Three residents with foreign roots have filed a lawsuit claiming Japanese police officers routinely target visible minorities with searches. In this week’s episode, we speak with the lawyer and one plaintiff about what prompted them to bring the case forward and what they hope to achieve with it.

Hosted by Shaun McKenna and produced by Dave Cortez.

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Transcript note: Deep Dive is made to be listened to, and we recommend this transcript be used as an accompaniment to the episode. This transcript has been generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcription, and may contain errors. Please check its accuracy against the episode.

Shaun McKenna 00:09

Welcome to Deep Dive from The Japan Times, I’m Shaun McKenna. Listeners, how many among you know the name Ana Bortz? Well, it was around 25 years ago that Bortz, a Brazilian reporter based in Japan, entered a jewelry shop in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, and was promptly escorted out.

Looking back through The Japan Times’ archives, I found this account by writer Toshi Maeda quoting Ms. Bortz as saying, “The owner was smiling at first and friendly, then asked me in English where I am from. So I smiled, too, and said I am from Brazil. The next moment, he came up to me with his arms wide open, saying that no foreigners are allowed to enter the store.” So, Bortz sued him for discrimination. Her lawyer, Hideyo Ogawa, pointed out that Japan was a signatory to international treaties against such forms of discrimination, including the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which was ratified in 1995. In his defense, shop owner Takahisa Suzuki said he had asked Ms. Bortz to leave because her behavior was “unnatural” and that he and his wife said their fear of crime by Brazilians was justified and hence did not constitute discrimination. In the end, Bortz won her suit. She was awarded $47,000 in damages. Shizuoka district court judge Tetsuro So cited Japan’s treaty obligations and stated, “This was an illegal act against an individual. Ejecting the plaintiff from the store merely because she was Brazilian was unfair.”

I bring this up because last month, three individuals with foreign roots and a combination of permanent residency visas and Japanese citizenship, decided that they too were being treated unfairly and filed a lawsuit against three police departments alleging racial profiling when being stopped and searched on the street. One of the plaintiffs claims he has been stopped somewhere between 70 to 100 times, sometimes while out with his Japanese wife. Today we will speak with one of the plaintiffs, Maruice Shelton, and his lawyer, Motoki Taniguchi, about their case and what they are aiming to achieve by suing for damages, like Ms. Bortz did, and, additionally, looking for an admission of guilt when it comes to how the police are told to deal with visible minorities in Japan.

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Before we get into this week’s discussion, a few notes for listeners. First of all, for those overseas, you will hear references to a zairyū card in today’s conversation. That’s an identification card that non-Japanese citizens are expected to carry on them when out and about in public. Japanese law states that noncitizens need to be able to show this card to police if they ask for it, tourists to Japan are told to keep their passports on them for the same reason.

Next, we reached out to the National Police Association for a comment on the lawsuit. When asked about the reaction to the suit itself, the NPA said that they had not yet seen the complaint and would refrain from commenting. When asked if they believed police officers were arbitrarily involved in the questioning of either foreigners or residents with foreign roots, the NPA responded, “We are not aware of any police questioning based on race, nationality or other reasons with discriminatory intentions. Under Article 2 of the Police Duties Execution Law, police questioning is conducted to individuals who are suspected to have committed a crime or about to commit a crime based on reasonable doubt, including abnormal acts or other circumstances.

“It is not conducted based on race or nationality (of the individual).”

So, joining me now in the studio are Maurice Shelton, one of the plaintiffs in the case.

Maurice Shelton 03:49

How are you doing?

Shaun McKenna 03:50

I’m doing well, thank you. As well as his lawyer, Motoki Taniguchi of the Tokyo Public Law Office. Hello Motoki.

Motoki Taniguchi 03:56

Hello, Thank you for having me.

Shaun McKenna 3:57

Thank you for coming. Motoki, let's start with you if that's OK, can you give our listeners a kind of summary of what this lawsuit is seeking and who it involves and what you're looking to get out of it?

Motoki Taniguchi 04:09

OK, so this lawsuit basically seeks to hold the Japanese police accountable for discriminatory questioning based on the appearance of a foreign roots. There are three plaintiffs in this case, one of whom is Mr. Shelton, who is here with me today — an American citizen. The other is Matthew, who is from a South Pacific island. He and his Japanese spouse have been living in Japan for more than 20 years. The other is Zain, who was born in Pakistan but has Japanese citizenship. So we have three requests: one is a state compensation for racially discriminatory police questioning, the second is a request of confirmation of illegality regarding systemic practice of racial discriminatory questioning, and the third is that request for confirmation of the state obligation to control and supervise police operations.

Shaun McKenna 05:06

OK, so your team has cited the Japanese Constitution in your claim as well as several international treaties that Japan is signatory to. Can you tell us how would racially discriminatory police questioning violate these treaties?

Motoki Taniguchi 05:18

I think the most important thing is the Japanese Constitution’s Article 14. Article 14 provides for equality before the law and expressly prohibits discrimination on the basis of a race. Factors such as race and nationality and the skin color is not indicative of criminal propensity. So therefore, there is no rationality in considering the appearance factors of foreignness for the purpose of crime detection. So this systemic practice makes people of foreign origin living in Japan feel as if they are not allowed to live in Japan. And that has a harmful effect of generating a sense of discrimination.

Shaun McKenna 06:05

OK, which goes against the Constitution. How about international treaties?

Motoki Taniguchi 06:09

Yeah, there are two international treaties that we cited. Japan is a signatory to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The treaty clearly states that racial profiling is a practice that has the potential to promote and perpetuate racist incidents and the racial prejudice and stereotypes. It runs counter to the very idea of the convention. So the second treaty is the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights. Article 26 states that all people are equal before the role and the entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law.

Shaun McKenna 06:52

OK. So, Maurice, I've been stopped by the police for questioning maybe twice during my years in Japan. The most recent one was when the current emperor was ascending the throne in 2019. I'm a white Canadian. I was told that my backpack looked big and they needed to do a security check because of that. And this was a Nerima, so it was pretty far from where the actual action was taking place in central Tokyo. Our producer Dave Cortez says he's been stopped and questioned maybe five or six times. How many times have you been stopped in your time here?

Maurice Shelton 07:25

So I've been here, going on about 10 years now. So what we've been saying in the press is about 16 or 17 times, but it's more times than I can count. Actually, if we count informally how police officers maybe stay a little bit too long and ask a question here. They're they're not officially detaining me. So I've been stopped several times — 17 maybe 18 times. Maybe more. And you mentioned, you're a white Canadian. I'm also a North American, but I'm of the Black variety. I am from the South, from College Park, Georgia. So I'm used to negative interactions with the police. That's the baseline for me. So whenever I had somebody tell me when I first came here to Japan, oh, I can ask for directions, I can use the police as a resource. I was just incredulous. I couldn't believe that the police acted in such a way outside of what I originally thought they were, which was just to be, you know, an everyday you know, irritant. So most of the times that I've got stopped, it was similar to your situation, if there was any type of big event like, so in this area, like we're passing the Imperial Household, so there's a lot of security in that area. So I've been stopped maybe three or four times in this area. And they'll just ask me the standard stuff like where are you going? What are you doing? I gotta check your zairyū card, we have to make sure that you're legally here, that you're not causing any trouble, that this card isn't fake, or anything that you can think of I've been asked. And it's been different degrees of politeness. I've complained to my friends and family about this, like, “Oh, I got stopped by the cops again today.” And they say, “Well, what did you do wrong, though?” OK, well, you're assuming there was wrongdoing on my end, which is already a symptom of what we're trying to combat is that the police are infallible or that the function of the state is that they are coming from a place of righteousness always. Where most foreigners, and most of the listeners here can tell you that a lot of times there's no rhyme or reason to the stop. It's like OK, you're a Nerima and the stuff that's happening that's supposed to be a security risk is 20 kilometers away. Why am I being stopped? You know, and it's mainly because a lot of the police officers that I've encountered in my over a decade of being here in Japan, they have nothing better to do. And they're pretty bored. My negative interactions jumped up after the beginning of the pandemic, where I'm just minding my own business, I'm just standing around, and they say, “Hey, what are you doing here? And I'm like, “Who? Me?” The police officers, as opposed to the Americans where they're automatically oppositional and they're antagonistic, some of them have been polite but they're still antagonistic in a very passive aggressive way. So it's still an uncomfortable experience where I have to waste time explaining why I have a book bag.

Shaun McKenna 10:38

Yeah. And they're being polite, as you said, 16 to 17 times ... and you said several, but that's many. But Motoki, the other plaintiffs in this case, how have they been encountering the police?

Motoki Taniguchi 10:51

Yeah. So regarding Matthew, he spent more than 20 years in Japan, he said he had experienced more than at least 70 times. And also, he had several questions during the same day, four times. Two times a day for four times. So recently, he was stopped while driving and he was questioned, and that he asked the police, “Why did you stop me? Did I violate any traffic laws?” The police said “no.” And he asked, “Was I suspicious?” The police said “no.” And then he asked, “Why did you stop me?” And they said,” Oh, because it's rare that foreigners are driving.”

Shaun McKenna 11:45

Wow, OK. Well, I was going to ask if we have any information on whether Black individuals in Japan are more likely to be stopped and possibly searched by police. But Matthew, is someone with Pacific Islander roots?

Motoki Taniguchi 11:57

Yeah. So actually, he has darker skin compared with many Japanese people. So there is research about questioning for foreign root appearance, and I think the highest rate among the variety of ethnicities, I think the people from South America have the highest rate of being questioned. So, of course, they have darker skin, compared with Japanese nationals. But the second is from Middle East and Africa. So the result of the survey showed that darker skin has kind of like a trigger for the police to stop people.

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Shaun McKenna 12:51

Maurice, I have to say, speaking to other people about this topic, and it's a topic that comes up a lot in circles of expats and immigrants and even among my Japanese friends, why come forward in public and take this action?

Maurice Shelton 13:06

Great question. “Why not now?” Like I've mentioned before in public, I took an opportunity. So when I saw the legal team that I'm with now searching for people that were willing to stand up, I couldn't not say anything. We had a meeting last week and somebody asked me, “Well, why did you stand up?” I say to anybody, I tell kids, younger people, and those that are disaffected, I've always been standing up is just about who's actually willing to listen. Anybody listening out there right now if you go through my social media, I've been talking about this for over 15 years, if we're talking about in a Japanese context. And all of us in this room have been immigrants at one point or another. And we're currently immigrants right now. The mentality that it takes to uproot yourself from what you know, as home or people that look like you or share a cultural background and cultural references and all that stuff, is actually a tough thing. This is not a pity party or anything like that. But like, for me to come to a different country, looking to make space for myself, and then have to run into the same kind of, excuse my French, bulls–t that I have to deal with in America, where just because I have darker skin or just because I have a certain hairstyle, I have to give up maybe 10% of my day. That's a lot of time, you know, that you might not have to dedicate to someone who doesn't really care about what you have going on in your life. So I said, “OK, enough is enough.” To address xenophobia, to address racism — especially antiblack racism in a global setting — it's my responsibility because I have people that look like me coming up behind me that will ask those questions: “Well, what did you do in that time when someone bullied you or tried to make you feel less than.” And then if I told those people honestly, well, I just sat around and kept my head down, because you know, it'll just blow over, it's not worth the time or effort, you should just get to work, you should just go about your day and everything will be OK. Because you know, the status quo is OK. I couldn't live with that. And I wouldn't be able to look at myself in the mirror or look at those people that respect me and look up to me square in the eye and say, you know, “I did my best,” you know, I couldn't abide by that. So I just said, “Yeah, let me do it.”

Motoki Taniguchi 15:34

But not all people are like Maurice. So, the lawyer’s group wanted to file the lawsuits maybe one or two years ago but we had trouble finding plaintiffs. Because, of course, many people experienced the same thing, however, they don't want to be targeted by the police or by the immigration office, and they don't want to have backlash from the public. This is, I think, the ordinary way of thinking, but the three plaintiffs finally stood up, finally voiced up to change the society for the next generations. I really respect their determined mindset.

Shaun McKenna 16:19

You had said that the plaintiffs were seeking compensation in the form of ¥3.3 million, right, and that for overseas listeners, that's equal to about US$22,000 each, but you're also seeking this admission of guilt by police in order to get them to institute changes to the way they conduct themselves with visible minorities. So first, how did you come to the ¥3.3 million figure for compensation?

Motoki Taniguchi 16:43

Yeah, so the first, regarding the amount of the money that we are thinking, maybe the people, many people who are used to hearing about the court news in the U.S. may think this amount is too low. Certainly, I think, too, this is not enough to compensate them, their loss, actually, their damages. However, Japan does not have a punitive damages system. The only damages that can be sought are actual damages that can be proven with some sort of evidence. So this is why we set this amount for the compensation. And, of course, that is their purpose and the plaintiffs' purpose, and our purpose is not getting the money from them. So if the court confirms the racial profiling is taking place in Japan and finds that it's illegal, that effect will be very great. Even if the amount of damages is small, the order will change the operation of the police in Japan. So that is our goal.

Shaun McKenna 17:45

OK, so what are the challenges you're facing with this case?

Motoki Taniguchi 17:49

The challenge of this lawsuit is whether judges understand that racial profiling actually exists? Because the police will say, “Oh, we don't have such a practice. We don't do such practice. We just question the people equally. So we don't discriminate people, we just question the people who look suspicious.” I think that will be their major claim. So the challenge is, is how we will present, how we will show, this practice actually exists. So after that, if the racial profiling exists, and the law clearly prohibits that, so I think it's easy to win. But the most important discussion, most important argument is about how to prove that is, that actually exists in this society.

Shaun McKenna 18:50

Right? Because that kind of feels like you're trying to get in the minds of the police officers who, you know, they say suspicious, but you know, what, are they basing that on?

Motoki Taniguchi 18:58

That's right. So that's why that we collect the internal documents, we submitted surveys and so the statistics shows that there is significant difference between the Japanese nationals and the foreign nationals. So we are collecting those evidences to prove that the practice actually exist, but the major argument will be around that issue.

Shaun McKenna 19:22

OK. You mentioned internal documents, what did you mean by that?

Motoki Taniguchi 19:27

So, there is a training manual for the young police, which is published by the Aichi Prefecture Police. It says, if you find some somebody looks foreigners and who cannot understand Japanese, you should have a strong belief that there is some illegal act with them.

Shaun McKenna 19:49

Right. So this is something that you were given by maybe a whistleblower or something like that.

Motoki Taniguchi 19:53

Actually, that document was provided to another lawyer, but he cannot disclose the source of the information.

Shaun McKenna 20:00

Right. When are you expecting this to actually go to court?

Motoki Taniguchi 20:05

Ah, the first hearing will happen April 15. So, we asked the court to use the biggest courtroom in Japan. So we call for people to come and actually see hearing to show how diverse our society actually is. So at 2 p.m., 4/15 at the Tokyo District Court.

Shaun McKenna 20:30

All right. If there's any other information that if people listening want to try to like find out about this case, where should they look for that?

Motoki Taniguchi 20:39

Yeah, so we actually do the crowdfunding for this lawsuit, because we want to have more surveys and more research, and we want to use that money for filing this lawsuit. So the crowdfunding is happening, the platform name is CALL4 — C-A-L-L and number 4 — and you can donate from that website. And also there is a petition collecting on the platform called, change dot O-R-G.

Shaun McKenna 20:40

OK. We'll put the links to those in the show notes.

Motoki Taniguchi 20:41

Thank you.

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Shaun McKenna 21:21

Actually, Maurice, I wanted to ask you about how the response has been to taking this role on, you talked about it a little bit before. We know by now that social media is not going to always be a positive place, but can you share with us any feedback that you've received from doing this?

Maurice Shelton 21:35

Yeah sure, so, when we talk about housing discrimination, when we talk about workers’ rights, when we talk about just general civil rights, or those, quote/unquote, microaggressions, I have those people who, for every intent and purpose, they look like a you know, nice little obaachan (grandma), that is harmless and they're very sweet to you when they know that you're a visitor — a temporary visitor. I have those type of people saying, “Oh, wow, good job on standing up, I'm with you 100% of the way ... but those darn Chinese,” you know, “We have to do something about those other foreigners that are making trouble, but you're one of the good ones.” I've had, I've had that interaction, but on the positive, on the positive side, I've had people that are looking to come to Japan because, you know, I'm sure because, you all are a news media outlet, the talks of the new digital nomad visa and the, you know, the expansion of foreign worker visas and all that has been a pretty hot topic lately. Many people have reached out to me on social media, and they say, “OK, well, I'm undeterred.” Because I've shared some of the hate and vitriol that I've received. Those people that have reached out to me, they say, “OK, I still believe that Japan is a great place to come and maybe build a life” to build a business or a family or just a future. Because we know about the population struggles here. So there is room for folks that want to come and, you know, start a new business or just start a new life. I've had many of those people come up to me and say, “Hey, I'm so glad that you're speaking up now. Because I have experiences, too. ... Don't, don't talk about me, in particular, because I have things to protect, but I'm so glad.” And that keeps me going, that puts a little bit of a battery in my back. But also I have people that are there asking me “OK, well, I want to join the fight now, you know, because now I know I'm not alone. I want to also add in the story of like, the time that I you know, I got discriminated against because I couldn't get into this restaurant, or I couldn't go to this particular bar. I couldn't live somewhere just because, you know, I don't appear Japanese.” And then to have people that look or talk, you know, share the same language as me, I have other Americans and other people that come from the English-speaking world say, “Oh, well, you know, you're in Japan. So you know, shogunai (it can’t be helped).” You should just take it, you're here, you're a guest. Well, we have to smash that mentality, too. Because a lot of times we think because of the fact that we're visiting somewhere we have to bow down and accept terrible behavior on the part of the host. Just because you're a host doesn't mean that you get to abuse your guest, you know, if we're talking about like, omotenashi (hospitality) and wabi sabi and all that stuff, well, you should be trying to make me feel welcome here if you think that I'm a perpetual guest here, but if you know, for example, I am not going anywhere, that doesn't allow you or give you the right to make my stay here as uncomfortable as it can be because we're in the same boat. Unfortunately for you, if you don't like foreigners, we're still in the same boat. Our futures are intertwined. So the people that understand that, are not willfully ignorant to that fact, they've been encouraging me. So it's not all been negative. It's been a up-and-down ride, but definitely the cesspool of social media has provided some gems for me.

Shaun McKenna 25:15

As it has for all of us. Motoki, as a Japanese person, why do you think other Japanese people should care about a case like this?

Motoki Taniguchi 25:23

So, I should introduce the story about Matthew. So he got married with a Japanese woman, his spouse, his wife, told me that Matthew just stopped smiling and laughing. He was very sociable 20 years ago, but then gradually he withdrew himself from the society. Of course, he go to the job and teach the student, and then come back to the house and never getting out because he doesn't want to be questioned, he doesn't want to be stopped. So of course, his wife was very sad about the changing, and she sometimes cries, you know, this is not the only for the foreign-root people, this is about the community. So every people has very important family members and the friends and the neighborhoods. If someone is hurt for this practice, I think the community, the whole community, will be ruined and it will be hurt, not only for the foreign-root people, but also the whole community should tackle with this problem.

Shaun McKenna 26:36

Right. What got you into this line of work?

Motoki Taniguchi 26:39

So, actually, that, after 10 years of practice in law, I quit being a lawyer because I was so devastated with the Japanese judicial practice. And then went to Detroit and help returning citizens from prisons as a social worker. So it was in Detroit. So I was so conscious about the racial issues, the people in prison are disproportionately African American. So I was so sensitive about the racial issues. However, I didn't notice that that is also happening in Japan. After returning to Japan, the racial issues actually exist, but just invisible. The people deny that, “Oh, we don't have racial issues.” So I just want to try to make people be aware that there is racial issues, and that actually it harms people's dignity. So after coming back to Japan, I realized that “Oh, this is what I should take. So that's why that I kind of taking this case.”

Shaun McKenna 27:51

This is the path you should take. For people listening, and this can go to either of you, do you have any tips on what someone should do if they find themselves in an encounter like this with the police? So for example, I was told that you shouldn't raise your voice, because that's kind of seen as aggression, or can be legally viewed as aggression.

Motoki Taniguchi 28:14

So, basically, you don't have any legal obligation to answer the question. However, you have an obligation to show you zairyū card, if you are requested. There are a little bit of discussion about whether they're asking is illegal or illegal, but however, it's safe that you should show your zairyū card, your passport when you are requested.

Shaun McKenna 28:38

So usually it's your passport if you're a tourist, right, but the zairyū card is something that people who live here get, to show their ID

Motoki Taniguchi 28:46

Yeah, that's correct. But that's all after that, without any court order, you don't have to answer the question. Of course, you can, you can cooperate with that, but you don't legally have to. However, please don't touch the police.

Shaun McKenna 29:04

Don't touch.

Motoki Taniguchi 29:05

That's right, because they say they pretend to be hurt, sometimes, this is a very ordinary way to arrest people

Shaun McKenna 29:20

Ah, right. European soccer rules.

Motoki Taniguchi 29:21

Yeah, right. Right. That's correct. However, if you don't touch the police, it's OK to go away. And also the video recording is allowed. Sometimes the people, the police will stop, “Oh, please don’t record that,” but they don't have any right to stop it. So you are allowed to ignore them, you are allowed to go away. However, from the police side, it becomes the evidence that you are hiding something.

Shaun McKenna 29:54

Right. So you're allowed to kind of not answer the questions, but then they take that as a saying that you're hiding something. Motoki Taniguchi 30:02

Right, right. So the people know that and so people usually answer and follow their order.

Maurice Shelton 30:10

Yeah, so my answer is counterintuitive. So I've run the gamut of responses because I think I shared this with many people, you know, you, you look back and you're like, you think, “Well, how could I have handled this better, like, I should have done that, or I had a witty comeback. And like, Man, I should have just let em have it.” I've gone through all of those things. So there's been situations where I just, I gave up and I just showed my card, and I just didn't want any trouble — even though I didn't do anything wrong. There's been other times, I was maybe about 50 meters away from Shibuya Scramble and I was completely yelling at the cop. And there was one of the situations where I got let go without a ticket, and I was ready to pull out my phone and start recording him because he pulled me over for I don't know what reason except for me being, you know, a long-haired, dark-skinned person on a motorbike. A police officer who has the authority of the state behind him or her violating your constitutional rights. Well, I should document this because most of the stories from the time, the first time that I came here in 2010, up until now, when I told like, rank-and-file, just regular Joe Schmo Japanese people about the times that I've gotten harassed or unfairly targeted by the police, they say, “Oh, wow, I can't believe that. Never. I never thought that that would happen to me, you know?” And it's like, OK, well, you have that privilege not to understand that there's an undercurrent of abuse, and mistreatment of marginalized people. So I tell them, I use any tool that I have at my disposal to prevent my abuse, or to prevent my further mistreatment. So I pulled out my phone a few times and that saved me from having to go down to the courthouse or go down to the koban (police box), and explain myself further or paying a ticket. So I tell anybody that's listening, if you feel that it's safe and there's no imminent danger of you being physically detained or being harmed, then pull out your phone and record it, because a lot of times people won't believe you, they're invested in not believing in you.

Shaun McKenna 32:20

Yeah, it kind of drives home the idea that you could be dealing with individual police officers who act differently depending on the mood they're in, right? And a set of guidelines will at least standardize these procedures across the board. So perhaps you don't get one person being stopped twice in 20 years, and then another person being stopped twice a day for 20 years.

Maurice Shelton 32:39

Yeah, and to anybody that says that, you know, it's never happened to me, and you know, you're just dealing with a bad apple. Well, the saying goes, well, one bad apple doesn't spoil the whole bunch — but really, does it? Think about it, if you go to the store, and you're you're looking for the discount, and you see like a spoiled mikan or a spoiled apple in the bunch in the little plastic bag, do you just throw that rotten one out? Or do you look through all of the other pieces of fruit to see if there's any mold or any other rotten factors? Right? So I want people, like, especially like those who think that this case is not going to go anywhere, to understand that this is just one step. This is just the first step in an ongoing effort to combat that way of thinking that Japan is completely separate from the world and that the rules of the world and the universe don't apply to Japanese society and Japanese people. It's like no, where people just same as anywhere else. Anywhere else. There's no, there's no special rules that apply just here.

Shaun McKenna 33:42

Actually, touching on that there's this perception by some Japanese people that foreigners are committing more crimes on average. But you found out that's not the case, is that right?

Motoki Taniguchi 33:51

No. So we actually research the white paper about the crime in Japan. But definitely the proportion, the rate, the crime rate was at exactly the same rate compared with Japanese nationals and the foreign-root people. The crime rates of the Japanese nationals is 0.15% and it was exactly the same percentage of the foreign people, foreign nationals, 0.15%.

Shaun McKenna 34:22

Right. So it's the same. I'm going to wrap up here. Maurice, can you give us your courtroom drama-style closing argument?

Maurice Shelton 34:30

Know your worth. Know that you have value as a productive member of society here. Japan needs you so don't don't cower in fear. Know that you, you have so much more to offer than just a verdant glance, or, you know, kowtowing to the status quo. To those who think that it's OK to bully others, it's OK to keep your foot on other people's necks. Hey, we're coming for you, man. We're coming for ya.

Shaun McKenna 35:00

All right, Maurice Shelton and Motoki Taniguchi, thanks very much for coming on Deep Dive.

Motoki Taniguchi 35:04

Thank you so much.

Maurice Shelton 35:05

Thank you very much.

Shaun McKenna 35:11

My thanks again to Maurice and Motoki for joining us on today's episode. I'm joined now by Deep Dive producer Dave Cortez. Dave, what's your weirdest stop-and-search story by the police?

Dave Cortez 35:22

Hmmm, I probably would say the time I just walked out of a station exit with my girlfriend and there were just two police officers standing nearby. And they took one look at us and just immediately targeted me — right next to my girlfriend who is Japanese. She got very mad, she was like, “Why are you doing this?” And they're like, “He's a foreigner. Well, we want to know why he's here and where he's going.” And so, you know, listening to what Maurice says about, kind of, no rhyme or reason, that definitely rings a bell.

Shaun McKenna 35:48

Well in December of 2021, after one of these stop-and-searches of an American with dreadlocks went viral on social media. The officer in that case had said he associated dreadlocks with drugs. And so that's why he searched him. But after that the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo issued a statement saying racial profiling was suspected to be a problem in Japan. And following that statement, there was some effort by the National Police Agency to investigate themselves on whether those practices were rampant in their ranks. And in November 2022, they said they were able to only find six such cases.

Dave Cortez 36:23

Yeah, Motoki Taniguchi. The lawyer was asked about that during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan and he said those numbers didn't match up with the number of people who responded to a survey by the Tokyo Bar Association of people who said that they had been targeted by police. So it will definitely be an interesting case to watch, though a decision won't come out for a while.

Shaun McKenna 36:43

That's true. While you're here, Dave, would you like to tell our listeners what's coming up on Deep Dive?

Dave Cortez 36:49

Well, we're going on the road, in a sense, not like a tour or anything.

Shaun McKenna 36:53

Yeah, that’s right, we'll be taking the podcast gear down to Okinawa to do some recording, which means we won't be airing a new show next week. But look forward to some Okinawa based reporting soon. I'd like to say that we're reporting on the beach situation, but we actually have work to do.

Dave Cortez 37:08

Yeah, and likely new episodes will be coming out sporadically as we handle that and the slew of obligations we have at the end of the fiscal year.

Shaun McKenna 37:15

Yeah, that's annual health checks to take, visas to renew ... I gotta binge “Shogun” ... March is just as busy as December. In the meantime, anything catching your eye in the news, Dave?

Dave Cortez 37:28

Well, listeners of the show may remember that I'm a baseball fan. And we've had a few articles come out in the wake of Shohei Ohtani’s big marriage announcement. Jason Coskrey wrote about that and how Ohtani has mastered the media, Mai Yoshikawa wrote about how parents in Japan can raise their own little Ohtanis, and Yukana Inoue had a fun piece about what the engagement (marriage) of Japan's most eligible bachelor means to people who live here.

Shaun McKenna 37:51

Cool. We'll put links to those stories in the show notes. Deep Dive is, as always produced, by Dave Cortez the ending music is by Oscar Boyd and the theme track is by Japanese musician LLLL. I’m Shaun McKenna, podtsukaresama.