The JVM fails to locate the *.class file within an path that contains (e.g.) Umlauts, such as in ~/Arbeitsfläche/Thrift because of LC_ALL=C being set by configure. The symptom is, that
works fine when invoked by hand, but configure fails at exactly that step, even with an explictly set classpath -cp . with the message:
Temporarily adding LC_ALL= right before the Java check solves the issue. The other workaround is to use a path using only LC_ALL=C-compatible characters.
It seems to be related to the issue mentioned at http://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/autoconf/2011-10/msg00000.html and I eventually came up with the reason because after checking the usual suspects like CLASSPATH and the like I finally wondered whether it might have something to do with the fact that Java emits english error messages during configure, but german messages otherwise.