Don’t know how it got there, but it sure livened things up yesterday.
This is pretty old news by now, but I just found out about it. I don’t spend much time surfing websites about Japan. When I still lived in the US, I hardly ever followed local news either. I’ve always been a Time/Newsweek/US News & World Report kinda guy.
For years and years, the English language website for Mainichi News had a section called WaiWai. It translated salacious and bizarre articles from the dregs of Japanese tabloids into English. As far as I know, the authors of WaiWai never made anything up–they left that to the authors of the original articles about such nonsense like a restaurant where you could have sex with a pig then have it cooked for you.
A Japanese person could read the original articles in their original context and considering the source and content easily see through the bullshit, similar to how an American could tell that an article from the National Inquirer or Weekly World News about scientists planning to blow up the moon is most likely not true. But foreigners have a propensity to believe absolutely anything they read about Japan, up to and including the thousands upon thousands of used panty vending machines on every street corner here that don’t f**king exist.
Apparently it was the “You screw it we cook it” restaurant story that caught the attention of Japanese bloggers and 2channers back in May. They got fired up about WaiWai sullying the reputation of their beloved country overseas, and from there the mass media caught wind and ran with it.
As reported in Japan Probe, the Mainichi acted all shocked and stunned, as if they had no idea WaiWai even existed, closed down the site, apologized in Japanese and English, and even went so far as to punish the employees responsible for the column. The chief editor, an Australian named Ryann Connell, has become the outraged public’s whipping boy and is currently suspended for three months from his job and sequestered in his home with police protection after receiving a number of death threats, as reported in the Australian media.
Here’s my take on the whole situation. WaiWai should have been shut down years ago. Republishing tabloid articles under the Mainichi name lent credibility to the articles that were most likely complete fabrications. I used to visit the site a few times a year simply because the articles were painful to read, which is kind of fun in an intellectually masochistic kind of way. They painted a picture of Japan very different from the Japan I know from living here. A news outlet like the Mainichi shouldn’t be in the business of publishing stories in a column where a small percentage of them are true and the rest are tabloid trash without any kind of disclaimer attached to the unsourced articles. In the end, the company got what it deserved–a whole lot of bad publicity and a mass exodus of their advertising sponsors.
There’s a chain mail message making the rounds in Japan claiming that a three year old girl with leukemia at the Showa University Hospital in Tokyo can’t receive a life-saving operation because there isn’t enough type B rh negative blood. Both the Japan Red Cross and the hospital have been receiving so many calls that they both put up notices on their web sites saying that the mail is bogus. What’s more, the hospital’s message says that even if the child was a patient, they’d be legally restricted from revealing that information.
When I was growing up, all we ever did was make crank calls and tape record them. It never made headlines, but we laughed ourselves silly listening to them over and over for months.
Here’s the original heart-wrenching message:
What I don’t get is why a message like this serves as a call to arms to hundreds of people willing to help, but if you stand a 80 year old woman on crowded train, everyone who’s sitting down ignores her.
I don’t know how many people are familiar with popular websites in Japan, but 2ch is the most widely used online forum. The interface is absolute crap, but that’s par for the course when it comes to Japanese websites. Check out the Wikipedia article for more info. It’s pretty interesting, especially the story about Densha Otoko.
On the first of this month a 23 year old vagrant used his cell phone to post a message on 2ch saying that he was going to kill an elementary schoolgirl in Chiba Prefecture on Feb 15 at 3pm. As a result, over 15,000 community volunteers and parents in Chiba were mobilized to ensure the safety of children going to and from the nearly 1,300 schools in the prefecture. When the police tracked down the person who posted the threats, he said he wrote the messages because he thought the replies were funny. The authorities disagreed.
Another link, so you can see what a typical 2ch thread looks like.
If you want to see how far and wide his threats reverberated through the net, Google this: 千葉の女子小学生を２月１５日１５時に殺しちゃいます
Early this morning a 31 year old unemployed man sneaked up behind a 41 year old taxi driver taking a wizz in a public toilet at a shrine in Shinjuku and whacked him in the head a few times with a hammer. Two guys passing by heard the driver’s screams and held the attacker until the police arrived. The attacker said he wanted to die, and figured if he killed somebody he’d get the death penalty. Luckily the victim wasn’t seriously injured. Must not have been a sledge hammer.
The reason I haven’t been updating this here blog so often lately is because I’m spending all my free time reading and trying to learn as much Japanese as anyone who’s lived here as long as I have ought to know already. I’ve been here nearly half my life, I just turned 40 and my preteen kids read and write better than I can. I’ve slacked off for far too long.
So this week, and maybe from now on, I’m going to paraphrase news articles I read in Japanese and provide a link to the original for anyone who wants to read along. I’m not going to make any attempt whatsoever to use high-falootin’ words or accurately translate articles.
The teen spray-painted the arm white and planted it in a flower pot, and then took his mother’s head to a police station, where he turned himself in, police said.
I hope my wife and I raise our children to deal with stress through more healthy methods. If you suddenly stop hearing from me…we failed.