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The Daily Mail (shite right wing newspaper here in the UK that makes you feel depressed with the world in every way conceivable) have got a bee in their bonnet about the UK girl incident in Japan of late. Here is the latest thing they have published, copied with permission (from my mate Pete's mum).




Chilling notes delivered late at night, sexual taunts and, finally, a brutal encounter with her vicious tormentor. Another British teacher describes how she nearly suffered the same fate as Lindsay Hawker at the hands of a Japanese man obsessed with Western women.


As the plane began its descent after a 13-hour flight, Sharon Flaherty peered out at the hundreds of green paddy fields stretching to the horizon of the Tottori Prefecture of south-west Japan.


Though the 26-year-old British woman had travelled extensively, she knew this trip was going to be special.



After graduating with a business studies degree from Heriot-Watt university, she had enrolled upon a Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) programme and would be spending the next three years living and working in the country she'd dreamed of visiting since she was a child.


Her visit did indeed prove to be unforgettable - but for all the wrong reasons.


In a chilling echo of the circumstances preceding the murder last month of Lindsay Hawker - found buried in a bath full of sand - Sharon was singled out and subjected to a terrifying stalking campaign by a Japanese man.


For five months, he bombarded her with anonymous letters, sat outside her house for hours watching her every movement and finally confronted her in a terrifying encounter from which she only narrowly escaped having fled for her life.


Now, back home after her ordeal, she describes the harrowing sequence of events which followed her arrival as a gaijin - a foreign woman - in a rural community far from home.



"It was the most frightening experience of my life," she says. "I left the UK with such high hopes of an enormous adventure and returned a shadow of my former self.


"I had never been one to shy away from new challenges and I'd done a lot of travelling on my own before. But being stalked in Japan has left me twitchy, nervous and scared to spend even a night alone.


"Reading about what happened to Lindsay Hawker has brought it all back to me and now I suppose I should be thankful I escaped with my life."


The naked body of English teacher Lindsay, 22, was found in an apartment in Ichikawa, in the east of Tokyo. She had been tortured, beaten and strangled. Her suspected killer, Tatsuya Ichihashi, 28, is still free.


Sharon shudders now when she realises just how close she, too, may have come to being attacked - or worse. While she speaks highly of the Japanese as a nation, she is also angry that she wasn't warned by the teaching organisation about the strange fascination some Japanese men have for Western women.


"Because we're so much taller and more curvaceous than Japanese women, the local men can be a little bit leery and pay you far more attention than would be acceptable or polite in Britain," she says.


"I thought I had no reason to worry," Sharon says. "During my travels I'd always tried to live like a local not a tourist, wanting to see the world and to learn about other cultures. My trip to Japan was not going to be any different."


Having been given an apartment in the small village of Aoya, with only 8,000 residents, she realised she was the only white person in the entire village - the only other foreigners were two Chinese.


"At first I didn't feel alien or in danger. The Japanese are very polite so they welcomed me with open arms," she says.


Sharon regularly emailed her family at home. Her boyfriend of eight months, Rob, then 24, was concerned about her safety - he asked about Japanese men and if she ever felt threatened. "I was surprised, because I never took a second glance at the local men. They were all very short and skinny and not very threatening. I also didn't think they would ever be interested in me," says Sharon.


"All Japanese women are absolutely tiny. Even though I was only a size eight to ten, I was a 'large' or 'extra large' in Japanese clothes and my shoe size five meant I couldn't find one pair of shoes to fit me.


"I emailed him back, telling him that they wouldn't even notice me. But after a few weeks, I began to be aware that the men did watch me a lot and that whenever I went into the city of Tottori, the local men would ogle all the Western women and wouldn't look away even when we were obviously not enjoying the attention.


"This shocked me because generally the culture seemed very restrained and disciplined.


"I knew from talking to Japanese people that even by talking to a Japanese man I could give him the wrong impression - that I was interested in him - so I couldn't understand why they felt that they could unashamedly leer at us. However, I never felt threatened because I was always in a large group."


Back in the village, Sharon spent her evenings keeping fit at the local gym and planning her English classes.


A year into her stay she signed up to karate classes. But it was after one of these lessons in November 2004, that her idyllic view of Japan was shattered.


"I had only just come in from karate


and shut the door behind me when a hand jutted through my letterbox and dropped a plain white envelope on to my mat.


"A chill ran up my spine, I'd been in the village long enough to know that nobody delivers letters that late at night and I'd only just walked in so whoever delivered the letter must have been watching me.


"I couldn't read the script, it was in Japanese, but my instincts told me to get out of there as quickly as possible. I called a taxi, got him to escort me to my car and drove to another village where another British teacher, named Helen, lived."


The next day, Sharon had the letter translated at her school. It read: "Hello Sharon, how are you? I'm a 37-year-old man living in Aoya. I'm not married but don't get me wrong, I'm not afraid of commitment. I think you are very smart, interesting and sexy.


"I know Japanese is hard for you to understand but please meet me for a date. Please post your reply in the mail box outside your house. PS I will check the mailbox every day for your response."


Sharon says: "The letter itself was harmless enough but the implications scared me. This man knew my name, what I looked like and where I lived.


"Worse, he was going to come to my house every day from then on to check the mailbox, which was outside my front door. I couldn't bear to be alone in the house after I knew I was being watched," says Sharon. "I stayed at Helen's for a few nights before daring to return. To my dismay when I did, there was another letter."


The second letter read: "Hello Sharon, how are you? I want to meet you for a date. Do not refuse me. Please post your reply in your mail box. PS I will check your mailbox every day for your reply."


"I felt utterly sick because I was all alone," recalls Sharon. "Out of my window I could see nothing but rice paddies, and the house next to me was vacant. Suddenly, home felt a very long way away."


Sharon's school contacted the police who put two officers on the case. "They came and questioned me and promised they would make full inquiries but it did little to calm my nerves.


"Every night I came home with a sense of dread and I was only ever slightly relieved when I saw my doormat empty. It was like a ticking bomb, I knew there was another letter on its way, I just didn't know when."


After another week of anxiously looking out the window, letter number three arrived - again by hand. This time the translation was more sinister.


It read: "Do you like tea or coffee? If I am ten minutes late for our date will that be acceptable? Are you lonely? Do you cry when you are in your house alone? Do you prefer sex with English men or Japanese men? Do you like your boyfriends to be like your background music?"


Sharon says: "What got me about this was that he knew I lived alone and, of course, I was disgusted that he had written about me in a sexual context. There was this horrible sense, that other British girls have talked about in reference to Japanese men, that he somehow felt it was his right to proposition me in this way. In floods of tears I called the police," explains Sharon.


At her apartment the police fitted a security camera in the front window. But until the culprit was caught Sharon decided to live at a fellow JET scheme employee's home in Iwami, a town 20 miles away.


"Every morning I woke up feeling sick. I put on a brave face at school so that people didn't think it was getting to me, but at the place I was staying, I often cried. In my diary I wrote that I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown." At Christmas 2004, Sharon flew home to Inverness where her mother runs a guest house and spent two weeks with her family. On hearing about her ordeal, Sharon's mother begged her to stay behind.


"I heard what she was saying but I couldn't afford to. I had a graduate loan which I was paying off at £700 a month and my job in Japan was my only income.


"Besides, if I stayed home then the stalker would have won, I still had some of my fighting spirit left and I hoped that when I returned the police would have good news."


Unfortunately they didn't. Since her departure from the house, there had been no more letters meaning that the stalker must have been watching the flat and been aware she was not there.


Sharon decided that since it had been eight weeks since the last letter, things might be different if she returned to her old routines.


"I took the plunge and after my first night back at school instead of driving to Helen's, I went to the gym and then drove home. But as I approached I saw a figure hiding between parked cars watching my house. My heart leapt into my mouth and the sick feeling in my stomach returned. Was it him?"


Trying to stay calm, Sharon carried on past her house and drove round the block.


"When I came back round, he had gone again and I breathed a sigh of relief as I stopped the car. Then - out of nowhere - he appeared beside me at the driver's side and tried to open the car door. I banged my hand down on the lock and caught his eye.


"He was short, aged about 40 and slender. But more than anything about his appearance I was struck by his eyes. His stare was cold and his black eyes bored into me. I didn't recognise him at all.


"He seemed eerily calm, he was smoking a cigarette and he was only half dressed because his shirt hung open to the waist. For a second I froze but then he brought his fist down on the car and I snapped into action.


"I put my foot down and sped off, but I was blinded with fear and the car went into a skid 100 yards up the road. I lost control and it crashed into a ditch.


"Somehow, I think it was because of the adrenaline coursing through my veins, I managed to scramble out of the car and ran to the nearest house and began hammering on the door. I was uninjured but I could see this man walking quickly towards me. At that moment I genuinely thought he might try to kill me. I cried out in absolute terror."


Suddenly, a shaft of light opened from the next door. The house she'd been knocking on was empty but thankfully the neighbours had heard the commotion.


"When I saw the light I just ran to it and away from the man. I tried to explain what was happening to the bemused couple but I was in such a state I had to call a friend at the school to translate."


"They looked outside, but by then the man was gone."


The couple drove Sharon to the headmaster's house, where she gave a detailed description of the stalker to the police and hoped her nightmare would be over soon.


But it was not so simple. Terrified by her confrontation, Sharon was offered a room in the headmaster's house, and hardly dared to leave the house except to go to work in the months that followed.


"I never went anywhere alone and completely stopped socialising," she explains. "I wanted to fly home but I couldn't as I was tied into a contract with the school until July. If I broke it they wouldn't uphold their side of the agreement - to pay my £800 flight back to the UK.


"The next six months were a living hell. I stayed with the headmaster until March and then the school found me another house. I had double locks fitted on all the doors and windows, it was the only way I felt safe.


"I had to keep going to work but I was quite thankful of the distraction. At least when I was giving lessons I knew I was safe.


"At night was the worst. Every time I shut my eyes I pictured that man's cold, hard eyes. In my new bedroom I planned how I could escape if anything happened and when I did sleep I would jolt myself awake at the slightest noise. I was taking sleeping tablets, too, but they didn't really help.


"Every weekend I would make sure I had a friend staying or I would go to them. I stopped going out in cities. If I went anywhere I always made sure I went with people and stayed in large groups.


"I phoned the police almost daily but they never found my stalker. So the nightmare was never over."


Returning home last year, Sharon is now living in London and working as a writer for a business magazine. The news of Lindsay Hawker's death has inevitably brought her chilling memories flooding back.


"I was shocked, scared and angry. It could so easily have been me. What if those neighbours hadn't opened their door that night, what if I hadn't spotted him when I did? It doesn't bear thinking about.


"I have spoken to many people since my ordeal and since Lindsay's death who agree that some Japanese men are obsessed with the way Western women look.


"Even slim girls are voluptuous in their eyes, and as we are so much taller than Japanese men and also seem more unavailable, the differences are fascinating to them.


"I can't tar all Japanese men with the same brush, but I do believe women should be wary before embarking on trips to the country, I also think that the authorities should take it more seriously.


"British girls like myself and Lindsay are in real danger over there. The man who stalked me has never been caught. Could he do the same to another British girl? If he does, she might not be as lucky as I was to escape."

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I was just reading that now, someone back home sent it to me. Have you seen the comment by a guy on there:


"I, too, was a participant on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme 1999-2000.


Even though I am a grown man, I was surprised way back then at the amount of warnings we were all given at every training seminar about the dangers every foreign worker has to face from Japanese perverts and other sexual deviants.


It seemed to never end - it was a recurring theme!


Was this really the Japan I dedicated a 12 year relationship to? Surely not!


But I was wrong. Many of my (western) female co-workers complained of similar harassment from male Japanese workers and other perverts in bars obsessed with Western women.


But then again, it is a country where Chinese foreign students can be raped by off-duty Japanese policemen with no disciplinary action taken against the perpetrators. The excuse being; 'She's just Chinese'.


What nationality will come next?




- Thorpesimon, Norwich

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My friend (male) got gropped on a train in Osaka one time.


My wife was temping a few years back at a crappy little nut sales company (yes, they sold nuts that fit in bolts, but not the bolts), and she said the boss there was outrageous with the woman on enkais and they all put up with it. I told her if he tried it with her to tell me so I could 'write him a letter' but she ended up leaving shortly after.


However these things can happen anywhere, so I wouldn't say this country is especially bad for sexual abuse etc.

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Originally posted by pie-eater:

But then again, it is a country where Chinese foreign students can be raped by off-duty Japanese policemen with no disciplinary action taken against the perpetrators. The excuse being; 'She's just Chinese'.

Oh come on! I have never heard that, and it is most likely a one-off incident. If it is common enough knowledge to be used in the media, then the police concerned were most likely caught and charged. You gotta love sensationalist stories.
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This is the Daily Mail we are talking about. They probably had some of those words in BOLD CAPITALS just so the readers know where to place emphasis...


On topic though, in my experience some blokes here get away with waaaay more than people back home would be able to in the workplace. I really cringe at some of what goes on in my workplace both in the office and at enkais. They'd be kneed in the bollocks by the same girls back in the Uk.

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It is hard to blame Japan as being any more sexually deviant than any other country. I think a lot has to do with the social group we gaijin find ourselves an automatic member... and hence the news touching home a bit more.


I lived with two american (white/blonde) girls in Chile when I taught down there, and they wouldn't go out without a male chaperon. Even with me on their side, the guys would hollar very derogatory things at them. Quite frankly, blonde girls in south america have got bigger balls than anyone and I find it hard to believe they actually enjoy their time down there. Having witnessed the no-shame perverts down there, I know I sure as hell wouldn't enjoy it as a girl. Even as a guy, I had girls grabbing my unit at bars. Fun for about a week, then the reality kicks in and it gets pretty creepy.

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India and Egypt is similar, western girls (especially blonds) are openly gawped at, shouted at, or groped in public. I only met one blond girl travelling alone the whole 6 months I was in India - many of them start their travels alone but join a group/get a boyfriend to reduce the abuse.


I'd say in Japan the feeling towards these women is similar, but people are more reserved so the feeling is not displayed.


Regarding sexual harassment, my company is quite big on it in so far as they make a big deal of it when signing contracts and I was even told verbally that day: 'don't do sexual harassment'. They didn't tell any gossip about if it had gone on in the past though. With the heirachy system here, and the way managers are treated like Gods, I cringe to think what would have went on here (Japan) up until the 90s and people started sue-ing.

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i don't know if it is fair to do so but i am willing to accept that sexual harassment is overlooked in places like india, the middle east, or south america. that doesn't mean i think it should happen, nor does it mean i think this is an issue in which cultural relativity should take precedence over universal morality, i just am not surprised to hear it is the case.


where as i am not willing to accept it is overlooked in japan. the simple reason being japan's significant stature globally and its desire to be an active and influential player in world policy. if this be the case then japan, on a whole, should know better and its domestic policies pertaining to such issues should reflect that.


do they? perhaps they do but too many people are not willing to take these issues to task, or perhaps they do attempt to take them to task but get caught up in the relentless bureaucratic mill.

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Thing that gets me is this comment,

"I wanted to fly home but I couldn't as I was tied into a contract with the school until July. If I broke it they wouldn't uphold their side of the agreement - to pay my £800 flight back to the UK."


I mean, if you feel your life is in danger, isn't it worth more than some mealsy 700pounds? wakaranai.gif

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Maybe, but surely not a hefty 800. ;\)


The Daily Mail is a ridiculous paper, but I actually quite enjoy reading it every now and again when I am back home.

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I think a lot of westerners have the impression that Japan is REALLY backward with respect to things like sexual harrassment and women's rights. Actually though, Japan is faily progressive --almost up there with Northern Europe, US, etc. Still a ways to go though.

The public sector seems to be ahead of the private sector, and the rhetoric seems to be ahead of actual behaviour sometimes....

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in light of this issue the japan times has recently done an article on stalking cases in japan. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070410zg.html


it seems that although the laws are in place to prevent stalking albeit only implemented in 2000, it really depends on the police you deal with as to whether or not your case will be taken seriously. however thankfully there are civil society groups out there that will act on a victim's behalf and insure the reluctant police take all the appropriate actions.

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Board I was was also going to agree with Indo,


"If I broke it they wouldn't uphold their side of the agreement" If you are the person to break the contract then they have no obligation to uphold the dissolved agreement. Some people are always "victims".


Anytime something gets sketchy I always move. Especially if its dept collectors doing the stalking.

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"Returning home last year, Sharon is now living in London and working as a writer for a business magazine. The news of Lindsay Hawker's death has inevitably brought her chilling memories flooding back."


A writer... I missed this line first time round, I was wondering why her story was so coached.


"blinded with fear"

"adrenaline coursing through my veins"

She is not even a very original writer. I much a Japan pisses me off, its far more dangerous to walk the streets of the UK after 12 than anywhere in Japan.

The biggest complainers about sex in Japan is women who cant get any and their preconceived ideas almost draw negative attention.

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Originally posted by YellowSnow:
The biggest complainers about sex in Japan is women who cant get any and their preconceived ideas almost draw negative attention.
ummm... please expand on that one. it sounds rather ignorant, convoluted, and unlike your posts up till now.
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I've never had much of a problem at work or with people who know me. I think they are a bit scared of me. Had a few incidents on the train though but I'll shout out and make a fuss if it goes past a sukebe look.

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I wish I had more detailed info, but just wanted to share a story from a year or two back. the 17 year old highschool student who was groped on the train by some dude reaching up her skirt as she stood by one of the benches. She grabbed him and hauled him off to the koban box at the next stop. That made local news. I actually clapped my hands in my living room.

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daver yes what I said is a bit disjointed. There are a lot of preconceived ideas about Japanese salary men being perverts, Japanese men are effeminate, Japanese men are _____, but with any population I would guess you pretty much get an even distribution of "perverts".

If a woman is grabbed by the arse in a pub in the UK , she will turn around slap him in the face, laugh with her girlfriends, embarrass the guy enough so he doesn't try it on again.

I would bet that if the same woman came to Japan she would have far less chance of being groped in Japan.


But when it does happen in Japan, instead of just getting over with, that woman will form support groups, write news paper articles, set-up websites (e.g. http://www.being-a-broad.com/) discussing "Japanese men are ____" "Japan is the rape capital of the world" expanding on stereotypes that attack far more than the original target. I am not saying Japan is perfect there are endless thing that piss me off, but once its out of my system, I don't go around viewing a large segment of the population in that way.


When there are websites such as being-a-broad people get a chip on their shoulder and any inadvertent brush against on the train, becomes "He sexually assaulted me with is cold raping hands".


I am guilty of exaggeration and posting complaints myself, online. But I don't go back home and spread grandiose stories of my victimhood.


rach I'll shout out and make a fuss if it goes past a sukebe look.


Ignoring all the stuff I just posted, I wish I could just shout at some of the ****ers who stare. They don't just stare at women, they stare a guys too, but the person who is comfortable with staring at you like that is a shit in general to everybody. I hate getting pushed in the train. I had to explain to a Japanese person, that in Europe, America, Australia etc, if somebody pushes you, you have a carte blache for punching him in the head. But we have to restrain ourselves constantly, while being told by Japaneses people that "Gaijin don't know our rules"


We are Ambassadors or our respective countries, but writing stories like the one above is far from being diplomatic.

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Same here rach. I made it quite clear when I first came here that I wouldn't put up with anything like what the other females put up with in my office. (Nothing too bad, but over the line for me).


YellowSnow - yes I really hate that as well. Sometimes I just want to go out and be left alone and not looked at. It can get very tiring and annoying.

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Although I dont belive you should modify you actions to stop ignorant people. I found the best thing is to wear sunglasses. Nobody seems to stare at you when you wear then because they cant intimidate you, and you have a certain amount of control.

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