Update On Yaakov Yosef, Last Bochur Imprisioned In Japan


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By Aron Nezri

As previously reported, the Ministry of Justice in Japan has written to the MOJ in Israel on the 27th Jan where between the contents they confirmed that they are now dealing with the final stage and will be sending their final approval shortly. – As usual and very typical they never give any kind of dates or indications whatsoever.

Since then, both internal and some external pressure was posed on the MOJ in Japan to get them to send their approval ASAP so that we can get Yakov Yosef home before Pesach.

Last week (23rd March) Japan wrote to Israel and confirmed that they will send their approval but before doing so, they demanded certain conditions to be confirmed back to them before they can send their final approval! This letter was emailed and first seen on Sunday morning 25th March.

I cannot go into details right now, but with the new complications it was clearly seen that it could take weeks to sort out, but with major seyate dishmaya we were working round the clock to get Israel to respond and confirm to Japan that they agree to all their requests so that Japan can send their approval by return, hopefully quick enough to enable to complete the transfer still before Pesach.

There was a lot going on throughout the whole of last week without anytime to pause! No sleep, no nothing…. many weeks of work was cut through in 3 days!

Israel eventually emailed their reply to Japan on Wed 28 March (early morning when it was still working hours in Japan, so that they can start to wrap up this case faster) and Japan has confirmed this morning by telephone that they are satisfied and that they will send their reply shortly. (They did however ask that Israel send them the parole laws all of which was done and sent by email in a matter of hours, and they will see it tomorrow morning).

For the transfer to work fast, part of last weeks work was to organise the Israeli prison wardens to be ready to go out to Japan with very short notice. This procedure usually starts when the Japanese sends their approval where they ask Israel to organise their wardens and to notify them which day they will collect the prisoner. As we don’t have time and can’t wait a few weeks until Israel organises this, again we had to press and get the prison authority to agree to select 2 wardens to go out to Japan in a few days time with very short notice. This was a complicated thing to do as they have to call every prison in the country and find out who is prepared to travel and as not every warden is eligible to take on this job, this causes even further delay. After a 2 day cycle B”H the usual 3 week exercise was complete and the prison authority are now in direct contact with the MOJ.

To conclude, it’s Monday afternoon now and Pesach is Friday night. If Japan respond tomorrow then its still possible to get YY home just in time for Pesach. A day later is as well possible but obviously its all in a big rush huff and puff, but if that’s what’s needed we will do it.

In the meantime, as we were so near to Pesach we had to dispatch matzos to Japan. This was dispatched by Fedex 11 days ago and received 3 days later.

Shockingly, the prison this year decide that they will not give a permit to admit any matzos and they confirmed that they ordered special puffed wheat crackers. This was a major battle to win and last Friday they almost said that there’s nothing to talk about but after a whole day of back and forth the prison said they will look into it again.

Their main claim was that although they admitted matzos in previous years, the boy was a detainee, but now that his status has changed they cannot allow it due to the strict rules in place.

The whole of last Friday (Thursday night) was spent in trying to tackle this problem and I argued that whilst his status has changed from detainee to prisoner, his religious status hasn’t changed! In previous years matzo was given because they understood the importance of the obligation to have matzos as required by religion. Eventually the message came through to them late afternoon today and they agreed to admit the matzos. For the past week the situation was very tense to YY his family and all of us. NO transfer! NO matzos! What’s going to be here?

Now let us all daven that Yakov Yosef eats his matzo in Eretz Yisroel.

Meanwhile things have been done within Japan to try to get this completed and we can now only lift our eyes to shomayim and beg for rachmonos.

Please beg the Matir Asurim to release Yakov Yosef ben Reisel. H-shem is the Kol Yochol and it is Him that we rely on and nothing else.


  1. Yemach shemom v”zichrom. The Japs have always been Anti-Semites and continue to show their outright hatred towards yidden. We should ALL never forget this, especially when dealing with them locally.

    Let them know why you won’t patronize their bargain stores or other establishments. When they cut you off with their delivery scooters, blow your horn!! When you see them parked on a sidewalk, take a pic and send it to 311. If you see them driving down in the opposite direction on a one way street or worse, on a sidewalk, grab your phone and shoot a video. They terrorize our communities and get away with it, why should we be complacent??? They’re no better than the nazis ymsh’v were.

  2. The Japanese saved Reb Aharon Kotler and all of the rabbonim who escaped Europe through Russia and ended up safe in Japan. We must never forget this. Japan was an ally of Hitler Yemach Shemo and he demanded that the Jews be killed but they refused. This does not sound like a nation of Jew haters. The situation today is something else. The Japanese don’t want a country like America where murderers are given the most pleasing time in prison lest this be construed as unusual punishment. Crime is low in Japan because they are not nice to criminals. The evil one here is the rotten Jew who got these boys into the mess. But the Japanese did nothing anti-Semitic. That is, they id things that by Western standards are horrendous, but by their standards are standard. Anyway, to publish such a statement at the exact time when we are struggling to get a boy released is wrong.

    Moderators Note: Rav Ahron Kotler was never in Japan in his life. But hey, it’s the Internet. Anything goes, right?


  3. Chamor HaDor, in response to your second paragraph, please realize there is a difference between Japanese people and Asian people. Japanese make up a relatively small portion of the Asian population in the USA. For example, 9 out of 10 Asians in New York City are NOT Japanese.

    Japan is not necessarily being anti-semetic, they are known to have a very strict judicial system that will not accommodate anyone.

    Also, just like you would not like people to discriminate or boycott Israeli establishments and Israeli products because of the policies of the State of Israel, kindly demonstrate the same for those of other nations.

  4. From 1937-1945, Shanghai was under the control of Japan.

    Moserators Response: Rav Ahron Kotler was never in Shanghai in his life either.

  5. I think flash messages should me send out through text messages that people give away the reward for three days working for passover should go for the merit of Yaakov Yosef should be able to be home for Pesach.

  6. if I’m not mistaken, I think rda is talking about Yeshiva Mir, which fled to Japanese controlled Shanghai before getting visas and going to Eretz Yisrael.

  7. I request that the moderator remove the offensive comment made above by Chamor HaDor. The Japanese nation is a great nation. Chiune Sugihara was Ambassador of Japan during the holocaust and saved thousands of Jews at personal sacrifice. The Japanese nation suffered the atomic bomb attacks at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and never wreaked revenge, instead, they built themselves into a constructive world power. Please remove that comment!

    The boys were arrested April 3 2008. Yaakov Yosef was sentenced to 6 years in prison, with 814 days deducted.

    814 days is two years and 84 days. If the timing of the sentence is on the day of arrest, shouldn’t he be out of prison by now?

    According to the above article, Japanese protocol allows a release into Israeli hands after 2/3 of the sentence is complete, and that was April 2 2012 (which contradicts my math above…)In either case, why is he still there? Please update.

  8. Correction – when I said “according to the above article” in my comment above, I actually saw this info about the timing of his sentence in another article, not this one.

    Hoping to see bsuros tovos SOON! Please update

    And, moderator, please remove comment #1 above