WORLD CUP AFTERMATH
"UNWANTED PREGNANCIES FROM RAPE"
A QUICK CHAT WITH MIYAGI ASSEMBLYMAN KONNO
As Time Magazine Asia reported some weeks back, Miyagi Prefectural Assemblyman
Mr Konno Takayoshi was quoted during a June, 2001 assembly as saying:
"Given the exceptional atmosphere of the event, we must face the possibility of unwanted babies fathered by foreigners who rape our women."
("Ijou na fun'iki ni tsutsumarete naigaijin reipu ni yoru fuhon'i na akachan shussan made ga mondai ni natte orimasu" My literal translation: "Wrapped up in this abnormal atmosphere, there will be problems up to babies born against one's will due to foreign-Japanese (naigaijin) rapes." The quote in context in original Japanese transcript at http://www.2002rifu.net/problem/prb-hooligan2.html)
I said on June 6 in a report that if nothing like this happens, I will contact Mr Konno's office and ask for a public retraction.
Well, nothing like this happened. According to news on Yahoo brought up on The Community Mailing list, the final tally for arrests during the World Cup went like this:
93 World Cup-related crimes in Japan for the duration.
60 of these by Japanese nationals.
30 arrests for scalping
17 for obstuction
10 for obscenity
Other crimes include theft, trespassing, selling counterfeit goods, etc.
But not rape. So around 3 pm on July 5, 2002, I called up the Jimin Kurabu at the Miyagi Kengikai (022-211-3528) and asked to talk to Mr Konno. He was in a meeting, but soon afterwards he called me back on my keitai and we had a nice chat. Discussion went something like this:
ARUDOU: Your statement worked on the presupposition that foreigners would cause trouble, and it caused social damage because people often assumed foreign-looking people were hooligans.
KONNO: That was not my intention. It was not a statement. It was a question. Rapes did happen during the Mexico World Cup eight years ago. I was asking the Miyagi Governor what sort of provisions would be made if something like this happened here.
ARUDOU: Still, the question fearmongers. Japanese society still has a hard time admitting that foreigners do any good here or serve any purpose. Instead, people like Tokyo Governor Ishihara or the police make clear public statements that foreigners cause crime. The facts during the World Cup do not bear this out. Quite the opposite--more Japanese caused trouble. Don't you think that you should admit that your question was ill-advised?
KONNO: Well, I personally have nothing against foreigners. I have foreign friends, my family has homestays. I meant no harm to foreigners who live here. And it was because of all the provisions we made to guard against hooligans that we had a safe and successful World Cup.
ARUDOU: Yes, but at great social damage. I for the first time in sixteen years found Japan a very uncomfortable place to live. I watched people and police's attitudes towards foreigners in Sapporo and Hamamatsu during two very important games, and it was hardly pleasant. The presumptions promoted by how you phrased your question are but the tip of the iceberg of the overall mindsets. Now that it's all over, nobody is coming out and publicly saying, "we overdid it", "we worried too much", or apologizing for "causing inconvenience to the foreign-looking members of our society". Instead, it was the bad things you said about foreigners which got all the publicity.
KONNO: Yes, I got lots of calls from the overseas press. New York Times. Le Figaro. There was a lot of misunderstanding.
ARUDOU: And as a public official I think you should clarify your standpoint. Won't you please consider making a public statement clarifying what your question was aiming at? And that you were not intending to speak ill of the well-meaning and constructive foreign members of Japanese society? It might undo a lot of the damage done. It would at least give a sense of balance.
KONNO: I'll consider it. Thanks for letting me know your thoughts and for cautioning me. Let me know next time you're in Miyagi-ken.
All-in-all, we had a very nice conversation with him in no hurry to cut the line. Maybe he'll act on my suggestion, we'll see. Not holding my breath, but I believe just a brief call like this is better than having done nothing.
Proposing this as a Community Project:
(return to www.debito.org World Cup 2002 Index Page)