Edwin Stamm

In February 2015, a U.S. citizen living in Tokyo went into a coma after being arrested by six Tokyo police officers and then died a month later. He was reportedly “behaving violently” on the street but apparently did not injure anyone. His name was not released and the incident was not covered by the mainstream English language press. Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal ran a story, in Japanese, in its Japan edition, but no story in English in its English edition apparently. I contacted the U.S. Embassy and the Tokyo Metropolitan government but received no response. I contacted numerous mainstream media organizations, such as The Japan Times, New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, the BBC, LA Times, etc. but did not receive a response.

I submitted a FOIA request to the State Department in April 2015 and they gave me a case number. After several months I asked about the status of my request. They told me the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo was working on it and I could expect a response around December 2016! After that deadline passed I filed another FOIA request asking for State Department correspondence related to my original FOIA request. I did not receive any response. Last month I asked about the status of my original FOIA request and received no response.

I guess it might be time to sue, but I’m just an unpaid citizen journalist with no budget, and I live overseas. Any advice?

Jack R-W

The State Department has a huge backlog and is very understaffed. If you keep calling and emailing they’ll probably give you a status update at some point.