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  • My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 74, Apr 3, 2014: “Knowing your rights can protect against fake cops”, updating the NJ Spot ID Checkpoints issue

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on April 2nd, 2014

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    Hi Blog. My latest Japan Times column is out now. Excerpt:

    Knowing your rights can protect against fake cops

    Long-time readers of The Japan Times will already be aware of some of the information in today’s column. But within is an important update, so press on.

    As you no doubt know (or should know), non-Japanese residents are required to carry ID 24/7 in the form of wallet-size “gaijin cards,” nowadays known as zairyū kādo (resident cards). (People without those cards — i.e., tourists here for less than three months — must instead always carry a passport.) Don’t leave home without yours, for you could face detention and a criminal penalty if a police officer suddenly demands it.

    Which they can do at any time — underscoring the weakened position of non-Japanese under domestic law and social policy. According to the former Foreign Registry Law, any public official empowered by the Ministry of Justice may demand ID from a non-Japanese person, whenever. Inevitably, this encourages racial profiling, as cops with systematic regularity target people who “look foreign” (including naturalized citizens, such as this writer) for public shakedowns that are intimidating, alienating and humiliating…

    Exacerbating this is social policy (see Community pages passim), with the National Police Agency and other ministries expressly portraying non-Japanese as agents of crime, terrorism, hooliganism and infectious diseases. They have also encouraged the general public to pile on, unlawfully demanding that hotels and other public facilities, taxation agencies and non-Japanese employers also carry out gaijin-card checks.

    Note that this sort of thing cannot be done to Japanese. Even the prospect of creating standardized IDs (let alone being forced to carry one at all times) has caused public outrage (recall the scandal over the Juki Net system). No wonder: Citizens are in fact shielded by the Police Execution of Duties Law, which states that police officers can ask personal questions only if there is probable cause — that is, adequate suspicion that a crime has been or is about to be committed. Although there are cases of Japanese being similarly harassed by police, the attitude of those on the receiving end of such treatment — at least according to numerous videos on YouTube (search for shokumu shitsumon, or 職務質問) — generally seems to be alarm over capricious invasions of privacy.

    Not so for non-Japanese. Last month I received reports that police officers in Roppongi have recently included searching bags and sticking their hands down the pockets of non-Japanese, heightening the invasiveness. (This is the same police branch, remember, that came up with non-Japanese urine checks — until The Japan Times questioned its legality. See “Cops crack down with ‘I pee’ tests,” July 7, 2009.)

    Moreover, as general awareness has increased that non-Japanese must carry gaijin cards, I have received reports that weirdos posing as police (most recently in Kichijoji, Tokyo) are coming up to non-Japanese (particularly women) and demanding their personal information.

    One might think things changed for the better when the Foreign Registry Law was abolished in 2012 — after all, non-Japanese can finally be registered as residents with their Japanese families — but no: The section that permits spot ID checks was incorporated into the revised Immigration Control Act (Article 23).

    Fortunately, so were safeguards against cop masqueraders. So here is a revised version of your legal rights:

    • If someone who purports to be a police officer (some prowl in plainclothes) asks for your ID, ask if this is shokumu shitsumon (literally, a professional inquiry; download a dialog you can put in your wallet at If he says yes, ask if there is probable cause of a crime. If he says no, ask if you may leave. Repeat as necessary. This should stop some ID checks, especially if you start videoing it with your phone. (Legally you can, as YouTube demonstrates.)
    • If the police officer responds that as non-Japanese, you are required by law to display ID upon request, counter that by law, cops are also required to display badges upon request. Say “• Keisatsu techō o misete kudasai• ” and take a picture of both the badge and the hologram ID on the back. (Beware of fake badges; see an image at This will stop most abuses. Then show your gaijin card.
    • If the officer refuses to show his techō (pointing to the number on his uniform lapel — or, according to one account, patting his gun — is insufficient), then head to the nearest kōban • (police box). That should send imposters scurrying away. Once there, by law, you will have to show your gaijin card, but try to get a techō from somebody, because you will need all the information (on front and back) for future reference.
    • If the officer demands a bag or pocket search, ask if he has a warrant, and that you won’t comply until he gets one. Say “Reijō ga arimasu ka? Reijō ga nai to dekimasen.”
    • If you feel as though you have suffered abusive treatment, then contact the Public Safety Commission (kōan iinkai) in your prefecture (Tokyo’s is at with the exact details of the officer’s badge. You can file a formal complaint in English — they have translators. Admittedly, these are wolves policing other wolves, but do something and you might get an answer; do nothing and there is no possibility of a check or balance on abusive cops or cosplay stalkers.

    Remember: Only police and other officials of the Justice Ministry (such as immigration officials) may demand to see your gaijin card specifically. When necessary, you can choose to show other ID, such as a driver’s license or health insurance card, like any Japanese.

    The point is, be aware of your rights. Like anywhere, Japan has people with foreigner fixations (such as killers Joji Obara and Tatsuya Ichihashi), and they prey on the weakened position of non-Japanese in Japanese society. Empower yourself.


    ARUDOU, Debito is the author of the “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” ( A discussion of this issue is at Send comments and story ideas to

    37 Responses to “My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 74, Apr 3, 2014: “Knowing your rights can protect against fake cops”, updating the NJ Spot ID Checkpoints issue”

    1. B Says:

      Best article you’ve done in a long time. This issue needs MUCH more press. Thanks for covering it.

    2. Oscar_6 Says:

      I think you overlooked in your article a critical point — that asking for a foreigner’s passport or Zairyu card is shokumu shitsumon as well, and therefore needs to be justified with probable cause.

      And even if it wasn’t, cops can only ask for an ID a foreigner. And they cannot possibly know that you are a foreigner unless they ask you — that is, perform shokumu shitsumon. Double jeopardy!

    3. Funabashi Guy Says:

      Hi Debito-san. This is my first time posting on your site. I want to thank you for all your work.

      On Thursday afternoon this week, I was at Funabashi Station when some older guy in plain clothes came up to me and started talking to me in English. He first asked the typical “Where are you from?” question that I’ve heard more times than I could ever count. After I told him I was American, he said, “Funabashi police officer. Passport please,” and stuck out his hand. Falling back on what I had just read in your article that morning, I replied, “Techou wo misete kudasai.” He immediately turned and ran away while saying, “Arimasen!”

      Thank you for covering this issue in the Japan Times, on this site, and in your “Handbook for Newcomers.” If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have been able to handle this fake cop as well as I did.

      — Well done! Very, very glad to hear.

    4. Anonymous Says:

      I’m slightly disappointed. Sometimes I wonder if this is a gate-keeper operation. C’mon man, really, let’s be real here:

      Correction, the law does NOT say, “You must show to any police officer who asks for it.” Let’s please stop implying that myth.

      The law says, “You must CARRY, yet only show to police officers who are obeying the police duties law (having probable cause.)”

      So once again, remember: do NOT allow any police officers to stop you without probable cause. No Probable Cause = 違法な職務質問。
      The only officers you must show Zairyu Card to are 「職務質問の前に罪を犯ししたことを疑うに足りる相当な理由がある場合」 な 「職務の執行にあたり」 な 職員。
      The officers obeying the Police Duties Questioning Law who have reasonable grounds to suspect that you have committed a CRIME.

      First film the officer admitting this is indeed Shokumu Shitsumon, and then read this script, this really is the best way ever:

      質問: 罪を犯ししたことを疑うに足りる相当な理由がありますか?
      ないので公安委員会はこの違法職務質問ゆるさない: 手帳出して。
      にっぽんの皆さんは同じ歩くつづく権利ありますので (職務執行法第二条個人を守る) わたくしはもう行っていいですか?

      Question: Do you have reasonable grounds to suspect that I have committed a crime?
      You have none so the Public Safety Commission does not forgive this Illegal Questioning: pull out your Police I.D.
      The Public Safety Commission is where your Illegal Questioning and Police I.D. and Face recording evidence will be shown.
      Well, I’m going to show this evidence to the Public Safety Commission (Kōan Īnkai), so is this Forced Stop finished already?
      All people in Japan have the same right to continue walking (Shokumu Shikkou Hou, Dai Ni Jou, Kojin o Mamoru) so AM I FREE TO GO now?

    5. Luca Says:

      This is what I wrote to my wife and happened three weeks ago. Coming back after 2 hours traffic bothering driving, at Hachioji a Police car started to follow me, and near Haijimabashi they stopped me. I parked outside the road, and three policemen came to me. T short fat one questioned me telling that my speed was too much, and dangerous. Uhhh? “I did not pass any car, and sure I was not over speeding,” therefore I asked how much was my sped? He was quite upset and replied: “a little too much, but do not worry no problem.” After I showed my driving license, everything was fine…
      But, he insisted while the other two were looking at me like to say “Do not worry”. So that only the fat one insisted: “may I check your body if you have gun, knives, drug etc?”
      I said you are welcome but avoid to touch my cin-cin, (the other laugh.) Fine… he checked my body.
      Then, he insisted: “one of your 2 plate lights is not working can you see Uhhh!#? With one It is still ok but you need to fix it!”
      I asked him to move and to see how i’ll repair it… I punched over the bumper and the light that seemed broken started to work.
      I told them, sometime it a contact matter but is not broken…
      The fat guy insisted again: “can I check inside your car to check drug and knives? I said you are welcome, but refrain to check the trash. He checked everywhere, looking at many tools bag I had in the back and other stuffs. Then he found… my today small trash bag, with my noose wet tissues… I said him that it was kimochi-warui and refrain to open because it was full of tissues for my nose running; while he was opening the other asked hana? Yes… nose and cigarettes smelling filters. To late the fat guy was checking as he found a treasure.
      Finally finished and I asked to know their police station… Very annoyed they finally told to be from Hachioji. At the end all of them apologized to stop me, saying good bye very friendly, and helping to get into the main road.
      Was it fine? And what about to consider, that I really got disgusted about the fat policemen “particular smell”, when he talked to me face to face!
      He was 150% fully smelling alcohol (Japan sake Policemen?) I wanted to tell him about it, but I thought better to refrain, because the other two eyes clearly asking all the time to be patient.

    6. B Says:

      I really am curious about the situation with probable cause. It seems that is the sticking point. Some are stating that no matter what the law says about carrying it, police need probable cause to demand you show it, and others are saying you have to show it no matter what.

      This sort of ambiguity is even more dangerous considering the position of foreigners, when police aren’t even following the law it seems from the start in many circumstances.

      — If you ask the police themselves (I have on many occasions), they have always said that because they’re police, they can ask NJ (because they are NJ) for their ID at any time. Here’s one example. That’s their training. Probable cause is not an issue. There isn’t even a word in Japanese that encapsulates “probable cause” so neatly.

    7. Oscar_6 Says:

      Debito, don’t you think that asking policemen themselves how the law should be interpreted… well… violates the principle of separation of powers at the very least? They will interpret any safeguards out of it, and then some, if we let them.

      I think I understand you concern about not giving an advice you are not 100% sure about, but wouldn’t it be better if you at least pointed out in the article that some view asking a foreinger for ID as shokumu shitsumon, so your readers would be at least aware of it and did some reading on their own?

      — Us asking police how they are enforcing the letter of the law is no violation of the separation of powers.

    8. Anonymous Says:

      Police Duties Law states:
      警察官職務執行法 第二条 警察官は、異常な挙動その他周囲の事情から合理的に判断して何らかの犯罪を犯し、若しくは犯そうとしていると疑うに足りる相当な理由のある者又は既に行われた犯罪について若しくは犯罪が行われようとしていることについて知つていると認められる者を停止させて質問することができる。

      Without having probable cause (“reasonable grounds to suspect that you have committed a CRIME”) 職務質問することができません、 that’s a fact.

      Stopping 個人 (Japanese-citizens and Non-citizens) without probable cause is 違法な職務質問、 regardless of race or area crime level.

      Immigration Control Law states:
      出入国管理及び難民認定法 第二十三条 職務の執行に当たり職員に、在留カードを、提示しなければならない。 Which gives exactly the same protection as ARC gave.

      The old myth was that any officer could stop you, but the Zairyu(and ARC) Laws say only 職務の執行にあたりな職員 who must obey 第二条。
      So it’s patently false to claim Japan doesn’t have a probable cause law protecting everyone: Japan does, it’s 警察官職務質問第二条。

      Lying police officers have to pass tests about the law, they know all their daily ランダム職務質問 is by definition 違法な職務質問.
      Lying police officers in the video earlier said it was illegal to film police officers, why spin it as an innocent mistake?
      Lying police officers know it’s illegal for them to bat away people’s cameras, why act like they merely lack law knowledge?

      When a police officer, anywhere in the world, breaks the law, they must be tried by the courts and imprisoned, like all people.
      To imprison law breaking people (regardless of their official hat) one must record the illegal action they committed in public.
      The address to send a copy of the video after posting it on youtube to make sure public officers stop committing this crime is:

      Tokyo Public Safety Commission
      2-1-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku
      Tokyo 100-8929

      Record and send evidence of all public officers stopping individuals without probable cause ランダム職務質問 = 違法な職務質問 = 職務の執行に当たらない職員。
      Remember to get them to admit right at the beginning that this is Shokumu Shitsumon, so they can’t succeed in lying about that point.

      Also, remember since the public officer stopped you (without probable cause) you must record their Techou (Police I.D.) for evidence.
      And remember this: they can’t stop you from filming, they can’t touch you or your camera, they can’t force you to do anything. Period.

      They can ask you to stop filming, they can ask you to not post to youtube, they can ask you to come to the Koban, decline those requests.

      Imagine a mugger on a public street saying, “I don’t want to be filmed.” Of course, but your public illegality MUST be filmed for evidence.

      Here is a retired police officer, who has dedicated his remaining years to helping people understand the human rights protected by Police Laws: Heartfelt talk – Part 1 Heartfelt talk – Part 2 Heartfelt talk – Part 3

      Yep, some humans are simply looking to walk from point A to point B without being illegally stopped.
      These humans decline to submit to warrant-less, suspicion-less, illegal stops/questioning/searches.
      Instead of a “he said/she said” situation in court, the recording shows the judge who to imprison.
      If while sworn to uphold the law, an officer breaks the law, then the recording is vital evidence.
      It would be a sad day for justice, if humans were NOT allowed to record public officers in public.
      Thank goodness in Japan, and around the world, we have the right to record reality to show judges. :-)

      (slightly corrected by Oscar_6)

    9. Anonymous Says:

      PS – The neatest way to say the law of “Probable Cause” in Japanese is: 「罪を犯ししたことを疑うに足りる相当な理由」

      Probable Cause = “Tsumi o okashi shita koto o utagau ni tariru sōtō na riyū”

      Do you have probable cause? = “Tsumi o okashi shita koto o utagau ni tariru sōtō na riyū arimasuka?”

      You don’t have probable cause. = “Tsumi o okashi shita koto o utagau ni tariru sōtō na riyū arimasen.”

      Without probable cause, the stop is illegal. = “Tsumi o okoshi shita koto o utagau ni tariru sōtō na riyū ga nai bāi, ihō na shokumu shitsumon desu.

      And as that retired police officer pointed out above, they must have the probable cause BEFORE they make the stop, not after, BEFORE. I love this law. :-)

      (slightly corrected by Oscar_6)

    10. Jim di Griz Says:

      A lot of the posters here seem very well informed regarding the law, and I thank them for their comments.
      One thing I always wonder about is J-cops wearing masks whilst working. In spring and summer, it’s to ‘guard against hay fever’, and in autumn and winter it’s to ‘guard against colds’, but I’ve always suspected that this constant wearing of masks is (just as many younger Japanese wear them) a psychological barrier against unwanted attention, and an attempt to conceal personal identity.
      My question, therefore, is; is it legal for an on duty police officer to conceal (or attempt to conceal) his face?

    11. Al Says:

      @Jim Di Griz

      I would imagine it’s ok for them to wear masks in Japan, because everyone does. It’s a mask wearing culture. What isn’t ok is covering up their badge numbers, refusing to show their police ID (techou), or preventing you from filming them. When you film them, point that camera right at their badge located on the left chest. That way you’ll always have their badge number to go by, no matter if they’re wearing a mask.

      — What’s on their lapel is apparently only an incomplete badge number. To get the full one, you have to see the techou. Otherwise the Kouan Iinkai will say they can’t act if you take it up with them.

    12. Oscar_6 Says:

      Anonymous, it’s “okashi”, not “okoshi”, and “警察官職務執行法 第二条”, not “警察官職務質問 第二条”. Other than that, I agree with you absolutely.

    13. Anonymous Says:

      Thank you Oscar_6, for the much needed corrections. Debito, so that people don’t go use the wrong words, it would be beneficial if we add “corrected by Oscar_6” to post 8 (line 9) and post 9 (lines 3,4,5,6) with the CORRECT words (“okashi” and “警察官職務執行法 第二条”) since this is potentially life-saving info that needs to be spoken correctly. Thank you Debito, and thank you Oscar_6. :-)

      — Done. Thanks everyone!

    14. Anonymous Says:

      BTW, the following summary was written by a Tōdai Law Graduate:




    15. Anonymous Says:

      But please note, the Tōdai guy above is simply telling people how to end the conversation short-term, by reminding people that talking is voluntary.
      He should go the extra step of explaining that when the stop itself is illegal (without probable cause) the Kouan Iinkai should be given evidence. :-)
      Because long term, simply saying, “It’s voluntary” and legally declining the questioning isn’t enough, police officers must be investigated and punished by the Kouan Iinkai for breaking the Probable Cause Law 警察官職務執行法 第二条

    16. Anonymous Says:

      Joe Jones also had an incident, in which the police officer admitted that police doing I.D. checks of foreign-looking people imply that “you have to comply” when really it a case of “Shokumu Shitsumon” which both the police officer and Joe Jones know full well is totally voluntary, and easily declinable:

      “Not too long ago I was sitting in the departures area at Narita Airport when a group of cops came up to check my [extremely Caucasian] family’s passports. While my family members decided to comply, I decided to get a bit uppity and said, in effect, ‘Why do you need to see our passports? Everyone has their ID checked when they come into the terminal. Isn’t this a waste of time?’

      The cop said ‘Do you know what shokumu-shitsumon means?’ I nodded. He said ‘This is just shokumu-shitsumon. Technically speaking, it’s totally voluntary.’ I told the cop that I live in Tokyo and that I was seeing my family off, so I didn’t have a passport with me. He said ‘aah, wakarimashita’ and left me alone.”

      It’s just too bad that Joe Jones posts that without thinking it through to the logical conclusion: since I.D. checks of foreign-looking people is really just a covert case of “Shokumu Shitsumon”, and “Shokumu Shitsumon” is something that the police try to intimidate you into thinking you have to cooperate with but is in fact totally voluntary, and easily declinable, then hmmm, what does the law say about when a police officer can legally initiate such “Shokumu Shitsumon”, hmmm?

      If Joe Jones, as well as the Tōdai grad above now working as a lawyer, were REALLY thinking things through, and REALLY trying to help people retain their Constitutionally Guaranteed Human Rights, they would not just admit the “voluntary” part (which is nice, thank you) but they would go ALL THE WAY to admit that the Probable Cause Law 警察官職務執行法 第二条 makes it ILLEGAL for police to “initiate Shokumu Shitsumon without Probable Cause” and these lawyers should then announce that since every Police Officer who has initiated Shokumu Shitsumon without Probable Cause (even once) has broken the law (Police Duties Questioning Law Article 2) and thus that criminal must be arrested, judged, and imprisoned, of course, just like all criminals.

      So, I find it disappointing that lawyers are so dependent upon the system for money, that they unconsciously ‘forget’ to tell us about the 「罪を犯ししたことを疑うに足りる相当な理由」 “Probable Cause” clause hidden within the 警察官職務執行法 第二条, and they also forget to tell us how to get the officer who has initiated Shokumu Shitsumon without Probable Cause arrested, judged, and imprisoned.

      It seems the furthest into the land of truth these lawyers will venture is, “Hey, it’s voluntary. Just say ‘it’s voluntary’ and forgive the police officer and everything is fine.” Hmmm, should the police officer not arrest people they catch doing illegal actions? The answer is yes, and the people should have the police officers arrested when the police officers are filmed doing illegal things.

      I recently posted on the thread about how to report shops for breaking Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution, so now I’ll post the important version here:

      「○○警察署が ”警察官職務執行法 第二条” に違反していると思いますので、捜査をお願いします。」
      (replace the previous quoted section with appropriate law being broken, for example “日本国憲法 第十四条”)

      「○○警察署が ”警察官職務執行法 第二条” に違反した警察署がを捜査してくれません。」

      (This is the Kouan Iinkai site for all Japan, not just Tōkyō.)


      And here is a link to the Constitution of Japan, the supreme law of the land, to find any law being broken:

      And here is a link to the The Police Duties Execution Act, which officers break since victims don’t report it:

    17. Anonymous Says:

      Shoe on the other foot category, here is a Japanese article about the same illegality (stopping people without probable cause, and forcing searches without probable cause, and doing both of those illegal actions especially to people who look foreign – all of which was given the “green light” by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2013, which federal district court judge Shira Scheindlin then ruled against, thankfully) the point is: notice how a Japanese native speaker discusses the problem. There might be some sentences in here you can use when writing letters to Journalists in Japan about the exact illegal police actions happening in Japan:


      Here’s the judge’s ruling against searches without probable cause, we need judges like this in Japan:

    18. Anonymous Says:

      Oops, I’ve been posting too much, please just scroll past my posts without reading them if you dislike all this law information.

      I want to correct the broken link directly above, which is talking about the exact same thing we are – forcing people to stop, without FIRST having probable cause that the person was doing something illegal, but first I want to bring it back to Japan:

      Right from the start, the stop itself (without-probable-cause) is the FIRST illegal police action (that violates the much mentioned Police Duties Shokumu Shitsumon Law Article 2, as well as violating the much more important Japan’s Constitution Article 34.) And then:

      Forcing such illegally-stopped people to then suddenly “testify about what nationality you are, and testify about what your name is” (realize this surprising fact: all words spoken to police officers are legally considered to be equal to testifying in court, any words you speak to a police officer means you have just testified (!) and guess who the official transcriber of all your street testimony is? the officer who has already proven himself to be a law-breaker by stopping you randomly in the first place, which is why you need your OWN transcribing device (a video camera) to show the court what words you REALLY spoke) so, that act of forcing people to answer questions (yep, even such opening “innocent seeming” introductory questions) is the SECOND illegal police action (that violates Police Duties Questioning Law Article 2.3 and it also violates Japan’s Constitution Article 38.) And then:

      Forcing such illegally-stopped and illegally-questioned people to then suddenly “hand us some official paperwork” (the Zairyuu Card – which yes all foreigners MUST carry, yes yes, MUST carry, MUST carry, but only have to SHOW it to “Officers-who-Are-Obeying-Police-Duties-Law who ask for it, i.e. officers who HAVE probable cause that you committed or are committing a crime, yes in that rare case of a LEGAL shokumu shitsumon initiation, you would actually have to show your Zairyuu Card to THOSE legally-acting police-law-obeying-officers”)

      出入国管理法 第二十三条 により、 「職務執行法を あたり な職員」 だけに、在留カードを、提示しなければならない。
      「職務執行法を あたり していない な職員」 を ぜったい 公安員会 が 強くて捜査する そして
      「職務執行法 第二条 に 違反した な職員」 を ぜったい 公安員会 が 強くて捜査する そして
      「最初から「罪を犯ししたことを疑うに足りる相当な理由」がなかったなのに拘禁されたな職員」 を ぜったい 公安員会 が 強くて捜査するん ですので
      公安員会 が あなた様の今の 「職務執行法第二条に違反したこと」 を 捜査するから ちゃんと 手帳を出して。

      Shutsu Nyuukoku Kanri Hou Dai Ni-Juu-San Jou ni yori, “Shokumu Shikkou Hou o ATARI na Shokuin” dake ni Zairyuu Kaado o teiji shinakerbanaranai.
      “Shokumu Shikkou Hou o atari SHTEINAI na Shokuin” wo zettai Kouan Iinkai ga tsuyokute Sousa suru soshite
      “Shokumu Shikkou Hou dai ni jou wo ihan shita na Shokuin” wo zettai Kouan Iinkai ga tsuyokute Sousa suru soshite
      “Saisho kara ‘tsumi o okoshi shita koto o utagau ni tariru sōtō na riyū’ ga NAI nanoni Koukin Sareta na Shokuin” wo zettai Kouan Iinkai ga tsuyokute Sousa surun desu no de
      Kouan Iinkai ga anatasama no ima no “Shokumu Shikkou Hou dai-ni jou ni ihan shita koto” Sousa suru kara chanto Techou dashite.

      According to Immigration Control Law Article 23, the Zairyuu card must be shown only to “officers who are obeying Police Duties Law.”
      “officer who are NOT obeying police duties law” are definitely strongly investigated by the Public Safety Commission and
      “officers who broke police duties law article 2″ are definitely strongly investigated by the Public Safety Commission and
      “officers who from the beginning didn’t have probable cause to detain.” are definitely strongly investigated by the Public Safety Commission so
      the public safety commission is going to investigate this “the violation of police duties law article 2″ you did right now so properly pull out YOUR I.D.

      Back to the chronological listing of illegal police actions: forcing people to “show your papers” is the THIRD illegal police action (that violates Japan’s Constitution Article 35) and then forcing people to “pull out your pockets, show all your belongings, we’re going to touch your clothes and your body, we’re going to look inside your bag” all of those demands are examples of the FOURTH illegal police action (because all of those demands violate Japan’s Constitution Article 35 as well.)

      And since we’re talking about the Supreme Law of the Land, the law that stands above all others even if the lower police duties law “forgot” to mention it, look carefully at Japan’s Constitution Article 34:

      The Police Officers have to tell you immediately, when detaining you, what the illegal action they suspect you of doing is, according to Japan’s Constitution Article 34. Yep, the moment they stop you they are actually detaining you: “detaining” is the legal term for forcing you to stop in the first place and forcing you to remain stopped until they give you permission to continue walking, and in the Japanese Constitution “detain” is written as “拘禁 こうきん Koukin”. And Article 34 says they can NOT detain without telling you IMMEDIATELY what the crime you are suspected of is. Here’s the phrase you need from Article 34: “理由を直ちに告げられなければ拘禁されない。”

      So Article 34 says that even before an actual arrest, even when the person is still in the category of simply “being detained” “拘禁され こうきんされ Koukin-sare”, the officer must tell(告げる tsugeru) immediately(直ちに) what the illegal action you are suspected of having done is.

      So Article 34 of the constitution is the supreme law that gives you the power to honestly say the following sentence with confidence:

      “Nippon Kempo Dai San-Juu-Yon Jou ni yori, Tsumi o okashi shita koto o utagau ni tariru sōtō na riyū o ima TADACHI ni TSUGEnakerebanarimasen.”

      And it will be interesting to see what your recordings of their answers will be. “Uhh, I don’t have to TSUGE (tell you)” BOOM, Constitution Article 34 violated, they do have to TSUGE (tell you). Show that video evidence to the judge. “Uhh, the riyuu is simply this area has lots of crime.” BOOM, Constitution Article 34 violated, they have to have probable cause that YOU committed a crime. Show that evidence to the judge.

      And about the “tense” of the crime (past, present, future), this is an interesting difference between the Constitution and the Police Duties Law.

      The constitution says the police can not legally detain you UNLESS they FIRST have probable cause that you committed a crime, or probable cause that you are committing a crime. Past, Present. That’s it.

      The police duties law says the police can not legally detain you UNLESS they FIRST have probable cause that you committed a crime, or probable cause that you are committing a crime, or probable cause that you are ABOUT to commit a crime. Past, Present, and what’s this… immediate future!

      This minority-report style “future crime foreseeing” thing does NOT appear in Japan’s constitution, and this additional clause which was unconstitutionally inserted into the police duties law can EASILY be abused, “Well, he LOOKED like he was thinking about committing a crime, he was probably gonna do something in a few moments, so even without having any probable cause that he committed a crime, even without probable cause that he was committing a crime, I somehow had a hunch which gave me probable cause to believe that he was THINKING about committing a crime in the (undefined) future, “about to commit a crime”, so THAT’S why I stopped him, I can foresee who is planning to commit a crime, I can tell what future-crime-committers look like. They have a look to them. Their eyes dart side to side. They swallow suspiciously, in a gulping manner. Yeah, that’s why I stop so many people everyday, I’m stopping those whose eyes dart around in a way that makes me believe they are ABOUT to commit a crime.”

      The constitution of Japan doesn’t have that “future” clause. As a matter of fact, the constitution of Japan states that police CAN NOT EVEN ARREST YOU unless they have a warrant (that’s right, they need an arrest warrant to arrest you, did you know that? Article 33 folks, read it and laugh, and relax with this knowledge of the law.) The ONLY time the police can arrest you without a warrant is if they SEE YOU DOING IT IN THE PRESENT TENSE “現行犯として逮捕される場合” (or, and here’s the big or, here’s why you don’t want to answer any police questions: the other way that police can arrest you without a warrant is if they get you to admit to some illegal action, or to give two conflicting sentences to them because that would be seen as lying to a police officer and that would be impeding the investigation of a police officer, see, so back to my endless loop which you all must be getting tired of but I’ll say it again: Don’t even allow yourself to start testifying about yourself, giving statements about who you are and what nationality you are and where you are walking to and where you are walking from, that’s all totally dangerous especially since the transcribers of your testimony are illegally acting police officers, proven by the fact that they stop people randomly in the first place, so the safest thing you can do is make it clear that THEY have committed a crime by stopping you “randomly”, and that THEY are about to become investigated by the Kouan Iinkai for having violated Police Duties Law Article 2 at 4:20pm on Sunday April 20th, and that the only remaining actions that are going to happen here is this:

      “Show your techou so that I can record it, because this entire incident is being recorded for the Kouan Iinkai, and no I don’t have to return the favor at the end of showing you my Zairyuu Kaado in return, because I intelligently refused right from the start to even answer your illegal-questioning about nationality, and even if I were a foreigner (I’m giving no comment either way) foreigners only have to show the card to officers who are obeying the police duties law. You broke police Duties law Article 2 when you stopped me ‘randomly’ (without having probable cause of a crime, neither past nor present [nor future]) so YOU are the criminal who is about to be investigated strongly. Show the techou. Wait, I haven’t recorded it properly yet, chanto hozōn dekiru yō ni teiji shite. Alright, I finally recorded it properly, and I recorded your admittance at the beginning that this was indeed shokumu shitsumon, and I recorded your admittance in the middle that this was just a ‘random’ stop due to ‘high crime in the area’ or ‘terrorism’ or whatever non-probable-cause illegal excuse you claimed on film. You DIDN’T TSUGE(tell) the crime you suspected ME of, when I asked you, and Japan’s Constitution Article 34 says you have to TSUGE(tell) the crime you suspected ME of immediately upon 拘禁 detainment. So you have broken various laws here, this whole stop was illegal from the beginning, this video is proof that you did not ask me for I.D. “in accordance with the police duties law” about initiating questioning in the first place, and during this whole ordeal you claimed that Japanese law doesn’t allow filming, big lie there, and you even touched my camera and my hand, big violations there, you are definitely going to be investigated strongly by the Kouan Iinkai. I am going to take this to them, maybe now, maybe tomorrow, I’ll decide, now can I leave NOW or do you want to continue to break Police Duties Law Article 3.2 強要されることは違法 on film. I am free to go now, right?”

      Yeah, yeah, I know, I know, the truth is we DON’T know if the Kouan Iinkai ever actually investigates, fires, fines, or imprisons, police officers who are caught on film breaking the laws repeatedly laid out above. But the only way we are going to find out is if we state the laws, and state the name of Japan’s Police Illegality Ombudsman (The Public Safety Commission – Kouan Iinkai) and film the police reaction (showing their Techou and agreeing that you are free to go – free to go without showing any paperwork of your own, free to go without answering what your nationality is, free to go without proving you are innocent of being an overstayer since WHERE IS THE PROBABLE CAUSE THAT YOU ARE AN OVERSTAYER, THERE IS NONE, free to go without showing your property, free to go without having your body touched, and free to go without turning off your camera because this is a public place and these are public officials and these public officials are in the process of doing something illegal.)

      Film it all, post it all publicly for the world to see, judges are just people too, judges surf youtube, judges need to see that the police officers are breaking the law as a habit daily, judges who have seen 100 videos like this will be much more strict to the next police officer that gets put in front the court by the Kouan Iinkai, and yes, for the Kouan Iinkai to have a chance of putting the law-breaking police officers in front of the court judge officially, FIRST we need to give the Kouan Iinkai the videos of the Techōs of the police officers stopping people without probable cause.

      OK, I’m done now, I’ll take a few months off from posting.

      Oh yeah, just in case anyone was interested in the NYC similar problem as Japan, here’s the working PDF(s):

      And oh yeah, guess what the Judge in that case has ordered: The Police Officers in those “high stop” districts now have to wear Video Cameras! :-)

      — Thanks for doing all the research and reportage!

    19. Anonymous Says:

      My pleasure. Last post: just a photo That is all. :-)

    20. Anonymous Says:

      Just now realized Debito posted this new reference link in the JapanTimes article Sorry I didn’t notice that earlier. I am now perfectly content with the article, because the reference link clearly states, “there must be probable cause (soutou na riyuu) [of] a *specific crime* or *suspicion of a crime* occurring before questioning can occur. Just being a foreigner is insufficient probable cause, and without a good reason a policeman’s arbitrary questions to a stranger are AGAINST THE LAW.” :-)

    21. john k Says:

      One other part of this that is also constantly over looked is that of “others” with “assumed” power.

      Every time I go through Kansai airport on my way to the gate I get travel insurance. Every single time I want insurance (not just at the airport) I get the we must see your ID card. I simply ask them are they the immigration dept….no….are you the police…no. Thus why do you legally require to see my ID card?..and the usual misdirection and smoke and mirrors argument ensures. My current trip (I am overseas now) they said they wanted to ensure my visa is valid beyond my return date. Er…the airline would not allow me to return so why do you need to check??..silence. They wrote on my insurance form I didn’t show them my ID, and that I verbally told them my visa is valid for another 4 years!

      This harassment must also stop too!

    22. Anonymous Says:

      Good point John, and notice the easily printable Word Document Debito made recently which can be found at the top of his new (April 3rd) page The first portion of that word document perfectly shows the law that proves your statement is true: that non-public officials are NOT allowed to require you to show your Zairyu Card (just make sure you have a Japanese Drivers’ License or Juki Card, or Kokumin Kenko Hoken card, or Nenkin book – any one of those 4 – which are all acceptable forms of I.D. in Japan, even though the Hoken & Nenkin have no photo, and just make sure before showing anything that the company has in writing a policy forcing ALL people to show I.D. in the first place, because if they don’t then this staff member who just claimed something was required which is really NOT required, according to the written company requirements, is about to make the company lose a lot money in a lawsuit and be fired, so you had better just be safe by obeying the written company policy Mr. Staff-Member.)

      The rest of that word document perfectly shows the law that proves the statement: that police officers in Japan can only stop individuals when they have reasonable probable cause to believe that individual committed (or is committing, or about to commit) a crime. Mine is printed and ready to show. It feels good to have the law on our side, and in our pockets. :-)

    23. Anonymous Says:

      I found an “違法な職務質問” court judgement (see the pdf file of the judgement below)

      「違法に職務質問 5万円賠償命令~「警官証言信用できぬ」



      Here’s the court judgement pdf, I love this judge.
      (unfortunately Ctrl+F doesn’t work in this PDF)
      違法な職務質問 first appears on page 11… enjoy!

    24. Anonymous Says:

      Some important quotes from that judgement:

      訴状:「警察官のノルマとされる職務質問,任意捜査における顔写真・指紋採取の違法な実情を問う訴訟である。」 被告:警視庁

      訴状(要旨):「外観上の不審事由もなく,職務質問の要件は満たさない。また,必要性・緊急性・相当性から判断して,所持品検査も違法である。」 被告:警視庁

      訴状(要旨):「軽犯罪法違反が成立せず,被疑者と扱うのは不当。また,逮捕されていないので,身体検査も違法である(警察官職務執行2条4項)。」 被告:警視庁

      訴状(要旨):「何ら犯罪を犯していない原告を,意に反して,任意同行した点は,違法な逮捕行為である。署内で,警察官で取り囲んだり,大声で怒鳴った点は,身体の自由や人格権の侵害である。」 被告:警視庁

      訴状:「警察庁は,各都道府県警に対し,…職務質問のノルマを課すとともに,…」 被告:警視庁

      訴状:「気が弱そうな一人歩きの男性を見つけると,…,(マルチツールの)所持者の弁解に一切耳を傾けず,警察署に強制的に連れ込み,…」 被告:警視庁

      訴状:「…一般市民は,…警察官のノルマ…知らず,本件のような職務質問に遭遇したものは,誰もが警察に対し,強い不信感と恐怖心を抱くようになる。」 被告:警視庁

      訴状:「原告が(別件で作業中の)パトカーの横を通り過ぎると,警察官Aが…『何を振り返ってんだ』…と言った。」その後,突然の所持品検査。法的要件,充足せず。 被告:警視庁

      訴状:「原告は,…両手の指紋を採られた。このとき,任意捜査であるから拒否する自由があることの説明はなかった。」 被告:警視庁

      訴状(要旨):「原告は,非常時のために所持していたので『正当な理由』があり,また,カバンに入れていただけで,特に『隠して携帯していた』わけでないので,軽犯罪法違反ではない。」 被告:警視庁

      訴状:「…後日抗議するつもりで氏名を聞いたが,誰も答えなかった。その後,警察官Bが,『名前を言うから,警察署に任意同行してもらう』と言った」 被告:警視庁

      訴状:「そのうち,警察官Cが原告に,ボディーチェックをさせろと言い出した。…異常物は出てこなかったが,警察官らは,なおも原告に任意同行を求めた。」 被告:警視庁

      訴状:「最寄りの滝野川署には行かず,(目白署で)…大声で怒鳴った。警察官Eが取り調べを始め,周囲に数人の警察官が立っていた。」 被告:警視庁

      訴状(要旨):「任意提出書などを書けと言われ,断れない雰囲気の中,拒むとどうなるか聞くと,警察官Eは『逮捕する』と言った」 被告:警視庁

      訴状(要旨):「何ら法律上の要件を満たさない一連の行為は,違法行為であり,マルチツールを返還し,指紋・顔写真はデータを抹消し,精神的苦痛に対し,金100万円と事件発生時からの利息を払え」 被告:警視庁

    25. Anonymous Says:

      Source for above:

    26. Anonymous Says:

      1 職務質問の違法
      「警察官が、その職務質問の開始時点で把握していた状況を勘案して上記要件(※)を満たすと判断する上において、合理的根拠が客観的に欠如していることが明らかであるにもかかわらず、あえて質問をすべく停止させたり、又は答弁を強要した場合には、上記職務質問は、警察官の職務上の法的義務に違反するものとして、国賠法上も違法になるというべきである。」※ 警察官職務執行法第2条第1項

      2 所持品検査の違法


    27. Anonymous Says:

      (2)既に行われた犯罪や犯罪が行われようとしていることについて知っていると認められること秋山 直人弁護士

      – 弁護士  秋山 直人

      — I’ll approve these, thanks for doing all the research, but please stop posting information in Japanese without even a quick synopsis in English.

    28. John (Yokohama) Says:


      Related to your recent comments in the Japan Times about the actions of police in Roppongi let me pass on the following to you.

      I live in Roppongi and while I was walking to the station yesterday morning I was stopped by three policemen. I am a tall caucasian.

      They were not very polite. In Japanese they asked for my ID. My Japanese is at a beginner level or worse but I knew what they wanted. I gave them my NJ residence card.

      They then wanted to go through my pockets and my wallet. I protested repeatedly asking them why and for what reason. They had only one answer, “Roppongi is a dangerous place.” By this time I’m shaking and feeling humiliated (and angry) as this is happening on the sidewalk where everyone can see. At that point I gave up and let them go through what was in my pockets. I just wanted to go to work and be done with it. Of course they didn’t find anything and basically they just walked away.

      This is the second time that I have been profiled. The first time was in Shibuya station just after I bought a train ticket at the machine. Unfortunately I don’t remember the timing of the this but it was not recent.

      I have observed this more often lately with the police going through bags, wallets, the pants, etc. of people in Roppongi. I have lived here for 4 years.


    29. Al Says:


      Next time get their badge number, station name, and file a complaint with the Tokyo Public Safety Commission. Make sure you do refuse the search, so that they know you didn’t give permission.

    30. Dean Says:


      I saw them profiling a long haired (dread lock) Japanese guy, and really going through his pockets and stuff right there at the roppongi crossing at noon time. One J cop had a very disgusted look on his face towards the young J dude. The J dude was dressed a bit unorthodox, shall we say, so I guess it brought attention to himself, but they found nothing and he moved on. If you have a back pack, and look the “legit” tourist type, then you might not get it. Ive never been profiled by them, and I dont know why. I have witnessed many get it, so I cant deny it doesnt happen. In this conformity society, it sometimes pays to not “be yourself”

    31. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ John (Yokohama) #28

      I feel for you. That sounds like a totally humiliating experience. ‘O-mo-te-na-shi’, please, I’m killing myself laughing at the idea!

      Maybe you should mail Eido Inoue about this? He can put on a suit and run down to Shibuya to interview the cops about how bad they must feel being ‘targeted’ for character assassination by!

    32. John (Yokohama) Says:

      Al, Jim, Dean

      I have the basic guide on a note on my iPhone about what to say, etc. The problem is that in my anger and such I didn’t think to use it.

      I have decided that if there is a third stop that I will go further and report it (photos of the police ID, etc.) to the Canadian Embassy as well as the TPSC. I will crank it up a notch.


    33. pedestrian Says:

      I very much appreciate the information on this site. I only wish I had read it before I was stopped by the police last Friday. On hindsight, I acted badly, neither keeping my cool, nor saying words to indicate that I knew the law. But its good to find out I am not alone. Here is my story.

      My fiancé and I were leaving a restaurant near her apt. in Umeda, Osaka. I had to go home, and walked alone to my station. When I got there, I realized I had left my wallet in her bag. I began walking quickly to her apt. Along the way, I got a very important phone call from overseas. I was rushing to her place to pick up my wallet before I missed the last train, while focusing on an important phone conversation, when it happened. Two large-sized police officers rode up on bicycles and stopped directly in front of me. They said they would like to talk to me. I tell them I’m extremely busy and don’t have time to talk right now. The more senior officer laughs, and said, “Ah… we will have a talk.” I tried to walk around them but they didn’t let that happen. They squeezed me with their bikes and put their weight into me. I was indignant, and demanded “Why are you stopping me? Have I done something wrong? I’m just walking down the street!” This was all said in a rather loud voice, I must admit. The senior officer said, “Show us your ID please.” I explain that it’s in my fiancé’s bag, and that I am going to fetch it. He said that they would be happy to come along. I say, “Sorry, but you would not be welcome.” They say I am in violation of the law for not possessing my ID. I say, that it was an inadvertent mistake that I was in the process of remedying. Words were exchanged and voices were raised. I was trembling with anger, but, I have to admit, I’m not a very intimidating figure. Moreover, whenever I get mad in Japanese it only makes my case sound weaker. I just don’t know how to get angry in Japanese. Nevertheless, I am confident that I communicated the two points: 1) I wanted to know the reason for their stopping me and 2) I wanted to see their identification. They both gave me their last names, verbally, but did not show my ID. It was right in front of the koban, so I know they were not fakes. Eventually my fiancé showed up with my wallet and they scribbled my information down, and let me go. I have lived in Japan for 11 years. I have managed, by trial and error, to adapt to the culture and to make a comfortable life for myself. But after this experience, I truly felt like giving up and going home.

    34. Dean Says:

      I havent had any issues with J cops. Ive overheard somewhat racist comments made by them, but out of fear/respect, I never challenge them. I have problems with everyday Japanese who like to police foriengers, however, and the usual discrimination when looking for work, rents, establishments etc.

      Id love to meet one of these fake cops. Id haul his ass right to the koban once it was discovered he was impostering. Thats an offense in most countries.

    35. Jim Di Griz Says:

      This is why you should know your rights, and exercise them!

      N.B. ‘this is the 9th time police in Osaka Prefecture have arrested the wrong person.’, and with Japan’s conviction rate, what do you think your chances would be?

      Woman wrongly arrested by Osaka Pref police; 9th wrongful arrest since last July
      JAPAN TODAY, CRIME APR. 24, 2014
      Police in Neyagawa, Osaka Prefecture, admitted Wednesday that they mistakenly arrested a woman in her 20s over her suspected involvement in a blackmail case which occurred in January of this year.

      Police said that following a quarrel between a woman and a man in his 20s inside an Osaka game center on Jan 24, the woman forced him to buy her mobile phones, a tablet computer and other items worth 300,000 yen, TBS reported Wednesday. The man, who told police he just met the woman for the first time, got the number of the mobile phone and his mother later called the number and asked the woman her name.

      Police said the man’s mother then contacted them to register a complaint and they visited the woman at her residence. Later, the police showed a photo of the woman to the man and he said “That’s her,” TBS reported.

      The woman was taken into custody but was able to provide an alibi for the time the dispute took place at the game center on Jan 24. Neyagawa police officials said on Tuesday that they had arrested the wrong woman and she was released after being detained for six hours.

      Police did not say why the man identified the wrong woman and are continuing to question him.

      According to officials, since July of last year, this is the 9th time police in Osaka Prefecture have arrested the wrong person.

    36. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Re: wrongful arrest story above.

      I love this quote;
      ‘the police showed a photo of the woman to the man and he said “That’s her,”’

      No line-up.
      No selection of mug-shots.
      They showed the ‘victim’ one photo.
      Still got faith in the Japanese justice system?

    37. B Says:

      Pedestrian, I’m filing a complaint for my experience. I recomend you do the same. I’m sick of this treatment as well.

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