by Christopher Johnson —-
Panasonic security engineer Ken Yasumoto-Nicolson, founder of stalker sites Tepido and Japologism, on Thursday posted a letter he wrote to the managing director of the Japan Times, denying he’s part of a “secret cabal” of trolls who have harassed a number of foreigners who write about Japan.
Nicolson demanded “the right of reply” to an article by Berlin-based author and freelancer Stuart Braun about Nicolson and a number of “trolls” who use pseudonyms to harass people who raise issues about Japan, including US-born rights activist Debito Arudou, blogger and legal expert Rick Gundlach, and many others.
In his letter, Nicolson said Braun’s article was “not much more than a character assassination by innuendo.”
Braun, a former employee of NHK TV network in Japan, interviewed a number of sources on all sides of the issue, and did not speculate about the alleged criminal actions of trolls.
Nicolson, born in Scotland and a longtime resident of western Japan, described himself as “just another nobody with opinions and a blog to express them on.”
Nicolson also called his “Japologism” site a “little blog”.
Nicolson’s sites Tepido.org and Japologism.com, featuring thousands of crude comments about a number of people raising questions about Japan, have often scored higher on Google searches than mainstream media sites including CNN.com, the Washington Times, and the Japan Times, raising questions about hackers tampering with Google products.
Victims of cyber abuse have accused Nicolson of being associated with the secretive slam blog “Japan Probe”, which has tainted the reputations of many foreigners who question Japan’s handling of the nuclear meltdown and rights issues.
In response to the article above, Nicolson called this reporter a “dead sheep”.
Nicolson denied that’s he’s part of what Braun called a “legion” of online comments. Nicolson, Eido Inoue and people who cower behind pseudonyms have posted thousands of comments criticizing the Hawaii-based academic Debito, who writes for the Japan Times and hosts a blog about rights issues in Japan.
“The article goes off the rails from the first words in the second paragraph,” Nicolson said about the Japan Times article.
In his letter, Nicolson repeated his original claims against this reporter’s article in The Economist about the detention and expulsion of thousands of foreigners from Japan. He referred to his blog post comment on Tepido: “This rather impressive (in a bad way) tale of incarceration […] takes the sting off fully-documented cases from Amnesty by telling a story so full of holes that it quite frankly stinks.”
Nicolson, attacking an expelled reporter who had been separated from his family, home and job in Japan, titled his blogs “Assfinger”, referring to humiliating cavity searches at Narita airport. (http://tepido.org/dont-put-your-finger-in-my-ass/629) The United Nations, Amnesty International and others have accused Japanese immigration officials and security guards of rights violations at Narita and throughout Japan’s “gaijin gulag” of secretive detention centers for foreigners.
Nicolson was also active in commenting on Reddit and Japan Probe, which posted a number of vicious attacks aimed at ruining this reporter’s reputation.
Nicolson said his Japologism blog post, which ultimately generated thousands of juvenile comments and underhanded actions attacking this reporter and others, was “hardly the words of a Japan-loving wrong-doing-denying apologist!”
Nicolson said that he had posted in support of Miki Dezaki, a schoolteacher in Okinawa who suffered online abuse for raising issues about prejudice in Japan. “Later on, when talking about the Miki Dezaki case, Mr Braun says “In ways, these foreign-born cyber-warriors parallel the infamous netouyo (‘Internet right’)”, but if Mr Braun had actually taken the time to talk with me he would have learnt that I had posted in support of Mr Dezaki against his tormentors. Another fact that Mr Braun would have learnt if he had chosen to email me questions instead of just second-guessing from blog posts is that Hikosaemon did not inspire Japologism, but instead spurred me to shut down Tepido.org, for reasons that I shall not bore your readers with.”
Nicolson has not responded in the past to requests for comments about his behavior online. When Braun contacted Nicolson’s cohort Eido Inoue (nee Adrian Havill), a mid-level manager at Google Japan, Inoue responded with legal threats and broadsides against this reporter. Inoue also claimed on Nicolson’s blog “Japologism” that he called Braun for 40 minutes after the article appeared in the Japan Times. Inoue described their conversation as cordial.
Earlier this year, Panasonic tweeted that they had investigated Nicolson over his online conduct, which raises questions about his access to data about Panasonic customers and his adherence to Panasonic policies about community building.
In his letter, Nicolson defended a New Zealander in Japan who hides behind the name “Hikosaemon” online. Hikosaemon, who has previously claimed to be a “journalist”, is best known for making videos with Japan expat Victor Boggio, aka “Gimmeflakeman”. Youtube has banned their videos in a number of countries after complaints of defamation and harassment.
Nicolson referred to a part of Braun’s story about “Hikosaemon”. “There I learnt about a “sophisticat[ed] multi-faceted campaign” (another one of these informal affairs) where Hikosaemon in his cuddly headgear grooms innocent listeners and leads them astray into the evils of neo-apologiphilia. All of us in the secret cabal (which doesn’t exist, of course) had a good laugh at that theory.”
Nicolson quoted New York Times Tokyo reporter Hiroko Tabuchi as saying on Twitter: “I smell something fishy about this piece.” Tabuchi, who apparently contributed one interview and two quotes to a lengthy, 9-part series in the New York Times that won a Pulitzer Prize earlier this year, led a number of popular Twitter users in Japan in attacking the Japan Times over the article. Tabuchi, Our Man In Abiko, Rick Ochoa, Dan Ryan, “Hikosaemon” and others falsely accused this reporter of writing the article by Braun, whose previous articles in the Guardian, Globe and Mail and other major media are listed on google searches. Tabuchi said the Japan Times community page gave a bad name to the rest of the newspaper, which has a publishing deal pending with the New York Times.
“If she was one of the journalists approached and, as she hints, she recognised the man behind the curtain, I am not surprised she did not want to comment,” wrote Nicolson in his letter.
Nicolson also continued his campaign against Japan Times community page editor Ben Stubbings.
Nicolson said he has “further evidence of how he appears to have bought into the sock-puppet troll theory.”
He also defended a frequent commenter who uses the pseudonym “Captain Mainwaring” to attack Japan Times columnist Debito Arudou. “You appear not to be respecting Captain Mainwaring’s desire for privacy, a rather unprofessional action for a journalist, I feel. However, given the recent rather fanciful articles in the Community that have featured me, I do not find your action in the least surprising.”
“Perhaps you should be more worried about your own accuracy and making your own retractions?” Nicolson said in conclusion.
On Nicolson’s site Japologism, a number of posters have launched personal attacks against Stubbings and others associated with the Japan Times.