California student Julian Adame remains in jail eight months after breaking lamp in Tokyo
Adame’s mother sets up crowdfunding campaign to help raise money for her son.
Recently, Japan’s legal system has been in the international spotlight following the arrest of former Nissan Chief, and chairman of the three-way alliance between Renault SA, Nissan, and Mitsubishi Motors, Carlos Ghosn.
While Ghosn is likely to remain in pre-trial detention at Tokyo Detention House for months to come, he’s not the only foreigner who’s been caught up in Japan’s strict legal system lately. California student Julian Adame has also been detained at the same detention facility after he was arrested during a drunken night out in May last year.
Adame’s case has been making news around the world, as he now approaches nine months in jail awaiting trial.
According to reports, the arrest occurred on 22 May after the University of Redlands student, who’d travelled to Japan on a study abroad program, had been bar-hopping with two people he’d met at his hostel. Adame’s mother, Leah Smith, maintains that her son fell asleep at one of the bars after three beers and when he awoke, his companions had gone and police were informing him that he’d have to pay for a lamp he’d broken, which was worth 100,000 yen (US$915.90).
Smith says her son had been warned about Japanese gang members who “dress up like police officers, ask for your passport to commit identity theft, and extort and kidnap you.” So when the police officers asked to see his passport he refused, which resulted in him being taken to a local police station.
Despite being in Japan, where the emergency services number is 119, Smith says Adame panicked and called “911” thirteen times. Police officers took Adame back to his hostel to obtain his passport, but when one of the officers attempted to handcuff him, he refused arrest. Police then charged him with the Obstruction of the Performance of Official Duties, and he has been detained on this charge ever since.
Smith has set up a GoFundMe account to help cover translator fees, the cost of the broken lamp, and a flight home for her son. She also made a plea for help on U.S. television, saying “I just want him home. This is ridiculous, he’s not a criminal.”
Reports say Adame has pleaded guilty to the charges, which come with a maximum of three years imprisonment or a fine of up to 500,000 yen. His trial has been postponed until mid-February.
Reactions to Adame’s arrest have been mixed. While many are able to sympathise with his plight, others believe some details of the story, including claims that he punched an officer, are missing. Smith did admit to radio station KTXL that “At one point the police officer grabbed his arm and it snapped back and hit the officer in his chin.”
Regardless, everyone can agree that Japan’s legal system, which is known to commonly deny bail and use long periods of detention to extract confessions of guilt, is not one you want to get caught up in.
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