The Short Nasty Journey
Copyright © by Hideo Asano


“The prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment represents a fundamental value in a democratic society. This applies no matter what --- also in the treatment of terrorists and killers,” verdict of a Norway court says.

 

“Policemen and terrorists came from the same basket,” remarked Joseph Conrad.

 

1
Plague

My friend, would you rather be KINDLY killed than to be unreasonably apprehended in a country where there is not a drop of human rights? Well, you will find out.
               It took place in the old town of city of Nara where I was arrested on the 31th December of 2014. I was celebrating New Year Eve alone as I was drinking a can of beer in front of a church in a busy shopping arcade. That was when a young man of early thirties who had a thin mustache, stubble of beard, hawk nose and wide-set eyes came up to harass me. He had already bullied me every the other day of last week. This was my first uninvited physical human contact, in Japan, with a man whom I didn’t know. Initially I was shocked encountering such an unseemly person in an environment where people are not daring to make any mistake and people do not easily approach strangers to talk, if someone took the strange affair on a video camera it would roll as follows below.
Scene one: while I was walking up the hilly road of S. Street toward the Nara Park, a young man came up from right behind me and bumped the left side of my body as he held my left arm with both of his hands. “Look, you dropped a tissue paper,” he said pointing out with his forefinger of his left hand. I looked back where I walked from. I could barely see a piece of stretched out clean tissue paper that was placed on the sidewalk of the S. Street in front of a shoe shop, TABIJI, selling colorful jikatabi about ninety three steps away from where we were around the five story pagoda. The eyes of the young man indicated me that I must go down to pick it up. I didn’t want to make myself a fool with him since you never see any shiners in Japan. I kept walking toward the park.
Scene two: Two days later. The same young man made another physical contact with me with the same manner at the same spot he had made the first physical contact with me. He held my left arm with both hands coming up from right behind me and said, “Sono gomiwa orega hirotta yo. Sorewa nihonjin toshete hajida yo.”  I clinched my right fist tight but again I didn’t dare to make myself fool. Ignoring him, I walked up towards the park, but, even at this moment, I had never thought that I was unfairly marked by this man.
Scene three: Two days later. When I walked by the same shoe store, the same young man ran out of the shop and grabbed my right arm saying, “Doushite mata kitano?” At this time, the blood rushed to my head. I ran into the shop where he came out from hoping to talk to the manager of the store but no one only a girl at cashier. I told her if he harasses me again I will call police but the young man violently pushed out the store. Two cops, one fat and one slim, who were walking by. I didn’t expect to get real help from them but simple help. I told them briefly about the problem in need of their help for better than nothing. They were not quick thinkers but I wanted them to warn him not to bother people for no apparent reason. I knew now I was clearly marked by him but I had no idea why I was marked. One of them got into the shop and came out a while later, “How can we help you?” the fat one asked me suspiciously. The predator missed out saying “Sir, we told the young fellow that if he does again to you, we will arrest him.” Somehow I was treated unfairly and improperly which was apparent. Probably they judged me according to my careless style. The color of my sport jacket worn out badly and faded by the sun I wore for many years but only a book I held in my hand dignified me as a poet. Soon the shop was surrounded by a pack of hyenas. I was thrown into the back seat of an unmarked police car nearby and locked me up in the car with three cops for more than an hour. One of them appeared who was in charge shouted at me. He treated me as a trouble-maker for some reason that I didn’t know. He was lean and short man. “I know what you think in your mind. You think you can get away if you speak in English, uh?” screeched the cop like an angry craw. The cop early thirties acted like a real street thug.  I was shocked when he asked me why I had hit the young man.  I sensed that the bully fabricated the whole story to the cops since I don’t have witness. I realized again that you can’t even get a simple help from gullible cops. He kept shouting in my face in high pitch like a barking dog. I felt I was dead speaking in Japanese due to the fact that I haven’t practiced for many years. The thug didn’t have distinctive face. The utter silence was my only option and let it go as it should be. There was no worth to argue with a stupid cop since you were alone and no one with you to back you up. When I tried to get out the car, I was blocked from being freed. Ignoring him, I commenced to read sitting in the back seat of the unmarked car. The thug suddenly stretched out his right hand from his front seat and tried to snatch my rucksack in an act of thief the police made. I secured it hard trying not to lose it. The cop kept shouting in my face. Eventually he gave up and ordered the driver to take me to the Nara railway station.
Scene four: Two days later. The tormentor showed up again at night when I was drinking a can of beer standing in front of a church in a busy shopping arcade in the old town of Nara celebrating the New Year Eve. I naturally pulled out my punch into his face but he didn’t hit me back. People could logically get into a fistfight or he might have killed in this situation. But people cannot perform naturally under the rule of fear. Cowardly he called police on me. There was a moment of scuffle between him and me before I quickly walked away from him. But soon he ran up and grabbed my jacket from behind of me. In three minutes, I found myself surrounded by a pack of predators. The angry craw was among them and commandingly said, “You are under ARREST!” There was no explanation.  There was no reason to arrest me without any crime but he did it because simply he could do it. I felt like I was a sheep utterly surrounded by a pack of hungry wolves. But I was in high spirit. I felt like soaring high to the icy cold blue sky as a bird.

 

2
Coliseum

In the police custody, where I was held, cops constantly hypnotized me with the two words of hansei and mitomeru as if two lethal hooks dangling to trap a fish for its mouth to be opened.
What can anyone expect fair treatment from the pariahs?  They are not reliable when you needed. They are not well polished cops like in a highly democratic country BUT in an authoritarian environment. They are not critical thinkers. They are deadly conformists. They have broad power to bully people and arrest people without any crime. They are not accountable. They are far more contagious than cholera.  They have no hearts. They are robot cops. They are thugs. Thieves, murders and serial killers as well as rapists are in sheep skin. Apes might dream to carry guns one day to be in charge. 
My fundamental right to have a public defender was denied. My request to call my budget hotel where I stayed to let them know what had happened to me was also denied. I was forced to mitomeru I didn’t know what for without a legal representation. Naturally I sensed that I had no right to defend myself.
They constantly tried to kill my spirit using dirty tactics of unbearable humiliation to make me a total submissive person. In fact, they are breeding rebels who could stand up for their rights after they had unfairly been treated. The mistreatment of pariahs boosted my fighting spirit alive to deliver the voice of my boiling blood for the fundamental rights what we were born to live with human dignity.
The solitary confinement where I was held faced to the dignified large wooden desk a guard who flicked papers sitting at. The loud voices of detainees drifted out of the cells. Each cell had three or four detainees. Most of them were young and looked like felons with their harsh faces. They seemed completely at comfort, rather cheerful talking to each other. All the cells were bright with artificial rightness.
How easily anyone can be arrested by the scavengers for no reason instead of protected by. Certainly I was targeted for some reason. I seldom talked to local people. No one speaks English about me which made me feel like I was a criminal. I knew that some people hate people who have distinctive character in a colorless collective society where there is not a drop of individualism. The proverb that deru kugi utareru backed it up.
     Like I did while I was in Tokyo, in Nara, I basically loved to meet moderate souls who loved reading.  I also enjoyed talking with them for the sake of my spirit to be lifted and alive. I was also bullied by a man in Ueno Park in Tokyo where I loved to be to meet soulful foreigners who love reading. The parasite was short and slim with small harsh bony face in thirties. He had face like an ex-convict type with mustache and stubble wearing a baseball cap working with row boats in a lake at the park. When he saw me talking with foreigners he often rushed out of the lake. “Nande hito o tamashi agate iru?” he shouted me authoritatively.  I was like a clean wolf doing my own business for survival as a struggling writer but I was constantly tormented by him. He was like the Plague who bullied me in Nara. We didn’t know each other. I have never talked with him before. I didn’t want to make myself stand out. Eventually I stopped to put my foot into the park. 
I must let my readers know that a week before my arrest I was improperly stopped on a street in the old town of Nara by a pair of men and a few hours later by a man. They were all dressed up in dark business suits. They asked me authoritatively that why I always talk to foreigners. I was speechless to the stupid question. Then I realized that I was undoubtedly marked for some reason. But I wasn’t concerned about because I didn’t do anything wrong. I just carried on my usual days hanging out to get some support from booklovers from overseas as a struggling writer.
Standing up to the bully was a legitimate cry to protect my sovereignty. But the rightful outcry is forbidden in a collective society where people tyrannizing their own emotions. How beautiful if I was badly beaten up by him to say cheerfully with my bleeding mouth, “Happy New Year!”
No doubt that the predator held grudge on me. I didn’t bow down to the police intimation that took place in the unmarked police car. Cowards are looking for soft targets neglecting more important things to be handled. But the paraiah underestimated me that I am not a person who unarmed. I must forge the tip of my pen for my boiling blood to flow from to shake the earth. When the tip frayed, I will forge it again and again until the last drop of my strength
 No wonder why so many foreign visitors arrested for crazy things, I thought. The deadly quiet sight of streets without a single dramatic event is a SIGN of a siren. There is neither entertainment with boys who engage free boxing matches nor sights of drunken baggers or people using obscene words in a colorless collective society. What a spineless bully who should have been arrested for repeated harassment instead of me.  Heartless robot cops are useless for the innocent people to be protected and served from.  Even if I was badly hurt by him and police try to arrest him I might say that “Sir, we were fooling each other as friends.”  At least, he will remember what he has done to me for the rest of his life. 
The fear constantly dominated me. I hated fear which was the pleasure of subjugators. I tried to keep calm as much as I could as the only weapon I had. I wished that I was absolutely courageous person like a shepherd who faithfully swore nothing to fear. The certain thing was that I couldn’t allow myself to die in gas chamber. I felt the uncertainty subjugated me. But I saw a sparkle in the darkness of uncertainty because I never lost confidence in me. No one should be treated such a way I was treated. The real fear was that you never know how you would be ended up under the penal code of Stone Age. What right do they have to detain me indefinitely without a formal charge filed against me?  I had stomachache realizing that I am in their hands for MERCY. I will never bow down to pariahs. I rather choose death. Many condemned men were wrongly convicted and hanged since they never had fair trials. 
The gas chamber was operated under the rigid rules. The loud pop music was played after the row call in the morning until the row call in the evening. The stupid loud music didn’t disturb me because I kept my mind busy thinking many things about how to defend myself. Coffee, orange juice or hot chocolate were luxuries unless the detainees want to pay it when they get released. So far I fought not to order anything.
A young guard who was sitting at the large wooden desk talked with several other young guards who were standing by the desk could be seen through the iron bars. I tried to love fear. I knew that I must beat myself to be composed to exist. They were serving detainees for food and tea. I had plenty of lousy hot brown tea as long as I asked them.
Before lunch, on 2nd of January, a middle-aged pariah came over to me with a sheet of paper in his hand. I was shocked that I would be detained ten days from the day when the cop read the order from the court. I thought I would be released within twenty-four hours assuming that the prosecutor would dismiss my case which had no worth to prosecute me. I felt that I fell into a trap. I told him that I wanted to have my own lawyer.  Three sheets of list of lawyers was handed me and I selected a few of them to call them. But I had to wait until Monday due to the New Year holiday.
I kept passing back and forth in my cold gloomy solitary confinement which had no window. No blue sky could be seen, nor did I hear the lustily calling of birds nor could I breathe fresh air which is essential for living being.
I never believed my intuition but strangely I didn’t want to go out that morning of the day when I was arrested..   
I kept reading laboriously to kill time. All books in the gas chamber were junk books printed into local language.

 

3
The Poacher

Almost every day, I was taken into the torture chamber, one of the fearful small rooms, for ruthless torishirabe (lasted for eight hours per day) to extract false confessions from me. I was treated worse than a felon who could be charged with first degree murder. 
           The whole world should know how cruel the interrogator, I called him Poacher, was.  I was unable to describe his small face about early thirties as accurate as possible because he didn’t have distinctive face but somewhat resembled to young Comrade Duch who tortured and murdered many innocent people in a prison during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. 
The interrogator didn’t show even a drop of respect for the man of letter as if a little dog that was barking at a lion. I am not a tamed lion in a circus entertaining people. I am a furious lion in a jungle. I must forge the tip of my pen for my boiling blood to flow from to make a big earthquake and when the tip worn out I will forge it again and again until the last drop of my strength.
“We follow a pen,” said a French woman.
I wished I could file a complaint on him after I got out of the Coliseum alive. But there is no accountability under authoritarian regime. I never heard about any individual filing a civil rights and civil liberty lawsuit against an officer or the city. The interrogator didn’t even give me his name when I asked but I heard his colleagues called him as Goto as his last name. They are untouchable. They are like Gestapo. Name tags are not required to wear and their ID numbers are not large enough to read. They even stop people on streets randomly for carding and pocket or bag search which is illegal in many highly democratic countries. I was one of them who had been gone through the unpleasant experiences a few times.  
Noble souls deserve to be respected but they are merely subsistence and low dogs are more important than noble souls under authoritarian regime. Noble souls must be overcome dark souls.  Socrates cannot be a bootlicker. 
What’s the point to live if there are no human rights? What’s the point to live if there is no fundamental freedom of individual rights? Can you live with dignity in an environment where there is not a drop of basic human rights? Yes, I thought, you can if you believe that a living dog is better than a dead lion. A huge angry man lifted a pig and gave him a bomb slam onto the hard pavement might be the only gift to the eyes of living dogs.
                Probably the torturer passionately believed that sword is mightier than pen.  Probably he didn’t know that those who live by the sword die by the sword. Probably he didn’t know that my words fly like bullets and shake like an earthquake. The only soft part of the brutal investigator was he didn’t devour me alive.
The distance of the trip between my solitary confinement and the torture chamber through the office room for pariahs I was taken in handcuff almost every day was no more than fifteen steps. But it was a disgraceful and painful journey. It was well designed in a fashion of unbearable humiliation to break my spirit, identity and dignity, in order to make me a bootlicker. I was forced to bow down and to say Arigato gozaimasu loudly and cheerfully to each of the predators who were sitting at their desks as I marched through for the public humiliation. There was no protection from humiliation for a man except death in totalitarianism, I thought. It reminded me what a Jamaican man who told me about how the masters killed the spirits of slaves by using gruesome method to obey and to serve their masters.
I asked him to kill me refusing to bow down them. According to my personal belief, I only bow down to God not to predators.
“This is a Japanese culture!!!” shouted Poacher.
The driving force of intimidation, authoritarianism and terrorism works for the salves (submissive people who kneel down to kiss the boots of subjugators) but not for the well-educated people. The ancient tactics of fear and cruelty were laughing stock to the people who have souls of lion. Poacher may believe that he could bend a pen. My pen is sharper than serpent’s tooth. Pray for him.
The pariah threatened me that he will send me to prison for ten years. I was struggled not to display fear on my face. But I was devastated by the psychological torture. Maybe some truth in his words, I thought. I remembered a warning notice that punching in the face of someone is punishable by fifteen years of imprisonment. If self-defense is breaking the law, break the law, I thought. But people in a collective society are deadly submissive.
What made Poacher to earn his bread as a torturer? Does he have some dark history with his family when he grew up? Probably his brain retarded by the venereal disease as the son of a whore.
I was in handcuff restrained by a leather strap around my waist to a cold chair tightly and tightened the belt further when I requested it to be loosened a bit since having difficulty to breathing.  I was neither to move from the chair nor jump up from the chair. For many hours sitting on the chair, I shivered my body that wrapped in thin clothes provided in the gas chamber in cold winter. For eight eternal hours, I had to face the interrogator across the small table for torishirabe as I was forced to sit with my back upright with my hands on my lap. My arms were neither allowed to move, not a bit, nor my hands from my laps where it rested. I had to sit motionlessly like a statue without my own sensitivity while I wanted to tear the strap that tied around my body to set myself free to jump up from the chair but I had no choice so I only sat there dead. Poarch tried to control my body and soul in every aspect. The glare of light hurt my eyes too. At each of the moment when I had to shut my eyes for a few seconds to ease my eyes, I endured the roar of thunder from him.  The real torture was I had to face the face of evil right in front of me.
The faculty of my mind didn’t work properly to think rationally because of the mixture of fear, fatigue, confusion and the lack of my knowledge primitive judicial system of Japan. 
The relentless torishirabe also revealed the violation of  freedom of expression.  I also noticed that I was constantly spied by someone while I was having conversation with foreigners. I still remembered a strange young woman (probably she was a plain cover officer) who spied on me while I was talking with an Italian man. She pretended she was a tourist holding a map near us while we were talking. We left and she also left on her bicycle.
The executioner forced me to CONFESS the garbage of the parasite. He constantly shouted at me at the top of his voice like a barking dog across the table. I disagreed at many areas of the garbage. The roar of torturer made my jaw tightened and dried my mouth. I was like a defenseless and powerless frightened HOSTAGE kidnapped by terrorists. I had to only take punches as a punching bag.
The savage Poacher interrogated me, across the small table, based on the false report of accuser which there was not a grain of truth as far as what I noticed according to the cross-examination but full of false accusations. He periodically glanced at the garbage from the drawer where he kept it as he pulled secretly toward him. He never let out the name of the accuser, the Plague, out of his mouth. He probably well trained for that not to give it away to defendant, I thought. He continued asking full of irrelevant questions (clearly wasting his time and my time on the taxpayers’ money) and I answered to unconsciously because I was exhausted.  I was like a sane person who wrongly ended up in a mental hospital enduring constant electric-shock treatment and routinely injected with drugs in a mental hospital. The process of lengthy interrogation was like big game fishing, I thought. Tired marline eventually ends up in the hands of fisherman. The cop basically rephrased the garbage on a writing pad in his handwriting and if one word he made mistake he rewrote it all over again from the beginning on the new sheet. After a few pages he wrote he went out of the chamber with the sheets he worked on in his handwriting and soon returned with the same sheets in his hand. I thought that he had to get a hanko as approval from his senior officer.
I never understood that why he asked me such stupid irrelevant questions--provisions of breakfast, lunch and dinner of mine and the time of doze and rose--which nothing to do with the assault charge if it was the reason why I was arrested for. It was a sheer wasting of money and time.  
The pariah seemed to blindly believe the garbage which had a pack of lies. If he considered my side of story, even a bit, he could at least find out the possible motivation of Plague that why he had bullied me every the other day and for what reason I stroke him. If you punched someone there must be a reason for but the hyena didn’t try to find it out. I myself didn’t know yet the reason why I was bullied by a stranger. We were completely strangers to each other..  But he watched on me. That was for sure.
Probably executioner had never grown out of a bulling boy, I thought. He may consider a seppuku for himself for being a shameful police man. It’s a joke. Chicken can’t do it.
Before taken back to my gloomy cell, I was forced to sign the paper the torturer worked on without legal representation. The paper I signed on must be renounced because it was done against my will. I also didn’t know what I was signing for. I was already fatigued because of the relentless interrogation.

 

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