Thursday, July 7, 2011

Japan's Newest Nanny State Laws are a Hidden Tax

The Japanese government keeps enacting new laws to "protect the public" but they are actually new taxes to help municipal governments cover their fast growing red-ink. Here is another story about a new law that was just enacted about two months ago..

In yesterday's news report, Japan took a huge jump towards the victor in the title of Nanny State of 2011 by ticketing a cyclist for viewing photos on a cell phone! She wasn't talking on a cell phone, she was viewing photos!!!???... This is really getting ridiculous. But the devil is even worse in the details. Read on!

Japan Today reports

Police have charged a teenager for using a cell phone while cycling, in the first such case of its kind in Japan, Nikkan Gendai reported on Wednesday.
Around 9:30 p.m. last Sunday, a patrolman in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, cited a 15-year-old female high school student for a traffic offense. The girl had been riding her bicycle while viewing images on a cell phone and repeatedly disregarded warnings to desist viewing the phone.
The cop was yelling at this girl to stop looking at her cell phone? Hell yes, she'd ignore the cop. Who wouldn't? I'd think he was nuts.

"Don't look at me! Don't you F*cking look at me!"

The incident marked the first time for Kanagawa police to invoke the revised traffic ordinance, aimed at discouraging so-called “nagara unten” by cyclists who talk on cell phones or listen to music players while in motion. It went into effect on May 1.
“She apparently thought cyclists were not subject to traffic regulations,” the source was quoted as saying, adding that violators may be fined up to 50,000 yen.
Catch that part: "...listen to music players while in motion...." This means drivers of cars, bikes, whatever. Next obvious step is to make it a fine to wear headphones while jogging or walking on crowded public sidewalks. But wait a minute!!! What law did this girl violate? She wasn't listening to music and she wasn't talking on a cell phone. She was allegedly looking at photos!!! 

Any competent lawyer should be able to throw this crap out in a second... But it won't go to that. This girl will pay the fine and the cop will go on his merry way interpreting the law anyway he sees fit. Is this arbitrary or what?

And, get serious, ¥50,000 yen (about $600 USD) for looking at a cellphone or listening to an ipod while driving or riding a bike? Really? This is "protecting the public"? Doubtful. 

This is beginning to sound a lot like the stupid arbitrary laws in the USA. Like the new law that, if enacted, will make it illegal to upload a song to Youtube that has you lip-syncing to a track sung by a famous artist... That would include your eight-year-old girl who does a great Lady Gaga impression too. 
Still, Japan only fines people for dumb laws. The penalty for uploading a lip sync video to Youtube in the USA would be a maximum five years in prison. Japan may be f'ed up with these idiotic laws too, but we're still way behind - and a much freer nation - than the USA is.
But being a freer nation than the USA is not much to brag about these days. This cell phone while cycling law is ridiculous. 
These kinds of stupid laws are supposedly enacted by the government to "protect" the public but they are defacto another tax and a new way for the government to collect monies from us.
It is the same with seat belt laws, motorcycle helmet laws, smoking laws, and a whole litany of other ridiculous laws that the government creates ostensibly to protect us (From who? ourselves, of course).
In the case of seat belt laws or helmet laws, it should be obvious to anyone who is still awake that we don't need these types of laws to "protect us" as there is such a thing as "insurance" in case something happens to us... And if some guy wants to drive his car without a seat belt, is he hurting you or me? Why are we being taxed to stop a guy like that? It's absurd. 
Everyone knows that not waring a seat belt or a helmet might be dangerous. Everyone knows that using a cell phone while riding a bike might be risky, but - with or without these laws - people will still do it. And why not? It is their life. Putting a fine on this girl, for example, certainly will not stop her from riding her bike and using her cellphone, she'll just be more careful to make sure the gestapo doesn't see her doing it next time. 
"Papers please!"

If we really want to prevent accidents, then let's take this type of nanny state mentality to its logical conclusion and outlaw all behavior that is even a tiny bit risky as that way we can alleviate all accidents and abolish accident, car, boat and fire insurance forever.
Of course, that is an impossibility.... But it is an excellent way to raise revenues!
People who do not see the absurdity of these taxes disguised as laws to protect society shouldn't be surprised when the new taxes come in on other ridiculous stuff, like, say, using a headphone or iPod like device in a public place.
Say, great idea! In order to "protect" us the government institutes a new tax on little white earbud headphones and uses the money for research to prevent hearing loss!
Laugh now, if you will, but you "heard" it here first. 


Anonymous said...

You guys have seatbelt laws too? I thought the U.S. was the only place that did that.
I guess the world is just full of idiot wanna-be tyrants.

Also, I guess it's a crime there to act like you're looking at a photo too? The dang thing could be off and a Person could still get a ticket?

This all reminds me of a dog training book I once read.

- Clark

Anonymous said...

"It is the same with seat belt laws, motorcycle helmet laws." - Author.

Not even close. Seatbelts and helmets are designed to protect you DURING an accident, and have no bearing whatsoever on the likelihood of HAVING an accident.

"It is their life."
Bullsit. The lives of pedestrians are at stake too. Laws regarding Due Care and Attention (which have been around for a couple decades in some places) are designed to prevent idiots from injuring others. If your daughter was hit by some bimbo who believed "looking at pictures" is more important than the wellbeing of your daughter, or at least that it was worth the "risk," you would change your tone. Distracted driving is as serious a problem as driving while intoxicated.

I live in Japan, and I can't count the number of times when I have almost been run off the road by oncoming idiots who decide not to stop their bicycles for 1 minute while they email their idiot friends.

"These... laws are... a new way for the government to collect monies from us."
You said yourself, this is the first time the law has been enforced in this type of situation. If you are suggesting that this is a devious plot conceived decades ago, and legally enacted in order to collect 600 bucks from an innocent teenager in Japan, then I'd like to order a gram of whatever you've been smoking.

mike in tokyo rogers said...

Anonymous... Your lack of knowledge on history is astounding. These are taxes. Did you know that the government used to require licenses and taxation for Rikusha? Yes. It's true. This girl gets fined, how does that stop others from texting and riding? It doesn't. 

Decades of drinking and driving laws haven't eliminated drunk driving. Seat belts laws haven't stopped people from driving with being buckled up.

You wrote: "If you are suggesting that this is a devious plot conceived decades ago"… No one wrote that. Only a fool doesn't realize that it is the purpose of all government to expand and to collect taxes. No, there were no cell phones decades ago, but when, under the guise of "protecting the public" the government can come up with a new tax, they will.

And, you'd like to order a gram of what I smoke? Well, you can't... Confused people think the government is to protect us so they allow that same government enact laws whereby making victimless "crimes" (like texting and riding, prostitution, drugs, etc.) illegal.... all under the guise of protecting the public.

The government is not here to help us. 4 million dead Japanese in WWII is proof of that… Or how about the OWS example? With police shooting peaceful protestors and jailing them. Anyone who thinks the government is here to help just hasn't been paying attention. Wake up! I know they have these sorts of nanny state laws in Canada and other socialist countries, but they are still anti-freedom.

Anonymous said...

During the Tokugawa period in feudal Japan, they called this ‘honto mononari’. Village peasants were taxed by the local daimyo on the basis of the entire village’s rice yield for that season. Even if you didn’t grow a single grain of rice, you still paid.
... All because, they said, they were "protecting the public from enemies and dangers"... Bullshit!

Mr. E said...

I don't necessarily disagree with what I see as your major premise (i.e. that the government regularly oversteps their boundaries at the expense of the public). I just disagree that this is an example of that.

As far as I know, driving laws only apply to public roads. If you ever want to build your own network of roads for your own private use, you would be well within your rights to sip martinis while watching the latest Alex Jones documentary and browsing pictures on your cell phone, while riding your bicycle. The reason? There is nobody you can injure but yourself.

Top 3 New Video Countdown for May 6, 2023! Floppy Pinkies, Jett Sett, Tetsuko!

   Top 3 New Video Countdown for May 6, 2023!!  Please Follow me at: Check out my Youtube Channel: ...