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Shocking Tales from the Land of the Rising Sun:

I was recently in Japan, had some downtime, and ended up browsing through a local English language newspaper.  I came across two rather interesting news items that I would like to share with you.  However, before you read on, I must give you fair warning – these articles are likely to shock and distress you.  They may even shake your basic faith in humanity to its very foundations so before you proceed, consider yourself warned –

The first bombshell I came across was a banner headline from the Mainichi Daily News that screamed: “Fraudster Swindles 10 million yen from Cabaret Hostesses”  No way, it can’t be true, I said aloud to myself.  Of the many fraudsters that I know – none, not a single one – would ever stoop to such a dirty trick.   However, morbid curiosity got the better of me.  I read on and discovered that a Mr. Takeshi Nakamura, a 56 year old, unemployed man was not only arrested and charged, but also shamelessly admitted to the accusations.

Shocking Stories from the Land of the Rising Sun

Evidently, Nakamura called a comely 22-year-old hostess that he had met the previous night and set up a meeting at a coffee shop for the next day.  There and then he laid out this irresistible proposition: “If you give me 1 million yen, I’ll double it and deposit 2 million yen into your account tomorrow. “  OK, it’s a bit complex, I admit, but also tempting, no?  I mean, be honest and tell me you wouldn’t jump at the opportunity for such a certain financial bonanza?   You wouldn’t be alone if you did.  The police blotter indicates that 10 other hostesses couldn’t resist Nakamura’s siren song and collectively they lost a total of 10.6 million to him.

Mind you, this is Japan, an honourable society that supposedly answers to a higher moral standard than does almost any other country on Earth.  You’ll understand why I was sceptical;  a disbeliever, if you will.  I doubted that amongst 165 million law-abiding citizens, that anyone would take advantage of that paragon of virtue that is the cabaret hostess.  I figured this had to be some kind of a fluke – a one-off kind of story – that would come along once in a lifetime, so I cautiously read on.

However, to be safe, I leafed through quickly to the sports section hoping to catch up on all the latest sumo results.  Here is what I discovered.  ”Goldfish Catching Superstar Netted in Cheating Scandal.”  It just can’t be true.  This is not happening to me. 

I’m not sure which is worse: that the guy cheated, that he was caught cheating, or that Japan actually has a National Goldfish Dipper Catching Federation.  Not only that, but this cockamamie organization actually crowns a national champion.  Enquiring minds will want to know that the villainous competitor hails from Saitama Prefecture.  The unnamed 53 year old who committed this heinous crime was stripped of the team title he won (team title? team title?  Goldfish netting is a team sport?) and banned from goldfish dipper competitions for life (horror of horrors!) after he admitted to using an illegal dipper he had secreted away, instead of the officially sanctioned paper type.

The still unnamed cheat is twice a national individual champion.  His technique is renowned in dipper catching circles (there are circles of dipper catchers?) and he nearly always attracts a crowd when he competes.  Unfortunately for him, someone in this particular crowd had a video camera and was taking close-up movies of his sporting hero.  The amateur moviemaker went home and was carefully studying the video when, in stunned disbelief, he spotted the superstar using an illegal dipper that he had hidden under a hand fan he had been carrying.  Imagine his shock!

Stunned National Goldfish Dipper Catching Federation officials said the man’s ouster from the sport was the only real option available to them.  Oh yeah?  The only option, huh?  I wonder if those guys have ever heard of a little something that I like to call hara-kiri?  Personally, I’m against the death penalty.  However, there are some crimes that are so awful, so unspeakable as to merit special consideration.  Even I would have to acquiesce, albeit reluctantly, to lethal injection for this miscreant – but nothing less.  This is truly a crime that deserves capital punishment.

In closing, federation chairman and Yamatokoriyama Mayor Kiyoshi Ueda said, “We want to try and make the competition as fair as possible so that we don’t destroy children’s dreams.”

 I guess that sums it up pretty well.

  Author: Rob Chipman is the CEO of Asian Tigers Hong Kong

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