Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Jmovie review: Soredemo Boku wa Yattenai

Soredemo Boku wa Yattenai is a very interesting movie about Teppei, an innocent man who is falsely accused of being a chikan/groper. Almost everyday, one reads of Japanese men being caught for chikan/upskirt/voyeurism etc. Its so common place that they've even got women only trains. This movie takes a look at how the justice system handles such matters, through the eyes of our protagonist, Teppei.

Hhmm, reason no.5 why I want to go Japan. :)

First thing this movie tells you is that the smart thing to do is to just plead guilty, pay the fine and walk out of the police station as the alternative is hell. The police the right to keep one in prison for weeks and bail was denied on the basis that he might intimidate the his accuser! And I thought bail was to prevent the accused from fleeing the country/not coming to court. If Japan were a common law country, one could argue pretty convincingly that every person accused of a crime should be denied bail. Why even have bail in the first place?

Second thing this movie tells you is that there is no presumption of innocence. Nothing surprising about that. Most people assume that police would not charge anyone without concrete evidence. The scary bit is how the judiciary is portrayed as an arm of government who's sole purpose is to rubber stamp the arrest and send people to jail. They even went so far as to use Teppei's JAV as collection. I mean which guy doesn't have porn. And 50% of JAV involve schoolgirls. Its like saying all Japanese men are very likely to be chikans.

What sort of sukebe would want to molest a joshi kousei as young and innocent as her?! On second thought, don't answer that question.....

The judge running Teppei's case talks about how the number one function of a judge is not to send an innocent man to jail. Quickly, he is taken off the case. Finding someone innocent is an embarrassment to the police and there is always pressure for the judiciary to not only please the police and the bureaucracy behind it. In order words, there is no fucking safeguard in place. The judiciary does not function as a check and balance of the police's powers. The system itself is fucked.

The most interesting thing is what is not talked about in the show; legal system and public policy. Japan's legal system is based on civil law ie judicial precedents are hardly given weight and there is stricter interpretations of statute. Whereas in common law, ie US/Aust/UK the crimes act would be adhered to but based on principles of law established by previous cases. In order words, Japanese judges have almost no power of interpretation and everything is about legislation.

Remember ladies, always hold onto the hand that gropes you! :)

Basically, the Diet has legislated a criminal system where people who have been accused are so much better of admitting to the crime and let off with minimal trouble and where the accussed are not given a fair go at proving their innocence. The scene where Teppei's accuser takes the stand is so heartbreaking. I felt so sorry for her and admired her bravery and yet that has nothing to do with whether or not Teppei did the crime.

What this movie really needed was someone playing the devil's advocate. Proving someone was a chikan is hard. Since the trains are so crowded anyone could easily claim that it was a case of mistaken identity and would cost the courts, police and public prosecutor so much resources just fight these cases. Not to mention having the women/girls relive their experience in court.

The scene where they staged the chikan incident is ingenious. :)

One the other hand, letting people off with a fine does nothing to discourage chikan. Furthermore I don't think having a fair trial system would encourage an avalanche of innocent please would drain resources. Would a guilty person actually want to risk pleading innocent as society would presumed him guilty anyway?

I highly recommend this movie to anyone interested in Japan. The pacing is slow but its a very eye opening experience. In the end, what this movie is about is in the first line of the show: an innocent shall not be punished even if 10 true offenders slip away. No matter what the cost. And we know this through Teppei's experience. No innocent man should be be forced to fight such an unfair and uphill battle.


Chris said...

Very nice review. After reading it, I definitely want to see this movie. Thank you for turning on to a film I've never heard of before.

J-pop vs. Metal said...

Why has mace never caught on in Japan?

Jung said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I just finished it a minute ago and I enjoyed it very much. The portrayal of the Japan's legal system is a stark contrast to that of the U.S., where an accused rapist can get off scott free even with bodily fluid as evidence. It actually made me mildy ill to listen to the judge's final statement at the end. And why the hell was the judge keep asking the prosecutor whether witnesses / evidence should be permitted? Is that for fucking real? sheesh.

Now I know, if I were to ever ride a subway in Japan, I would be banzai-ing all the way to my destinations.

Anonymous said...

I think I'll check out this movie. Haven't really understood the Japanese legal system, all I've seen of it so far is in "Seija no Koushin", but I don't know if the interrogation method that was used on Towa is actually used in real life.