Since last year, Japanese media have been lambasting the Asahi Shimbun over fabricated stories by an ex-soldier regarding forcible recruitment of "comfort women" during World War 2.
A 50-year-old man (his name was not given) from Toyonaka City, Osaka, decided to demonstrate his support for Asahi in an unusual manner. At least 10 times over a period of two months, he posted pro-Asahi graffiti in the cubicle in the men's lavatory at a public park, the West Japan edition of the Sankei Shimbun (Feb 26) reported.
Caught red-handed and charged with vandalism, the man did not deny his crimes. During his trial in the Osaka District Court, he admitted, "I was really stupid."
Last October, the man, infuriated by the contents of a train advertisement attacking the Asahi, was feeling "insulted" and "irritable." Entering a toilet stall in a park in Suita City, which borders on Toyonaka, he used a felt-tipped marker pen to denounce rival newspapers, writing: "Here's my opinion: Asahi O, Yomiuri X, Sankei X, Mainichi X."
He also accused companies that appeared to take sides against Asahi as "murderers."
Upon exiting the lavatory, the man headed for the park exit, but was apprehended by an undercover policeman who had staked out the area. After confirming graffiti had been freshly scrawled in the cubicle, the officer pursued the suspect and placed him under arrest on charges of vandalism.
From the police interrogation, the man admitted he had defaced the same toilet as many as 10 times.
"You know what you did was illegal," the police told him.
"I know it's illegal, but all I could think of at the moment was expressing my views somehow," the suspect replied.
It was learned that the man, after graduating from junior college, had joined a food manufacturer but quit after only two months and had since worked at part-time jobs. Still single, he lived with his father, who, as it turned out, had always been a loyal subscriber to the Asahi Shimbun.
From around mid-August of last year, the man began scrawling such graffiti as "Asahi Banzai!" "Dissolve the US-Japan alliance" and other slogans in the park toilet, hopefully to convey his feelings to other residents in the city who happened to drop in and use the loo.
As soon as the graffiti was spotted, the authorities removed it. They also pasted notices on the walls, warning that "Graffiti is a crime. Don't do it." When the vandalism continued, the park filed a damage report to the police.
A transcript from the man's trial, which began on Feb 5, included the following give-and-take between the prosecutor and the accused.
Prosecutor: Do you ever go online? Accused: No, not at all. P: In order to express your opinions, it seems there would be other ways beside scrawling graffiti in toilets, don't you think? A: I felt excited, and just wasn't thinking what I was doing. P: How did you expect other people to react when seeing your graffiti? A: Well, maybe they go home or to school or wherever and spread it by word of mouth. P: Do you really think it would be disseminated that way? A: Maybe not so much, but I thought to some extent it might generate some controversy. P: Have you yourself been moved by the sight of other people's graffiti? A: If we share the same opinion, then I'd think, "That's the way I feel too." P: But I would think that for the person using the toilet, it would appear rather unpleasant. A: I suppose that there will also be those who ignore it…
In the course of the trial, the prosecutor described the man's repeated forays to scrawl on the wall as "habitual and malicious," and demanded the court impose a one-year prison sentence.
The man's defense attorney, in his final summation, said that "During the investigation my client admitted to his crime and agreed to pay compensation for damages."
The cost of removing the scribble came to over 84,000 yen. The man said he would transfer money to the city in three installments, beginning from March.
"Instead of the Internet, from now on when I want to say something I'll send letters to the editor column in the newspaper," the man promised the court.
Since his attorney and the prosecutor were more or less in agreement, there were no surprises in the ruling. On Feb 24, the court sentenced the man to one year in prison, suspended for three years.© Japan Today