It was a bit of a disappointment, it reduced us to 8 wins and 2 losses in our last 10 games, but hopefully we'll have our bats working again tomorrow evening. As long as the Giants don't wake up from the beating that they're currently enduring, we'll be able to hold on to sole possession of second place.

...............

Furuta sent one yard, his first in a while, and many probably saw it as a bit of a celebratory blast. He finally got a couple more concessions from the owners as the voluntary leader of the players union, and the strike's damage has been limited to only one weekend of games. The Kintetsu-Orix merger will go ahead as planned, and a new team will be allowed to enter the league in order to bump the number of teams in the Pacific division back up to six. The new team will reportedly have first dibs on the players given up by the two teams that are being merged.

On a separate note: Furuta definitely deserves the league MVP honors this year! He's 39, has hit well above .320 all season, is a CATCHER!!, and marshalled a common voice from the players in order to pressure the owners into some concessions. As I said before, he volunteers as the spokesman for the player's union, and I've never seen a player get so much love from opposing fans every time he steps on the field.


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Monday, September 20, 2004

Yakult 4, Hanshin 3

Shaky pitching (as usual) but we got the runs when we needed them. Iwamura is back in the starting lineup, but it's obvious that he's not able to get up to full speed. I think his leg is hurt. He hit a two run homer tonight--number 41 for him this year. Miyamoto also parked one in the bleachers in the bottom of the first.

I was informed by Tetsuya (and everyone else in section D) that the interview from last week was on TV yesterday. They said it was 30 or 40 seconds long. They must not have had very much else to go on if they didn't feel the need to whitle my interview down to about a 5 second clip. They probably had to put Japanese subtitles at the bottom of the page. This is what he's trying to say...

I've seen the Swallows win 5 games in a row. That's is far and away a record for me! Oops, I probably just jinxed the team by writing that.


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Saturday, September 18, 2004

Teaching in Japan

Getting a job here as a teacher isn't easy. Correction: arriving here on a tourist visa and getting a job isn't easy. Or at least it wasn't as easy as getting a job in Korea was. Before landing a job in Korea I talked on the phone with another teacher at the school precisely twice before signing on the dotted line. That was back in 2000, and I was basically interviewing him--it was possible to get several job offers within a couple of days.

In Japan there's an over-saturation of native speakers of the English language. Most people suffering from the lack of an MA or PhD (plus publications!) end up going through the large, chain English schools. Shane, Aeon, Berlitz, Nova, Geos and ECC are some of the more prominent ones. Teaching conditions, and they vary from branch to branch, aren't that wonderful. Some chains have more stringent hiring policies, but a number of knuckleheads manage to infiltrate every system.

I have one of those Cambridge-issued CELTA TESOL teaching certificates (which, I might add, are not the easiest things to get ahold of). All that was good for was an extra 3,000 yen per month (US$30) and an extra long interview. They seemed to be concerned that I might not be willing to swallow their one-size-fits-all methodology, or follow instructions from my superiors. I was eventually given the job, and everything went well. I understand that it is much, much easier to get a job over here by going through one of their overseas hiring centers.

Many instructors more experienced and qualified than myself have had to go the 'eikaiwa' (English conversation school) route. I am of course speaking exclusively about the teaching scene in Tokyo. I have no knowledge, or stories, of the way that things work in slightly less urban areas of Japan. What I can say, however, is that you shouldn't come here looking for work unless you have A LOT of money with you. It took me exactly two weeks to secure a job offer. Some will be awarded one more quickly than I was. Others will not.

Aside from paying for food and housing, I had to head to Korea in order to get the visa nailed into my passport. I'm not sure that this is absolutely required, but I have been told that it's the quickest way to start work. All told, I started work about six weeks after first arriving in Japan. That's a long time to be on an unpaid vacation in the most expensive city in the world!


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Babysitting 4

Ruka, Yasu and Michiko's daughter, has been spending time with us recently. She's about the same age that Miyu was when we first started hanging out. She's adorable, and she seems to be quite a bit different from Miyu in a number of areas. She seems a little tougher, and she eats a ton!

I hope to get Miyu to take some responsibility for Ruka's English education. It might be a good way to get Miyu to use English a bit more--if I can figure out how to do it. Ruka and Miyu get along really well. Ruka doesn't totally trust me yet, but that will come.

Miyu just turned three! She also graduated from diapers to big-girl underwear. I don't remember how long I wore diapers for, but I don't think it was three years. Yukiko says that children these days don't feel any rush to abandon them due to the fact that they're so comfortable. I guess most materials would probably be easier to deal with than the cloth diapers that many of us were subjected to.

As for her English, she is able to produce full sentences quite comfortably. She doesn't do it without prompting, but she is more confident than she used to be. Her listening comprehension is also quite strong now. She can handle most situations, although expressions involving 'probability' are sometimes a bit much for her to handle. We recently had an argument when I suggested that it 'might' rain soon. She went on and on about how it wasn't raining right then... I think she finally got the picture when I took her outside and she saw how dark the sky looked.


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Friday, September 17, 2004


Karaoke in Tanashi. Originally intended to sing a duet, but someone pushed the wrong number. What language is that? Posted by Hello


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Rick James, The Ramones, Dolly Parton...Dan knows 'em all. Posted by Hello


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(l to r) Kiriko, my fiancee, Kelly, me and Dan. Posted by Hello


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My good friend Kiriko and her boyfriend, Tadahiko (aka. Kanepyon). Posted by Hello


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Dan playing the drums in Akihabara. Posted by Hello


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Dan standing in front of the gate Posted by Hello


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Waiting in line for supper at a monjayaki restaurant. Why am I always on the left, and Dan on the right? Posted by Hello


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Dan and I heading down tourist lane in Asakusa. Posted by Hello


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Green Tea ice cream. Yum! Posted by Hello


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Swallows 8, Baystars 3

The Swallows swept the Baystars this week. That makes it four wins in a row for Yakult, and five out of the last six (we'll just forget about that nasty, lop-sided loss to the Giants at the dome last Saturday).

On a sour note, it appears as though Iwamura is injured. He pinch-hit last night, but he didn't start. Ramirez, on the other hand, continues to be a consistent bright spot for the club. He has hit home run after home run for the past month. It also appears that someone in the front office has lit a fire under Suzuki. This man is well-known as the laziest first-basemen in the world. This Wednesday he actually stole second base!

For some reason TV Asahi wanted to interview me before the game yesterday. I told them that I don't speak much Japanese, but they either didn't believe me or didn't care. They physically blocked my path to the stadium, and I ended up answering some questions about the strike and baseball in general. I wasn't able to say everything that I wanted to, but I got a few of my ideas across.


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Thursday, September 09, 2004

The Elderly

Japan is a granny and gramps country. The aged are everywhere, and they enjoy the quiet life that can be found here on this set of islands. Earthquakes come and earthquakes go, and so do the old folks on bikes. No wonder they live for so long--they ride their bicycles until they're well into their 80's!

They don't get a whole lot of respect here from the young though. I recently went back to Korea for a short visit, and I noticed a huge difference in attitude. On the trains, for instance, the seats reserved for the elderly, injured or pregnant are usually filled with people at all times of the day here in Japan. Young people rarely think twice before popping a squat. In Korea, however, people will often stand rather than occupy a reserved seat, even if there doesn't happen to be anyone around who might need to sit down.

The influence that Confucianism has on Korean society is well documented, and this is just one reflection of it. Despite the amount of pride taken in the longevity of Japanese seniors, it is interesting to witness the indifference to their comfort that exists here within the younger populations.


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Monday, September 06, 2004


Papa Kim and I before the pitcher arrived. Posted by Hello


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Yong-ho, Mama, Yong-nam, Papa Kim and I having a post-karaoke drink. Posted by Hello


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Papa Kim, Yong-nam, myself and Mama succumbing to cheap beer. Posted by Hello


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Me and Mama Posted by Hello


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Japan's 1st Baseball Strike

It appears that a work stoppage is about to doom the rest of the season here. The players are doing the right thing by sticking up for themselves. Something--no, MANY things--need to be done to get this league on track. The players have the overwhelming support of the fans in this country. Unlike the MLB strike back in the 90's, this strike isn't about the players' salaries. Well, at least not directly.

Due to some of the most inept business practices one can imagine (next to no interaction between the players and the fans, non-existent marketing, etc.), the majority of the ballclubs in this country are struggling to make ends meet. Most of the teams are thought of as advertising for the parent company, and little is done to attract new customers to the ballpark. A lot of the rules governing the way that baseball is presented to the public are also partly to blame for the current mess. Several parent companies are trying to find ways to dump their respective baseball teams, and one of the solutions that they've come up with is merging clubs.

The Orix Bluewave and the Kintetsu Buffaloes, both from the Pacific league, are preparing to do just that. Those two organizations are also planning to send 100 players and personnel packing without a second thought. This is one of the main reasons that the strike is now an issue. If the owners approve the merger, which they are expected to do later this week, then the strike will take effect this weekend. Inter-league play and equal television rights for all baseball teams could have helped avert this problem if they had been instituted a decade ago, but long-term business strategies do not seem to be part of the everyday thinking that goes on in the front offices of these struggling ballclubs.

I have tickets to the game on Sunday. It was supposed to be my first trip to Tokyo Dome. I guess I'll have to find something else to do that evening. J-League...? Nope. I'm not that desperate.


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Sunday, September 05, 2004

Swallows in a Tailspin

We've just finished losing a whole mess of games to the two worst teams in the Central League. I don't know what's going on. It's really embarrassing.

With the strike looming, it may not matter all that much. However, it sure does hurt when your starting pitchers can't button down the first inning. In the last six games, if memory serves, we gave up two or more runs in the top of the first at least three times.

I'm planning on going to the Tokyo Dome for a game this Sunday. Hopefully we can clean up our act before then.


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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

More Abuse from the Authorities

'I want to clear my name and the name of my country'
High-profile arrest, low-key release spells disaster for Bangladeshi businessman and his compatriots living in Japan.
By TONY MCNICOL

One morning Islam Mohamed Himu woke up to find the Japanese media camped outside his home, and plainclothes police officers banging on his front door.
Islam Mohamed Himu says that he has "lost it all" since his arrest. "I am zero... no, not zero, minus."

"They arrested me in front of my wife, in front of my children. My wife was crying, my daughter was crying, I was crying. I told them 'you have made a mistake' but they arrested me by force."

So began a Kafkaesque ordeal for the 33-year-old Bangladeshi. The morning of his arrest he woke up the proud father of two young children and a successful businessman. Twenty-four hours later he was being interrogated in a police cell and the world's media were linking his face and name with international terrorism.

Himu wasn't to see his wife, son and daughter for another seven weeks and one day.
He was interrogated from morning till night 6 days a week, first in Kanagawa, then for 20 straight days without a break in Tokyo.

During that time, the media speculated excitedly (and wrongly) over the reasons for his arrest: that Himu was an al-Qaeda cell leader; that he was a money launderer and spy for the terrorist organization. Yet when Himu was released he was charged with nothing more than employing two illegal aliens, and was fined 300,000 yen.

Yet the confirmation of his innocence was met with a deafening silence from the very same media that had loudly relayed details of the police's investigation.

He says that his business has been destroyed, his reputation left in tatters. "I can't even send anything by express mail. I try to use my company's name and they say they cannot do business (with me). People still think I am in al-Qaeda."

The first hint Himu had that something was amiss came about a week before his arrest when a TV crew turned up at his office with a photograph of a man they wanted to know if Himu recognized.

Himu remembered him only as "Samir," a man he had met at a mosque in Gunma Prefecture in 1999.

In fact, the man in the photo was Lionel Dumont, a French national suspected of being linked to al-Qaeda and attempting to set up a terrorist cell in Tokyo.

Dumont had lived freely in Japan for several years before being arrested in Germany and extradited to France and was one of several hundred customers for Himu's pre-paid telephone card business. Himu says he had no knowledge of Dumont's alleged al-Qaeda links.

Himu's lawyer, Takeshi Furukawa believes that "the police neglected Mr. Himu's human rights, and publicly announced the allegation of his being a member of al-Qaeda to the mass media, though this allegation was completely unrelated to the reasons given for his arrest."

In short, Furukawa says that the police deliberately leaked details of their investigation to the press and implied that Himu was guilty.

The question is why?

Furukawa believes it was an attempt to save face on the part of the police.
The police had been shown up by their failure to apprehend Dumont -- and apparently even to know that he had been in Japan. "It was probably a complete loss of face for the police," he says.

"They had to show the public that they were dealing with foreigners properly as well . . . the police used the media."

On the day of his arrest, the Asahi Shimbun reported on the police's investigation of Himu's office opposite Yokosuka base.

The article had a surprisingly detailed account of the police's actions: an unnamed source in the Kanagawa police was quoted as saying that a foreigner had been seen observing the U.S. naval base through binoculars from Himu's fourth floor office -- something Himu's lawyer dismisses as "completely made-up."

Himu says he chose the location in order to sell phone-cards to soldiers and other foreign nationals at the base, and that, in any case, the view of the base from his office is almost completely obscured by a signboard.

The police for their part have issued a statement to the media saying that "an appropriate investigation took place in adherence with the law."

But Himu's arrest didn't just mean personal disaster for him.

In the following weeks, hundreds of Bangladeshis in Tokyo were singled out for police attention on account of their nationality. And members of the Bangladeshi community say that the numbers of illegal Bangladeshi workers arrested and deported in June was some three times the average monthly amount.

"The police just shut their eyes to the illegal workers because they are necessary to the economy, but when something happens they crack down," says Monzurul Huq, a Tokyo-based Bangladeshi journalist. "Bangladeshis were very afraid the whole time Himu was under arrest."
Since the Japanese media has largely left reports linking Himu to al-Qaeda uncorrected, Japanese people who knew relatively little about Bangladesh in the first place, now associate the country with terrorism.

"Japanese people know that Bangladesh is a poor country and that they are sending Bangladesh help, but suddenly Bangladeshi has been tainted with al-Qaeda."

The problems started the day after Himu was arrested, says Bangladeshi businessman Dulal Chowdhory. "One of my staff's mother came to the office and said her daughter would stop working (for me) because maybe Bangladeshis are involved with al-Qaeda."

Journalist Huq organized a news conference to help Himu tell his story to the Western media, but he questions why the Japanese media has largely failed to correct their mistakes. "No one has apologized . . . is it because Himu comes from a poor third world country?"

Himu says that when he calls friends and businesses connections they ask him not to call again, fearing trouble from the authorities.

His 3-year-old daughter is still has been affected by the shock of seeing 14 police officers enter their home and take her father away by force. Himu's mother in Bangladesh has been sick in hospital since she heard of his arrest.

"I lost my trust, my company. I lost the company I named after my son," says Himu. "What money I had, I lost it all. I am zero . . . no, not zero, minus."

Yet, one Bangladeshi friend has some cold comfort for Himu. Despite his ruined livelihood and reputation, it could be worse, she says.

"At least he is free. If they had found anything at all they thought was suspicious, he could be in Guantanamo now."

Send your comments to: community@japantimes.co.jp
The Japan Times: Aug. 31, 2004(C) All rights reserved


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Sunday, August 29, 2004

Swallows Claim Sole Possession of 2nd Place!

The game scheduled for tonight has been called off due to that typhoon-thingy that's slowly tumbling north. However, the previous two games, on Friday and Saturday, resulted in wins for the home club!

The Swallows beat the Giants 6-3 last night, and 6-4 the evening before. Ramirez has picked up the pace over the past 10 days or so, and he hit a long-ball during both of the wins this weekend. Dobashi is another highlight this month. He's now hitting around .330, and he's taking care of business at second base.

Ishii and Miyamoto are now back in town after their little swing through Athens (no comment), and that should help shore up our relief pitching and fielding, respectively. Now if we could only get Suzuki to stop being so lazy while playing first base...

The Yakult Swallows have won 14 of their last 19 games! There's still a lot of baseball yet to be played, and there are a good number of us from Section D who think that we've got as good a shot as anyone this season.


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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Justice...Still a Few Months Away

I've bumped into my friend, the one who has been dealt a low-blow by the police in this city (Tokyo, Japan), a couple of times since he was freed on bail. It seems that the right to a speedy trial is not something that is on the books here. He's yet to witness a day in court that has amounted to anything that might be called 'progress'.

There have been reports that corrupt police officers around the country have taken to making up incidents, and filing the required paperwork, so as to inflate their own job-performance records. I have no idea whether this is a related incident, but it's definitely food for thought.

My prediction is that this one could drag on for a bit. Trials in Japan don't involve juries, and the number of hearings that are required to complete a court case is astronomical. As I mentioned in my last post, this friend of mine is incredibly fortunate to be able to afford a lawyer. It is my guess that very few foreign detainees are so lucky. There is also that often overlooked number, 99. This number is the percentage of cases taken up by a prosecutor in Japan that result in a conviction.


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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

How the Tokyo Mitropolitan Police Deals With People From Out of Town

This is a story about a friend of mine here in Tokyo who was thrown in jail for being from the wrong country. It was recently revealed in the media that the police found a connection between a French national who had lived in Japan for a year and al-Qaeda. They scoured his old phone records and threw about five other guys of middle eastern descent in jail.

My friend, Ghadir, was not one of those men of course. He's a permanent resident here who attends (minor oversight by the prosecution) a Christian church and works as a translator in the court system. He knows his rights as a resident of this country, and he was determined to get the fair treatment that he is entitled to.

Ghadir is very lucky. He has a lot of friends here, and a good support structure. I'm pretty sure that he'll come out OK despite Japan's 99% conviction rate for cases that go to trial (yes, you read that number correctly). He's also very lucky because his family was able to help him post five million yen bail!

My question is--how many other men are locked away in jail right now because they happened to be from the middle east and got caught in the Setagaya police's fishing expedition? My guess is that most of them don't have the large contingent of friends and supporters that Ghadir is blessed with. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

The following is an article from today's Japan Times.



CONFRONTATION THAT GOT OUT OF HAND
Iranian's charge of brutality vs. word of police

By HIROSHI MATSUBARA
Staff writer

Jailed for two months and charged with obstructing justice, Ghadir Esmaeili, a 34-year-old Iranian permanent resident in Japan, claims he's a victim of police brutality, although other than his damaged eye he lacks damning visual evidence like the notorious video footage of L.A. police beating Rodney King.

Ghadir Esmaeili, an Iranian on trial for obstructing police, explains to his lawyer Tsuguhide Suzuki how he was roughed up by officers from the Setagaya Police Station on April 4.

Esmaeili claims he was confronted by police, was roughed up even though he was cooperative, and was allowed to leave but was then placed into the system when he vowed to lodge a complaint.

Setagaya police meanwhile have an array of claims against him, ranging from allegations that he shoved a sergeant, even in the presence of more than a dozen other officers, that he appeared to be high on drugs, although this was never substantiated, and that he identified himself as a member of al-Qaeda who had a bomb in his car.

Esmaeili's troubles began shortly after noon April 4 in a parking lot in the Taishido district of Setagaya Ward, where he had driven to visit his girlfriend's apartment.

Two Setagaya Police Station officers, including Sgt. Toshikazu Suzuki, initially confronted him and demanded to see some identification, allegedly because he was acting suspiciously. Later that day, he found himself under arrest and facing charges of obstructing police. He also claims he was beaten repeatedly before his arrest.

"I acted calmly and fully cooperated with police. They were the ones who became rude after they learned I am Iranian and one-sidedly beat me," said Esmaeili, a translator who came to Japan in 1991 and lives in Higashi-Murayama, western Tokyo.

"This is how Japanese police view foreigners, especially Iranians, who in their minds must either be drug dealers or some other type of criminal," he added.

A Setagaya police spokesman declined comment on the case, saying the matter is pending before court.

Following his arrest, Esmaeili was held at the Setagaya Police Station for nearly two months and is currently on trial before the Tokyo District Court. He claims that during his incarceration, he was questioned by police for only two hours and by prosecutors on two other occasions.

In their opening statement in May at the start of Esmaeili's trial, prosecutors claimed he refused to comply when two patrolmen, including Sgt. Suzuki, asked him to show his passport in the parking lot for a housing exhibit at around 1 p.m. on April 4.

The prosecutors further claimed that Esmaeili later threw his alien registration card at the officers, grabbed Suzuki's uniform by the chest, shook him violently and ran away, shouting obscenities.

According to the indictment against Esmaeili, the patrolmen caught up with him 30 minutes later aided by a dozen other officers, but he continued to act violently, pushing Suzuki in the chest.

Esmaeili, on the other hand, claims he realized that defying police would only cause more trouble and that he fully cooperated when the two officers questioned him, immediately handing over his alien registration card and driver's license.

Esmaeili told The Japan Times that when the officers realized he is Iranian, they asserted that he therefore must be a drug dealer. He claimed they then pinned his arms behind his back, and punched him several times while heaping insults on him.

According to Esmaeili, the two officers backed off when he told them he would call the Iranian Embassy. He claimed he then walked away, but more than a dozen policemen later flocked to the area and searched his car.

The officers found nothing illegal, he said, noting the officers then told him he could go. But about an hour later, after he accompanied them to the police station and threatened to complain to their chief about the violence inflicted on him, he said he was instead placed under arrest.

Although the two initial officers reportedly claim it was Esmaeili who was violent, he is the only one who apparently sustained an injury, and he was never charged with assault.

Following his release, a doctor determined that Esmaeili had suffered serious damage to the optic nerve of his left eye.

Other aspects of Esmaeili's case are questionable.

He said that after his encounter with the two patrolmen, he was able to place nine calls with his cellular phone, including a complaint he lodged with the Metropolitan Police Department after he arrived at the Setagaya Police Station -- a move not usually allowed a criminal suspect. His cell phone records apparently back up his claim.

Esmaeili further claimed he was able to drive his car from the lot to the police station, giving four officers a ride in the process.

"Police later came up with the story that Esmaeili violently obstructed police out of a desperate attempt to cover up their abuses," argued lawyer Tsuguhide Suzuki, who is representing Esmaeili.

"Esmaeili's arrest and lengthy detention also appear to be aimed at teaching a lesson to those who defy police, especially foreigners," the lawyer said.

Sgt. Suzuki testified in Esmaeili's trial on June 30, reiterating his claim that it was the defendant who consistently acted in a violent manner while he and the other officers tried to calm him down.

When asked why he thought Esmaeili was acting suspiciously in their initial encounter, Suzuki said the defendant avoided eye contact and was holding a video cassette that he suspected contained illegal stimulants. Suzuki admitted, however, that these circumstances would not ordinarily prompt him to question a passerby.

He also claimed he had learned from experience that foreigners often carry weapons, noting it is a common notion among police that foreigners require "special handling" because they are usually bigger than Japanese policemen.

Suzuki also claimed Esmaeili threatened him by shouting that he was a member of al-Qaeda and had a bomb in his car. The sergeant added that he felt "there is a cultural difference (between Japan and Iran)" and also that he thought Esmaeili must be high on drugs.

Esmaeili denies he made any such assertions.

The Japan Times: July 7, 2004


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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Swallows 6 -- Giants 4

We won! We finally won! I screamed my lungs off, and we held on for the win. It was a bit of a home run derby there for a while! I think four of our guys hit one yard today.

I've decided to stop yelling so much at Petagine when he comes to the plate. He still feels too much at home when he visits Jingu, and he regualarly hits one out of the park. I yelled several impolite things at him on Saturday, and as usual he parked one in right center. On Sunday I kept my mouth shut, and he didn't have that much impact on the game. I will test this theory further and report back.

Aside from Uehara, the Giants' bullpen is pretty thin. They've got a bunch of goofy guys in their who aren't nearly as effective as their salaries suggest they should be. Not that I'm complaining or anything...


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Saturday, June 26, 2004

Swallows 2 -- Giants 8

It happened again. The Swallows beat the crap out of the Giants last night, but we got blown out this evening. I still have yet to witness a game where the monopoly is cut down. They threw Uehara at us tonight, so that didn't help. And Billy Martin helped a few runs come around with his less than stellar work in right. To his credit, he did have a couple of base hits, but then he whiffed with two men in scoring position during the middle innings.

I'm going back for more tomorrow. Hopefully the weather will hold, and I'll get to see the Swallows beat them with my own two eyes. One question...has anyone in this country ever heard of a salary cap?


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Thursday, June 24, 2004

Sunburns

Just received my second burn in one week. All it takes is a half hour under the sun, and I'm bright pink. The temperature is confidently above 30 degrees centigrade these days, and I think it's about to get worse. We've got the door open, and the fan pulling cool nighttime air in, but it's not doing much. It's still 29.5 degrees in here next to the computer.

The air conditioning nazis on the second floor at work won't relinquish their control of the AC on our floor. They keep a slow trickle of chill coming out of the vents, and it does nothing to cool the rooms that we're in on the fourth floor. They sit at desks all day, so they're apparently just fine. I would really love for one of them to come upstairs and teach a class in that heat. The students are dying as well! Apparently they're trying to conserve resources. There aren't any hand dryers in the bathrooms either. Towels? Yeah, right. They're probably planning to ration toilet paper next.

SPF 20 sunblock isn't enough to prevent the sun from having a BBQ on my body. I need nerd-care, SPF 40, I guess.


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Sunday, June 20, 2004


Lake Sai. Summer, 2003. Miyu and her father, Masaki. This house was designed by Uncle Yasu. It's beautiful! Posted by Hello


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Rash of Photos

I just felt like posting a bunch of pics from the past 12 months, so it now takes twice as long to scroll down to the bottom. I wish there were some other way to organize photos on here. There probably is, but it would most likely take too long to figure out how to do it.

I'll be doing more mass-postings of photos in the near future. It's so easy to do, so I might as well...


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Trip to Itou. April, 2004. In search of food, we find a creature who was also on the hunt. Posted by Hello


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Trip to Itou. April, 2004. Back at the hotel, watching the game. Chunichi vs. Yomiuri. I'm visibly bummed because it looks like the Giants are going to win. Little did I know that Alex Ochoa was about to ruin Yomiuri's night with a 9th-inning dinger. Posted by Hello


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Trip to Itou. April, 2004. Kelly goofing around under a Cherry tree. Posted by Hello


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Trip to Itou. April, 2004. Cherry trees, clean water and no people near our hotel (Harvest Club). Posted by Hello


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Trip to Itou. April, 2004. Kelly standing on a bridge that sways in the wind. Pacific Ocean on the left. Posted by Hello


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