Warning- Graphic Images, not to be read while eating. Don`t say I didn`t warn you.
One day last spring I was walking with several thousand of my closest Japanese neighbors through Yoyogi park in central Tokyo. Just enjoying the day while the Japanese twentysomethings played chase, hopscotch and jump rope while I took clandestine pictures with my hat cam. My contemplation of how I would fare in a game of chase at any age beyond 7 was interrupted when a police car screeched to a stop in front of me and emptied four policeman on to the pavement- billy clubs pointed in my direction. Running toward me and my thousand or so friends, they grabbed a foreign guy a few feet from me (to my great relief- I was afraid an informant blew the whistle on my accidental bike stealing- read here) and commenced to deliver a butt kicking like I`ve only seen on the news. I don`t recall them asking for ID or confirming his name. No words were exchanged. None of the pedestrians stopped to watch, no one took pictures, everyone just rerouted their path around the scene as if a delicate flower bed had just emerged from the ground.
We`re not in Kansas anymore.
I went home, pulled two teenagers out of bed without explanation, and assaulted them with an uninvited lecture. In Asia, there are no “3 strikes your out” laws- you`re just out. In some locations, literally.
Got Weed? Get Out.
That summarizes the Japanese stance on drug use. A minor caught with pot gets a mandatory 30 days in jail during which time the parents, or the appropriate embassy, may or may not get informed of Junior`s spend the night plans. Unless the Japanese penal system employs a family member with a fully loaded key ring, Junior`s not seeing anyone for a while including a lawyer. Assuming Junior got caught with a microscopic stash, once released he goes directly to the airport for deportation. Junior`s family will then find out of his fate when they receive a surprise trip to the airport for an immediate deporture – I mean departure.
While in Malaysia, the tour company was baffled at why I turned in to a screaming banshee when I discovered our luggage had been sitting unattended outside a hotel for several hours. It was due to the line on the customs declaration which read, “Drug Traffickers will be hanged.”
In Malaysia I couldn`t understand why everyone wanted to buy cigarettes from the street hawkers. My guess is those don`t have picture warnings regarding the risks of smoking:
When moving to Singapore, my friends skipped the teenager sales pitch going directly to the “Don`t carry anything for anyone at anytime- including a back pack.” People caught with illicit drugs are promptly caned.
Jail in Japan is rather dull. A daily head check while everyone sits in seiza position followed by a full day of solitary reflection. Folks who demand tv, internet service, or daily work outs in the facility gym are treated instead with an opportunity for more intensive reflection conducted in the seiza position while a guard ensures appropriate posture is maintained.
After 5 minutes in the seiza position, most mortals would prefer jumping in a tank of circling sharks for relief from the pain. I`ve attended Japanese tea ceremonies where the participants sit in the seiza position for hours. Andretti-san had to carry me out with a feeble explanation that I suffered from something – oh not contagious and no not rabies-which caused me to froth at the mouth. It took my legs 3 days to return to normal. In my mind, this is a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why Japanese guards are able to maintain such control over their inmates. Before Offspring #1 goes to parties, Spouse and I make him sit in the seiza position for several minutes prior to leaving lest he decide the reward is worth the risk by succumbing to peer pressure.
The only Hell raising the Clampitt teenagers will be doing better be a result of drinking too many liquid sugars at Starbucks or the Japanese authorities will be the least of their worries…