Don’t put your finger in my ass!


This rather impressive (in a bad way) tale of incarceration (or should that be In Carceration, given the way the story is being spun) takes the sting off fully-documented cases from Amnesty by telling a story so full of holes that it quite frankly stinks. By the way, if you wish to indulge in full-blown character assassination, may I recommend this thread instead.

First off, one thing not clearly stated is his visa status, although given that he went to Seoul for three days, there is a smell of never-ending 3 month tourist visa renewals, yet he is working for Japanese national newspapers, which would be a violation of his visa status.

Oh, and if this does get reported by a reputable source, I will happily eat humble pie.

Now, let’s get to the bits that are more than a bit off:

In reality, "overstaying" means they were dedicating their lives to working for Japanese bosses or employing Japanese in their own businesses

What, all overstayers? Why, they should be getting the Order of the Chrysanthemum for their efforts!

That 2010 number — 18,578 individuals with names and families, often in Japan — is enough to fill  about 100 jets flying out of Japan during the mass foreign exodus from aftershocks and radiation fears in March.

That number — 18,578 — is similar to the official death toll from the March 11 tsunami, which triggered a wave of international sympathy for the plight of Japan.


"The airline let me on, so there shouldn’t have been a problem."


The immigration officer at Narita, however, didn’t even look through my passport, where he would have found proper visas dating back years. While taking my fingerprints, he saw my name pop up on a list on his computer.

Every time I go through immigration they verify the passport and the stamps before taking the fingerprints.

denied landing rights

No, foreigners do not have landing rights.

The Immigration Bureau said it deported 33,192 foreigners in 2005.

Yeah, how dare the Immigration Bureau enforce the law!

It is the best place in the country to make someone — anyone — disappear.


At one moment he seemed like a drunk and deranged o-taku, with zero human relations skills. Another moment, he was laughing wildly, shaking my hand. Then he threatened me, with fearless eyes that reminded me of the death row convict I once interviewed in a Pennsylvania jail.


"But I do have proof," I said.

This is the crux of the story – proof of what? The author never tells us.

I tried to make a mobile phone call but there was no signal in the room. I wandered into other rooms, hoping for a signal that didn’t appear.

I thought he’d had his belongings confiscated? What’s he doing wandering from room to room during an interview?

The immigration officers called them "KBs"

He elsewhere claims to have good Japanese, yet here seems unaware of 警備員, or is just spinning a story.

Since I could understand their Japanese, they spoke to each other in a language I didn’t recognize: a dialect of North Korean, Mongolian, Manchurian perhaps?

Oh really?

Luckily, I spotted three police officers on patrol in the tunnel. "Onegai! Onegai!" I called out for help, waving my hands in the air like a drowning swimmer. They rushed over. Seeing a foreigner being led away by two men, they sensed something sinister — an abduction perhaps? — and called in another 10 officers.

Oh really?

I dropped the names of various Japanese politicians and public figures, until it occurred to me that these guards might not even be Japanese!


I had done work for NHK dating back to 1994, and knew all about their shadows behind the scenes.


They strip-searched him, feeling everywhere. "Oh, come on! Don’t put your finger in my ass!" he pleaded, but they did.


His knuckles were badly bruised and deformed, like he had been punching a tree, or a human being.


He told me to make a "very strong argument" against the racist officers, the Nazi translator, Asiana Airlines, and the whole decrepit process.


Maybe they had been let out of prison, on condition of working here.


The great writer, Dostoevsky, sentenced to death, standing outside in the freezing Siberian winter waiting to be executed by the firing squad. I though of Solzhenitsyn, finding the courage to write about his experiences in the Gulag Archipelago. I thought about the great political leaders, such as Gandhi and Aung San Suu Kyi.


Somebody new was in the jail’s common room to listen to my phone calls. She was a foreigner, like me. "Great," I thought. "She’ll help sort out this mess." She struck me as being from India, Pakistan or Afghanistan — all countries I’ve visited. She wore a blue blazer and a name tag. The strap said "US Department of Homeland Security."

What is a DHS officer doing in a Japanese detention facility? This would make a great movie.

But within minutes, a posse of police officers showed up. Armed, they stood tall and proud over the immigration officers and the sleazy airline KBs. They folded their arms and stared down the smaller men.

Oh really?

Here was the generational divide in Japan, in full force: the younger cops warming up to the foreigner speaking Japanese, and the older cop stereotyping him as a criminal. It was an anecdote loaded with symbolism, something to write in a story.


She had grey streaks in her black hair, dark freckled skin, and the tortured look of an ex-con. She showed no hint of any Japanese manners, and I wondered if she was from North Korea.

:lol:  :facepalm:

My heart burst open like a seawall against a tsunami.


Leave a comment


  1. Good comment on Fucked Gaijin:

    This guy’s piece fits in perfectly with what has become in recent years. Start with an issue that is probably valid and important to a number of people. Fail to do a good job rallying followers to join the cause. Then, rather than learning how to be a persuasive leader, instead turn to distortion, exaggeration, and outright lies in order to raise the level of outrage.

  2. You know, all he’d really have to do is post a photograph of his reentry permit in his passport, preferably with enough of the page to validate that the stamp was on a Canadian passport.

    The re-entry sticker does not reveal one’s visa/status-of-residence, so his complaints about his privacy should be unfounded.


    (I left the PR stamp partially visible intentionally as an example of the difference between the two stamps and the information they contain)

    I’m not an expert on immigration in Japan, but I’m pretty sure a re-entry permit is proof that one possesses some sort of Status of Residence at least to live in Japan as a non-tourist (but not necessarily proof that one has the right to work in Japan)

  3. I suspect very strongly (assuming this is an actual event and not a work of fiction, as is probably the case now) that he is choosing his words very, very carefully in order to imply he’s talking about a real “Multiple Re-entry Permit” and not “multiple instances of me leaving the country and immigration PERMITTING me to RE-ENTER from Seoul (on a new tourist visa)”.

    Eido those QR-style codes and ID numbers are probably useful to someone somewhere so I’d edit those out as well if I were you.

  4. Thanks for the concern. The QR codes are simply digitally signed binary versions of the same ID numbers on the stickers. All of those stickers are expired and/or cancelled (I’m not a permanent resident anymore), including the passport it’s associated with, so anybody that gets any funny ideas isn’t going to get very far on those codes.

  5. … also, the alien resident registration that those IDs were linked to has been “cancelled” as well. :cool:

  6. I notice a lot of people like Christopher Johnson seem to think that sovereign governments be it japan or America are like commercial service providers. “I pay taxes therefore I have the right to be here.” “I pay taxes therefore I have the right to vote.” “This country should be thankful to have me and my taxes.” “I pay taxes therefore I contribute to society.”

    You are entitled to the rights granted to you regardless of whether you pay taxes or not. You don’t lose your right to free speech because you haven’t paid your taxes. You don’t lose your right to vote because you haven’t paid your taxes.

    In reverse, paying taxes doesn’t buy you the right to vote. It doesn’t buy you the right to live in a country, no matter what CJ thinks.

  7. Oooh, Mr Johnson doesn’t know when to stop!

    The hate and bullying on is largely emanating from cranky old men at NHK who resented my attempts to blow the whistle on their chronic squandering of taxpayer funds.


    And of course:

    I strongly suspect there is a criminal syndicate working at Narita. One guy marks a paper “Entry Denied”, hands you off to a guy who shakes you down for 30,000 yen, hands you off to another guy who takes away your rights in the dungeon, who hands you off to another guy who forced you to buy a rip off plane ticket.


  8. I like his most recent edits to his wonderful work of crowdsourced journalfiction. The bolding of specific text to emphasize his point is just divine.

  9. ((But even Jim was fortunate compared with Danny Bloom, an American journalist who, after working for five years at the Daily Yomiuri, says he was arrested on charges of overstaying his visa, held in solitary confinement for 41 days in 1995, and deported from Japan. He says he had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which affects an estimated 30 million Americans, due to a plane crash in Alaska, and couldn’t fly to Seoul to obtain a work permit. Now exiled in Taiwan, he says he can never return to “the police state” of Japan, even though he still loves Japanese people.))

    Uhm, I might be mistaken since 1995 was before my time, but I have never had to leave Japan to renew my work VISA. Of course if he was living and working illegally on a tourist VISA, he got what he deserved. Me thinks me smells the north end of a southbound bovid.

  10. If you want want a work visa for Japan, you have to be OUTSIDE Japan to get it. Often times, if a company wants you to start work right away, they will bring you over on a tourist visa while you are waiting for the work visa paperwork to clear. When that happens, you take a brief trip to Korea or wherever to apply for the work visa and then get back on the correct side of the law.

    This was offered as an option to me MANY long years ago. It ended up that my work visa paperwork sailed through a lot faster than anyone expected and became moot.

  11. Ah, ok, so he overstayed a tourist VISA by more than a month and got hit with the however many year ban and wanted to claim PTSD as the reason he couldn’t get on a plane (or boat – there is ferry service between the 2 countries) to get everything done properly. My mistake. I came over with a valid work VISA so I have no experience with doing things the nudge nudge wink wink way.

  12. Not sure when/how the rules change, but these days people are able to change SOR (from temporary visitor) within Japan without making the Korea run, so long as all the documents are in order.

  13. CJ’s journey down the rabbit hold clearly didn’t end when he boarded the plane to Alberta. Whatever was in the “Drink Me” bottle is still having an effect.

    The idea that the stalwart elders of NHK are postting on Fucked Gaijin, of all places, in their spare time is about as delusional as you can get.

    Lucky for “CJ” that he has found an ally in, where a noticeable trait is these stories of a foreigner who puts himself at odds with the rules, gets all bent out of shape and launches a racist conspiracy theory.

    The added organized crime sub-plot is an interesting twist, but in the end it still ends up with someone limping along with self-inflicted wounds to the foot: either because the whole sorry issue was their own fault, or they’ve stretched the story so far beyond credibility that no one is buying any of it, even the true bits.


  14. Oh, and does clicking on “CJ”s name against his comments take you to his version of events at (pre)

    No, it takes you to an advertisement for his book…

  15. You have to get your first work visa at an embassy/consulate outside Japan, but renewals are all inside the country. If he were here working for the Yomiuri for 5 years before getting busted on overstaying a tourist visa, then yeah, he got caught playing fast and loose with the rules (although if he were a full-timer at the Yomiuri and they knew and condoned this, then they should be on the hook as well).

  16. You’d think if this was organized crime, they’d be -

    A: Doing a much better job: extracting money from far more people

    B. Silencing anyone who talks

    This is always the funny part of people who choose to elevate thing to the Grand Conspiracy level (“It’s the Whole Government and/or Organized Crime out to get ME!”)

    They have to be both all-powerful (controlling your life, watching your every move) and totally impotent (not sending their forces to silence you, not even being able to shut down a blog, confining their posts to fu-kedgaijin, etc.) at the same time for the whole story to work.

    :lol: :roll: :facepalm:

  17. “You have to get your first work visa at an embassy/consulate outside Japan”

    Substitute ‘had’ for ‘have’. I didn’t see iago’s post and my first-time visa experiences are from the mid-’90s.

  18. I think this sums the whole thing up:

    CJ was gaming the system, working on tourist visas like many choose to do, knowing the risks. (It may be tempting to give him credit and assume he was just ignorant of the rules, but his careful wording shows he knows exactly what’s going on.)

    For whatever reason, CJ chose to forget about the rules of the game. Or worse, thought the rules just wouldn’t/couldn’t/shouldn’t apply to him (a running theme at And the basic theme of the game is:

    If you’re doing the tourist visa game, you have to pretend to be a tourist.

    And remember, every time you play, the difficulty level increases as your passport pages fill with stamps. :wink:

    Rule #1 is to have a return ticket at hand just in case they decide to check.

    He didn’t.
    They checked.
    He got caught with his pants down.

    Even if we set aside the issues of legality and morality of working on a tourist visa, he still committed a FAIL on his own terms. Now he can’t admit to himself it’s all his fault for not taking the most basic precautions to game the system.


  19. And I’m not sure the amounts they took would even cover their costs
    C. As Asiana don’t fly to Canada they will have paid another airline to fly the deportee home at standard rates, most likely making a loss of the paltry ¥100,000 they got out of him
    D. Extracting ¥30,000 to pay for security guards (at one point three solely with him for a number of hours apparently) and rent space a Narita for the detention facilities
    I think the first rule of organised crime is to actually make money

  20. I am no longer so sure he was on a tourist visa. I hadn’t considered that he would have of course been on the return leg of the flight. The link to the MOJ site I posted a few days ago does indeed require a return ticket to qualify for the visa waiver.

    Someone consistently gaming the system for a number of years would certainly be aware of this. The chances of getting caught are simply unacceptably high.

    Now, I think it is much more likely that he was working outside of his visa capacity. And it could certainly be the case that he brought attention to himself with his articles.

    Out of curiosity, If someone gets divorced, are they immediately required to apply for a new visa? Or can they ride out the term of the current spouse visa?

  21. Just confirming, but this whole incident was on return to Japan, right? It’s not a legit visa overstay issue, is it?

    I always thought it not possible to leave Japan as an overstayer, even 1 day over the visa, without being caught, processed, and then (irony) deported, after being fined and put on the Don’t Come Back to Japan for X Years List. I believe the proper (fairly new, with vague statements about leniency to those who come forward voluntarily) procedure for an overstayer (even 1 day) is to report to Immigration and beg them to let you leave in a civilized manner without immediately throwing you in detention. Again, this being one of those issues you’d think a human rights campaigner could put in the bare minimum of effort and investigate…

    Anyway, it can only be a tourist visa thing, or an outside the visa capacity work thing? But he has been silent not only on what his visa status is/was, but if that visa was still in effect (and his initial wording choices imply his legal work visas were long expired). SO I’ve been assuming he was running the tourist visa game.

    Sorry, maybe he’s changed his story? I can’t keep track.

  22. —Sorry, maybe he’s changed his story? I can’t keep track.—

    Precisely. It is unfortunate that as a journalist he seems to have skipped the lesson that it doesn’t help to include lots of irrelevant bits (how many equivalent plane loads a number of people would be, how many people in the USA suffer from PTSD, whether a person’s appearance is attractive, etc etc), as well as that the preferred order of working is for rough draft, fact checking, editing, rewriting, and proofreading all to be done BEFORE publishing.

    Also find it rich that he wrote somewhere that before his deportation he ignored the dark side of life in Japan but now that he has made his case public he is critical of those who won’t immediately jump on his bandwagon. At least I think that is his attitude. I did read the first version all the way through but have too much of a life to read multiple versions and have only since read some iof his comments on AD.

    I prefer not to speculate on things I have not witnessed but when an account raises so many questions it is hard not to. I wonder if he had a proper working visa then would he not have a proper sponser who would now be in a bind without his services and who would now be going through proper channels to get him back over to Japan and back to work? If someone is denied entry to Japan because of an administrative error is there no recourse other than to raise a fuss on a blog?

    But like you say, I can’t keep track.

  23. I think he changed his story to specifically say that he was not doing the tourist visa thing but is citing privacy reasons for still refusing to say exactly what type of visa he had.

    Giving him the benefit of the doubt (I know I know), and granting that the airline let him fly knowing that he’d be their responsibility if he was denied entry, I’m leaning towards working in violation of his status.

    My assumption is that he understands the system well enough to not try and risk revolving visitor visas.

  24. Dude, I agree with you. Just on the last page I commented about a visa-chain, but yeah, working outside the bounds of his actual SOR seems more likely — both to get him in trouble when he’s caught, and to be what he means when he says “I was legal, I was legal.” I think with that he means that “I had the legal right to be in the country” and then willfully omits “but only to engage in specific activities.”

    It’s a shame (for him), because if he had just applied for a permit to do journalism on whatever SOR he did have, he may have avoided the whole fictional mess.

  25. If there’s a conspiracy to make money by deporting “journalists”, why oh why couldn’t they have chosen Kyung Lah? :wink:

  26. If he was going to lie about holding a “visa”, surely he would be a bit more convincing? So I think that what you guys say is the most likely thing: he had some sort of legal status and was trying re-enter on it (rather than entering on a new visa or rolling visa-waiver), however he was in breach of the conditions of it. That he is refusing to answer the many direct questions about this indicates he realises that he was in the wrong.
    This reason for refusal of entry would fit with the lines of questioning about his journalism that he alleges immigration pursued. Intrigued how they got onto this – unless he gave it away in his initial contact at the border, they must have flagged his records between him leaving and returning.

  27. I tend to agree with the above, that it probably wasn’t a visa run, but a case of probably a spec humanities doing journalism.
    Spec Humanities is pretty broad in scope, but I think what probably tripped him up is that journalism has a separate category and different requirements as opposed to say working as a chef in an italian restaurant where you could argue “ways of thought and sensitivity to a foreign culture etc” AND
    the biggy would probably have been not having a contract with a public or private organization.
    My opinion is that if he was working as a journalist for the Asahi Shimbun for example but had the wrong visa he may have got away with it, with a sponsor and contract to back him up if he apologised etc etc. but the probable double whammy of the wrong visa AND no contract and sponsor did for him.

  28. I’d think he’d have initially made a much bigger fuss about having a valid re-entry permit and status of residence had he actually been on a Humanities visa.

    He also notes that an officer wrote “No proof. Entry denied.” As I said in the article, proof of what? No proof that he wasn’t returning to do journalism but humanities, or no proof that he was just a tourist? My money is on the second.

  29. Yeah that’s a good point, I did say on page 1 that anybody with a residential status would be probably the first thing they would tell everyone.
    Though at the same time, being on a return ticket, without an onward ticket, on a visa waiver, doesn’t make sense either. Asiana should have refused him then?
    Either way nothing adds up no matter which way you slice and dice it!

  30. Has anyone here popped over to Korea on Asiana or similar recently?

    When I went over to Hong Kong with ANA last year I don’t remember any particular issue, but when I did it with HK Express the counter person was new and got awfully flustered thinking I was on a UK Overseas (British HKer) passport.

    I’m off to the US next month via Narita, so I’ll keep an eye out for PR stamp checking at the check-in desk.

  31. Apparent he’s also been in Die Welt:

  32. Even many (most?) of the links to his other journalistic work on his site result in 404 Not Found errors. One would think that someone documenting their professional resume would keep a permanent archive of articles and not solely a collection of broken links. Just as his exploits at Narita cannot be independently verified, neither can much of his other work, it would seem. It doesn’t really inspire confidence in accepting anything he says on faith. As I noted before, ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof’.

  33. Laxman Sivaramakrishnan

    @Kenny Boy
    I transitted through Korea to a 3rd country not so long ago, staying a night on the way back.
    They definitely checked the visa status, but no issues there as I have PR. :shock:
    What I was thinking when I applied for it I have no idea. :facepalm:

  34. And Mr Johnson keeps digging…:

    In regards to cyber bullying and attacks by commentators at and other hate sites in Japan [..]. In the case of NHK staff, their posts are already tracked to their homes and newsrooms (in the basement and on upper floors), and stored by providers that are licensed by the government.

    :facepalm: I thought we all worked for TEPCO, not NHK? :wink:

  35. I think while this guy is pretending to be cyber-stalking master (while calling others cyber stalkers, again a theme at this guy is forgeting the reverse side of the coin.

    If you’re going to go into paranoid rants under your name, Google remembers.

    Trashing former employers and/or colleagues (another thing he has in common with debito)..not exactly great for the career,
    one would think it is especially dumb if you’re a freelance – basically ALWAYS looking for work.

    ..unless you’ve decided to settle for the tinfoil hat-buying crowd, self-publishing, and UFO conventions.

    Keep digging. :facepalm:

  36. First of all, there are now two “Tony”s on this thread, so I have enhanced my name. Please do not stalk me! :lol:

    Many holes exist in this story other than the one threatened with a finger in the title, but I think most have been covered.

    But…. this I can not resist:
    > It was not a “visa run”. When Kim Jong-il died, I immediately bought a round-trip ticket to Seoul, and flew the next day. … Everything was carefully planned.

    I smell a more serious conspiracy…. :twisted: :twisted:

    One other point I could not get my head around…
    >>Laying under thin blankets, using my parka (down jacket) as a pillow,

    – surely the reverse would have been more comfortable? (And don’t call me Shirley!)

    Seriously, though, I do not doubt abuses happen, but embellishing them like this is detrimental because it makes it more difficult to attract intelligent, neutral people (i.e Japanese or those in positions of authority who can DO something about it) to the cause, because they don’t like the smell of bullshit.

  37. And while I’m at it,

    Didn’t someone complain recently about making assumptions without evidence?

  38. What a thin skin this “investigative journalist” has. Doesn’t seem well-suited to the job at hand.

    And again, the man who accuses a staffer at Narita Airport of beating up detainees (on the basis of having “bruised knuckles”), who accuses immigration of running a criminal conspiracy taking kickbacks from the airlines for charging deportees for their expenses and homeward travel, is hurt by a bit of internet “cyber-bullying”. Puh-leaze!

    This is another one of those stories that isn’t going anywhere because the complainant has shot his credibility and isn’t going to open up the full facts of the case, anyway.

    And it’s another one where needs to see the writing on the wall and back slowly away…

  39. But haven’t you been paying attention man? All the evidence is right there catalogued on man! Educate yourself and you’ll understand man!

    Oh, and aliens!


    So he starts doing his research AFTER putting this story in public. I guess in his brand of journalism it’s perfectly fine to make accusations of fraud/torture/mob ties/whatever against a private company (whose name you admit you weren’t even sure about – see below), based on the ‘some dudes on the net told me Company X is evil, so it musta been them’ type of claim – because you can just edit it away later?

    while wondering (in his own comments) if what he thought he saw was actually just a delusion anyway?

    He writes “(((Who are these guards? In my delirium during detention, I originally thought I saw “gas” written on their uniforms and van.)))”

    …a statement which pretty much takes his chances in any sort of dreamed court case for “defamation” regarding criticism of his story from the previous value of zero to “judge rules plaintiff must pay all defense fees and court costs” probably with compensatory damages to the defendant.

    (So, check out that “delirium” comment before it disappears.)

    And just think, if nobody had questioned his story, he would be happily pushing his accusations in their original state, trying to sell them, maybe get them in print, and then would have been subject to a libel suit from this security company.
    Now he seems to have dodged that possibility.

    A simple “Thank you” is all we ask.


    Screw it. Maybe we should just sit back and let these types dig their holes without any criticism…until the subpeona comes. Heck, even cheer them on! I still think a good chunk of the remaining debito commenters are already doing so for their own amusement.

  41. Or this one:

    It’s all a cover up!

    If “CJ” follows the links provided, though, he should be able to figure out if he recognises the logo on the G4S van or not.

    Or he could Google, find:


    and accuse them instead. At least the name kind of matches…


  42. Oooh, The Economist’s blog weighs in:

    Mr Johnson’s visa status is unclear: in an interview, he said his lawyer advised him not to discuss it.


    I’m writing a comment there right now. :lol:

  43. That’s how I found them… :smile:

  44. With the benefit of some competent writing and editing, the story starts to sound almost plausible!


  45. I think its important to show some compassion. We have to take into account that he’s a middle age man not some snot-faced kid just rolling with life. Suddenly, he’s taken way out of his comfort zone and away from his life partner, his dog etc. He’s spent 20 years or so committed to Japan. Emotionally battered, put on a plane and sent to Canada. God! He could be living with his parents. So maybe the story a little scrambled, he sounds overwhelmed.

  46. It would be easier to be compassionate if his story were more believable. If he just came right out and said “Yes, I fucked up on my visa, and they treated me like this despite a long history here with a clean record.” I would be more sympathetic.

    Yes, emotions may be a factor influencing the truthiness of the story, but the very calculated manner in which things are phrased and what seem to most likely be deliberate omissions and exaggerations to boost the drama level makes me think again.

    All to imply much worse things (bruised knuckles = regular beatings?), or to elevate himself, etc. I mean, in the current version of the story in the Economist, the unsuspecting reader will believe all his visas and such were in proper order, and the Immigration officer deliberately ignored them due to some ulterior motive.

    And now add in that human memory is very fallible and flexible. For even the most objective person, not trying to embellish their story, the version of a story in our head tends to evolve over time. And this account seems pretty far from objective.

    Who knows what the story will be 1 year from now, or 10?