First and foremost, apologies on bringing up the race card here as I was still reeling a bit from reading racist remarks on what turns out to have been other sites discussing the news. The thread on the GaijinPot forum was particularly embarrassing...(then again, what else could be expected). Again, after re-reading comments, the tone here doesn't seem as bad as other sites that did suggest they were "victims of their own culture," that the 23-year-old defendant will be able to "rap flawlessly in Japanese by the time he is released" (wasn't he a dancer?), and so on...
As for the remark implying that non-Japanese are regularly biased/discriminated against here, I think that stands as is. I make no attempt to dismiss bias/discrimination/blatant racism in any other country such as the U.S., the U.K., China, Africa...anywhere. Racism, intentional or otherwise, is a nasty reality that exists everywhere you go. My reason for mentioning the comment is because for many non-Japanese who have made lives (temporary or long-term) in Japan, this may possibly the first time they were on the receiving end of it. And as I can say from first-hand experience, becoming an minority for the first time can be a challenging (however, enlightening) experience.
Regarding the strangulation marks, there has yet to be any solid information claiming that this is true. There were rumored to have been markings on her neck. Media outlets suggested that those markings (if even there at all) could possibly be a result of strangulation. Again, nothing has been proven. One thing I really took notice to after experiencing the earthquake/tsunami here in Sendai first hand is that mainstream media can be a serious joke...and occasionally, some unfortunate people are on the receiving end of it. Rumors and heresay are wre-written/broadcast in a way to make them seem factual. Again, anybody who experienced first-hand the earthquake/tsunami of last year (or any major life event for that matter) can attest to the fact that "news" is sensationalized... Again, giving the factual information up to this point before toxicology reports or autopsy results, the article could have just as easily suggested her cause of death be alcohol poisoning.
Lastly, I noticed that you (in the comment sections of both articles) refer to the defendants as my "friends." I have no personal connection to any of the four people directly involved in this case. My knowledge of all of them goes no further than what I have read in news reports and light research I have done on my own using mostly social media (which apparently new sources have yet to get the hang of). Someone should not/does not have to be your friend for you to want to see them treated fairly. Truthfully, given the information I gathered on the two defendants, I have very little, if anything, in common with either of them except my place of birth. However, seeing the way they are being portrayed by media and the way the public is reacting to them at this point is, in my mind, unjust and could easily affect the way their case proceeds from here out. I feel they deserve a bit of support...not to say they're innocent, but to say that they certainly are far from being proven guilty yet.
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It really doesn't take too much research to find out that the two men were indeed not affiliated with Niki Minaj (at least at this time). Rather, they were on a Japan tour with a famous Japanese pop musician. Their time in Tokyo was a down time between tour dates.
I've made the comment on another related article, but I'll make it again here... Consider how much factual information has surfaced regarding this case...consider that carefully. Then consider how many conclusions have been jumped to based on the little factual information available as well as rumors and suggested possible scenarios. I can't help but believe that a lot of the opinions formed on this case are racially motivated...which is a shame considering most of the non-Japanese posters here have at least one, if not daily, been on the receiving end of racism (at whatever level) here in Japan.
I myself can't stand up for the defendants and say that I believe they are innocent as just like the rest of us, I don't have many facts to work with. However, I believe someone does need to stand up for them by saying they certainly are far from guilty at this point...which would of course leave them considered innocent.
And for those calling them "dogs" or claiming they are "victims of their own culture," consider this... These two men have (at very young ages) gotten to a level in their art (dance, music) which has allowed them to not only make a living, but also to connect with other world-famous artists and travel the world in doing so. I don't care what your craft is...getting to a point where these young men have at a young age is something that takes dedication, discipline, and hard work. I won't/can't say they are any more honorable/law-abiding than you or I, but I believe they deserve respect...or at the very least, not to be slandered based on bias.
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Although far from surprising, I do find it disappointing as ever to see how many conclusions have been jumped to (not only by commenters but by the media) regarding this case. Considering the extremely limited amount of factual evidence/info that has surfaced so far, it's a shame that people have already seemingly formed their opinions about the case. What facts do we have?
-Two black, American male defendants (19, 23) -Two white, Irish female victims (21, 21) -One of the victims found dead with one of the defendants present in the room at the time
Aside from this, nothing has been laid out as factual thus far.
-They were members of American Rapper, Niki Minaj's entourage. (No, they were touring with a Japanese pop singer) -They molested a girl in a taxi (Still no video/photographic evidence has been released to the public. Who here knows what the legal definition for molestation is in Japan and what it implies/involves?) -The girls were drugged (Again, no evidence...just a suggested scenario) -The deceased was strangled/murdered (Again, evidence still has yet to prove this. Until now, the possible markings on the neck suggest it may have been a possibility)
One of the biggest things I find disappointing in the reporting of/reaction to this case is the slander against 23-year-old James Blackston. The deceased was found in the room of the 19-year-old male. According to accounts from police/hotel staff, the 23-year-old was not present in the room at the time (it was suggested that he was in his own room with the other girl the whole night). However, since James Blackston (23) is the only name legally allowed to be released, people have now decided to paint him as the murderer in their minds (if there even is one).
One last thing that gets me is the vilification of these two men because of their industry. We have one man (Blackston) who is a known professional dancer with a background touring with world-famous hiphop/pop artists. The second is a musician (keyboardist) who has also recently started a career touring with world-famous musicians (in this case, a famous Japanese pop artist). Hiphop industry or not, we're looking at two young men who have surely dedicated a good part of their life to honing their crafts to a point of excellence that has allowed them to reach the level they're at. Of any of the commenters here, I'd like to know if you (or someone close to you) has ever been able to reach a point in their artistic career that has allowed you (them) to not only make a living from that craft, but also to travel the world in doing so. For those who have, I'm sure you know the dedication and hard-work that is required to do so. Keep that in mind here before claiming they are victims of their own hiphop culture...
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