Debito Arudou’s July 1 Just Be Cause column, “July forecast: rough with ID checks mainly in the north“: Arudou claims he was stopped at Chitose Airport (Sapporo) last month merely for being “Caucasian.” Yet, on his own Web site, Arudou admitted that he had “hung around” and had a tape recorder already recording! He posted photos of the police that he took from the shelter of the baggage-claim area. In other words, he was not some “innocent pedestrian” grabbed by an overzealous policeman; he was fishing for trouble.

It is a shame that Arudou chooses to further distort the facts by claiming that Japanese police enjoy “unfettered power” — even though the police have been repeatedly and increasingly called to task by the courts — and that there is “insufficient media scrutiny.” The media in Japan regularly champion the cause of standing up to police and governmental excesses. If there is insufficient media scrutiny, it is of Arudou’s outlandish claims.

Every Group of Eight summit in recent memory has had problems with protesters and complaints of overzealous police. Last year’s summit in Germany had more than 16,000 officers and 1,000 troops mobilized, and a 12-km wall built around the town. Police detained more than 1,000 protesters and expelled hundreds. Dozens were detained the previous year in Russia, hundreds the year before in Britain, which also used a special law to conduct random stops and personal searches.

Perhaps these countries as well should be banned from hosting international events. Or perhaps it might behoove individuals to act like responsible adults and not loiter around airports acting suspiciously by taking pictures of police during a time of increased security.

lance braman

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