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FOCUS: LET'S HELP THE JAPANESE POLICE TO STOP CRIME! (?) FOCUS .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

A SIMPLE BLOG OF A SIMPLE MAN including teaching, photography, independent film, writing, music, living in a foreign land, the HARD FACTS of life, and a sprinkle of tounge-in-cheek comedy.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

LET'S HELP THE JAPANESE POLICE TO STOP CRIME! (?)

When we think of Japan a number of words come up that are usually in uniform agreeance amongst most, if not all, 'gaijin' (foreigners) and they are as follows: Strange, weird, busy, a land of contrast, exciting, pop, culture, manga, sex, cute, Japlish etc... The list goes on and on and it wouldn't be fair to say that some of them aren't generalisations or cliches. Having said that, CRIME is not one of the words that comes to mind in fact, the opposite is usually true. Japan is a SAFE country compared to western standards and most foreigners would agree on two things:

1. Tokyo although, one of the largest cities in the world and not entirely void of crime, is EXTREMELY SAFE (similar to entering a kindergarten dressed in a riot police uniform with a bunch of sweet candy)
2. The Japanese Police have easy jobs compared to other police forces around the world and tend to waste much of their time on the so called 'Suspicious Foreigners' and 'Bicycle Theives' that run rampant in Tokyo (?).


So, it was to my dismay that earlier today (in the middle of the day) I was approached by a uniform cop at the Kawaguchi Train Station (just outside the exit) and handed a pamphlett on, you guessed it, CRIME! (See actual pamphlett below).

This pamphlett describes the prevalence of 'Bag snatchers...' (ひたくり hitakuri) and warns you to '...be on the look out!!' (ご用心!!goyoujin) for these bike riding rascals who pray on women (95% of the time) with front bicycle baskets (80% of the time) and snatch their Louis Vuitton, Prada, Guchi or just plain, boring, old shopping bags (if they're really hungry) and ride off into the viscious gettos.

Back to the cop and our not so brief (unfortunately) exchange that followed. As I exited the station I remembered that I had to confirm the next lesson with one of my students so I stopped to send a quick email (on my mobile phone). No sooner had I flipped the vodafone top open when the uniform started making his way towards me with an uncomfortable urgency. The dialogue that followed went something like this (translated into english for convenience):

Cop: Hello, I'd like to give you this pamphlett (above).
Me: Really (already suspicious of his demeanor) what is it?
Cop: It explains the recent increase in bag snatching around this area!
Me: Why are you giving it to me then?
Cop: Because you have a bag (I was wearing a backpack).
Me: Ok thank you...
Cop: By the way, where do you live?
Me: Here actually.
Cop: Can I see your Gaijin Torokusho (Foreign 'Alien' Registration Card)?
Me: Why?
Cop: Its standard procedure!
Me: But I'm kinda busy right now... (taking out my Gaijin Card and handing it to him like the good samaritan that I be).
Cop: What is your job? (at this point the 20 questions begin).
Me: I'm an English teacher...
Cop: Oh, really (trying to sound impressed) and why then does your card say Akabane on it? (My previous address as I have just moved to a new apartment).
Me: I haven't yet changed the address (now becoming frustrated at the sudden interrogation).
Cop: Again, where exactly do you live...?
Me: Again, tell me officer, why the 20 questions?
Cop: Its just routine, you know?
Me: Well, I'm sorry but I don't really have time for this (some of us have to work, you know?).

Enter second cop from a distance.

2nd Cop: Is everything ok here?
Me: It kinda was but now I gotta go, ok?
2nd Cop: Where do you live?
Me: (fuck not again!) Over there, in that nice new mansion, where the good people live, you know right next to the station where people who are neither criminal nor suspicious, reside. (The last part was NOT explicitly stated but I tried to make it understood through more indirect means of which the Japanese are generally very good at themselves).
1st Cop: Which one?
Me: Look guys, sorry but your times up and I'm outta here, so catchya later, ok?
Cops: Go to the ward office and change you address, quickly, ok?
Me: Hai Hai (yes o' fuck'n kay!) bye bye.

Exit me with my backpack and temper on the boil... down the nearest escalator to freedom.

As I was walking home to do some overdue work and prepare for my next lesson (which just happened to be a test) I could'nt stop thinking about the episode that had just passed so when I got home to my safe (from bag snatching) enviroment I decided to do a little research and something about it and here is what I found out... (to find out more about your rights click on the title now to go an excellent site explaining what you should do when in this situation, yourself).

Basically, the police do have the right to ask for your indentification (Gaijin Card) as you do theirs but only if there is 'suspicion'. So basically they can only ask for your card if you look like a 'suspicious person' and/ or a doing something that is suspicious (this is the law!). A tricky cop might say that 'This applies only to Japanese people' but in fact he (or she) would be wrong again because the law states 'This applies to all individuals in Japan regardless of their nationality' (Keisatsu hou dai hyaku roku juu ni gou ni yorimasu to, wagakuni no kojin ni atehamarimasu. Kokuseki wa kankei arimasen).

So I ask you all this question: Was the above pamphlett there to inform me of criminal activity within my local area or, was it just an excuse (smokescreen) for the often bored and prejudice Japanese police to stop me and ask me 20 personal questions, regardless of whether I looked suspicious or not? I will let you be the judge on that and leave you with something to think about...

Who is truly comitting the crime on the people?

A 'people' definition = those who are of 'Japanese look' and even those who may be suspicious to look at.

We all have rights (legal and human) and even if we don't look like we should have... we should have! So do yourself a favour and check out this great website dedicated to helping you understand them and hopefully make you feel safer in this 'Crime filled' society! (?)

http://www.debito.org/

And here is a something you can print out, fold up, put in your Gaijin Card (plastic cover) and show to the Japanese Police next time you are rudely interrupted from your daily routine with 20 questions about your suspicious nature (?).
Cut and paste into your browser this link:

http://shfocus.blogspot.com/2006/05/japanese-law-on-spot-checks-printout_23.html

Power to the people...

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