Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear Arakawa Riverviiieeew
Happy birthday to you!
Gosh how time flies. Yes, that's right, on 31st May 2003 Arakawa Riverview was born and my how it has grown into the strapping blog you see before you.
But that's all old history. Who cares about the last year we'd better look forward to the next 12 months, starting here...
The war on Terror...
Has come to Kawaguchi! No really.
Now Japan isn't really much good at wars anymore. As has been discussed before, the ropey old Japanese constitution is a bit vague on the whole war stance and as such, Japan has strenuously avoided all of that kind of nonsense for nigh on 50 years. And as you can also hopefully remember, the SDF is in Iraq right now in a foreign country deployment for the first time since ww2. Luckily they haven't been attacked by anyone yet and so haven't had to run away (sorry, strategically re-deploy to a rearward location)
But now the war on Terror has come to Japan, perhaps because of this very deployment. And it hasn't just to to Japan, it is here, right under the very nose of Arakawa Riverview - again no really.
On Wednesday this week a sweep by the for once effective police force, 5 suspected Al-Qaida terrorists were arrested, two here in Kawaguchi and one in Toda, which is right next door.
So, what were they arrested for? Was a bomb making factory found? Perhaps trace elements of uranium or plutonium for a 'dirty' nuclear device? Evidence of a plot to hijack taxis and leave them in 'no parking zones' with malice of forethought?
Nothing so exciting, I'm afraid. As usual it was the old standby in Japan, immigration violations (though to be fair, if the US authorities had been looking, a lot of people might not have died). Apparently the 3 arrested round here were all from Bangladesh and had been identified from phone records taken from a Lionel Dumont, a chap arrested in Germany after living in Japan for a year and who, alledgedly, was trying to build up an AlQaida cell here in sunnt Saitama next to the river. However the charges one of them seems to have been arrested on is 'forging official documents in relation to a mobile phone dealership' whilst the rest are the ubiquitous and extremely vague 'suspicion of violating immigration laws'.
Now this information comes from the newspaper and various TV news reports, but it seems to me that there is just a hint of flimsiness about it all. Not that this will bother the authorities, naturally. As a senior Interior Ministry official (might well have) said after the arrests "Suspected but unproven terrorist links? We-ell, if they're foreign it must be true, best arrest them, keep them locked up for as long as we can get away with and then deport them. Just to be safe".
Anyway it is now Monday after the arrests and, as far as I can tell, not a peep have we heard about this since last week. No huge in-depth follow up. No investigative 'how could they have got here' type journalism. Not even a 'yes they were guilty' or a 'no, sorry they weren't'. But what really strikes me as odd is that no one seems to be asking either...
You thought it could only happen in America
But no, here in Japan we are now seeing utterly ridiculous law suits. Again related to the whole SDF in Iraq thing, a citizens' group in Shizuoka prefecture has files a suit against the govt seeking 10,000 yen (that's about 50 quid)compensation on the grounds that the deployment of troops infringes on their rights to a peaceful life. Now even I can see that it is a symbolic thing to bring the govt to task, but surely they could have thought of a better charge than infringing on their right to a peaceful life? Against the ropey old constitution, perhaps, or against an illegal invasion and occupation of a soverign state, but infringing on a peaceful life? Oh please.
And finally, sorry to report...
No new games or stories about strange Tokyo wildlife to report this week, I'm afraid. Must try harder.