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  • SITYS: JT publishes lawyer’s analysis of J-cops’ arbitrary “stop and frisk” procedures. It’s now actually worse for NJ than Debito.org has reported before (correctly)

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on July 25th, 2014

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    Hi Blog. Hokay, let’s go over this issue one more time on Debito.org (the previous times from here): the ability of J-cops to racially profile and subject any “foreigner” to arbitrary Gaijin Card ID-checks. I offered advice about what to do about it (print and carry the actual laws around with you and have them enforced).

    Last time I talked about this (in my Japan Times column last April), I noted how laws had changed with the abolition of the Foreign Registry Law, but the ability for cops to arbitrarily stop NJ has actually continued unabated. In fact, it’s expanded to bag searches and frisking, with or without your permission (because, after all, NJ might be carrying knives or drugs, not just expired visas).

    Well, as if doubting the years of research that went into this article (and affirmed by Japanese Administrative Solicitor Higuchi Akira in our book HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS), the JT put up a “featured comment” saying that my article was wrong and a source for misinformation:

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    MM333:  I’m sorry, but the information in this article and on the website describing the powers of the police to stop foreigners and demand passports or residence cards for any reason ‘whenever’ is inaccurate. The law does not give the police in Japan arbitrary powers to conduct suspicionless questioning.

    As specified in Article 23 of the ‘Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act’ (see below), a police officer may demand to see a passport or residence card if it is in the execution of his/her duties, in other words only when s/he is doing what s/he is empowered to do by the ‘Police Duties Execution Act’ or other relevant acts.

    The main duties of the police are specified in the ‘The Police Duties Execution Act’ (see below). The duties of the police are of course very wide ranging but they are not unlimited. In a nutshell, the police may question someone if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person has committed a crime, is about to commit a crime or the person may have information about a crime.

    Also, the police must offer assistance if they believe that the person is a danger to themselves or others (this is why the police may stop someone when they are riding a bicycle without a light at night even though the police may have other motives for the stop).

    They may also stop you if they believe you might be a victim of a crime (As when they stop you on your bicycle and ask if you have registered it in light of all the thefts in the area) or if your acts may endanger anyone with a view to preventing any crime from occurring. The police also have additional duties imposed on them by other laws. For example, executing warrants under the ‘Code of Criminal Procedure’ or issuing fines under the ‘Road Transportation Act’.

    Therefore, the police in Japan are not legally permitted to randomly stop anyone whether Japanese or foreign and demand to see their passport or residence card. The reason for this is quite simple and obvious. If the police randomly stop someone, they cannot have reasonable grounds to suspect that any crime has been committed, whether that be overstaying a visa or any other crime.

    There is no doubt that in practice police in every country may try to exceed their powers, but it is quite another thing to assert that the police actually have the right to do this. In may interest people to know that the laws imposed on the police in Japan with regards to questioning are actually more restrictive as compared with the US (ie. Stop and Frisk) or the UK (ie. CJPOA Section 60).

    I would recommend that everyone read the law themselves and consult a Japanese attorney if they have questions about the law. I would also ask the Japan times to have this article reviewed by a Japanese attorney and corrections made where appropriate to avoid misinformation being spread.

    (Article concludes with cited laws.  See the bottom of the JT article at the top of the comments section.)
    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Well, I’m not a lawyer (I can just read the laws; but naturally that doesn’t count in the face of an anonymous commenter of unknown credentials), so the JT was probably just thinking it should cover its glutes. However, eventually the JT DID consult a lawyer and ran the following article — where it’s even worse than I argued:

    The lawyer is essentially suggesting that you had better cooperate with the police because the laws will not protect you — especially if you’re in a “foreigner zone” of Tokyo like Roppongi. Excerpt:

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Legal hurdles are high when it comes to seeking redress
    Limits on ‘stop and frisk’ open to interpretation by Japan’s police and courts
    BY AKIRA ISHIZUKA, The Japan Times, July 20, 2014
    Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/07/20/how-tos/limits-stop-frisk-open-interpretation-japans-police-courts/

    JT:  In short, the police are permitted to:

    1) stop a person for questioning, and, if they try to escape, to seize them (although the officers are not allowed to restrain or arrest them).

    2) question them (although they have no obligation to answer these questions).

    3) request (but not force) them to accompany the officers to a nearby police station or police box for the questioning.

    [NB: ALL OF THESE THINGS HAVE BEEN SAID ON DEBITO.ORG FOR YEARS NOW.  CORRECTLY.]

    4) frisk them with or without consent. (This is not written in the act, but precedents have established this. Basically, the frisking is limited to patting down over their clothing.)

    Legal precedents in these cases have tended to stress the importance of balancing the public’s right to privacy with the necessity and urgency of the specific investigation and the public interest in preventing the crime the individual stopped by the police was suspected of being involved in. [...]

    Regarding the profiling, considering it was in Roppongi, which has a bit of a reputation for crime involving foreigners, the police officials could probably come up with a number of explanations for why they stopped [a NJ named P], such as a suspicion that he was carrying or selling drugs. It is unlikely that any judge would rule that this was a case of profiling and that the questioning was illegal.

    As for the frisking, it was legal for the officers to pat P down over his clothes and bag, even without his consent. However, it would be illegal if an officer searched inside P’s pockets or clothing without consent or intentionally touched his genital area, even over his clothes. [...]

    So, in conclusion, what can you do if you are approached and questioned by police officers? Cooperating may be the smartest option and the fastest way to get the whole ordeal over as quickly as possible, but if you don’t feel like being cooperative, you can try asking the police officers what crime they are investigating and attempt to explain that you are not doing anything illegal, clearly express the will to leave and then do just that. Don’t touch the police officers, don’t run and don’t stop walking — and don’t forget to turn on the recorder on your smartphone in front of the officers, thus making it clear that you have evidence of any untoward behavior.

    You cannot be forced to turn the recorder off, no matter what the police officers yell at you. Best of luck!

    ===========================
    Akira Ishizuka is an attorney with the Foreigners and International Service Section at Tokyo Public Law Office, which handles a wide range of cases involving foreigners in the Tokyo area (www.t-pblo.jp/fiss; 03-6809-6200). FISS lawyers address readers’ queries once a month. Questions: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    COMMENT: You know there’s something seriously wrong with a system when legally all you have is luck (and a cell phone recorder) to protect you from official arbitrary questioning, search, seizure, and racial profiling by Japanese cops. Even a lawyer says so. So that’s definitive, right?

    Now, then, JT, what misinformation was being spread here by my previous article? How about trusting people who give their actual names, and have legal experience and a verified research record (several times before in past JT articles)? And how about deleting that misinformative “featured comment” to my column?

    SITYS.  Dr. ARUDOU Debito

    26 Responses to “SITYS: JT publishes lawyer’s analysis of J-cops’ arbitrary “stop and frisk” procedures. It’s now actually worse for NJ than Debito.org has reported before (correctly)”

    1. B Says:

      Reading the JT article just absolutely enraged me. It seems to say to everyone, you have no rights, just give up and submit. It was absolutely revolting and quite scary. I’m glad sites like this exist that at least attempt to give innocent and honest people a small chance of defending themselves and support against such abuses by the police.

      Worse, it seems to be getting more common with police. They have a great deal of power and wield it like with disregard when dealing with foreigners in many cases based on my personal experiences and those of my friends. My friends have all but give up, but there is absolutely no trust I the police system if anything serious happens and we were to honestly need the help of the police. In some cases in the past, I’ve seen the police assist the offender, and the same with a few cases my friends have endured.

      The police and legal system in is country absolutely disgust me. It’s horrible in other countries as well, but at least there is an attempt to fight back with the law on your side.

      I literally avoid Roppongi because of the police and their behavior.

    2. OneMoreBill Says:

      Appreciated this post. But I wonder if a second or third legal opinion (that has been edited and fact-checked for clarity) is forthcoming from the Japan Times.The attorney in the article writes that “the police are permitted to stop a person for questioning, and, if they try to escape, to seize them (although the officers are not allowed to restrain or arrest them).” How exactly do you seize someone without restraining or arresting him or her? Using “escape” in this context is also problematic. Also, his conclusion is a non-sequitur: “You cannot be forced to turn the recorder off, no matter what the police officers yell at you.”

    3. Karl Says:

      “4) frisk them with or without consent. (This is not written in the act, but precedents have established this. Basically, the frisking is limited to patting down over their clothing.)”

      I have personally seen that being performed on a group of ethnically Middle Eastern men inside Shinjuku Station, while they were waiting a friend of theirs to get out of the toilet. Plain clothed policemen, probably 10-15 swooped in, without identifying themselves by showing any IDs – just saying that they are police, just held them and started frisking them. One of the guys was lifted against the wall holding his shirt, etc.

      Nothing was found and guys were left minding their own business. Several weeks later, I remember, there was news for a group of Iranians being caught selling drugs in the region. Probably a case of mistaken identity.

      I have talked with several Japanese and foreigners about that accident. Everyone thinks that if the police was doing that they might have had serious suspicious. In my mind, that accident was bordersome harassment, and me being raised in a totalitarian society, had never heard of or have seen anything like this back home and thought Orwell was wrong – it is not the communities societies in 1984, those were societies of countries like Japan and USA, being depicted.

      I was thrice on three consecutive days stopped at Kokubunji station, Chuo Line, recently and was told that the reasons were 1) When I put my Suica on the ID reader, I supposedly saw the policeman and tried to avoid eye contact, and to him that was suspicious and a reason for demanding my documents. 2) There are many Chinese (notice the prejudicies – and I am Caucasian, light hair, light eyes) committing crimes like overstaying on their visas, so he needed to confirm I had the proper documents. (When I asked him whether he knows the statistics on how much crimes on average a Japanese and a foreigner in Japan commits and which is higher – he was vehement in his reply – foreigners commit more crimes, especially Chinese) 3) “Show me your Zairyukaado” in English, no explanation given – when I asked whether I can his in Japanese – he said that I do not have this right, so when I told him I know the law and his obligations and that I can buy the same uniform (I know, I know, I probably exaggerated) and could personify a policemen, so he might be anyone, he was clearly agitated and pull it off reluctantly.

      Anyhow, I do not have it bad. On his way to the university campus here, a Filipino colleague of mine in mid 2000s, was stopped and asked to show his documents everyday for a semester or so. Each and every day.

    4. JS Says:

      The lawyer who wrote the article for The Japan Times works for the Tokyo Public Law Office. I find this very interesting, since I am not clear as to the role the section for foreigners at this law office plays.

      I understand that the Tokyo Public Law Office’s section for dealing with foreigners was set up by the Japanese Bar Association to deal with foreigners who have legal issues. As such, one would think that this law office’s role should be to provide legal advice to foreign residents in an independent and impartial manner, to fully inform foreign residents of their legal rights and protections under Japanese law, and to be an advocate for the fair treatment of foreign residents under Japanese law.

      Unfortunately, I have heard from multiple sources that the Tokyo Public Law Office often fails to do all of the above, especially when a foreign resident has a legal conflict with a powerful Japanese party (such as when a large Japanese company violates a foreign worker’s legal rights and the worker wants to litigate against the company).

      Instead of helping foreign residents to assert the legal rights and protections which they are entitled to, the Tokyo Public Law Office’s standard procedure seems to be to do everything possible to dissuade foreign residents from initiating legal action against powerful Japanese entities, even in cases where the Japanese law heavily favors the foreign resident’s legal position. The law office seems to use a combination of misrepresentation, misinformation, wrong and incomplete legal advice, pressure and coercion, to prevent foreign residents from using the Japanese judicial system and to convince them not to litigate.

      This makes me seriously question the motives and objectives of the Tokyo Public Law Office. They clearly do not seem to be there to ensure that foreign residents are afforded due process under Japanese law. So, my question is, are they there just as “handlers” and “minders” to ensure that foreign residents are kept as far away as possible from using the Japanese courts to assert the legal rights they are entitled to?

      What is even more disturbing is that in the rare cases where a foreign resident insisted on litigating against a Japanese party in court and retained lawyers from the Tokyo Public Law Office, these lawyers acted in an extremely unprofessional and unethical manner. They even went as far as to lose important evidence documents which were given to them by their foreign client for submission to the court. This and other factors that were directly related to this law office’s intentional incompetence resulted in the foreign resident losing his case in court.

      – These are serious allegations. I’m afraid we’ll need more evidence or else I’m not going to allow this blog comment to remain approved.

      UPDATE JULY 29: I have been contacted off list by the people in question, and have been presented with sufficient material evidence to believe that there are grounds for these allegations. This and subsequent related comments will remain approved.

    5. john k Says:

      DAD

      To link into #4JS.
      It would be worth getting another independent lawyer to review the J.Times article and their advice. Since so much is vague in Japan, one lawyers word for it, may not be enough. Perhaps one that specialises in such cases and is a private company. I do know of one, if interested.

    6. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ JS #4

      I have heard anecdotal evidence that the TPLO acts as an unofficial buffer to prevent NJ from having access to their legal rights, through an (unofficial?) policy of misrepresentation, misinformation, pressure, coercion, and inaccurate legal advice, as you claim.

      This could be explained as being nothing more than the same type of unprofessionalism that can be encountered at almost any ward office, where staff are often not up to speed on all of the details of their jobs, and depending on who you speak to on which day, outcomes vary- a typical outcome in a country where ‘we Japanese do not like ‘black and white’ situations-we prefer ambiguity’- leading to chronic unaccountability, lack of professionalism, and a lack of redress.

      Or it could be a case of them not actually knowing the small print of their own job; much like many police who insist on detaining NJ for ‘carding’ do not seem to be honestly aware of the small print of the law.

      On the other hand, as we have argued here on Debito.org, it could well be a case of ‘when NJ are involved, all bets are off’, that is to say, the rules don’t matter.

      Look at Japan’s record at the UNHCR, or actions regarding TPP, or all the talk about ‘womanomics'; Japan has a track record of making all the right noises in public, whilst actively working to prevent progress on issues it doesn’t like, behind the scenes.

      As for proof, when it comes to Japan, my attitude is ‘show me the proof you’re NOT corrupt’.

    7. JS Says:

      @ Jim Di Griz #6

      The thing is that my earlier comment is based on actions of lawyers at TPLO who are considered experts in their field, have law degrees from top Japanese and Western law schools, and frequently write about legal issues facing foreign residents of Japan in well respected publications. They have also been known to charge their foreign clients fees which are higher than what other big Japanese law firms charge for similar cases.

      This is why it is hard for me to understand how it can possibly be simply a case of carelessness, unintentional sloppiness, or a result of them not knowing Japanese laws. Only the best and brightest people can become Bengoshi in Japan, since it is extremely difficult to pass the Bar exam here.

      – Just because you pass a tough exam doesn’t mean you become more empathetic with social minorities or underdogs. Lawyers are a mixed bag anywhere, and I’ve seen all types (including some bookworms who were real social dunces) in Japan’s legal community. But anyway, let’s have that evidence.

    8. Al Says:

      Regarding being stopped and searched by Japanese police. It’s quite clear that they don’t have the right to search your pockets or bags without your permission. I’ve confirmed this with more than one lawyer, and also with a captain in the police department who was kind enough to meet with me after I filed a complaint. It’s absolutely clear that they can’t search you. You can ask them yourself.

      However, they will try to intimidate you and not let you leave until you give them permission to search you. So it’s really a matter of how much verbal abuse you’re willing to take from them, if you choose not to consent to a search. In the end, you have the right to refuse.

      As far as stopping you and asking for an ID, legally they can’t even do that without a reason. But we all know they do it anyway. The consensus is that you have to show your ID if you’re a foreigner, regardless of whether they had a reason to stop you or not. But that’s the only difference between a foreigner and a Japanese. Other than that, you aren’t suppose to be treated any differently. So no “this is Japan, show me your bag” bullshit.

    9. B Says:

      Just got off the phone regarding a complaint I made through the Koaniinkai. Included was a statement that Japanese police will stop foreigners on the suspicion they may be overstaying their visa. That means you can simply stop anyone, and do anything they please without cause it seems. Oh look a foreigner “MAYBE” he is overstaying his visa.

      Yay, no one has any rights at all. :/ Checking into the shokumushitsumon law again as this doesn’t seem a correct interpretation of the law what-so-ever.

    10. Anonymous Says:

      @B #9 Get it in writing fellow human. A Koan-Iinkai official claiming (incorrectly of course) that “it is legal for Japanese police to stop people-who-appear-to-be-not-citizens WITHOUT probable cause” (or the even worse claim of “appearing foreign IS INDEED probable cause of a visa crime) is exactly the kind of claim a sane judge would love to see on his desk, so that he can take action.

      The problem is, all you currently have is your claim about the official’s verbal claim. Call that official up again, and act like you need his statement in writing, that is the only way you can accept it (perhaps you are a person who can only understand things fully when you see it in print, that’s a sufficient reason why you absolutely need it in writing.)

      I don’t even know why you were talking with the guy on the phone anyway. When you give liars a chance to verbally lie, they start getting real creative, because later they can lie about what they said.

      So please B, you’ve gone this far, you’ve been lied to by a Koan-Iinkai official about what the police need to stop anybody in Japan (actual probable cause of a crime) so all you need now is to get that idiot to send you that in letter form.

      When you show Debito a letter from the Koan-Iiankai claiming either of those two illegal claims mentioned above, then Debito (and I) can put you in touch with the right lawyer to take this to court.

      Of course, we’ve all lost confidence in Japanese judges recently, due to that recent illegal Supreme Court ruling that “regardless of what the legislators wrote, we don’t have to treat all applications from residents in the same manner”, but still…

      It’s worth a shot. See if you can get it in writing. When life gives you lemons (like some Koan-Iinkai jerk making illegal claims about the laws written by Japanese legislators) let’s make some lemonade (court justice) out of this. :-)

    11. Doug Says:

      Hi Debito,

      I was stopped by 4 private security policemen in Shinagawa station on July 7th who searched through my backpack.

      I had just picked up my new 1 year only Spouse Visa ( after 23 consecutive years of living in Japan with my Japanese wife and 34 years of marriage, under the new 2012 law, they decided they would only give me a 1 year spouse visa this year, even though I asked for the 5 year visa as they had advertised back in 2011-2012. Things did not get better for me, they have continued to get far worse than they ever were). But that is a side story.

      Any way, I had just walked from the immigration office and was inside Shinagawa station going toward the ticket machine when a policeman approached me out of the blue from the right hand side, put his hand on my shoulder and stopped me and said, “excuse me, may I look in your bag”? I don’t remember, he may have actually spoke english to me.

      So I asked him “why”.

      And then 3 additional policemen appeared and I was completely surrounded in the middle of Shinagawa station with litterally thousands of Japanese people walking both directions.

      So they asked me again if they could look in my bag and I said forcefully “Naze?” based on Debito’s past guidance. I was not sure what exactly they were looking for or why they had stopped me. Were they looking for a shop lifter? A terrorist? A drug dealer? Or just wanting to scare the public in to thinking that “that foreigner has done something wrong and we are here to protect everybody”.

      Finally the same man said “Patrol”.

      So I said “ok fine”. And he said “Is right here ok”.

      And I thought, if they want to put on a show, this is as good a place as any to put on a show and said “yes it’s fine”. So they have this big circle around me.

      So the policeman who stopped me took it off my right shoulder and as he was placing it down on the ground, he commented to his fellow police men “Oh this is so heavy, why is this so heavy” in a very suspecious sounding voice.

      The police man unzipped it and proceeded to put his hands all though my back pack and pull out items. 2 bottles of water and papers I needed for the immigration office.

      Finally he got to the last storage area and pulled out this huge book I am studying to better myself and skills and he said “oh shigoto da”. This is for work.

      So they asked me “why are you here?”

      And I said “Shinagawa ikimashita” I went to Shinagawa, as in the immigration office. Why else would I be in Shinagawa.

      And the leader of the group who was standing next to me said “this is shinagawa”. So I though, “well good point”.

      So I pulled out my brand new gaijin control card (they keep us on a really short leash and today was my turn to have mine jerked around), the zairusho, and I showed it to the leader of the group.

      Why is it, I have to explain to everyone in Japan what my business is. It is no one’s business but my own. If I want to go to Shinagawa, that is my right as a free man walking on this planet.

      Then he looked at it, saw todays date (july 7th) and started laughing.

      Once I showed him my papers and he started laughing (you know the miss understanding type of laugh), they started packing things up. Told me thanks, and let me go.

      All in all, nothing happened but later on, I realize I left myself wide open to a set-up because I realized they could have planted something like drugs in my back pack and then let me go, knowing that in 25 more feet a second real police man could have been waiting to search through my bag and surprise surprise, look what we found here. I was not thinking to watch his hands and they also kept me distracted by asking me questions. Anything could have happened.

      It did not happen but it could have happened and I would have been totally defenseless. The only thing I could have done to marginally protect myself from police corruption was to not touch anything they might have planted so as to not leave any fingerprints on something they might have planted.

    12. Jim di Griz Says:

      @ Doug, #11

      Let me check I’m getting you right.

      You were stopped and carded and had your bag searched by private security guards, not the J-police, right?

      Why did you stop? I would have just kept walking. If I couldn’t have kept walking, I would have videoed the with my phone as evidence of unlawful detainment. And then called the real police. And maybe the media. In my home country too.

    13. Loverilakkuma Says:

      @Doug, #11

      >Any way, I had just walked from the immigration office and was inside Shinagawa station going toward the ticket machine when a policeman approached me out of the blue from the right hand side, put his hand on my shoulder and stopped me and said

      That’s totally illegal. No police officer is allowed to do that without verbal warning and showing ID first.

    14. john k Says:

      #11 & #13

      In which case, when said “person(s)” place their hands on you and stop you…simply stop and loudly shout…police….police…followed by ..assault…assault….and take out your camera and tape it.

      See what happens then….

    15. B Says:

      Again, this is why I record EVERY encounter like this with the police, or any “authority” figure in Japan. ALWAYS.

      Most people have smart phones or cameras with a record function. Use it so we can catch assholes like this and stop these abuses.

    16. Doug Says:

      Well that is exactly what happened and they were private policemen or private security guards at least working in the station but not necessarily for the station. They did not show me any id. They were not regular policemen as you would find in a Koban, their uniform was different. They were private security. There were 4 of them. They were working like a pack of dogs. I could not have gotten away if I had wanted to.

      And since I was totally taken by surprise, I had no time nor prior preparation to do any thing other than say “ok”. I had nothing to fear nor hide or looking for trouble or trying to cause trouble. I was just going home to have dinner and ice cream with my lovely wife on this super hot day.

      The cell phone is a bit heavy. I had left it at home that day. No one is going to call me on it any way.

    17. B Says:

      Anonymous:

      The Kouaniinkai didn’t handle this, they referred it to the Katsushikaku police, who I DID call back and once again confirmed that they could pretty much do what they want to foreigners AND non-foreigners using any excuse to stop them pretty much stating that they “might be going to commit a crime.” He flat out refused to give anything in writing and said only that a short simple complaint would come from the Kouaniinkai. I’m waiting for that right now to see what is included, and I will be going further. It seems that the police officer who investigated my case was doing everything he could to not give any written information. However, the entire hour in total conversation is recorded.

      Yet, I’m not sure where to even go further too. I noticed the Koban110 youtube channel in Japanese, and might contact that guy but don’t know his stance or position, and don’t even know if he is simply trying to protect police. I can maybe go to the main police office or something and request an investigation. I really am uncertain of where to go now.

    18. B Says:

      In other words, I’m not giving up, but after I get the letter I will see what it says, and then will see what avenues open and are open to me. I do want justice from this, and I do want to see how far I can pursue this because I’m sick of these abuses, and seeing others be abused with ignoring the law and human rights. I can only do so much, but I will do what I can.

    19. Baudrillard Says:

      That is the problem with living in Japan these days, you have to be always on your guard and its very stressful, with a list of rehearsed prepared answers in case situations like this happen out of the blue; they caught you unawares and thus you were surprised into giving them the chance to look thru your bag.

      “And I thought, if they want to put on a show, this is as good a place as any to put on a show and said “yes it’s fine”. So they have this big circle around me. “Oh this is so heavy, why is this so heavy” in a very suspecious sounding voice.”

      They had rehearsed this play well. And it was to an audience of thousands.As I myself have acting experience, I can usually try to turn situations around to my advantage if I have rehearsed my story beforehand. It also depends on how good your Japanese is.

      I know its easy to say this in hindsight, but I like how when they said your study is your “shigoto”, you did nothing to dispel their error.Why should you, it was not a question.

      Maybe you could have said, “yes, shigoto. I am writing a report to the United Nations (via Debito.org) so thats why I have just come from the Japanese government office (immigration)”. Subtext: now you know I am a busy an important official, could you let me get on with it. My bag is heavy and so is my workload! Itte mo ii desu ka? Thank you”

      Remember that scene from “The Last Samurai” where Timothy Spall blags Tom Cruise into the palace by saying he is the President of the United States to the “peasant dog” guard blocking his way?” OK, that is an extreme example but bragging, name dropping, pretension and acting indignant can go a long way in Japan if you are consistent enough with your BS (ie. live the role 24.7) to pull it off. Especially if these guys were not real policemen.

      Plenty of NJs have re-invented their identities in postmodern Japan. That is one of the few remaining attractions.

      Hence the plethora of meaningless personal name cards that say “CEO (of my bedroom at my mum’s house”. I will never forget the irate husband of an English student who stormed into the school to demand “Why is my wife only intermediate level? I am a DOCTOR at KEIO University!”
      The staff cowered in fear. The student was leveled up immediately. Works every time.

      In Japan, BS rules.

    20. Baudrillard Says:

      Doug, Another technique for putting these clowns in their place is to try to turn the conversation around so that they are in a public servant role. Kind of like, “hey thanks for checking my bag and doing your job. Actually, yes its very heavy. Can you help me carry it? Or, “can you give me (spuriously) give me directions to the complaints department of JR in this station?”

      Like the time us 2 NJ guys and 2 Asian girls (actually not Japanese) were given the evil eye by the oyaji attendant at Meiji JIngu Shrine, who tried to move us along. I then said, “ok, thanks for telling us where we cannot sit. As you work here (it seems) please tell us where we CAN sit”.

      He tried to move away at this point, but I actually followed him and kept asking him to do things for me and give me info, like, oh and by the way, where are the toilets? Do you know a good place to take photos of cherry blossoms? etc etc.Thank you for your service, Otsukare sama deshita.” Dutifully playing my role of the “gaijin tourist/customer” (who speaks Japanese). I hammed it up considerably, but well, it IS The Theatre of the Absurd. To an audience of hundreds.

      Dont get angry, get even.

    21. XY Says:

      @ Doug #11

      That sounds like a horrible experience, and I’m sorry that you had to go through it. I was relentlessly profiled when I lived in Kyoto years ago, and my heart still jumps whenever I see a police car out of the corner of my eye.

      Jim is absolutely right. Article 15 of the Security Sevices Act specifically states that security guards have no special privileges above and beyond the average citizen. If you would not let other wage slaves rummage through your personal belongings, do not allow security guards to do so either. Just ignore them and walk away.

    22. Flyjin Says:

      XY “my heart still jumps whenever I see a police car out of the corner of my eye.” It really has gone too far. Time to leave. Actually I got seriously paranoid during the security build up to the G8 in Hokkaido a few years back, when the police came round to my gaijin house to check who lived there (I didnt answer the door as I was lying in bed late that morning, but I could hear them doing it to the neighbors) and then did the same thing again at my Gfs house the next day in a completely different part of town. WTF? Thought I?
      Now here is the racial profiling rub; the policeman said to my GF that “dodgy characters” had been seen entering the building recently so that was why they wanted to check. Indeed, some time after that or before ( i dont recall) I had a run in with the owner of the building as he wanted to verify whether or not I really knew my GF and looked somewhat piqued when she confirmed that I was her pet gaikokujin.

      So after that I went back to the gaijin house at odd hours, and would turn off the lights at night so it looked like no one was there.I even vaulted over the back fence a few times, because this was the period when the deputized busybody oyaji were standing on every street corner (no exaggeration, there were at least three at each corner of the block).

      Funny how no one makes eye contact in Japan, except when the oyaji deputies eyeball the NJ.

      Fast forward a couple of years, and another gaijin card crackdown. Tokyo station was rumored to be ground zero and sure enough, some lessons were cancelled at our school because a couple of teachers had been “carded” in the station. So then I started to avoid certain train hubs.

      This police harrassment and paranoia, IS unique to Japan, especially Tokyo, with the possible exception of Seoul (my sop to Japologists before they chime up with “it happens everywhere”- No it frikkin doesnt) and is stronlgy reminiscent of the Deep South and the Jim Crow laws. Different rules apply for minorities, if you you want to avoid being shook down daily.

      But go to multi cultural Singapore, Hong Kong, any real international business hub for that matter-something Tokyo aspires to be but never will be for this reason and others, and it JUST DOES NOT EXIST. Like a huge weight of your shoulders, you can sigh in relief and look back at the preposterous bollocks that was “Life” in Tokyo.

    23. Baudrillard Says:

      After thought, what the hell are a bunch of private security guards in cosplay uniforms doing harrassing JR’s customers in Shinagawa Station? I say cosplay, because that is what it might as well be. Like the Nazi party giving a bunch of unemployed thugs a uniform so they feel empowered. (Hey, I might start doing it too. The NJ militia.)

      They either work for JR (cause for complaint) or they dont, in which case they are trespassing and most certainly “hoka no okyakusan ni meiwaku wo suru hito tachi”. (also cause for complaint).

      Reporting them to JR and appealing to economic dictates is probably going to be easy and anonymous, especially by phone (get your friends to call up too). Going to the police may well backfire.

      But they should not be doing this in JR premises. Again, in hindsight, maybe your first question should have been not “naze” but “anata wa keisatsu desu ka?” (which coincidentally is a cynical Japanese joke which people say when they are asked too many questions).

    24. Baudrillard Says:

      Interesting case study here http://www.letsjapan.org/shawn/2010/04/01/harrassed-the-police-shibuya.html

      “I dont like J-cops anymore than anyone else and I dont like being stopped for an ID check. BUT having a recalcitrant and uncooperative attitude will lead you to alot trouble with the j-cops. After my two experiences, Im now cooperative and polite…as before I was difficult and used alot of passive resistance. Putting up with j-cop harrassment is apart of living in Japan for foreigners….if I cant stand it anymore…I can always leave. I spent A of total of 28 days in jail and paid 343,000yen in fines (much more in attorney fees and court fees) for having a “F-you, walk away and ignore you j-cop attitude”…and it also cost me 2 jobs. IT WAS NOT WORTH IT!

      BOTTOM LINE:
      My advice is to cooperate with the J-cops. Telling people to walk away and ignore the cops is totally irresponsible and flawed. Walking away and ignoring the cops in Japan is NOT a game to be playing here. If you dont like Japan police harrassment, then you should return to the US or Canada or whatever country you come from and play the “walk-a-way and ignore game” with the cops there.

      Read:
      WHAT TO DO IF…
      …you are stopped by the Japanese police.

      http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#checkpoint

      Backs up my experience for acting up with the cops. You better cooperate.”

    25. B Says:

      I really feel that the ONLY way to stop this is to educate people to ALWAYS record with their phone no matter what, and make sure they know some of the basic information on this site. Seeing any of those videos and hearing these stories just enrage me and often make me seriously question if I want to continue my stay in Japan in a country that has such a seriously defunct and corrupt justice system. Yet, the only way to have an impact is to know your rights well and exercise them, even in the face of fear and threats. Because if you don’t, you may be giving up everything without even knowing it.

    26. B Says:

      On a side note, Debito, I’m curious what the selection criteria even IS for featured comments on JT? Is it just the number of votes? Does JT choose it? (Is that choice also connected to the number of votes?)

      What deeply scares me is that most situations where you have individuals standing to police, or recording them, you see a large number of downvotes. It frightens me that so very few seem to value standing up for basics rights to avoid police abusing their power. Worse, I see this within the NJ community as well with the “it’s their rules and their country, just be nice and obey all the police no matter what” attitude.

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