Overseas litigants taking up a case in the Japanese courts is nothing new. The comfort women from the surrounding Asia-Pacific countries that Imperial Japan had once dominated, perennially sue the government for apologies and restitution. The parents of murdered British teacher, Lindsay Hawker, somewhat successfully sought justice through criminal court by seeing through a life sentence for the killer. However, unless the case is heart-stoppingly huge, we’ve often never heard of overseas litigation among regular circles.
In fact, at the first sign of meeting hardship in Japan, it’s not uncommon that unattached “gaijin” start shopping around for a ticket back to their home country to run away jurisdictionally and emotionally.
Japan is often over-sold for its planet-bizarro touristy goodtimes—and its (once) roaring yen. Litigation here, there or anywhere is usu. considered a major downer.
In Ms. Tran’s case, who would want to get fired and have to deconstruct the systemic unfairness of it? Who would want to see the aftermath? Delve into labor laws, the plight of foreign workers, systemic abuse of power and meet the true stony-face of the Japanese working world and justice system? If you don’t have a future here, why dig in your heels?
In fact, in Ms. Tran’s first case, the St. Mary’s admin had banked on the tried, tested and true behavioral gaijin flight pattern by:
- reminding her that unless she took advantage right away of the free shipping back to Canada, organized by the school, of the allowable 1000 lbs of household contents, this very expensive option would be forever lost to her (knowing that they had induced her to ship about the same amount to prepare for a “life in Japan” just 2 years earlier)
- giving her a goodbye card–colored black for demoralization, while other teachers who were retiring, moving on au naturel etc. had nice washi patterns
- revealing at the last minute that her apt lease was actually the school’s lease and that she’d be considered a squatter if she stayed a minute longer
If you’re a reader of this blog, you’ll know that Ms. Tran, instead of worrying about the fate of her closetful of fashionable dresses, or about the school’s stationery-as-emotional-weapon, just changed the locks and stayed in the country another 4 years (continuing for 22 more months in the same apt, until the case resolved), effectively scrambling known patterns.
So, in this case now with the St. Mary’s defense case scapegoat, Gregory Strong, how does it work that Ms. Tran can litigate in Japanese civil court, from overseas? A quick Google search will show that Tokyo has well-established bilingual legal services (Japanese-English) for foreigners–like, overseas foreigners:
It probably made a difference that Ms. Tran had connected with her lawyer while still living in Japan (most offices require a face-to-face, paid consultation at the first meeting). However, the logistics of payment and communication thereafter have been simple and seamless.
Ms. Tran has had to put up 150,000 yen as a deposit required for overseas plaintiffs, in addition to court fees and one-time legal fees, as requested by Gregory Strong’s lawyer, in case Ms. Tran poses some sort of flight risk!
By the way, after 6 years, how much did Ms. Tran eventually have to ship home? I asked and it was less than half of what she had originally brought. Apparently, the 2008 economic crash gave her “an epiphany about banks, their promotion of consumer spending to lock people into personal debt to them in order to rely on loans and credit cards, the mechanisms by which their top institutional investors reap ungodly profits, the main source of income inequality.” Hmm. 500 lbs of clothes is still a lot of clothes!
And, why dig in your heels, Ms. Tran?
1. Not standing up for yourself is a top 5 death-bed regret.
2. Kurosawa did warn of brain-rot from simple narratives: