October 17

17 Oct

I came to Japan on 1990 October 17.
Nineteen years ago today.

Last year on this date I wrote a post about some of changes I’ve seen in Japan since I first arrived (Click here to read it).

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Also, seventeen years ago today, 服部剛丈 (Yoshihiro Hattori) died.

Do you know about his story? It’s quite tragic.
And it was big news when he was shot and killed in America in 1992…at least here in Japan.

He was a sixteen year old Japanese exchange student in Louisiana, America and on the evening of (1992) October 17 he and a friend went to a Halloween party that they were invited to.

They mistakenly went to the wrong address and when they rang the doorbell he was fatally shot by the homeowner who claimed in court that he thought Yoshihiro was a criminal trespasser.

The home-owner, Rodney Peairs, pointed his gun at Yoshihiro and said “Freeze!”.
Obviously, not familiar with that command in English, Yoshihiro walked towards Mr. Peairs and said “We’re here for the party”, at which point Mr. Peairs panicked and shot the teen.

This case became big news in Japan at the time. I remember it was on the news constantly.
What made it even more shocking to the Japanese people was that the U.S. courts ruled that Rodney Peairs was within his rights to shoot Yoshihiro Hattori under Louisiana’s law and they acquitted him of all charges.

Also shocking to Japanese was shortly after this case there were two more cases of Japanese exchange students being shot in America.
A TV reporter at that time said that if Japanese must travel to America they should be sure to understand the phrase “Freeze!” lest they become the next victim of America’s “sick gun-obsessed society”.

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29 Responses to “October 17”

  1. Ichiro December 31, 2011 at 2:51 am #

    >even though belonging to a martial arts expert, have nothing in common with a firearm.

    Lol again! You weren’t the one getting the tar beat of out him!

    >“Like me”? What makes you assume that I’m a “CIR” or an “AET”?

    This was poorly-worded statement on my part. In my role overseeing the JETs in my prefecture, I dealt with many CIRs and AETs with similar attitudes. I suppose I should congratulate you, because many of the JETs I had to deal with (in my role as their peer advisor) did not last long past their contracts. But you have the benefit of living in Tokyo instead of the “inaka.”

    >I have never said you should move anywhere.

    Again, poorly worded on my part. I should have been more specific in saying that your responses reflect the same condescending arrogance of those who have told me so.

    >After living in a country for over two decades, a person will have changed and have mannerisms of the adopted country’s culture. It’s inevitable.

    Uhhh, no it isn’t. After JET, I lived and worked seasonally in Peru from 2001-2009 (I worked half a year in Florida, half a year in Peru). I never tried to be Peruvian, nor would anyone ever mix me up as Peruvian, even after eight years, and even with my swarthy middle-eastern/east Asian complexion, I could pass for such had I really tried.

    >Some things, such as the gun laws, should be improved though.

    I’d like to hear what you have to say. Believe it or not, I am an Obama-voting, tweed-coat and bowtie sporting liberal college professor that would have very little in common with the other blowhards that have posted your blog. But as an American, I don’t think gun ownership rights should be curtailed just because someone in Louisiana showed a horrible, horrible lapse in good judgment.

    Like

    • tokyo5 December 31, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

      >You weren’t the one getting the tar beat of out him!

      I think you’re missing my point. I don’t know how to make it clearer…so never mind.

      >I dealt with many CIRs and AETs with similar attitudes.

      I don’t understand why you get that impression from me.

      >I should congratulate you, because many of the JETs…did not last long past their contracts.

      No need for “congratulations”. It’s not a contest.

      >But you have the benefit of living in Tokyo instead of the “inaka.” (countryside).

      I love living in Tokyo. Are you implying though that I wouldn’t have stayed in Japan if I didn’t live in the metropolis?

      >your responses reflect the same condescending arrogance

      Really I don’t know why you think so. I speak with everyone with the same respect that they show me. I’m not “condescending” to anyone just because their opinion differs from mine. In fact, I enjoy an intelligent, respectful debate. I have an open mind and I’ll admit if I’m proven wrong.

      >no it isn’t (inevitable that people adapt behaviors from an adopted homeland)….I worked half a year in Florida, half a year in Peru

      Maybe it’s because you spent half of the year in your native country…or maybe you’re just different—but I have had almost no contact with America in the 21 years that I’ve lived in Japan. I’m sure that anyone in a situation such as mine (no matter which country) would change. How could they not?

      >I never tried to be Peruvian

      I’m not trying to “be Japanese” either. But I’ve lived most of my life in Japan.
      Anyways, I think it’s a waste if you lived in Peru for so long and didn’t learn or pick up any “good points” from their culture.
      Living abroad is a golden opportunity to learn and grow from other cultures.

      >I…have very little in common with the other blowhards that have posted your blog.

      I would never insult other people simply for thinking different than I do.

      >just because someone in Louisiana showed a horrible, horrible lapse in good judgment.

      But it wasn’t just a “someone“. This isn’t an isolated incident by a long shot.

      Having living other countries, haven’t you seen that guns aren’t necessary or helpful for a peaceful country?

      Like

  2. Ichiro December 31, 2011 at 1:59 am #

    >I’m confident that a “warning shot” would cause anyone to consider their next move…even “hardened criminals”. I think that even in America most burglars are unarmed.

    You’ve been living in Japan too long. Stream the news from any major American metro area.

    >(Japan isn’t free) in the same sense as the United States…Japan will curtail the rights of individuals if deemed in the best inter.ests of the group. For example?

    Read this article by Professor Lawrence Beer. It’s early ’80s, so it’s a bit outdated, but still relevant: http://www.jstor.org/pss/2643933

    >My apartment (in Japan)…was burglarized three times in two years Really?

    Yes, it was. And it is not your place to question that.

    >Yes, swords are weapons too. Not as dangerous as a gun, though.

    Lol! Tell that to the poor guy that had one run through him.

    >what about your own two hands? You’re not being serious, right?

    I’d send you pics of my Australian buddy if I had a digital camera in the early 1990s.

    In my role as a CIR, I dealt both CIRs and AETs like you all the time, who thought that somehow you had “become Japanese” and ascended to a higher plane. I used to really despise those people, but I’m also half-Jewish. You are exactly like the people who continue to carp at me for not wanting to drop everything and move to Israel. I’m not Japanese. I’m not Israeli. I’m an American, and obviously unlike you, I can live with it. You’re not fooling anyone except yourself. And the Japanese may be complicit in allowing you to fool yourself, but you’re not really fooling them either.

    Like

    • tokyo5 December 31, 2011 at 2:30 am #

      >You’ve been living in Japan too long.

      Maybe.

      >it is not your place to question that.

      Actually, I wasn’t expressing doubt at your statement…but rather surprise.
      (But…anyone can question or doubt anything other people say.)

      >Tell that to the poor guy that had one run through him.

      I didn’t say swords aren’t dangerous. But a gun is more dangerous because it can be used to kill more quickly, easily, and from greater distance.

      >I’d send you pics of my Australian buddy

      No need. I wasn’t expressing doubt about whether or not it occurred. It’s moot.
      I mean “hands”, even though belonging to a martial arts expert, have nothing in common with a firearm.

      >both CIRs and AETs like you all the time

      “Like me”? What makes you assume that I’m a “CIR” or an “AET”?

      >You are exactly like the people who continue to carp at me for not wanting to drop everything and move to Israel.

      I have never said you should move anywhere.

      >I’m an American, and obviously unlike you, I can live with it.

      I have no problem with America or being an American!
      I think America is a great country. Some things, such as the gun laws, should be improved though.

      >You’re not fooling anyone except yourself.

      I’m not trying to fool anyone.

      After living in a country for over two decades, a person will have changed and have mannerisms of the adopted country’s culture.
      It’s inevitable.

      Your first post was quite civil and I thought, though our opinions differ, we could have an intelligent debate.
      I’m not trying to “step on your toes” or anything….I simply disagree with you.

      Like

  3. Ichiro December 30, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

    >an adult over-reacted to a child’s mistake and killed him
    No, I don’t think so. He did not know he was dealing with a “child.” In the confusion, he thought he was dealing with a criminal.

    > But I still believe that if the homeowner (Mr. Peairs) had a guard dog instead of a gun, or at least, if he fired a “warning shot” rather than directly at the boy, then Yoshihiro Hattori would still be alive today.

    Again, when you choose to take on criminals with a gun, any hesitation results in your weapon being taken and used against you. To think that warning shots deter hardened criminals is naive. Also, you keep carping about a guard dog. Guard dogs are shot and killed by criminals ALL time time. For you to treat the a guard dog as some sort of security panacea is naive. You are trying to apply Japanese standards to American circumstances, and as I said in my last post, and all that does is make for hard feelings.

    >Japan is a very “free” country.

    Not in the same sense as the United States. And I’m not making a value judgment. It just is what it is. Japan will curtail the rights of individuals if deemed in the best interests of the group. That concept is anathema to Americans, a country which was founded on the concept of “don’t tell me what to do.”

    >And the crime rate in Japan is extremely low

    This statement is misleading. A lot of crime in Japan goes unreported by the police. My apartment, while on the JET Program, was burglarized three times in two years (in comparison, my house in suburban Orlando, Florida has been broken into zero times – in twelve years). Are you aware that the police, by Japanese law, are not required to report petty crimes, so that they don’t figure into the crime statistics? magazine-archives.wustl.edu/fall09/John%20Owen%20Haley.html And as for the “gomen” money, or restitution, that this article mentions, as a foreigner, I never received a single yen.

    >A nail gun, despite the name, isn’t a gun. It’s a carpentry tool. Unlike a gun, it doesn’t propel ammunition great distances.

    Mine does! It’s a bit scary.

    >Unlike other “tools”, a gun’s sole purpose is to end life.

    And “tools” used solely to end life don’t exist in Japan? What is the purpose of a katana? I befriended a Japanese emergency room doctor who told of trying to save an assault victim who had been run through with one. For that matter, what about your own two hands? I had an Australian friend severely beaten up at the hands of two thugs obviously highly trained in the martial arts. And the police never filed a report, therefore this violent crime never made it into the statistics.

    It’s very easy to view the standards of others from the secure perch of one’s own moral authority, but that’s where many of the world’s problems seem to be created in the first place.

    Like

    • tokyo5 December 31, 2011 at 12:34 am #

      >He did not know he was dealing with a “child.” In the confusion, he thought he was dealing with a criminal.

      I understand that…but it doesn’t change that fact that an adult’s carelessness resulted in the death of a child.

      >To think that warning shots deter hardened criminals is naive.

      I’m confident that a “warning shot” would cause anyone to consider their next move…even “hardened criminals”.

      >you keep carping about a guard dog.

      I don’t think I’m “carping”!?

      >Guard dogs are shot and killed by criminals ALL time time.

      I think that even in America most burglars are unarmed. But if they find the homeowner’s gun…then they become armed. Dogs are loyal to their owners…guns aren’t.

      >You are trying to apply Japanese standards to American circumstances

      Not only Japan…but many countries have strict gun laws—and low crime.

      >(Japan isn’t free) in the same sense as the United States…Japan will curtail the rights of individuals if deemed in the best inter.ests of the group.

      For example?

      >A lot of crime in Japan goes unreported by the police.

      That would be first-offenses of petty crime. That’s in order to let the offender (hopefully) learn from their mistake and not have it tarnish their name.

      >My apartment (in Japan)…was burglarized three times in two years

      Really?

      >What is the purpose of a katana (Samurai sword)?

      Yes, swords are weapons too. Not as dangerous as a gun, though.
      Swords are controlled by the same law as guns in Japan (the “Sword and Firearm Law”)…and therefore permits to own one are difficult to get in Japan.

      >what about your own two hands?

      You’re not being serious, right?

      Basically, my point is that I think America could benefit from stricter gun control laws.

      Like

  4. Anonymous December 30, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    Gun ownership is a very emotional subject for many Americans, and unfortunately, many lash out rather than engage in rational discourse when it comes to firearms issues. Also unfortunately, your characterization of this unfortunate incident is grossly oversimplified. If you study more detailed records (this website provides a summary: http://www.blogd.com/archives/000124.html), you will see that there are complicating circumstances. Sadly, Yoshi Hattori was not wearing his prescription contact lenses and did not see Mr. Peairs brandishing a gun. Many times, the gut instinct of a hardened criminal is to charge the person holding the gun and try to wrestle the weapon away from them. This is undoubtedly exactly what Mr. Peairs was thinking when Yoshi started running toward him. Who in their right mind runs TOWARD a gun, after all??? In my opinion though, this does not relieve Mr. Peairs from responsibility. Sadly, Mr. Peairs showed a profound lack of good judgment when he decided to go outside to confront the two “troublemakers,” of which his wife claimed to be scared, but what he did was, for better or worse, legal within the laws of the State of Louisiana, which allow you to defend yourself with deadly force if you believe your life is in danger. I’m not trying to trivialize Yoshi’s death, but if someone continued running toward me after I’ve pointed a gun at them, I would shoot too, because that split second is the difference between stopping a criminal or having the criminal take your weapon from you and use it against you. That said, had I been Mr. Peairs, I would have gathered my family in a single room, called the police, and used the gun only as a final recourse for defense of my family. Yes, for the record, I am a gun-owning Japanese-American, which brings me to my second point.

    I served as a Coordinator for International Relations on the JET Program about twenty years ago, and I think the insights that I gained into Japanese culture during my stint in Japan lend me at least some credibility on the topic when I say that the Japanese and Americans have a vastly different concept of individual liberties. For better for worse, the United States of America was founded on the concept of “you can have your cake and eat it, too,” meaning, within reason, you are free to do whatever you want whenever you want to do it, and this concept still resonates with Americans today. Americans will not curtail the individual rights of the group membership just because some of the members of the group show woefully inept judgment. The publishing industry in America wasn’t restricted because some strongly religious people objected to Larry Flynt’s brand of pornography, nor should gun ownership in America be restricted just because one individual in Louisiana showed extremely poor judgment in the use of one.

    Also, I’d like to point out that I see my guns as a tool. I stopped eating meat, but when I did, my guns were one my tools for providing meat for my family. I also have many other equally dangerous tools around my house. I have a pneumatic nail gun for my building projects that instantly pounds nails into wood that I regard as equally dangerous as any gun I own. If you sit and think with an open mind for a few minutes, I’m sure you can think of objects you have around your own house that can be just as deadly as a gun.

    None of this is good or bad, it just is what it is. But continuing to make value judgments and not being able to at least understand (even if you don’t agree, and I do understand that sometimes Americans make it difficult, or even impossible to WANT to understand) the other culture’s perspective negates everything I stood for during my small attempt at facilitating positive international exchange between the United States and Japan.

    Like

    • tokyo5 December 30, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

      Your comment is very long and, although your opinion is different from mine—you stated your thoughts very civilly.

      >your characterization of this unfortunate incident is grossly oversimplified.

      I don’t think so. I think a fair summary of the incident could be stated as: an adult over-reacted to a child’s mistake and killed him.

      >If you study more detailed records

      I read the article that you linked. It was very interesting and made good points.
      But I still believe that if the homeowner (Mr. Peairs) had a guard dog instead of a gun, or at least, if he fired a “warning shot” rather than directly at the boy, then Yoshihiro Hattori would still be alive today.

      >Japanese and Americans have a vastly different concept of individual liberties.

      Japan is a very “free” country. And the crime rate in Japan is extremely low…and almost no one owns a gun.
      It’s not only Japan either…in many other countries, such as England, no one owns a gun…and the crime rate is much lower than in America.

      Besides that, the case of Yoshihiro Hattori isn’t an isolated case…there are continually news stories about gun violence in America.

      >a pneumatic nail gun…(and other) objects you have around your own house that can be just as deadly as a gun.

      A nail gun, despite the name, isn’t a gun. It’s a carpentry tool. Unlike a gun, it doesn’t propel ammunition great distances. In fact, in order to prevent injury, a nail gun doesn’t work unless it’s pressed right up against the target (normally a piece of lumber).

      Likewise, household items such as knives, scissors, etc, are potentially dangerous if the user is careless (or intends to hurt someone)…but not to the degree that a firearm is.

      Unlike other “tools”, a gun’s sole purpose is to end life.

      Like

  5. TIMMY October 18, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

    i was read the full story about this news at wikipedia. In that site, i’ve found this sentence that make me so sad. here it is :”the local police quickly questioned and released Peairs, and declined to charge him with any crime”
    i thought, this is criminal. totally criminal. but why the police at that time released Peairs??! i don’t understand!!

    here is the link from wikipedia that linked about this story:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoshihiro_Hattori

    Like

    • tokyo5 October 18, 2010 at 11:53 pm #

      >why the police at that time released Peairs??

      I’m sure I don’t know.

      Like

  6. Michael Marcos January 17, 2010 at 7:53 am #

    Regardless of your understanding of a certain command, how stupid does one have to be to continue advancing with a gun aimed at him (as well as the tone of voice most likely used when shouting “freeze”)? It doesn’t matter if he is the nicest person in the world – if you are determined to be aggressive in nature, able to pose a threat, and have the right proximity to enact a threat, one has the right to shoot you, in defense of themselves. I don’t care if it’s French, Polish, German, Japanese, or Jobbldygook – if someone points a gun at me as I am walking on their yard, my first reaction would not be to “bobble closer.”

    If the Japanese people are comfortable being unarmed in an increasingly criminal society, so be it. Lie down to the Yakuza, your government, and other criminals. That’s not our way, has never been our way, and that’s that.

    Also, a guard dog is no replacement for a gun, you stupid, stupid fool.

    Like

    • tokyo5 January 17, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

      >how stupid does one have to be to continue advancing with a gun aimed at him

      Wow! What a heartless comment!
      Don’t you think it’s likely that a child who has most certainly only seen a real gun in the holster of police* wouldn’t imagine that the homeowner of a party he was invited to wouldn’t try to kill him?
      He probably thought it was a Halloween prank (it was a Halloween party, after all).

      But we can only speculate…since the boy was killed in cold blood!

      *(Most Japanese police, by the way, are able to do their job and only ever fire their gun at a practice target)

      >one has the right to shoot you, in defense of themselves.

      Why, then, are citizens of every other first-world country able to live their entire lives without ever fatally attacking another person “in self-defense”?

      And, if that grown man was really afraid of the child that was posing no threat to him…couldn’t he have fired a “warning shot” into the air?

      >my first reaction would not be to “bobble closer.”

      Even if you support “gun rights” and love guns, I still can’t understand how you can make cold comments.

      >If the Japanese people are comfortable being unarmed in an increasingly criminal society

      No, the people in Japan are comfortable because we live in a safe, peaceful society.
      There is crime here, of course…but the crime rate is very low and murder isn’t common.

      Proof that guns aren’t needed.

      >Lie down to the Yakuza

      What does that mean?
      Most people have no interaction with the mafia.

      If you were confronted by mafia, would you try to get into a gun-fight with them?

      >your government

      If you disagree with your government, what would you use your gun for?

      >That’s not our way, has never been our way, and that’s that.

      Do you know that America is the only country that has a phenomenon known as “drive-by shootings”?

      >a guard dog is no replacement for a gun

      If someone who is unarmed breaks into your house while you’re asleep and they find your gun…now they’re suddenly armed, and you’re not.
      Guns have no loyalty to their owner…dogs do.

      >you stupid, stupid fool.

      Even if I think another person is very wrong…I don’t insult them.
      I think you sound dangerous…armed with a gun and unable to control your emotions.
      (That’s the impression I get).

      Like

  7. Shinkansen 7 November 4, 2009 at 7:13 pm #

    Peairs is a trigger happy, redneck creep who should have been thrown in jail for negligent homicide. Yoshi did not know any better. Peairs is lucky the Hattori family is not connected to the Yakuza or he would have been long since dead. The idiot probably has never heard of the Yakuza.

    Like

    • tokyo5 November 5, 2009 at 2:10 am #

      Yeah, it was a tragedy. And it ended a boy’s life way too soon!

      I think it says something about America’s gun laws.
      Rather than a gun…I think a guard dog is better.
      A dog can guard the house when noone’s home or the family’s asleep, much less dangerous if there are children in the house, and better odds that innocent people won’t be killed.

      Like

  8. Chris November 2, 2009 at 2:10 am #

    I consider myself humble student of the art of the understatement.

    Like

  9. Chris November 1, 2009 at 12:51 pm #

    American gun laws are amazingly stupid. I remember being mildly appalled when I first moved to Arizona and saw people legally carrying guns in the open in public.

    Like

    • tokyo5 November 1, 2009 at 12:56 pm #

      Only “mildly” appalled?

      Like

  10. Adarcoi October 20, 2009 at 9:05 am #

    WOW. This makes me feel bad, no offense. But to think that this is how Americans are portrayed to the Japanese. I’m sorry. I mean, I’m sure it’s the same way that not one person or event can give the full spectrum of society, but it does take one for a shadow to hit.

    Like

    • tokyo5 October 20, 2009 at 3:35 pm #

      Many Japanese people think that guns are in every home in America.

      Like

  11. Tornadoes28 October 18, 2009 at 3:05 am #

    I do remember that event in the news all those years ago. It still disgusts me.

    Like

    • tokyo5 October 18, 2009 at 3:13 pm #

      Yeah, like the “OJ Simpson” case…this is one that I’ll never forget!

      Like

    • Michael Marcos January 17, 2010 at 7:54 am #

      I wouldn’t come to Scranton, PA then. You might see me carrying openly (as is my right).

      Like

      • tokyo5 January 17, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

        >see me carrying (a gun) openly

        For what reason?

        Like

  12. gigihawaii October 18, 2009 at 12:30 am #

    Yeah, shoot first, ask questions later.

    Like

    • tokyo5 October 18, 2009 at 12:33 am #

      America’s obsession with guns is shocking to Japanese people.
      And to me, too.

      Like

  13. T.Aaron October 17, 2009 at 11:16 pm #

    Interesting story. At the time I was only 10, so I wouldn’t of known about it.

    I wonder if this influenced a scene in Azumanga Daioh, where Chiyo-chan talks about going to America, and one of her classmates claims she’ll be shot if she goes?

    Like

    • tokyo5 October 18, 2009 at 12:31 am #

      >Azumanga Daioh

      Is that a Japanese manga?
      I don’t know much about manga or anime, except a few.

      Like

  14. ghettoblackify October 17, 2009 at 12:10 pm #

    interesting

    Like

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