25 November 2009

Opinion piece about the Megumi Ogawa case



>> Ogawa’s case is a blot on higher-degree supervision, the justice ‘‘system’’ and that collection of bureaucratic drones, the Department of Immigration.

Ogawa already had a law degree from Wasedu University in Tokyo and a masters in law from Yokohama National University. At the end of 1999, she came to Australia on a Rotary international scholarship to study for a PhD.

She did two years at the University of Queensland and then transferred to the University of Melbourne where she had been offered two scholarships to complete her doctorate in broadcasting and copyright law.

At Melbourne, her first supervisor left after a few months. There was a hiatus during which she had no supervisor, until she complained. Ultimately someone with expertise in military law was appointed.

The result of this stand-off was that in 2002 her enrolment was cancelled. She took proceedings against the university in 2003, which was followed by a two-year jurisdictional wrangle, claiming the university had made several misleading statements in its handbook about ‘‘infrastructure support’’ and the experience of the supervisor to be assigned to PhD students.

In 2006 Justice Ray Finkelstein said the case should be heard by the Federal Court. Six months later the dispute was settled and she was able to re-enrol at the University of Queensland to complete her doctorate, which she did.

In 2006 her thesis was published as a book, Protection of Broadcasters’ Rights. It carries a foreword by the former chief justice, Anthony Mason, saying: ‘‘This book is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the issues relating to the protection of broadcasters’ rights.’’

On May 19, 2006, Ogawa was arrested in Queensland on the ground that she no longer held a valid student’s visa. She was sent to Villawood detention centre, where for 10 weeks she was on ‘‘suicide watch’’.

She applied for a protection visa and was released, only to be arrested again and imprisoned on charges of making threats in phone calls three months earlier to kill two Federal Court officers.

Ogawa was extradited from Sydney to Brisbane. Justice Dennis Cowdroy dismissed her appeals on the immigration issues in December 2006. He said she had become an ‘‘unfortunate victim’’ of circumstances.

The criminal case over the threats came before Judge Stuart Durward from Townsville. By this stage, Ogawa was working at Southern Cross University, Lismore, but her mental state was fragile, to put it mildly. The court ordered her arrested for breach of a psychiatric treatment bail condition.

She was dragged into the Brisbane District Court, handcuffed and propped up in the dock by sheriff officers. After repeated interruptions, her trial proceeded in her absence, with no representation or defence.

She was convicted on all charges and sentenced to a minimum of four months for each to be served concurrently, plus two months minimum for contempt (screaming and bottom flashing).

Counsel came to her rescue, an appeal was lodged and she is now out on bail.

In granting bail the Queensland Court of Appeal made some remarks about the trial judge’s failure to properly direct the jury as to whether a ‘‘panic attack’’ was relevant to her intention at the time of the alleged threats.

Ogawa came to Australia nine years ago. She has spent 6½ years in various courts. She fears that if she is deported she will not be able to get an academic job in Japan or travel to conferences.

As she put it: ‘‘This is a strong message to international students, how dangerous it is to study in Australia.’’<< end of excerpt

Megumi Ogawa's appeal denied

Since when are judges competent to decide who is and who is not competent to stand trial?
Australia continues its racist ways.



>> However, the Court of Appeal in Brisbane on Tuesday unanimously dismissed the appeal against Ogawa's harassment offences.

The Court of Appeal also refused to allow Ogawa leave to appeal her contempt offence.

In his judgment, Justice Patrick Keane said there was ample evidence justifying Ogawa was a "humbug".

"His Honour was, of course, firmly of the view that the appellant's mental state was such that she was capable of participating in the trial had she chosen to do so," he said.

"On this view, what is said to be the product of an unsoundness of mind can be seen to be the conduct of a contumacious litigant in defiance of the authority of the court."

As Ogawa had been released on bail, a warrant has now been issued for her arrest and she has 38 days left to serve in her prison sentence. << end of excerpt

Racist Australia Needs to Free Megumi Ogawa NOW!

See previous story:


The Brisbane Times carried an article about her appeal:



>> In the Brisbane Court of Appeal on Thursday, Ogawa's lawyer Angelo Vasta asked for the contempt convictions to be set aside on the grounds that Ogawa was denied the opportunity to have a proper trial by jury on the contempt charges.

"The failure to allow a jury rather than the judge denied her to say she had an impairment to her mental capacity," Mr Vasta said.

"The question of her behaviour in court should have been tested by a jury under separate proceedings."

Mr Vasta said there was an abundance of evidence indicating Ogawa was "mentally disturbed", including psychiatric assessments.

He is also appealing Ogawa's other convictions, arguing inadmissible and irrelevant evidence given in the trial led to prejudice and a trial miscarriage.

Mr Vasta requested that no retrial be ordered as Ogawa had already served her entire prison sentence for contempt and had only 38 days left to serve on her total sentence.

The court has reserved its decision. < < end of excerpt

Kyodo News reports an 'Erasmus' scheme for E. Asia in the works


Asia student exchange program eyed

SEOUL (Kyodo) South Korea, Japan and China are seeking to create a student exchange program modeled on Europe's Erasmus scheme that would allow their university students to study in each other's country without extra tuition fees, Yonhap news agency reported Friday, citing diplomatic sources.

Under the Campus Asia program, all credits earned by the participants in other countries would be recognized at their home institutions, the report said.

Americans studying abroad choose Asia, Latin America and Africa more and more

More Americans are going overseas to study--and more are choosing to go to Asia, Africa and South America instead of the traditional European destinations (although these still remain quite popular).


Numbers of Americans Studying Abroad Up 8.5%, China, India, Japan, South Africa, and Argentina See Strong Gains as Destinations

Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
November 16, 2009

A record number of U.S. students are studying abroad, reflecting the value of an international academic experience as preparation to live and work in a global society. According to the Open Doors 2009 survey, the number of Americans studying abroad increased by 8.5% to 262,416 in the 2007/08 academic year. This increase builds on two decades of steady growth and represents four times as many U.S. students than in 1987/88. The Institute of International Education publishes the annual Open Doors report with support from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

“Today more than ever before, study abroad can help our students understand our interconnected world and participate productively in the global economy,” said Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith A. McHale, at a briefing today at the National Press Club in Washington, DC that launched the observance of International Education Week. She added, “The State Department strongly supports study abroad through such programs as the Fulbright Program, which is sending its largest number ever of U.S. students abroad this year, and the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, which in two years has doubled the number of U.S. undergraduates with financial need who will study abroad.”

Open Doors 2009 shows that the number of students to nearly all of the top twenty-five destinations increased, notably to destinations less traditional for study abroad: China, Ireland, Austria and India (up about 20% each), as well as Costa Rica, Japan, Argentina and South Africa (up nearly 15% each). While the four perennial leaders in hosting U.S. students remain the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and France, findings indicate that 15 of the top 25 destinations are now outside of Western Europe, and 19 are countries where English is not the primary language. Americans electing to study in Africa increased by 18%, in Asia by 17%, and in Latin America by 11%.

Data provided for this study by campus administrators for academic year 2008/09 relates to study abroad in 2007/08 and is the most recent available.

Open Doors 2009 details and analysis are available at http://opendoors.iienetwork.org.

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) manages a range of exchanges for over 40,000 participants annually, to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Details, including overseas study opportunities for Americans, are available at www.exchanges.state.gov and http://exchanges.state.gov/features/abroad/index.html.

Media Contact: Catherine Stearns, StearnsCL@state.gov or 202-632-6437

Even 'rural' Japan is urban

Japan actually has a lot of space that is barely inhabited or not all--most it in its mountains. The land is simply too rugged and remote to be developed into anything other than tree farms (which are bad for the environment, I might add, since one-species 'forests' typically destroy the complex watersheds that help prevent floods while creating everything from pristine trout streams to seafood-rich estuaries).

Many Japanese refer to the 'countryside' or rural Japan as 'inaka', but compared to North America, the inaka of Japan is often quite densely populated and developed. (Think New Jersey or Delaware more than anything else).

This means that universities in 'rural' Japan still have to build UP in order to create space for classrooms, research laboratories and offices. This is more of a challenge than many might think because so many parts of Japan are hazardous earthquake zones where highrise development has been severely restricted.

Take for example two of the universities in Fukui City, where I live. Both the University of Fukui (a former national university) and Fukui University of Technology (a private university) have built highrise buildings on their main campuses in order to make space.

University of Fukui's highrise building (actually two buildings connected) in the sun of a rare fine November day.

The photo below has at its center the highrise building of Fukui University of Technology, which is about 1 mile due west of the University of Fukui. Both universities' main focus is their science and engineering programs, although University of Fukui recently added a college of medicine through a government-forced merger with a former national medical college.

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