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After 9 Months, Why Is A Univ. Of Redlands Student Still Detained In A Tokyo Jail?

Kate Emmons via latimes.com

The prolonged imprisonment of a University of Redlands student in Japan has received major media attention in the States, and the U.S. government is aware of the situation.  So why is Julian Adame still in a Tokyo jail 9 months after his arrest on a seemingly minor infraction?  KVCR News spoke with one of Adame's closest friends about his condition and his upcoming trial.  Here's KVCR's Katie Trojano with more.

In May 2018 Julian Adame, A University of Redlands student, was imprisoned in Tokyo and charged with the obstruction of the performance of official duties. Nine months later, after his trial has repeatedly been delayed, Adame is still jailed in Tokyo Detention center.

Upon finishing his UoR study abroad program in Bali, Adame decided to travel to Japan. He planned to stay in Japan a few days before moving to Thailand to meet Kate Emmons, a friend and fellow UoR student. When Adame didn’t show up to meet Emmons in Thailand, she looked back in her text messages and Emmons realized that she hadn’t actually heard from Adame in multiple days.


“And at that point I called all the embassies and put out a social media blast seeing if anyone had heard from him and was later called back by the embassy and told that he'd been arrested.”


Days before he was apprehended, Julian Adame had been told told that is was common for criminals to dress as police officers and take advantage of foreigners. Kate Emmons said that this was the main reason that Adame resisted arrest.


“He’s awoken by police officers and they tell him he's broken a lamp and that he owes $900 for it. And at this point all of his companions had abandoned him and everything was lining up with the story that he was previously told so he's convinced that they're gang members and not police and then they moved him to a community police box where video footage is recorded of Julian saying 'You're going to kill me.'”


In the backyard of her house across the street from the University of Redlands, Emmons explained that Adame feared for his life at the time of his arrest-- convinced the “police” that arrested him were in fact gang members.


“And they transferred him according to Julian's memory of this to an unmarked vehicle where more officers got in that weren't in uniform, they drove him to his hostel where they obtained his passport and it was there that they I think attempted to handcuff Julian and I think he turned around, startled, and accidentally scuffed an officer with a flailing limb, but he's being charged with the obstruction of the performance of official duties, so I guess resisting arrest.”


The U.S. embassy wrote a diplomatic note on Adame’s behalf to the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Foreign affairs in Japan. The note formally requested that the student’s case be expedited. The request was recently denied.


Julian Adame’s imprisonment in Tokyo has been covered by major news outlets in the U.S., with many headlines emphasizing the infamous broken lamp. Although the ordeal has captured public interest, Emmons is unsure if media attention will contribute to the expedition of Adame’s case in any concrete way.


“I think it’s been helpful in terms of spreading awareness about the case and a lot of strangers have been donating to the GoFundMe, which is so humbling, but I’m not so sure if it has helped expedite the case I don’t think we know that quite yet, we need to make sure the story is broadcasted in Japan and so I’m working with the embassy now to see if we can spread awareness there.”


Julian Adame’s trial has been delayed many times since his original detainment. His trial date has recently been pushed back until March 1st. Until then, Kate Emmons says that her friend and fellow University of Redlands student is doing his best to maintain his mental health and stay busy while he awaits trial in a Japanese jail cell.


“He was in the process of writing a book, which we all have told him this will make for great material. He writes every day he has a daily process of meditating praying, doing yoga and writing--  he does that at the beginning and ending of every day."