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It's really sad. We can only hope that no idiots turn up to fight. And also that the police don't mistake "having a good time" with "being a hooligan / starting a riot".

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I really don't think so. Wishful thinking maybe, but hopefully no. I am concerned that "happy boisterous" drinkers may be seen by over sensitive police as "hooligans".

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A Japanese friend told me the other night that the police in Osaka have a special undercover squad operating during the World Cup. It is made up of big rugby players etc who will be able to physically restrain ie take out troublemakers at games or anywhere they're likely to gather. It's known as the Soccer Hooligan Attack Team, or perhaps more interestingly by it's acronym-Shat. I guess they don't have much awareness of past tense English verbs-lucky they didn't call themselves the Soccer Hooligan Imobilisation Team eh.

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I Read this today in the Japan Times


- In Miyagi Prefecture, a largely rural area that will e the site of three matches, a local assemblyman warns of foreigners selling cocaine and heroin, burning parked cars and halting traffic.

"We must also brace ourselves against unwanted babies being conceived by foreigners who rape our women," Said Takayoshi Konno, a member of the ruling liberal democrat Party.


A little over the top! I'm getting worried that it'll be the Japanese police, not the "hooligans" inciting violence

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Read this, it's funny:




'You might feel frightened by their big bodies...'


Alarmed by television reports of hooliganism, the Japanese are dreading the arrival of English football fans for the World Cup. So the British embassy in Tokyo has issued a leaflet to local shopkeepers to avoid 'misunderstandings'. Jonathan Watts translates a few sections


Tuesday May 28, 2002

The Guardian


For starters: Many England fans will have saved up for months to pay for their trip to Japan. We feel sure that everyone in Japan will give them a warm welcome. To help everyone ensure that the supporters leave with good memories of Japan, we are offering some simple advice on how to treat them.

What is an England supporter? The behaviour of England supporters is different from that of football fans in Japan. They tend to move in groups. Before the start of the game they gather in bars, parks and open spaces, where they display their flags. While drinking beer and singing, they raise their expectations for the match. By wearing their England shirts, they express their pride in their mother country.


During the game, they are focused only on the events on the pitch. You could say that they feel 100% at one with the players and their fellow fans.


After the match, supporters lose a little of their enthusiasm for the game. Celebrating a win or commiserating a loss, they will analyse the match in detail over a final beer. After that they'll just go back to their hotel to sleep. That doesn't change whether they win or lose.


It should be understood that the majority of England supporters are quiet and friendly, and only interested in enjoying the game. There are a small number who go to games only to cause trouble, but they are hated by real fans.


Some supporters are very noisy. You might feel frightened by their big bodies and their large numbers. But please don't view them only as a threat. Be generous and try to understand how mad they are about football. Share that understanding with them.


The mistake of thinking that "England fan" equals "hooligan": Most of the hooligan scenes shown on television took place several years ago. In recent years there have been hardly any problems at club matches or international games.


Trying to communicate: Memorising just a few phrases of English such as "Welcome", "Can I help you?" and "England are a great team" can make quite a difference.


Have writing implements, paper and dictionaries to hand. When you come across someone with a strong accent, you can sometimes get by through writing things down.


Overcoming cultural differences: The British government and supporters' organisations are doing their best to help England fans cope with cultural differences. We must all help fans to get used to Japanese customs as quickly as possible.


In British pubs, you pay for drinks when you buy them. Bar owners might like to think about adopting this system for the duration of the World Cup, or letting people know from time to time how much they have spent.


Some people will travel with large rucksacks on their backs. It would be very helpful to them if you could offer them a place to store their bags.


British people might try to tip taxi drivers, waiters and hotel staff. To refuse politely, say: "You are very kind, but tipping is not necessary in Japan."


Even if your bar is full, that won't stop supporters trying to come in. They might buy alcohol to take outside and drink in the street or in parks, so it's a good idea to think about serving drinks in plastic cups.


England supporters won't be used to the heat and humidity of the Japanese summer. So please be tolerant towards their behaviour and clothing.


When British people throw away their rubbish, they don't separate it into different categories. It might be useful to put an English sign on each bin indicating what to put where.


The world cup is a festival of football: Our last word is that England fans will be spending a long holiday in Japan to enjoy the festival of football. As at all Japanese festivals, people will drink, dance, eat and drink. They will also, of course, watch top-level football.


This will be the first trip to Japan for most fans. Many will find Japan mysterious, but with everyone's help they will feel comfortable. Even if you cannot speak English, a simple "hello" or a smile will help them to feel that your town has a friendly atmosphere and that this World Cup is a once-in-a-lifetime festival.

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A mate in the UK posted this to me last night:




'At The First Sign Of Trouble... Run!!'


Just a few days to go until the World Cup, and the abject apathy that exists all over Japan is being roused by a smattering of excitement from the soccer (sa-kka) fans - and by a feeling of terror from many others.


Visitors should also take note of the following incidents:


1) Japanese police have been watching videos of the Hillsborough disaster as an example of hooligan behaviour.


2) A man wearing a Bordeaux shirt was accosted by police the other day. He was poked in the ribs and called a hooligan before being arrested and detained for 45 minutes. The fact that he was simply walking down the street, was a long term resident of Japan and was fluent in Japanese made not a jot of difference.


3) My home city's council has put measures in place to deal with the probable selling of cocaine and heroin. It is also preparing to deal with foreigners burning parked cars and paralysing traffic systems.


4) A senior Japanese politician (Takayoshi Konno) said the following last week: "We must also brace against unwanted babies being conceived by foreigners who rape our women... Clearly we must prepare for the worst."


While such actions can be attributed to a few ignorant morons who clearly haven't a clue about what they are talking, it cannot be denied the overwhelming feeling in this country is that the whole World Cup will be a battle against hooligans.


The Japan Times recently asked people what they thought hoolies looked like.


"I'm not really sure," homemaker Mikako Murata, 29, said. "They're probably not American, although some of those New York Yankee fans might come pretty close. They're probably bald, fat and drunk, with tattoos. I have no interest in soccer, but I'm worried sick about hooligans. I'm thinking about retreating from Tokyo to my parents' house in the hinterlands."


Police have also been ordering oversized handcuffs in preparation for the tournament, barber's shops will close to avoid the illegal use of scissors and car dealerships will be emptied of stock.


Suggesting that the police are looking forward to finally getting some action and that they are out to nab themselves some hooligans can be seen as scare-mongering but there are some things which could potentially happen that visitors must be made aware of.


For one thing, the media have been building up the hooligan invasion solidly for two months now and will be going to England games looking for trouble.


If there is any disturbance for any reason, I advise any foreigners to leave the area as quickly as possible. The police will probably be highly indiscriminate and arrest any foreigners that they see.


Trumped-up charges are possible, and when they say they can keep you for a month without charges they WILL keep you for a month without charges.


It will not matter if you have video evidence of your innocence. It will not matter that hundreds of people saw what happened. It will not matter that you have spent a fortune on tickets going all the way to the final. It will not matter that you are being harshly dealt with. They will not care.


In many ways, I'd reckon fighting fascist police in Italy is preferable to fighting Japanese bureaucracy. There is no such thing as common sense here and people never, ever admit that they make mistakes.


Know now that the courts here have a conviction rate of 97%.


On a lighter note, there are a few more interesting things that visitors may experience in Japan. Like earthquakes.


Earthquakes happen very regularly. Most are a rumble akin to a train going past you on a train platform.


I was watching the Harry Potter film when a 6.5 shake-a-thon occurred.


At first, I was marvelling that the roller-coaster ride through Gringotts Bank was making me feel a little more exhilarated than I thought possible. Then people started screaming.


A big earthquake like this feels like bad turbulence in a plane - only it is a tad more disconcerting when you are four stories up in very large, very dark cinema.


The fact that the locals, who should be used to such things, were utterly petrified did little to calm me. However, when the quake finished two minutes later, we all thought it was pretty cool.


Any quake bigger than that one is not likely to be much fun.


Next week, I'll make a big effort to lighten up a bit.


If you don't hear from me, though, please send a cake with a file in it to Nicholas Ross, Big Medieval Prison, Saitama, Japan.


Essential Japanese Word Of The Week

"Ya Da!" - not a "Yo Moma!" type riposte favoured by rappers and students, but an exclamation along the lines of "Lawks!"


Interesting Japanese Phrase Of The Week

Did you know that Mitsubishi means 'three diamonds' in Japanese and that Mitsubishi's logo is - you've guessed it - three diamonds? Who knew?

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Yes, it seems there were hooligans - Japanese ones after their victory against Russia and some were arrested.


I didn't hear about that on the Japanese news. Funny that. Did you? Didn't think so.

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I was watching the wide shows on tv before the match yesterday afternoon (don't usually, honest), and they had a feature on the way the foreign fans were behaving, but the Japanese fans were being "hooligans". It was refreshing to see that.

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So it looks like there was zilch in the way of hooligans. That's great to hear. But I look forward to widespread coverage of that fact on the Japanese media in all of the countless look backs on the tourny in the coming weeks.


Wishful thinking maybe, but it should happen.

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