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UPDATE: New details in the Nicola Furlong death in Tokyo

Nicola Furlong - Source: Facebook and the Independent.ie

 

*** UPDATES POSTED BELOW IN RED! *** SCROLL TO BOTTOM OF PAGE FOR THE MOST RECENT UPDATE.*** LATEST UPDATE: 08 JUNE 12 ***

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[UPDATE: 29 MAY 12]

I am sure that many of you are already familiar with the various details surrounding the death of the Irish foreign exchange student, Nicola Furlong, 21 in Tokyo following the Niki Minaj concert. If you are not, click here for the background.

Here is the latest from an “unnamed source” close to investigation:

  • The 19-year-old is being identified via various blogs and online news sources as XX This IS NOT the previously named drummer that was MISTAKENLY reported on other blogs, including this one. Black Tokyo contacted the source of the previously reported information to notify said source of the error and to relay the source’s (and Black Tokyo’s) apology.

  • The previously unidentified 21-year-old woman is S. M., as reported via various (corrected at 1700, 30 May 12. See Twitter inquiry below) a mediasource.
  • According to another BT source, “XX and/or Blackstone supposedly reported that one of the girls (Furlong or XO) passed out in a club” (BT correspondents have yet to identify which club the women supposedly visited).
  • According to the source, “XX and Blackstone helped Furlong and XO to the cab because the girls wanted to leave and they (the women) had missed their train” (as reported in the press).
  • According to the source, “XO. admitted to willingly going with XX and Blackstone to the hotel” so, by Japanese standards, that leaves a lot of questions about consent and what happened in the cab under the guise of the law.
  •  According to the source, “before Furlong and XO left the club – AND BEFORE THE OTHER GIRL GOT REALLY DRUNK – the two of them went outside with a white guy. When the women returned they were suddenly “DRUNK” or in an intoxicated or high state.”
  • According to the source, Furlong’s death “may have more to do with rough sex than intentional murder.”
  • According to the source, Furlong was reported to be “bleeding from her mouth when they found her.”
The two American men “have not been charged with murder in the ongoing investigation of the death” of Furlong, according to Japanese officials. Black Tokyo will continue to update you as we learn more of the rest of the story! Again, our deepest condolences to the Furlong family.

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[UPDATE: 1500, 30 MAY 12]

  • After checking online news and Japanese TV, it seems that Tokyo Police have yet to release the coroners report on Furlong. There is no confirmation her on blood content.
  • According the source, “when they realized Nicola was unconscious, the police and ambulance were called. Everyone came out to see what was going on. The other girl (XO) knew where she was just really “out of it”.”
  • According to another source, “the US Embassy has stepped in and two men were arrested for sexual assault of Furlong’s “intoxicated” friend while the group were in a taxi. The two men are no longer in contact with the band or AI’s management.”
  • According to different source, “the other girl [reportedly XO] was still visibly groggy, even during the police questioning.”
  • According to the source, “it looks like the girls went to the club before the guys (allegedly XX and Blackstone) and had already started drinking.”

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MY RESPONSE TO A TWITTER INQUIRY FROM JamesJPN ‏@JamesJPN (COMBINED WITH SEPARATE POST FROM YESTERDAY):

@blacktokyo What are the “various media” sources that reported the sexual assault victim’s name? Google only turns up a couple shady blogs.”

@JamesJPN: Wow! It’s unfortunate that you feel @hinterlandg (http://hinterlandgazette.com/editors-contributors) is a shady blog?! This just reinforces why some people (mainly Black and my target reader on things in Japan from an Afro-perspective) need the Black press, Black blogs and other diverse forms of online media to get to the rest of the story!

“Mainstream” news organizations in the US such as Fox News or some media outlets in Japan can spew bias and hatred but i hear nothing but crickets chirping from certain people on topics that do not ping their radar (due to race, class, gender, disinterest, etc.). In this case, dealing with Blacks or more specifically Black men and White women in Japan, there is so much more to the story.

I have unfortunately dealt with the Black male being negatively portrayed in Japanese advertisements and publications (Mandom E-Mobile, Tokyo Earthquake Pamphlet, other, etc.) and was accused of being overly-sensitive, looking for racism or “making” things racist by bringing my Black American baggage to the table and not understanding the Japanese. We know how a Mr. James McDonald’s commercial in Japan or a microagression stemming from a compliment on a foreigner’s (in particular a White foreigner) use of Japanese (just a phrase will do) or mastery of handling a pair of chopsticks can change the opinion when it hits close to home.

Ms. Shan “has been quoted in numerous articles at other media outlets including the Sacramento Bee, CNN’s Belief Blog and Bloomberg. Mainstream media sites such as The Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Drudge Report, AOL News and others have linked to different news items” that she publishes. She IS considered a news source. Some like me (and other Blacks) are concerned with getting the rest of the story. A young woman was murdered. Is it an open and shut case? It is not when the blogosphere goes into overdrive and question how two white women can go with two monkeys, niggers, Blacks (I am sure that there are more names used) after a concert. If the women were Japanese would this be an issue? If the guys were US military? Yes, based on past postings online and media commentary.

Strange but true statements regarding the Furlong case:

(1) “the pair gave “drinks with high alcoholic content to Furlong’s friend, a 21-year-old Irishwoman, leading her to fall unconscious and then groping her inside a taxi,” reports Japan’s Mainichi News.

Did the guys spike their drinks? Are these guys bartenders? Did they have a flask or bottle stashed? Is the hotel, club or other establishment responsible for two adult women drinking to the point of being highly intoxicated. Did the women take drugs? Where they drugged? What happened when they were at the club? What happened when it was reported that they went outside with a white male and came back “drunk?” Was there a white male? Why was an underage male, the 19 year old, served alcohol? Why did the women continue to stay with the men? Where the women held against their will? Were the women carried into the hotel? Did the staff notice anything amiss upon arrival?

(2) From your blog, Japan Probe: “Update 2: Cyzo has a story in Japanese about how James Blackston was a “famous” dancer. The article contains the following quote from police:

「アルコール度数の高い酒を飲ませてホテルに誘うのは来日するアメリカ人タレントによくある手口、特にヒップホップやR&B系のコンサート界隈では被害の話もよく耳にする」

American performers who come to Japan will often get girls to drink strong alcoholic beverages and then take the girls back to their hotel rooms. It is especially common with Hip Hop / R&B concerts.”

How do I even begin my response / rant on the second example? There are MANY facts to be verified and I estimate that there is much not reported or released by the police and the Japanese press. There can be various reasons for this.

BT remembers the situation when a Ghanaian that had lived illegally for years in Japan, Abubakar Awudu Suraj, was “killed while in police custody at Tokyo’s Narita airport during his deportation. An immigration official expressed regret to his Japanese widow—but the ministry dragged its feet in investigating the incident. ” (The Economist, Dec 2010) The case was dropped completely—and a man’s death went unpunished. (The Economist, Jan 2011).

In trying to get more of the story, The Economist, Addendum, 5 November 2011 reported: “When The Economist requested an interview with the Chiba prosecutor’s office, the answer was a firm no. An employee said that interviews are only allowed for members of the prosecutors’ “Kisha Club,” the quasi-formal groups that control the flow of news to major Japanese news organisations (and which tend to turn journalists into stenographers for officialdom, by neutering independent reporting). The employee said that the only time The Economist can prosecutors questions is during an annual “press registration”—whose application deadline is long past. Must every Japanese institution be designed to keep out outsiders?”

At any rate, BT keeps digging to get the rest of the story, especially when the media (online, official and other information sources) have already turned the incident into more than just an investigation of the unfortunate death of Ms. Furlong by adding race and class to it. This is an international incident but it is a very personal incident to those involved. Let’s hope that the right thing is done and justice is properly served since the sentence has not only been passed on XX and Blackstone but more importantly, one young lady lost her life and another reported to have been sexually assaulted.

Remember, a few months ago, a sentence was passed on a Black American Japan League basketball star that was accused of drug trafficking. He was cleared by the Japanese National Police Agency but not before he was crucified in the media. In the Furlong case, if one or both of the men accused of ‘quasi forcible indecency’ are guilty of ANY crime, especially a crime leading to death of Ms. Furlong, let justice run its course. Let’s hope that “just us” is not being served for the “greater” cause! R.I.P. Ms. Furlong!

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REPLY FROM @ JamesJPN ‏@JamesJPN:

“Got a response from @blacktokyo  “rambling mess – I said that other blog was “shady” because it sites nobody.” “My main concern is that your announce the identity of a victim of sexual assault ” via various media outlets” “I only see one “media outlet” as the main source – Janet Shan’s blog (hinterland gazette). “Your blogging and Shan’s blogging have done might be seen as “naming & shaming” a victim of sexual assault.” “Sorry, but I saw no relation between my request for “various media sources” on the victim’s identity & your rant about racists” “Also: Unless the sex crime victim came forward to openly speak to the press, I find it “shady” for media to out her identity.”  “Article about the controversy of reporting sex crime victims’ names:”

 REPLY FROM @blacktokyo:

“Hi! Thanks for the question. Long reply posted at BT with a trackback to your blog.”
“That’s your take? sorry i don’t play that game! have a good day!”
 “Rambling mess? i smile at you! here’s a shorter version: have a good day! medium version: shady cuz (cont)http://tl.gd/hkb4q1
“it actually combined another story that i was working on.”
“thanks for the link. i will check it out.”

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[UPDATE: 31 MAY 12]

Here is a write-up, Nicola Furlong: Peaceful Ireland to Tokyo End (Photos), from Pat Cain of the website, Right Entertainment. Cain writes:

“From a writer’s perspective this case can be approached at many levels. One thing that has struck me is the contrast between American crime rates and those of both Japan and Ireland. Violent crime is almost nonexistent in both of those countries, something that would not have even been on Nicola Furlong’s radar. But add two American boys into the picture and everything changes.”

Ms. Nicola Furlong (via Right Entertainment blog)
Cain provides additional details on Ms. Furlong’s hometown and a request for information regarding any fund established where one may donate to a fund in her name:
“If you know of any information on how to contribute to a family fund in Nicola’s name please leave it in the comments so our readers can be informed. Meanwhile, may Nicola Furlong rest in peace and may the men who did this to her be brought to justice in the end.”
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The “Family’s last pics of tragic Nicola” via The Irish Sun are now posted. The Irish Sun writes of Nicola’s family:
“As they prepare to bring her body home from Tokyo tomorrow for burial, the personal snaps show the close bond pretty Nicola, 21, had with her mum and sisters.”
Also according to the Irish Sun, “yesterday, police in Japan were awaiting toxicology results to see if the Co Wexford girl was drugged and sexually assaulted before being strangled.” The paper mistakenly referred to Blackstone, one of the men being detained and charged by the Japanese police with ‘quasi forcible indecency’ as a “rapper” instead of dancer.
In an article by the Independent.ie, “From South Central LA to a police cell in Tokyo” the following details of Blackstone are given:

“Much of his US background is only beginning to emerge but it is believed he hails from the notorious south-central area of Los Angeles, which has long been synonymous with gang violence.

According to unconfirmed reports, Mr. Blackston was influenced by the former American drug dealer turned performer Tommy Johnson to get into dancing and joined his ‘clown’ company.”

“Eventually, Mr Blackston redirected himself towards more mainstream dancing and launched what appears to be a successful career in the music business.”

“Nicola’s heartbroken mother Angela revealed: “She sent me a text message before the concert saying: ‘We put on our fake tan, all our shaving is done we are ready to go now mam, talk to you soon. Ten weeks and I’ll be back in Ireland’.” “Mrs Furlong told the Irish Mirror that Nicola (21) said she was going to get invited to the US singer’s after-party.” “She joked that next time we saw her would be in the papers drinking champagne with Nicki Minaj; she didn’t know that the next time we would see her it would be in the papers as a victim.”
The Independent.ie also reports that:
“It is understood that police in Japan are preparing to charge the unnamed 19-year-old musician with the sexual assault and killing of Nicola last Wednesday night at the Keio Plaza hotel.”
Additionally, it has been reported that Furlong’s friend has little memory of what happened that night, according to The Independent:

“The young woman has had trouble recalling much of the events of the night and may have to return to Japan as the investigation continues.

“There were thoughts that they (the girl and her mother) might not be able to get out but they are allowing her out because her best friend is being buried and she would like to be at the funeral,” Mr Furlong said.

“It could have been her just the same as it was Nicola; she was there when whatever happened, happened. She is just happy to be coming home.

“She probably witnessed (much of what happened) but she can’t remember it for some reason.”

For information on what steps the Japanese authorities haven probably taken is provided by CNN guest, “Ted Simon, “a defense attorney who represented Amanda Knox, the American student accused and then acquitted of murdering her British roommate when they were studying in Italy.”

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[UPDATE: 01 JUNE 12]

It seems that Ms. Nicki Minaj has taken to the Twitterverse and checked Perez Hilton in his accusations of members of her entourage being involved in the death of Ms. Nicola Furlong. Celebrity Buzz reports:
“Nicki Minaj has lashed out at celebrity blogger Perez Hilton for publishing a “misleading” report online, which suggested that one of her back-up dancers had been arrested for the murder of a fan in Japan.

In a series of angry Twitter.com posts directed at Hilton, she writes, “my dancers had nothing to do w/ (with) this tragedy. No one in my entourage was questioned or arrested. They all flew home from Japan.

“That person on your sight (sic) is NOT my dancer. We do NOT know the men in custody. Too much misleading information.”

The original Perez Hilton article has since been removed from the website.” (Click here for full story.)

Ms. Furlong and her friend were in Tokyo for Nicki’s “Beez in the Trap” concert performed at Zepp Toyko. A video from Nicki’s sophomore album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded is below. Warning: the video is NSFW as it contains explicit language and images that may not be suitable to all viewers.

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The Irish Times online reports that the “Body of student killed in Tokyo brought home to family in Curracloe.” Nicola Furlong, the 21 year old that was scheduled to return to her hometown after

Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Ms. Furlong’s friend that accompanied her to the Nicki Minaj concert and later to the hotel is returning to Ireland. The Irish Times reported:

“The second victim of the assault is being comforted by her mother, who flew to Tokyo from Dublin this week. They are due to return home shortly for Nicola’s funeral. A source close to the family says the woman, also from Co Wexford, remembers little about the attack. As the key witness, she will almost certainly be asked to return to Japan to testify if the trial against the two Americans goes ahead.”

Photo credit: Irish Examiner
 Regarding details of the case, the Irish Examiner reports:
“They missed the last train back to their college dormitory located about an hour from Tokyo. The pair met two American men, dancer James Blackston and an unnamed 19-year-old musician, who were staying at Keio Plaza Hotel where Nicola later died. Hotel staff went to the room after reports of a loud noise at 3.20am. They found her lying on the ground, face up, with the 19-year-old nearby. Both Americans have been charged with sexual offences against the other Wexford woman and are being questioned about Nicola’s death.”

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[UPDATE: 08 JUNE 12]

The Independent.ie reports:

“Nicola’s dad and uncle were met at the other side by representatives from the Irish embassy in Tokyo.

They travelled at the request of Japanese police who wanted to speak to the Wexford man. Mr Furlong said that Japanese police had requested to meet with him: “They said they want to talk to me face to face and I hope they have some answers into how Nicola died.” It is understood they police are looking for background on Nicola and her trip to Tokyo.”

“They (the two American, dancer James Blackston (23) and an unnamed 19-year-old musician) can be held for up to eight days more before charges have to be brought under Japanese law.”

David McNeill in Tokyo reports for the Irish Times that:

“The lawyer representing Mr Blackston yesterday said his client was innocent and was not in the same room as Ms Furlong when she died.

Defence attorney Tsutomu Nakamura said his client last saw Ms Furlong just before the younger suspect took her back to his room at the Keio Plaza Hotel in the early hours of May 24th.

“Most important is that my client never went to the other man’s room. So he has no idea what happened there,” Mr Nakamura said.

He added that he expected his client to be released on June 15th because there was “no evidence” linking him to Ms Furlong’s death.”

You can read the rest of the story here via the Irish Times.

More updates as they become available!

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The following BT’ers contributed to the Nicola Furlong investigation: @blacktokyo, @onmugen @starrwulfe @ogPegasus303

Have inquiries? Feel free to contact “investigation@blacktokyo.com” regarding the Nicola Furlong case.

Follow Black Tokyo on Twitter: @blacktokyo
#RIPNicolaFurlong

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