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Posts tagged ‘international’

Yokota Teens Pull Childish Prank With Adult Consequenses

A green highway sign for interstate 25 pointing to exit 79, to Truth or Consequenses.A group of teenagers from Yokota Air Force Base, Japan, thought that a fun prank would be to pull a length of rope across a road, for whatever reason that some (not all) teenagers decide that things sound like good ideas. A Japanese woman on a motorcycle was “clotheslined” in the taut rope, and flung from her bike, cracked her skull and at one point fell into a coma. The teenagers stopped an oncoming car to call for help, provided the police with false names, and fled the scene.

The oldest teen is being tried as an adult in Japanese court. Part of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that allows U.S. Forces to bring their families to overseas stations with them allows host-nation authorities to exercise jurisdiction over crimes that happen in their country when appropriate. Curiously enough, the charges against the other three teens have all been dropped, and only the one teenager remains to take the blame for all of this.

The teenager has paid a “gomennasai,” which included a monetary payment, to the woman, and told her that he is really very sorry that his thoughtlessness caused her to crack her head open on the pavement. I am sure it came out of his own pocket. Though under Japanese law he was a minor, at 18, when he committed the crime, the Japanese family court passed the case to the criminal court. Given the nature of the crime, I fully support this decision, but I honestly think that in some capacity the other three teens should be standing with this teen, because the violence that they enacted upon this woman is inexcusable. She was in the hospital for 17 days and unable to work for two months. 200,000 Japanese yen (the equivalent of $2,200) doesn’t cover that.

Why does this one teenager stand alone? When I write and act in defense for teenagers to have for themselves the right to make decisions as autonomous people, that entails the responsibility to see through the consequences of those choices. It is a part of growing up. We have to learn from our mistakes because they shape us into the people we become. While I don’t think that a prison system is how you do that, I think that a punishment for a prank that resulted in the severe injury of a Japanese national woman is warranted.

Even when they make heinous mistakes.

I don’t really believe that they should throw the book at these teens and forget about them forever, but what they did was cruel. Each of them acted, and each of them should be punished accordingly.

Especially when this is a systemic problem.

There is a problem, ongoing, of violence enacted by servicemembers stationed overseas and even by their dependents towards the nationals of host countries, especially in Asia, and most notably recently in Japan. A part of me believes that part of what led these teens to believe they could just flee the scene was a disregard for a Japanese woman’s life. I don’t believe these things happen in a vacuum, and I have spent enough time living on and around a military base in Asia, that I have seen the way people interact with nationals.

The lone teen’s defense lawyer believes that his case should never have been handed up from family court. Because the teen never intended to hurt anyone, you see, this should have stayed in family court. Obviously, this is just a childish prank. The boy claims that they never meant to hurt anyone, that they thought that motorists would only turn around when they saw the rope. That the woman was injured so terribly must have been her own stupid fault for not being telepathic. Gosh, she’s lucky to be alive.

The prosecutors seem to have it right. They said in court that “they were focused on holding the teen accountable for his actions, not his intentions,” because at least someone remembers that intent is not always the most important thing.

That is a lesson worth remembering.

Photo Credit: einalem

Important Announcement

feministcatThis post brought to you by Teh Feminist Kitteh Collective.

PS:  I use adult language.  Nyah.

If you read this article, and the only response you have is:

“Japanese Bitch”

or

“Stupid Slant Eyes”

and are called out on your shit, and all you have to say is:

“OK, I am not a racist…”, and proceed to defend your racist and misogynistic bullshit, while failing 100% to see how you are, in fact a racist and misogynistic ass hole, then I can not help you.

The linked article is awful.  That poor father.  I can not express enough how I ache for him.  I would be beside myself if that happened to me.  Is that a shitty situation?  Yes.  Do I think that something needs to be done to fix this?  Absolutely!  And as soon as we can make that shit happen.

Is throwing around gendered slurs and othering an entire race of people, or using hateful and bigoted language against a specific nationality going to fix a damned thing?  Nope.  Not going to happen.  In fact, it’s probably also not going to help matters, whatsoever.  In an international situation insulting the other person is probably not the way to go.

I’m just sayin’.

But, hey, keep it classy.

Oh, also, shit like that will get you “unfriended”.  Especially if you can’t even have the courage to own your bigotry.

But don’t worry.  You won’t be lonely.

Moar Travel Blogging

The DMZ.

DSCN4073

Greeting us outside the DMZ. Oddly cheery.

We took a guided bus tour to the DMZ yesterday.

There is a lot to be said for visiting landmarks that stand as constant reminders of painful history.  Korea is a proud place, both the North and the South, in their own ways, and the DMZ is a harsh reminder of the differences in that pride.

In the South, there is an odd aura of hope surrounding the DMZ and the surrounding area.  They seem to stand, waiting, with their breath held for the hopeful future of reunification.  It is obvious in way that the DMZ has become an exciting tourist attraction, complete with a small theme park (with rides) at Imjimgak Place.  The surrounding attractions have been conspicuously brightened, as if to put the fear and pain behind them.  It was extremely odd to stand in a place where my grandfather once stood, in entirely different circumstances, and see it regarded as a place of hope. (more…)

Bill Clinton secures release of Ling and Lee

Former President Bill Clinton traveled to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) this week to negotiate the release of Current TV journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who had been arrested near the China/DPRK boarder.  The two women were sentenced by a top court to 12 years imprisonment and hard labor for committing “hostile acts” and supposedly passing illegally into DPRK territory.  According to sources, it is still unclear if they actually did cross into DPRK territory.

I can give you my own speculation.*

DPRK leader, Kim Jong-Il (or as we refer to him at home, The Jonger), after meeting with the Former President, granted a special pardon to the two women, who will now be returned to their families.

Thank goodness.

The North has a nasty habit of behaving like an old abusive boyfriend, making lots of grand promises and then not keeping them, while at the same time using insults and other emotional abuse to lash out after not owning their own mistakes, as was evident in their recent interactions with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

I am relieved to know that Ling and Lee will be returning to their families soon.  Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee, I wish you both the best as you are reunited with your families.

Thank you, Mr. Clinton, for doing this.  It is good to see someone use their power, influence and good name to do good work.

—————————-

* I think that Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee believed that they were well within the Chinese border.  I think they probably even had the reassurances from the Chinese officials that they were in fact well within the Chinese border.  The problem here, being that it is well known that some Asian borders in many places have long been in dispute (like with the situation over Dokdo between RoK and Japan).  China shares borders with some fourteen countries, and at almost every border they are more than willing to claim land that is possibly that of the other nation.  It is easy for me to imagine a situation where China reassured them they were fine and they were actually in an area that DPRK believed was their own.

Gao Zhisheng’s family arrives safely in New York…

The family of a top Civil Rights Lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, who was kidnapped by the Chinese government in February, has arrived in New York after more than two months of travel.  His wife, Geng He and their two children fled China after realizing that their lives were being closely monitored by the government, according to Epoch Times.

In a complicated and dangerous plan that involved escape on foot, by train and air travel, the three Ihave defected from China to seek safety from the Chinese Communist Party.

Their escape was aided by human traffickers and several groups, including Friends of Gao Zhisheng, the Global Association for the Rescue of Gao Zhisheng, and the U.N. Refugee Agency.

I am glad to hear that his family has made it out of China safely, and I wish them all the best as they try to sort out what has happened to them.  Sadly, I can’t say the same for Gao.

Gao Zhisheng’s whereabouts are presently unknown. Gao was abducted from his home in Shanxi by Chinese police on February 4, and has not been seen since. Gao had been detained previously after having written three open letters to China’s top leaders, as well as the U.S. Congress urging Chinese leaders to cease their persecution of Christians and Falun Gong practitioners. He was a top contender for the Nobel Peace Prize last year and was formerly recognized as a top human rights lawyer in China.

This isn’t the first time that Gao has been detained by the Chinese government (Trigger warning:  First hand descriptions of brutal torture), and horrifically this isn’t the first time, by far, that the Chinese government has detained someone for their own purposes.

I hope that Zhisheng is still alive, and that he is soon reunited w/ his family.  I don’t see him leaving China, b/c I believe he feels his work is too important.  If he is still alive I hope that he finds a way to continue his work safely.

I hope that in our international relations, the US can find it in their busy schedules to address Civil Rights atrocities like this.

Some thoughts on foreign living…

I know we have only been in country for two days.  My initial thoughts on Korea is that, what I have seen, it is beautiful.  Perhaps it is b/c I lived on the Islands for so long that it hasn’t really sunk in yet that we are in another country on an entirely different continent.  We are still in lodging for the time being, so we are definitely sheltered right now.  Things where we are staying are very Westernized, most likely for the comfort of families adjusting to life here.  I would say that about 95% of the staff here are Korean, and everyone has been so polite.  I am slowly learning little bits of Korean, and I am determined to be functional.  I don’t want to rely on my husband to translate for me, and I sure don’t expect everyone to cater to my by speaking English (even though, admittedly, many people here do speak English and would gladly do so).  While I stumble through it, the people here in the lodging are very happy to help me and encourage me.  It is so weird, b/c it seems as if it would never occur to them that I would attempt to speak their own language to them.

And that kind of amazes me.

(more…)

This is going to be unpopular…

but I have to say something.  I am not ready to come back to blogging yet, but this is eating at me.  If this is a tad incoherent, my apologies.

I haven’t written about what is going on w/ Gaza, Palestine and Israel.  I haven’t known what to say, b/c it isn’t as simple as it looks.  It isn’t as simple as the bigger guy beating up and brutalizing the smaller guy mindlessly.

What is happening in Gaza is horrific.  It sickens me to no end.  It is beyond tragic, and I can’t even come up w/ words to describe how incredibly wrong I feel it is.  I do not condone what is happening.  I hate war.  I think it is ugly, and while it may be necessary in some situations, I find that we tend to drag it out much longer than it is ever needed.

I believe deeply in non-violence.  Like bfp said in this post, I prefer to find a non violent way to approach things.  I believe that spanking teaches children that violence is acceptable when you can’t get your way.

But I also spent a good chunk of my life learning about war, how it works, why we do it, and mostly why I vehemently object to it.

I know things.

And there are two sides to every coin, and usually at least three sides to every story: ours, theirs, and in the middle somewhere the truth.

I have told people who have debated war w/ me that I know things.  I have talked to past instructors of mine for ways to answer their questions when they argue the point “B-b-b-but Bush lied about WMDs!!!1!”.  I was told to respond w/ 

“You’re wrong”.

(more…)

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