Wednesday, December 1, 2004

They're Like Miranda, But Different

A few weeks ago I was driving on the expressway north of Fukuoka and suddenly saw a bright red flash. I immediately knew I'd been busted for speeding (it turns out I was going 147 in a 100) (chill, it's kms not mph). As it goes in Japan, about a week ago someone called me at work and told me that I had, indeed, been caught speeding and that I had to meet with the Japanese police, but that they would call me back with the details later (it's all very mysterious). Today I got a call setting up an appointment for me to be interrogated by the Japanese police on 12/8, and was told to come to the base Station Judge Advocate's office before that date to be read my SOFA rights. I wasn't really enjoying work so I decided to go right away.

It's tempting to give all the gory details of that encounter, but it was more frustrating than interesting. I talked with a SJA rep, who was very nice and seemed to have a pretty good sense of humor, and was given a copy of my SOFA rights.

One of my employees at work just happens to be going through this same thing right now, and had actually been to her interrogation this morning, so I got the scoop on what that meeting will entail. It's going to be really, really frustrating for me. It lasts two hours and the Japanese police (through an English interpreter who doesn't speak English, as it turns out) ask about everything from my parent's birth place to the balance in my savings account and how much my car cost. They'll want to know if I live alone, what I studied in school, and what my favorite song is (just kidding about that last one). As the process goes, they later talk with the prosecutors and the judge, tell both parties all about where my parents were born and how much my car cost apparently, and then they all decide what would be a fair penalty for me. I think I have to appear in court to get that news.

The SJA rep already told me what he suspects the maximum penalty will be (¥80,000, which is about $800, or 6-months in jail, which the Japanese police will throw in just to let me know they mean business), and reminded me how important it is to show remorse and regret.

There's a lot I regret at this point, and speeding is just one thing. I regret that freakin interrogation, and it hasn't even happened yet. That is going to be hellish and I only hope I have the fortitude to not beg for the jail time. Frankly, it sucks and it was a stupid thing to do, but I've been driving much more carefully ever since, and I'm ok with paying $800 for the lesson. I'm not ecstatic about it, but that's life sometimes. Japan hands out $3,000 speeding tickets (MY GOD, how fast do you have to be going to get one of those?) that are famous on base, and I'm just very thankful that I'm not getting slapped with that. At least not yet (my employee's fine looks like it is turning out to be larger than the "maximum" SJA warned her about). Definitely, this one is not over yet. Stay tuned.

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