Letters to the Editor,
The Daily Yomiuri,
Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-8243
In the December 9, 2011 story “‘Alibi firms’ get away with it,” one alibi company president is quoted saying, “We just sell documents that meet people’s needs. ... We ask our customers to sign a written consent form that states they won’t misuse the documents.” It’s shocking to read such drivel. Are these businesses run by five-year-olds?
It’s a common Japanese conundrum: we all know a crime is being committed, but the police are powerless to do anything citing the lack of a specific law regulating, prohibiting or punishing the activity. In this case it is the phenomenon of companies that are in the business of forging official documents to facilitate their customers skirting, or even brazenly flouting the law. I understand the police dilemma if currently there is no actual legal and clear-cut solution. But the article seems to reveal a glaring loophole in Japan’s law code, creating a perfect opportunity for responsible politicians to mend it and in the process build good, civic reputations.
One thing I do not understand, however. It seems probable that at least some of the forged documents - records of employment and salary, withholding tax statements, etc. - are precisely the sort of things that require authorizing and notarizing seals, stamps, hanko. Seals are very important here, like a signature in America. Can the police not pursue a case against alibi firms on the basis of forged seals, or misuse of seals? I suppose I am wrong to think so, otherwise they would be doing it already and I would read about it in the paper. I mean, if I can imagine it then someone else cleverer that I must have thought of it first. Right?