This case is currently sending shockwaves throughout the foreign communities of Japan, particularly English teachers. Although I’m just as disgusted as anyone else, I find it oddly encouraging that there is little precedent for dealing with cases of this sort (ie, cases involving foreign nationals arrested for child molesting). In other words, it happens so rarely here in Japan – as opposed to countries like Thailand or Cambodia – that when it does we are genuinely horrified. Or am I being naive? Perhaps it does actually happen quite often, and the perpetrators have been getting away with it all along because of Japan’s relatively lax laws about child porn – until recently it was technically still legal here, and widely available even in supermarkets – and the general reluctance to run background checks on people who work with children.
Some politicians are now demanding, sensibly enough, that foreign teachers be subjected to much stricter scrutiny from now on. Whatever the case, it needs to be underscored that the majority of child molesters in Japan are Japanese males, not gaijin males. Although I welcome a tightening of the laws, especially regarding background checks, I think it needs to be applied to Japanese men just as much as foreign men. Then we’ll really see some progress here.