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Foreign thieves likely behind stolen Japan bonsai amid boom abroad

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Local police in central Japan arrested three Vietnamese men in April and May on suspicion of stealing bonsai. The trees were traced after the owner put tracking devices on them, leading authorities to identify the group's base of operations

Thieves from same country origin, again? JGovt policy of cheap labor really has price.

Association official, meanwhile, advised owners to "regularly take photos" of their bonsai to make it easier to prove ownership.

So it will have bonsai black list?

-19 ( +9 / -28 )

Vietnamese! Cheap labor and increase in crime. Both go hand in hand.

-9 ( +18 / -27 )

It is very difficult to get plants across borders nowadays without a lot of paperwork. Those checking the paperwork should be on the look out for stolen bonsai. Slip a distinctive metal charm in amongst the roots when root pruning. It will appear on X-ray scans.

If there is a criminal labour shortage, the oft cited Vietnamese may be hired by 100% Japanese Yaks to do their dirty work, deflecting blame.

9 ( +19 / -10 )

Vietnamese! Cheap labor and increase in crime. Both go hand in hand.

No.

Nobody force them to come here to work and commit thefts. A crime is dictated by the mind. Labor is much cheaper in Vietnam than Japan.

0 ( +12 / -12 )

Make no mistake about it, NOTHING happens in Japan without Japanese involvement regardless if it's Good Or Bad.

-5 ( +17 / -22 )

Make no mistake about it, NOTHING happens in Japan without Japanese involvement regardless if it's Good Or Bad.

Really? In Japan you can usually find extraordinarily nice bonsai in people's gardens - many aren't even protected by a fence. Do you really think the Viets need any yak's approval to steal these and sell them online? I don't think so.

5 ( +13 / -8 )

I do not get this at all. Can´t they just get an instruction manual and grow their own bonsai trees? How difficult can that be. Also, transporting plants across borders seems very difficult.

-12 ( +4 / -16 )

Zaphod

I do not get this at all. Can´t they just get an instruction manual and grow their own bonsai trees? How difficult can that be. Also, transporting plants across borders seems very difficult.

Cultivating a good bonsai takes many decades of daily attention and practice. It is very difficult.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

I'm shocked -- shocked, I tell you.

Who could have possibly thought that a noticeable increase in the number of foreigners from "developing countries" would also coincide with an increase in crime in Japan?

I thought diversity was our strength, or some such.

No reason to believe Japan will become like Paris, London, Berlin, or Stockholm, right? A sharp increase in the number of "migrants" in those cities has correlated with crime rocketing through the roof -- but nah, could never, ever happen in "safety Japan!"

Seriously, I hope the J-govt doesn't buy full-bore into this "diversity" nonsense. Diversity is fine if it happens naturally. Not so much when it's actually forced in there artificially.

-5 ( +13 / -18 )

How about putting some security cameras?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

What a shame. But it seems like they may have figured out a solution. An AirTag placed in the soil of each pot will allow them to track the plants and shut down these operations.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The trees were traced after the owner put tracking devices on them...

That should be at the top of the list of security measures to take.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Bonsai need water 2-3 times every day

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Vietnamese again! Japanese Government keeps relying on Vietnam for cheap labor ( slavery programs ) and the end result is that they commit crimes in Japan! But actually foreigners still make up less than 5% of the total crimes committed in Japan! The criminal industry is dominated by the Japanese in Japan but thankfully most of it is organized crime instead of brutal ones on the streets!

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

Bonsai need water 2-3 times every day

This is what I was thinking. I've tried (and failed) to care for a couple of bonsai over the years and even the simpler ones are very high maintenance. The ones that are decades old and worth huge money are even more so.

That means that this has got to be a much more complex criminal operation than stealing jewellery or whatever. They need expertise in maintaining and handling them, and also have to be extremely careful about shipping them.

This might be good news since there are probably certain bottlenecks in the chain where the police can intervene to control it now that they know its a problem on a scale that is worth their attention.

Its quite sad though. Those bonsai growers were able to operate in a safe environment where they could trust that their hard work wouldn't be stolen by opportunistic gangs for decades. Now that is probably gone.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

There are bonsai that are family heirlooms going back over many generations.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Quo Primum

I'm shocked -- shocked, I tell you.

Time to ask Captain Renault...

Who could have possibly thought that a noticeable increase in the number of foreigners from "developing countries" would also coincide with an increase in crime in Japan?

I thought diversity was our strength, or some such.

"Diversity is strength" is one of the stupidest slogans around. Replacing unity with a bunch of competing tribes/ideologies/identities has been a disaster for any nation state anywhere it has been tried. On the other hand "divide and conquer" is an old recipe if you want to create an empire.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

No reason to believe Japan will become like Paris, London, Berlin, or Stockholm, right? A sharp increase in the number of "migrants" in those cities has correlated with crime rocketing through the roof -- but nah, could never, ever happen in "safety Japan!"

Take any chance to regurgitate rightwing North American podcasts, eh, Oh wait! Everyone knows/nobody cares/change my mind etc.

This is what I was thinking. I've tried (and failed) to care for a couple of bonsai over the years and even the simpler ones are very high maintenance. The ones that are decades old and worth huge money are even more so.

That means that this has got to be a much more complex criminal operation than stealing jewellery or whatever. They need expertise in maintaining and handling them, and also have to be extremely careful about shipping them.

This might be good news since there are probably certain bottlenecks in the chain where the police can intervene to control it now that they know its a problem on a scale that is worth their attention.

Refreshing to read a thoughtful point.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I have two, gifts.

I had to retain the assistance of local expertise to mentor me in the art of clipping pruning and caring for the bonsai.

Bonsai are not easily concealed to be smuggled through an Airport.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Wouldn't have thought it would be that easy to smuggle a bonsai plant out of the country

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Japan imports labor and pays them a pittance to do the dangerous and grueling jobs.The workers have little to lose by committing theft.

-11 ( +0 / -11 )

Japan imports labor and pays them a pittance to do the dangerous and grueling jobs.The workers have little to lose by committing theft.

I don't know about that. A lot of commenters are assuming the Vietnamese arrested were residents of Japan, but I think its highly likely they were here on short term tourist visas. People living and working here have way more to lose by engaging in this type of high risk criminal activity which makes them hard to recruit into criminal schemes like this. Its way easier to recruit people in their home country to fly over to Japan for a few weeks to do a few "jobs" in a country they have zero connection to, then fly back home where Japanese law enforcement is unlikely to be able to reach them.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Some businesses have successfully turned the tables on thieves. Local police in central Japan arrested three Vietnamese men in April and May on suspicion of stealing bonsai.

Perhaps Vietnam is not sending their best and brightest?

Just a thought.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

It's heart breaking for the owners as Bonsai can be cultivated across generations. They are trees after all, albeit tiny ones. They are grown in shallow trays with regular root pruning, snipping of growth and watering. Each branch is wired for artistic effect according to traditional styles. They are seriously high maintenance. You can grow trees in pots without doing this, either using larger pots or dwarf varieties, but bonsai is a traditional art. An ownership chip (as used for pets) could be placed in the root ball when pruning it. A simple scan at customs would then detect a stolen one.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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