Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Take a leak for group accountability

Although I have found it to be personally counter-productive to spend much time focusing on discrimination---I know its around, and seeing and experiencing it at times is more than enough without reading about it every day---I can't help but to learn about some of the new tricks that our friends in the government are doing in order to help foreigners behave themselves.

Debito Arudou* has written an article for the Japan Times concerning a "crackdown" in Roppongi in which non-Japanese (and perhaps some Japanese too) are being persuaded to pee for the boys in blue to prove that they aren't dopers. Of course, this seems to go against common sense---how can anyone be non-Japanese without doing drugs?

Naturally people have rights. After all, this is a democracy, not a benevolent police state run by some of the most incompetent goofs on earth. Debito was able to interview a very busy servant of the people (I am maybe going a little too far here by claiming that non-Japanese are people in the same way that Japanese are, or that a bureaucrat is serving anyone except himself or his department, but as usual, I digress.) and in a reluctant response to Debito's questions, our fearless sit-on-the-old-kiester-all-day-in-a-koban fellow clarified our rights should we be asked to whiz for him:
  • Urine tests are only done "when necessary."
  • Only folks who "look wasted on drugs" will be tested.
  • Urine samples are only taken "after persuasion, never under threat." (See your real rights here.)
Naturally, we can assume that the urine samples are properly taken and tested and a strict, verifiable chain of custody is followed. Of course, you will be able to challenge these tests, and the police will have to support the procedure in your case in a impartial hearing in a court of law. The fact that you are a foreigner who probably comes from a place where everyone uses drugs, will not be prejudice anything.

I don't really know, but since I used to be very much involved in finding drugs and drug users, some of this seems just a bit questionable. No, not that I doubt that the persuasion will be done without threat: After all, wouldn't a few kind words be enough to get anyone to urinate in a cup? Maybe they could say something like: I'll pee too, if you will. Or perhaps a contest: I bet I can pee more than you! Or perhaps---for men---they'll offer to hold it for you. None of these are threats and there are even more possible ways to politely persuade.

The problem is, what if you are persuaded by the kindness, sincerity, and unquestionable integrity of the investigating officers, and the test comes back positive? A false positive. Whatcha gonna do? Hire a good lawyer who will be able to successfully defend you in court?

Seems the US military went through this sort of thing years ago and got a number of false positives. After they fined, incarcerated, or discharged the "guilty" they found that there had been problems with the testing. Oops! Had to offer to let them back in the military and upgrade discharges to honorable. Things improved as time went by, but those tests have never become infallible. (I am sure the criminal justice system in Japan realizes that and is taking steps to prevent false arrests/prosecutions.)

And really, what does a person who is wasted on drugs look like? Could someone wasted on the drug known as alcohol look and act similarly? Ahh, but the odor of alcohol would be present, and the use of one rules out the other. How about certain medical conditions? Never mind, let's not worry about these things as the police are trained professionals and a mistake here would hurt them more than you.

Unfortunately, I rarely go to Roppongi---especially since the US Embassy warned us about the place. I'd think the best thing to do now is to avoid it entirely (including Roppongi Hills and the other over-priced shopping areas there.) I am sure that the merchants, bar-owners, and massage girls, would prefer not to get money from the type who frequent Roppongi.

Oh, and speaking of competent law enforcement and government, it seems a school boy stabbed another school boy to death on a train platform with a 17cm knife. This was the same day that the ban on double-edged knives with blades longer than 5cm went into effect. Who could have foreseen that?

*I know the fellow is controversial and that he is not perfect. I have even read that he thinks Japan is the US---although not from his writing. However, he is one of the few who are actually trying to do anything about discrimination in Japan. Others write books excusing it.

No comments:

Post a Comment