Sunday, June 11, 2006

The talent that the Japanese media has to manipulate public opinion is amazing. I suppose that this goes on everywhere, but it is so bold and open here as to be shocking at times.

When Livedoor's Horie was arrested, there were constant leaks for the prosecutors which prejudiced the public opinion of him to that of guilty. He had no chance to defend himself, nor did his lawyers get much air time to do so. His reputation has been destroyed by the government with the support and assistance of the Japanese media (which most often has no choice but to support the government position because of restricted access to kisha, the press clubs.)

Last week, a woman was arrested and charged in the death of a young boy. Her daughter had died in April and the police attributed it to accidental drowning. She was not satisfied with that explanation and wanted further investigation, but they closed the case.

A month later, one of her daughter's friends, a young boy, was found strangled. She has been charged in his death---or at least with illegally abandoning a body. It is a sad story, it seems that she was depressed with her daughter's death and killed the boy because she couldn't stand to see other children living happily when her daughter was dead. That is her explanation.

There is no excuse for what she did, but the media has pulled out all stops to vilify her. Earlier, they had staked out her house expecting her to be charged in the crime. Naturally, there were tens of dozens of noisy, nosy reporters there and she became upset at their presence. She went outside and questioned them as to why they were there and asked them to leave or to move away.

This is something anyone, guilty or not would be likely to do, but now they repeated air the images of her while she was upset at the reporters. This tends to make her look like and evil nutcase. Perhaps she is, but I believe that is what courts are to decide based on evidence.

In Japan, the vast majority of people charged in a crime are convicted. It used to be a 99% conviction rate. Damn, those cops are good. Most convictions are based on confessions obtained under long severe interrogation sessions (Amnesty International has long condemned this practice, but frankly, most Japanese, especially the government does not give a damn about it.)

There is bail available, but it is rarely given prior to confession. People simply spend months in a "detention center" under interrogation without being offered bail and with restricted access to an attorney.

All of this is well-known, but it is still surprising to me to see the obvious kowtowing of the supposedly "free" press doing the government's dirty work without question. Just suppose that this woman (or Horie) is innocent and that her confession was forced and false. It makes no difference, her reputation and future has been destroyed. She was assumed guilty as soon as she was arrested. Period. That is the way it goes here, and very few people see anything wrong with it.

It turned out that this women did kill both children, her daughter and the neighborhood boy.

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