When you apply for a visa in Japan, the office puts an ink stamp in your passport. (At least, pre July 9, 2012 . . . )

It used to look something like this:

When I was talking about some topics from earlier this year, particularly the story of the reporter who was not let back into Japan for some unclear reason, this piece was to me the critical point. It seemed to me, that if a passport existed that contained the stamp, then a lot followed from that. If there was no stamp, then I could see the immigration desk at Narita doing a little chin stroking, and denying entry.

In all the noise the story produced, after it was featured on the Economist website, this key piece was never established. There was, allegedly, some application, and some delay.

It seems to me that if one can prove the application, as I say above, there is a whole series of further questions that would make one wonder if immigration is regulating who reports in Japan, and what gets reported. That would make one pause, and would be a cause for concern.

However, if that application were never made, then this rest about “the reporter’s treatment” does open the debate. How is the immigration desk to know the difference between an application on hold, and someone who is doing 90-day visa runs between a local Asian country and Japan?

I understand that, sometime later, the immigration office did issue a visa stamp. But it’s still not clear if that was on the initial application, or via the subsequent hullabaloo from the Economist piece.

Some people asked me if taking down earlier posts meant that I had come to believe one version of events over another. No. I am not keen about any of the versions that got played out in the Japan-side expat blogosphere. I feel that there are an independent set of facts, and a couple of groups online who have their own pitch that they want to put across, including the original actor in the whole incident. What I’ve found in the years is that, usually, when I get the “high SEO” takedown request, it’s because somebody is up to something. That something is, at the start, just a guess. But I am confident about my track record.

What I confirmed through the Twitter feed for the past several months is that the big buzz around that Economist piece was really just one volley in long-running feuds. (In at least one instance, the fighting involves one of those anonymous websites, that appears out of nowhere, and makes statements that the author him/herself does not wish to stand behind. That, of course, is shades of the lawsuit by the former Japan Exchange Teacher in Osaka.) Where there aren’t feuds, it’s a matter of peppering (or pestering) with Twitter comments. Many of those comments later are deleted–at least from live feeds. Not from screen shots.

Call me old fashioned, but as I understood how it works is you make your adversary/opponent/successor, etc. aware of what you feel is a wrong, and then, if you can’t get relief, you take it someplace you can.

I think it’s doubly worrisome for the people who pick up on the Tweets, because, for all you know, you might accidentally say something that then later gets twisted. (For example, call somebody a “douche”.) I know—this same threat of twisting goes on with blogging. With tweeting, though, there is less excuse that you should not have engaged. Twitter tends to make people feel they should be “out there” engaging, but I don’t think everyone has to answer every damn tweet. The smarter moves appear to have been to shut off the peppering.

[Update 9/15/12: a Tor commentor (er, the Tor commentor) misses the point about the significance of the application stamp. Yes, it may set a 60-day clock running; and, it may not permit the visa holder to leave Japan without cancelling a visa (or cancelling the application). But, it serves as evidence that Japan was not doing something. (For example, that they were sitting on a reporter’s application for whatever unjustified reason.) Without that critical piece, anyone can say that the reporter was working on mere landing permissions.

I feel the story became the brouhaha it did over the internet, not because of these question marks, but because certain individuals promoted the (justified or not) misfortune of the reporter. Banyan was skeptical. Then, it appears, others started plugging in the gaps, to where the incident grew to have a life of its own. Around that time, is when some bloggers with more following noticed. But they focused on the parts of the story that were (rightly or wrongly) made to seem not credible. There is definitely more to this story; the various actors just seem to want to pitch their angle on it. For me, it is hard to believe that one would just “let” one’s visa expire.]

[Update 9/16/12: Final one on this, for now. The reporter’s difficulty is not about the visa issue from last December. It is an employment dispute from 2007. This is very common in Japan. For whatever reason, the employer did not follow Japanese labor law. (This is the internal dispute involving a David Schaufele, that the reporter has mentioned in his blog posts.)

So, whatever wrong there was at that time, the reporter did not take steps to preserve a cause of action. Worse, he has this habit of going at the people who he has a dispute with. This has been very clear to me during 2012 via my Twitter feed. It would not be too hard to imagine, that the volleys have been intermittently sent between 2007 and recent times. Not saying yes, not saying no. Simply, that it would be consistent. And what seems also to be very clear, is that the sent volleys are returned, either out of the shadows or directly.

I sympathize with a Nathalie Kyoko Stucky or a Victor Boggio, who, in the last two or three weeks, have been peppered on the internet. I understand there was an AP reporter who got similar treatment. There is a real story in what had happened, it’s clear; but it has nothing to do with “journos” and journalism, and a lot to do with Japan not honoring its laws (old news), and petty bickering and shots through the internet ether. No one is going listen to that sh*t, and no one is going to tolerate it for long, without concluding that the participants are fools.]

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