Out of Japan: Newly-wed overcomes fear of Big Bad World

TOKYO - Emiko Fujieda probably did not realise she was about to become a media celebrity in Japan when she walked out on her husband during their honeymoon in Australia last week. But a combination of her mysterious behaviour, her husband's embarrassed reluctance to admit their early marital problems to the Australian police and the hyper- sensitivity of the Japanese media to the risks facing Japanese people abroad suddenly put her on the front pages of newspapers and at the top of televsion news programmes. For four days, Emiko became another victim of the 'Big Bad World' syndrome.

Japanese only began travelling overseas in large numbers in the 1980s, as their new-found affluence and a large revaluation of the yen made world travel cheap and attractive. With an average of two weeks holiday a year, much of their travelling became whistle- stop tours of well-known attractions - similar to the oft-parodied American tourist who 'did' Europe in seven days.

In fact, Japanese tourists have neatly stepped into the stereotype formerly associated with the Americans - big-spenders who are none the less nave to the point of cultural insensitivity. And predictably they became targets of crime.

But while Americans quickly became street-wise on their foreign ventures, Japanese are uniquely unsuited to dealing with crime, since their own society is so safe, with crime levels a mere fraction of those in the West. Every year the Foreign Ministry releases figures of the increasing number of Japanese who have been robbed while abroad, and the travel industry conducts publicity campaigns warning tourists to watch their wallets and luggage and to be wary of confidence tricksters while overseas.

The media are quick to exploit the deep-seated ambivalence felt by many Japanese about foreigners in general, and the dangers of venturing out into the Big Bad World. Until the case was resolved last Friday, Emiko became the latest cause celebre.

Emiko, aged 25, went missing in Sydney while shopping with her husband, Yoshihiro, 29. It was the last day of their 10-day honeymoon, and they had agreed to spend a couple of hours shopping separately before meeting at a duty-free shop. Emiko did not turn up, and after waiting for several hours her husband went back to the hotel. That night she telephoned him and, as he told the police, she said she was in another hotel, had been helped by a 'friendly Australian', and that her husband should not come looking for her.

Yoshihiro contacted the police, whose first fear was that she had been kidnapped. On Wednesday her husband made an emotional plea on television asking anyone who had seen Emiko to come forward. By this stage Emiko had become famous back in Japan. Newspapers carried the last photograph of her, taken by her husband, showing Emiko crouching down and patting a kangaroo. The television networks showed haunting pictures of the shop entrance where they last saw each other. Her parents made plans to fly to Sydney, steeling themselves for a ransom demand or worse. However, she called her husband again on Thursday, and on Friday morning Sydney police tracked her down to a motel in a quiet suburb beside the beach, where she had been staying all the time, apparently of her own free will.

According to Andy Holland, a police superintendent, she had been going through some personal problems. 'She wanted to gather her thoughts and think about her future,' he said.

All the dark speculation in the media had to be jettisoned, and the incident was put down to another case of post-nuptial blues. Second thoughts immediately after marriage have given rise in Japan to the phrase Narita rikon, or Narita divorce, referring to decisions made by newly-weds to break up in Tokyo's airport after an unsuccessful honeymoon overseas. Emiko and Yoshihiro, it seems, have a lot to talk about.

But the Big Bad World is still out there. Last month the media gave extensive coverage to the unfortunate 16-year-old Japanese youth shot dead in Louisiana when he knocked on the door of the wrong house looking for a Hallowe'en party.

The fact that the majority of 10 million Japanese who travel overseas each year return home safely after having a good time is not a news story.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
news
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn