Terrie's Take 417 -- What if you land in jail? ebiz news from Japan
terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Mon Apr 16 07:24:13 JST 2007
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A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.
General Edition Sunday, April 15, 2007 Issue No. 417
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- Candidate roundup/Vacancies
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+++ WHAT'S NEW
Ten days ago, the foreign Vice President of Dior Japan and
his wife were charged with possession of drugs here in
Tokyo. Apparently he tried mailing cocaine from a Paris
address to his home in Tokyo and Customs tipped off the
Police. The Police raided his home and arrested his wife
after finding cannabis resin in the family refrigerator.
The Police arrested him later in the day. From all accounts
they are a normal expatriate couple and although their
alleged actions were thoughtless, this must have been a
terrifying couple of weeks for both of them.
On questioning, the Dior executive apparently told Police
that he thought the cannabis must have been left by
visiting friends, and it wasn't his. However, after being
shown the evidence of the self-mailed cocaine, Police say
that he admitted that he had in fact sent the cocaine
while traveling. After that admission, whether or not the
cannabis was also his was a moot point.
The Times article that we sourced details for this story
from also speculates that there have been a spate of drug
deaths by foreigners here in Tokyo. We've heard the same
rumors, of top traders in several leading investment banks
having drug-fueled parties and suffering the consequences.
It seems that drugs and the various "ills" of the West
have come to Japan as part of the current investment boom
by foreign firms in Japan.
We thought this news item brings up a very good question.
Imagine for a minute that there was no cocaine component to
all of this, and that the only drug found in the
executive's fridge had been cannabis. Further, what if he
had been telling the truth that the cannabis really wasn't
his? What if at his last home party an ex-employee (or
ex-girlfriend) had slipped the drug into the fridge and
tipped off the police to settle a grudge? Or, what if
friend passing through from drug-tolerant Europe "forgot"
that Japan hates western drugs? Despite being innocent in
such scenarios, it's hard to imagine that he would have got
off with anything less than what he is getting now.
The point we're making here, is that in fact it is not that
hard for anyone, including a senior expatriate executive in
a prestigious company, to fall on the wrong side of the law
-- whether through misjudgment, vindictiveness by another,
or simply by accident. Breaking the law has consequences
anywhere, but here in Japan the system is a lot harsher and
you are more likely to be convicted if the Police want it
that way. Thus, we wouldn't wish the experience of arrest,
much less imprisonment, here on anyone.
And it's not just drugs. There are all kinds of innocent
mistakes you can make as a foreigner in Japan and not find
out until later that you're facing prison time. For
example, a traffic accident where although you took all
precautions a speeding motorcyclist or an unthinking
pedestrian suddenly appeared in front of you and died in
the collision. As the car driver, chances are that you will
be considered responsible.
Then there is trespass -- whether a bar or club in Hokkaido
that doesn't want foreign patrons or an alienated ex-spouse
in a divorce case denying you access to the kids.
Troublesome foreigners are easily dealt with under this
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Other examples include Immigration violations --- where
after getting busy at the office you forget for 3-6 months
that your visa has expired -- it's easy to do. Or Aids -- a
disease which if not bad enough in itself, will also result
in your probable deportation once the authorities hear you
are testing positive for it. And of course we should not
forget to mention the aftermath of natural disasters
(earthquakes, tsunami) where you may be trying to get help
but have language problems and foreigner phobia to deal
Where do you turn to to get help in such situations? You
may think none of these things will ever happen to you, but
then, we all have life insurance -- just in case...
Although there are various organizations helping the
Japanese in their own homeland, there are precious few for
foreigners to turn to in case of emergency, regardless of
whether you speak Japanese or not. One service which is
very visible in Tokyo, though, is the Tokyo English Life
Line (TELL), which has a mental health focus and thus
offers a good range of "lifestyle services" for
non-Japanese. TELL has a call center at 03-5774-0992 and
you can get help with counseling, child protection, and
finding other NPOs to help with more specific problems.
Another organization that bridges the foreigners-in-Japan
divide to some extent -- but only for natural disasters,
is the Red Cross. Although mainly a Japan-focused
organization, they have a good track record of attending
disaster sites and have more than 5,000 volunteers in 470
teams available. We're not sure if this is enough manpower
to deal with a major earthquake in Tokyo (remember, not
"if" but "when"), but coupled with the likely response of
the Japanese armed forces, the Red Cross will at least
provide some local international support. Being a member
costs just JPY500, so it's worth considering them for a
donation. Check out their website at:
But while both of these organizations do excellent work in
their own fields, there is one more which we would consider
to be the "organization of last resort for foreigners"
(although it also caters for life style problems as well),
and that group is JHELP. A non-profit run by Ken Joseph Jr.,
JHELP has been around since 1975 when Joseph and 3 buddies
formed the organization while still studying at college in
the States. The initial focus was to help Japanese
traveling in the USA, but grew to include other countries
then eventually non-Japanese in Japan. Back then if you
stepped outside the normal limits of being a visitor in
another country, without sufficient language skills, you
soon found out the hard way that there was no safety net.
Now, 32 years on, JHELP is a call center, a disaster relief
team, a troubleshooting task force, and a network of
supporters spread around the world. Although it may not be
as well known to non-Japanese as TELL nor as big as the Red
Cross, Founder Ken Joseph has helped so many people in
trouble, he is known to foreign embassies, the police, the
courts, and even the Ministry bureaucrats as the "go-to guy"
for foreigner-related troubles.
Joseph carries multiple cellphones with him and can expect
to get calls pretty much any time of the day and night.
There isn't much that Joseph hasn't been asked to take care
of. Dead bodies needing to be transported home, earthquakes
(JHELP was the first private relief organization to arrive
after the quakes in Kobe in 1995 and more recently in Noto
just last month, and of course foreigners in jail for drugs
We asked Ken Joseph to give us a taste of what he does on
the front line, where the most difficult of the 1,000 calls
a day into his call center filter through to him and
require his personal attention.
His response was as follows: "It is late at night. A
western embassy has called to ask us to bail out one of
their nationals. I make a trip to the Police Station where
the person is being held and carefully negotiate with the
police to ensure the individual is not arrested. I agree
with them to give that person somewhere to stay for the
night. The next day JHELP contacts family members to
arrange a flight home, makes a call to one of the helpful
airlines for special airfare assistance, then we make a
trip to Western Union to pick up the funds wired by the
family. As soon as the person is on their way to the
airport, I receive a call from another foreigner - this
time a regular person living in Japan -- a teacher being
racially harassed by some unpleasant local officials. I
make a quick call to the police, a Diet Member, then a
few important `friends` and the problem is solved. THEN,
the same day, I get a call from a Japanese traveling
overseas who was involved in an accident and urgently needs
help in the location he is stranded in..."
Ah, yes, the vagaries of human life.
JHELP's constituents are foreign travelers and residents
in Japan and Japanese traveling and living overseas. This
is a broad spectrum of people and needs. As a result the
organization is necessarily diverse and multi-faceted. To
maintain a stable level of service, and to provide a
service which is actually useful, you need a human dynamo
and Ken Joseph is just such an engine. Indeed on meeting
him, you find that he is a study in determination, purpose,
and belief that he and his team can make a difference.
Ken Joseph was born and raised as a non-Japanese in Tokyo
and is fluently bilingual. He went to school at Biola
University in the USA and has degrees in Communications
and Intercultural Studies. He is an adjunct professor at
Chiba University and is currently working on his Doctorate
in International Relations. Clearly he has worked hard to
gain the credentials one would expect in a quality NPO,
but this doesn't mean that he is the quiet doctorly type.
As mentioned, Joseph is at the bleeding edge of helping
people out, and in the process has created many
innovations in the NPO sector which are just now starting
to be adopted by his peers. JHELP was first to create a
co-branded credit card to provide donation flow, first to
provide free overseas telephone support for Japanese
travelers, and first Japanese non-government NPO to to
start fielding Japanese teams to visit disaster spots
As a result of these types of achievements, he is
probably better known to the Japanese than those of us in
the foreign community and appears regularly on TV and radio
(he has a regular program), as well as writing for
newspapers. He has published 10 books in Japanese and the
most recent, "I Was Wrong", is about the war in Iraq and is
going to be published in English later this year.
"Iraq?" you ask? Well Joseph also has the unique claim of
being one of the few Japanese permanent residents whose
family comes from Iraq, from a northern town called
Mahoudia. Due to this most unlikely of connections, in the
last four years he has not only been helping Japanese and
foreigners living abroad, he has also been playing a role
on the global stage. At the highest levels, he interacts
with government ministers and congress members from
Japan, the USA, and Iraq, helping to formulate programs
which can help pull Iraq out of the morass it is currently
But back to more mundane matters here in Japan. No
Non-profit Organization exists through sheer will alone,
and Ken Joseph's JHELP is no exception. Thus we wish to
make an appeal to readers to consider contributing a little
to your own "insurance" policy while in Japan, by helping
out JHELP. Just in case life becomes a little weird or
JHELP offers three levels of donation programs. You can
donate from your credit card by going to:
then clicking on the MAKE A DONATION button. This will take
you to the TSFM donations page on Paypal. In the
"Payment For" box, type the kind of donation (more details
below) you're making, and if a Supporter Donation then also
your email address.
Just a word about using Paypal, you might want to leave the
"country" field until last, as Paypal insists on replacing
the screen with Japanese once it finds you in Japan. If
you feel that this all too hard, then simply email Ken
Joseph's team at team at jhelp.com and provide your details to
The 3 types of donations are:
1. Thank You Donation. Typically around JPY1,000-JPY3,000.
This helps JHELP continue its good works -- the Help Desk,
the disaster relief team, and the special requests team.
Simply type "Donation" in the "Payment For" box, the amount
and your credit card details. Yes, we made a donation.
2. Supporter Donation. Typically around JPY10,000-JPY20,000.
This enables you to identify yourself to JHELP and they
will send you a contact card with a priority call-in
number. Put the card in your wallet and hopefully you'll
never need to use it. Type "Supporter Donation" then your
email address (important) in the "Payment For" box. Don't
forget the email address, because JHELP needs to follow up
with you to get you registered.
3. CSR donation. This is for companies that want to support
the JHELP organization. The benefits include direct
assistance to help your foreign and Japanese employees
traveling overseas, PR of the company if desired, and of
course audited reports on usage of funds. There are also
specific projects to be funded, including upkeep and
refurbishment of JHELP's mobile disaster relief vehicle
(a large RV bus), replacement of the call center PBX
system, and replenishment of relief supplies at the
warehouse. Email Ken Joseph directly at team at jhelp.com for
OK, enough of donations. To wrap up, what happened to the
Dior VP and his spouse? Unfortunately for them they face
several years in a Japanese prison each, and of course he
was fired by Dior. With their lives and his career in ruins,
the moral of this story is "don't do drugs in Japan." But
if you do get into trouble, it's good to know that the
organization of last resort is JHELP, and Ken Joseph and
his team are there if you need them.
Japan Help Line: 0570 000 911 (24 hours, 7 days a week)
Email: team at jhelp.com
...The information janitors/
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- Bankruptcies up as Sarakin loans dry up
- Shin-Etsu explosion causes knock-on effects
- Amakudari action just hot air?
- Wen's trip, productive or not?
- Jones Lang LaSalle advises on $2.36bn ANA hotel sale
-> Bankruptcies up as Sarakin loans dry up
According to Teikoku Databank, small businesses are having
a tough time finding sources of finance since the new
consumer credit protection laws came into effect in 2006.
The credit rating firm says that there were 162 small
company bankruptcies in March 2007, soaring 60% over last
year. This was in stark contrast to the much smaller 10%
increase in bankruptcies of companies overall. The agency
says that smaller companies don't have easy access to bank
loans and now credit firms are unwilling to take on
riskier loans due to the limitation in interest rates.
(Source: TT commentary from nikkei.co.jp, Apr 13, 2007)
-> Shin-Etsu explosion causes knock-on effects
Perhaps this is one time when the bureaucrats should have
regulated industry and insisted that there were back-up
producers. We talk of the March explosion at the Shin-Etsu
plastics factory in Niigata, the loss of which is having
all sorts of knock-on effects. The factory produces a wide
range of petrochemical products, ranging from paint
ingredients through to pharmaceutical cellulose. In the
latter category, Shin-Etsu supplies 90% of the nation's
domestic supply, and the ingredient is vital in the
production of drugs. Shin-Etsu has resorted to asking for
help on supply from its US rival Dow Chemical. However,
Dow is saying they are short of product as well. ***Ed:
What's the bet that another domestic manufacturer of this
product will be mandated by the government before the
quarter is finished?** (Source: TT commentary from
nikkei.co.jp, Apr 14, 2007)
-> Amakudari action just hot air?
Amakudari, or "descent from heaven", is the practice of
private sector companies giving jobs to senior ministry
bureaucrats who oversight their industry regulations. The
practice is pretty well hated by the average man in the
street and after the "dango" (bid-rigging) scandals of the
early 2000's, the public has had a guts full. Thus, the
promise by PM Shinzo Abe to legislate against the practice
by setting up a proper transparent job placement agency for
retiring bureaucrats was well received by the electorate.
However, after much negotiation, loopholes have appeared
that allow each Ministry to give information to the
placement agency about which candidates would be suitable
for which jobs -- thus effectively continuing on the
Amakudari practice. ***Ed: Japanese commentators are saying
that the watered down legislation proves that PM Abe is
simply after more votes in the July House of Councilors
elections and is one more proof that he doesn't care about
reform.** (Source: TT commentary from japantimes.co.jp,
Apr 14, 2007)
-> Jiabao's trip, productive or not?
While the recent trip to Japan by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao
of China appeared to be a success, already the two sides
are making contradictory statements about some of the
outcomes. The latest is in response to a China Foreign
Ministry claim that it can now go forward with some oil and
gas development in the East China Sea because Japan didn't
make any claims against past Chinese activity. However, the
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary has responded that the
Chinese comments are misplaced and in fact Japan will bring
up the disputed national borders for the May meeting
agenda. ***Ed: We note that to our knowledge, in the last
60 years China has NEVER given up territorial claims on
any border, and with a potential 200bn cubic meters of gas
reserves sitting in the disputed Tianwaitian field, we
don't think they are about to now, either. Indeed, while
the Japanese are busy flapping their lips in negotiations,
the Chinese are busy drilling and have already started
extracting gas.** (Source: TT commentary from
bloomberg.com, Apr 13, 2007)
-> Jones Lang LaSalle advises on $2.36bn ANA hotel sale
While most newspapers reported the sale of ANA's hotel
business to the Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund for
JPY281.3bn (US$2.36bn), an interesting background note is
the fact that the deal was brokered by Jones Lang LaSalle
Hotels ("JLLH"). This was a great deal for JLLH to be
handling, since not only did they get to sell the 13 ANA
hotels in the largest Asia-Pacific hotel-related
transaction, they also got to do all four years of lead-up
work as well. ANA commissioned JLLH to do the original
business assessment to decide what to do with the
business, then the Intercontinental management contract
work, and now the Morgan Stanley deal. ***Ed: We can only
speculate on the fees for a multi-stage project like this,
but even if it was just 1%, it would make for some very
satisfying take-home bonuses for the JLLH employees
involved. Well done to the local team.** (Source: TT
commentary from hotelinteractive.com, Apr 13, 2007)
NOTE: Broken links
Many online news sources remove their articles after just a
few days of posting them, thus breaking our links -- we
apologize for the inconvenience.
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In this section we run comments and corrections submitted
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-> No comments or feedback this week.
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+++ ABOUT US
Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com)
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