My 53 days locked up in Japan #1. Solitary. The first week.
I guess that some of you will be interested to find what it is like to be arrested and locked up in Japan. There is a lot to describe so I will tell you about my first few days in this post. My first 11 days were in solitary and then I was sent to a facility where you could hang out with others for 44 days.
By way of background you should know that I first went to live in Japan in 1992 and have now spent around 14 years altogether in the country. I have never done anything wrong nor ever been accused of doing anything wrong. Not even a parking or a speeding ticket despite having driven over 100,000 km. I have 2 Japanese daughters. I have also worked as a lawyer for 16 years in various parts of the world. I have no convictions in any country. I am very much a law abiding citizen in every way. This is not really a story of woe or anguish it is just a tale of what happened to me. I am a very lucky guy and have a wonderful wife. I am not sure that I would have got through all this anything like so easily without Yoriko.
I was approached about 4 years ago by a Canadian film company to visit a town in rural Japan called Taiji to be a translator for a documentary they were making about the annual dolphin hunting that goes on there. I was not going to be paid but they offered return train fare and hotel for my wife and I so I did it. We got to the town ahead of the film crew on a Sunday lunchtime and by 3 pm I was in prison. I was stopped by police and after explaining why I was there I was arrested for "volunteering without a work visa". I just had a tourist visa at the time.
My wife and I were driven to a larger town called Shinjo about 2 hours away. We were separated and both subjected to 5 hours questioning. at the time I seriously thought it was some kind of bad dream. The Police told my wife that I would be deported and that she should do the 10 hour trip back to Tokyo the next day. As for me I was sent to a room that had 3 small cells inside the Police station with nothing in them. No other prisoners were there. Just 2 Policeman who could not speak a word of English. To this day I wonder what the heck I would have done if I had no Japanese language skills.
It was an old building with no glass in several of the windows so I got lucky in that winter had not yet come.
This is not the place I was kept in and I was not allowed to take any photographs. After looking around in Google Images this is the fairest representation I could find. It was just big enough to stretch out on. Was a hard floor nothing in the room but the toilet.
Everything in my bag was itemised. I was not allowed pen and paper and not allowed any food or water nothing. I was expected to just sit on a hard floor staring at a wall. I did a lot of push ups and sit ups and stretching. At first I shouted regular abuse at the 2 Policemen watching me but after about 3 days I gave up on that as it seemed pointless. At about 8 pm they brought me a mattress to sleep on with a blanket. I did not sleep much. When I got given a basic breakfast of some white bread with jam with some watery tea the next morning and got given 3 minutes outside the cell to brush my teeth reality began to set in. I was never charged with any offence. Japanese Police can hold you for 2 consecutive periods of 10 days for no reason.
This is a fair representation of the building I was imprisoned in.
The next few days involved ridiculous questioning sessions where they attempted to learn my life story and asked me what I knew about the various environmental organisations that were represented from time to time in that area because of the dolphin hunting. I was not able to tell them anything that they did not already knew. They kept telling me I would be deported and I kept staring at them going "Really?".
There was nowhere to exercise and you could not see outside. I had to wear a prison uniform and was allowed to shower every 3 days. After asking several times to see a lawyer I was granted a 30 minute visit on day 3. A volunteer law graduate came and told me rights or more correctly my lack of them. She said that I was likely to be held there for 20 days.
Lunchtime and evening meals consisted of rice, some chicken or fish and one vegetable and some orange juice or milk.
Again I have found something close on Google Images but actually I never got anything this good. There was never half this much fish and usually just carrot or cabbage together with a bowl of cold rice. I lost a lot of weight each day. One time I refused to eat and lots of Police came and visited me urging me not to do it again.
There was no opportunity to purchase anything. I had no reading material. There was toilet in my cell with no set on it. Apart from that nothing. Some days they questioned me for 4-5 hours a day some days nothing. I asked to write a letter to my embassy but I am not sure if it was ever sent.
After 7 days my wife came from Tokyo to visit me. A 20 hour round trip. We were allowed 15 minutes together separated by bars. Were were only allowed to speak Japanese and there was a Policeman present throughout. I was not warned that she was coming just told that I had a visitor. It cheered me up that she had traveled all that way but I felt kind of bad at the same time that she had been put through this.
It has been interesting reflecting through those crazy few days. Thank you for reading this far. Things got much more interesting in the next few days so I will tell you all about that soon if it looks like you are interested. I am also very interested in your tips on how to make a post like this better as I am very new on here.