Wednesday, May 16, 2007

He’s Free

Fantastic news today. A friend and colleague who’s been in the Sapporo detention center awaiting trial was freed today on bail. He’s been there since mid-February, which is about 3 months of seeing nothing but the walls of his tiny cell, except for an occasional walk on the roof and a 10-minute visit in a cubicle with friends or family on weekdays that weren’t holidays. I’m sure he’s more appreciative of the gorgeous spring weather today than any of us.

The trial is still to come. Since he’s pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana (grown in the woods for the purpose of relieving pain from a serious back injury), these are the last days he’ll ever spend in Hokkaido, a place he’s grown very fond of. What his sentence will be remains to be seen. The worst case scenario is that he’d be imprisoned in Tokyo where he wouldn’t be allowed visitors. I can’t imagine what mental state he’d be in once he was released if that were to happen.

At any rate, he’s out for the time being – and able to enjoy his freedom with his girlfriend and his parents, who flew here for the hearings and trial (and who, incidentally, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last Friday). Fortunately, there hasn’t been anything about the hearings in either the Japanese or English media, so he’s been saved that bit of infamy.

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