Australian executive faces deportation following argument on a train

News & Views - October 23rd, 2013
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One night in late August, Andrew Peyton was coming home from work. It was just like any other night, until things took a dramatic turn.

No one, even Peyton himself, foresaw the moment when his life would suddenly change course, derailed by a simple misunderstanding.

The Australian native moved to Japan 13 years ago and is working as an executive for a manufacturing business. He married a Japanese national and, like millions in the country, lives in a tiny suburban apartment.

He was a good man, says Andrew Rule of the Herald Sun. Rule met Peyton when he arrived in Japan a day after the tsunami devastated the northeastern coast in 2011.

Peyton readily offered a hand, lending Rule and photographer Alex Coppel his station wagon, with a full gas tank, blankets and supplies, for their trip across the country, aiming to share the story of the disaster that shocked Japan.

Peyton knew when help was urgently needed. Immediately after the disaster, he organized a fundraiser to help thousands of victims of the earthquake and tsunami.

The days and months passed normally until August 27 of this year, when he found himself in a jail cell.

After a long day on business in Osaka, his path crossed with Sakamoto-san. Their meeting was anything but conventional, even for strangers on the train.

“There was a vacant seat between the two gents. The younger of the two was sitting in a fashion that can be best described as ‘lounging’ with his right knee half way over the vacant seat,” as Peyton recounts the story to Rule.

He politely excused himself so he could sit but the younger man (Sakamoto-san) wouldn’t move. Only after tapping the man’s right knee lightly did Sakamoto-san budge, says Peyton.

But it didn’t end there. The man started saying something along the lines that it was rude to tap one’s knee to which Peyton profusely refused.

The man continued on, drawing attention. Peyton told him to ‘shut up.’ The agitated Japanese man grabbed him by the collar and Peyton tried to move away.

Their faces bumped when the train jerked and the Japanese man’s nose started bleeding. Peyton waited to make sure the man was all right.

Police came, quickly handcuffed Peyton and took him to the station. Peyton’s Japanese residency is now on the line.

After spending weeks in a jail cell, Peyton was released but still faces the threat of deportation.

Now, it’s the Good Samaritan’s time to ask for help, says Rule.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: Andrew Peyton, right, with wife Hiroe and a friend/Herald Sun