A Murder Case that Could Spell Trouble for Foreigners
Thursday, December 1, 2005 Posted: 01:08 PM JST
On November 22 the body of a 7-year-old girl was found in a cardboard box in an empty lot in Hiroshima. It looked like just another horrifying murder of an innocent little girl. Japanese media were as usual in a feeding frenzy, making the most of this terrible tragedy. Tuesday night a man was arrested for the murder. He is non-Japanese and the media are doing their best to amplify this fact.
"I saw a "henna gaijin (strange foreigner)," tells one resident of the area where the girl's body was found to a Japanese TV reporter. "Recently a lot of foreigners have moved in and it is scary," says another on TV. "I saw him talk with a little girl and assumed she was foreign, too," says another, implying all kinds of things.
Alarmingly, all broadcasting stations, including staid NHK, identify the suspect by his first name, which is thoroughly non-Japanese, "Carlos", instead of his Japanese family name, "Yagi". It indicates clearly that they are amplifying his foreign nationality.
News reports are beginning to mention now that Yagi is probably not a third generation Peruvian Japanese, as he claims to be, but a Peruvian who used fake registration papers to enter Japan as an immigrant of Japanese descent.
The Yomiuri Shimbun reported today that "an official of the Peruvian Foreign Ministry in Lima said Wednesday that the man is suspected of having had resident registration in Peru under two different Peruvian names, an indication that he may not be of Japanese descent."
Each and every account plays on the fear of foreigners, and the fear that uncontrolled immigration is upon Japan. This is on top of a new law that obliges hotels and inns to copy the passport of each and every non-resident visitor. It is reported that this law is already being misused to require identification papers of all "foreign-looking" visitors.
There is a very real possibility that this murder case may give ammunition to those forces in Japan who want more control over "foreigners". It can be easily milked to feed the universal fear of foreigners. Expect at the very least a rush of news reports about immigrants from countries like Peru and Brazil who have faked their Japanese ancestry. This would probably be followed by stricter regulations and checks for such applicants.
What comes next, is impossible to say. But as a longtime resident of Japan, this case makes me feel extremely uncomfortable. First, of course, because of the murder itself, but then because of how the media are handling the defendant and his nationality. He has not been found guilty yet by a court of law, but the news reports have already crucified him. And their news reports make it sound like it is his nationality that is the most important factor of the crime.
Keywords: national_news opinion_item
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