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  • Akihabara stabbing incident June 8, 2008–yet Akihabara knife shop with “Japanese Only” sign up

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on June 9th, 2008

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

    Hi Blog. No doubt detractors will say I’m trying to “monster” yet another case of something into a case of racism. Hardly. But somebody needs to say it:

    Japan Times article below has a recount of the recent spate of stabbings in Japan, particularly the shocking one yesterday of the Akihabara maniac who killed with a knife as if he had a gun. Despicable.

    But the irony I also see in this horrible event is that a store in Akihabara–a knife and weapon shop, no less–has limited its customers to “Japanese Only”. Store called “MAD”, coordinates according to DR, the submitter: “on the main drag that runs parallel to the JR Yamanote line, inside the loop, on the opposite side of the street, at the far North end”. Here’s their address and website:

    http://www.akiba-mad.com/

    電話 東京03-3251-5241 (their website says they will only take phone calls between two and three pm on weekdays)

    東京都 千代田区 外神田 3丁目16番15号

    Their website also explicitly says their knives are not for sale to foreigners or people under 18.

    Are “the authorities” being cited in the sign still going to make the case that non-Japanese customers are less safe than Japanese? The shopkeeps of “MAD” might. Let’s use this occasion to reflect a bit on how insanity and nationality are not linked. And my condolences to the families of the victims.

    Received photos May 24, 2008, submitter says sign is still up. Japan Times article follows photos. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    UPDATE JUNE 9, 2008, AFTERNOON. I gave “Mad” a call this afternoon during their call-in window and spoke to a very friendly clerk. He said the sign is there because foreigners will only just have to give up their knives etc. once they reach Narita, so they’d be wasting their money. (He said the “authorities” referred to in the are air transport officials.)

    I mentioned that there are many different types of NJ in Japan, and not all of their customers are simply leaving Japan afterwards. He said that they don’t mind selling to NJ with addresses in Japan as long as they present ID. I said that that’s not what the sign out front says, and suggested he change the sign to reflect what he just told me. He suggested we send him text for how the sign should be, via MAD’s fax number:

    FAX MAD: 03 3255 0012

    Go for it, readers. Arudou Debito

    TWO MORE UPDATES CAN BE FOUND IN THE COMMENTS BELOW–MAD HAS AGREED TO ALTER THE SIGN

     
    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/nn20080608x1.html
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    The Japan Times Printer Friendly Articles
    7 killed, 10 injured in Akihabara stabbing spree
    Kyodo News

    Seven people died and 10 others were injured after a man hit pedestrians with a truck and then stabbed people Sunday in broad daylight on a street in Tokyo’s busy Akihabara district.

    Passersby attempt to help a traffic police officer injured during a stabbing spree in Tokyo's Akihabara district
    Passersby attempt to help a traffic police officer injured during a stabbing spree in Tokyo’s Akihabara district today. Seven people died and 11 were injured after a 25-year-old man from Shizuoka Prefecture began indistriminately stabbing people around 12:30 p.m. KYODO PHOTO

    Police arrested the man, 25-year-old Tomohiro Kato from Susono, Shizuoka Prefecture, and seized a survival knife he was carrying. He admitted to stabbing all the people with the knife from around 12:30 p.m., the police said. The truck was rented in Shizuoka Prefecture.

    “I came to Akihabara to kill people,” investigative sources quoted Kato as telling the police. “I am tired of the world. Anyone was OK. I came alone.”

    According to the police and hospital officials, six of the seven who died were males and aged 19, 20, 29, 33, 47 and 74. The other was a 21-year-old female.

    In addition to the seven, 11 people who were taken to hospital after the stabbing rampage. Of these, eight men and two women were injured, including a traffic police officer who was patrolling at the time. The remaining male person had sustained no injury but simply had blood on his clothing.

    The area was crowded with shoppers as Chuo-dori in the Akihabara district was vehicle-free for pedestrians. The scene was near the intersection of Chuo-dori and Kanda Myojin-dori streets, only a stone’s throw from JR Akihabara Station.

    A 19-year-old man from Tokyo’s Ota Ward said, “The man (Kato) jumped on top of a man he had hit with his vehicle and stabbed him with a knife many times. Walking toward Akihabara Station, he slashed nearby people at random.”

    Shunichi Jingu, a 26-year-old self-employed man from Gunma Prefecture, who witnessed the incident, said, “It seemed that a traffic accident had happened. Then a man got out of a vehicle and began to brandish a knife.”

    Akihabara is a district of Tokyo known for its electronics shops and as a center of modern culture, including manga and animations, and attracts many visitors from both Japan and abroad.

    There were similar street stabbing rampages earlier this year.

    In January, a 16-year-old boy attacked five people and injured two of them with kitchen knives on a shopping street in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward. A man wanted by police on suspicion of murder stabbed passersby with a knife at an entrance to a shopping mall in Tsuchiura, Ibaraki Prefecture, in March, leaving eight people injured, one of whom died later in hospital.

    The Akihabara rampage also occurred on the seventh anniversary of a stabbing spree by a man at Ikeda Elementary School in Osaka Prefecture on June 8, 2001.

    The attacker, Mamoru Takuma, was executed for killing eight children and injuring 15 others in that case.

    The Japan Times: Sunday, June 8, 2008
    Go back to The Japan Times Online
     

    UPDATE JUNE 17, 2008: NEW SIGN IS UP (Photo by Arudou Debito)

    52 Responses to “Akihabara stabbing incident June 8, 2008–yet Akihabara knife shop with “Japanese Only” sign up”

    1. Doug Norman Says:

      Debito-san

      Some may say you are exploiting a tragedy, and this is certainly a tragedy to the utmost. My sympathies go out to the victims and all of those affected.

      On the other hand, as you said “someone needs to say it”. The sign above poses many questions, especially since all of the recent stabbings (there have been many in the last few years) have been committed by Japanese. Who are the authorities in question? Why is it that given the recent stabbings (committed by Japanese) that foreigners are considered more dangerous? Why can’t foreigners buy mace (the store sells mace)? Are only Japanese allowed to defend themselves?

      This is a story that I think should be pursued (the origin of the sign and the alleged authorities) while maintaining the required level of sensitivity.

      Finally, there is an increasing trend of senseless violence in Japan. I do not see this trend being reversed unless the Japanese people and moreso the police and authorities can see unto themselves to stop scapegoating foreigners and also provide the required mental health and counseling services that are available in nearly all other developed nations. Japan has proven itself and achieved great things. It is not necessary for Japan to scapegoat foreigners to increase their self esteem. The good in Japan far outweighs the bad.

      With all that said it is my opinion that it is in the best interest of all Japanese to speak out against scapegoating and look inward and ask tough questions of those in power. Through the 10 years I have lived in Japan I have seen steps forward (elimination of fingerprinting for the gaikokujin toroku as an example)only to be erased in the last 3 years by the publishing of the Gaijin Hanzai magazing, the fingerprinting fiasco, the program to report all foreign workers, and the increased paranoia among those in power.

      My prayers go out the victims and all affected

    2. Charles Jannuzi Says:

      Maybe commentators should just refrain from immediate comment in such cases? For the most part the analysis presented here is the typically duff social pseudo-science of ‘making connections’.

    3. K.A. Says:

      Of course only for Japanese. Foreigners are dangerous and cannot be trusted.
      Fingerprinting was also set up to avoid terrorist attacks as Japan has experienced two, once 1977 the hijacking of a Japan Airlines plane by the Japanese Red Army and another one in 1995 the sarin gas attack by the Japanese AUM sect.

      They seem to be able accept their own horror more calmly than even the tiniest disobedience from foreigners. Let alone goodwill as it has a potential to bring about changes. What a pathetic strategy. Japan is in the middle of a competition. Whether the world would be the first to come to understand that we can live without Japan or Japan to understand that they can’t live without the world.
      Meanwhile, they are slowly, silently fossilizing.

    4. jhon38 Says:

      In looking at the sign and after living here for a while I realize that the request of the shop owner is valid. It may be badly translated and that is another point entirely.

      In Japan, purchasing of knives and weapons such as mace, tasers or other items requires a registration with the store and a Japanese address. In addition, tourists who purchase such items cannot take them back out of the country. Anyne who has flown out of Narita has seen the examples of seized merchandise from other stores who did not have such a policy. This causes many problems for security people at the airport.

      So in the case “the Authorities” ARE the Police and not an excuse not to serve non-Japanese customers. We need to look at each situation individually and act accordingly. This is not an example of racism or bias against foreigners. It is a shop that is simply trying to abide by the laws of Japan and has (yet again) a badly translated sign. Maybe someone should go to the shop and assist him in making it clear as to what he wants to say? One thing I have sen in my time here is that often it is a translation problem instead of outright bias that leads to these misunderstandings.

      I was in a major store a couple of years ago and the manager came up to me and asked if he could speak with me. He had a sign for his registers that outlined a policy on credit card use. He asked if I would revew the English and male sure it was clear. After a few minutes of chatting and finding out what he needed to say we got a sign in English AND Japanese that explained the situation and was clear to all. I got a nice “thank you” in both languages for my time, but it was a good experience for both parties.

      –Quite. Then the sign should not assume all foreigners are tourists, without Japanese addresses, soon to depart from Narita. Everyone buying a weapon, without question, should be ID-ed and properly tracked. Regardless of nationality.

      It is the store’s responsibility to make signs that signal their needs and intentions properly, and do not invite misunderstandings. Anyone want to drop by the store and help make a better sign?

    5. K.A. Says:

      Excuse me, but the sign says: “not for sightseeing” followed by “Japanese only”, which tries to prevent foreigners even from entering the shop just to look.

      And it is all in the middle of a tourist paradise for shopping. Nice approach, thank you, very kind really.

      Also, they sell a lots of common items such as quality flashlights, battery powered pocket alarms, sec. cameras, DVD players etc.,etc. which doesn’t require either any registration or ID to buy.
      Anybody care to explain why foreigners are not only prohibited to buy these items but are even prevented from entering the shop just to look, while Japanese are welcomed?

    6. HO Says:

      >Are only Japanese allowed to defend themselves?
      No. Neither Japanese nor foreigners are allowed to carry weapons to defend themselves in Japan.

      In Japan, one needs a license issued by Prefactural Security Commission to buy a knife if its blade is longer than 15 cm and its shape is “similar” to a sward, a spear, a halberd or a dagger. Such license does not come easily, and one needs one license for each knife.

      “Not for sightseeing, Japanese Only, Sorry, an order by the authorities, we can’t selling our knives and weapons for the foreigner”

      I guess there is no one who can speak English in the shop. I think they just wanted to avoid communication in foreign language that is required for the complicated filing of license if they sell knives. Anyway, they should have written something like “License required for purchase of knives”.

      >Why can’t foreigners buy mace?
      Well, theoretically yes, they can. But bringing maces in concealment is a misdemeanor. (軽犯罪法1条2号)

      –Don’t “guess”. Give them a call and ask them. And their lack of language ability is no grounds in itself for refusal and what about those NJ who speak J… oh hell, you know all my counterarguments by now, must you persist?

    7. Yajiuma Says:

      Rubbish. I have been in the store photographed many times. This particular store in Akihabara will not sell the items to foreigners, but the store next door has done so in the past, no questions or ID asked. The point is that up to now there are no “authorities” compelling the shop owner to discriminate against foreigners.

    8. debito Says:

      UPDATE JUNE 9, 2008, AFTERNOON. I gave “Mad” a call this afternoon during their call-in window and spoke to a very friendly clerk. He said the sign is there because foreigners will only just have to give up their knives etc. once they reach Narita, so they’d be wasting their money. (He said the “authorities” referred to in the sign are air transport officials.)

      I mentioned that there are many different types of NJ in Japan, and not all of their customers are simply leaving Japan afterwards. He said that they don’t mind selling to NJ with addresses in Japan as long as they present ID. I said that that’s not what the sign out front says, and suggested he change the sign to reflect what he just told me. He suggested we send him text for how the sign should be, via MAD’s fax number:

      FAX MAD: 03 3255 0012

      Go for it, readers. Arudou Debito

    9. debito Says:

      SECOND UPDATE
      I just faxed MAD the following message:

      =======================
      KNIFE & WEAPON
      SALES REQUIRE
      ID
      AND ADDRESS IN JAPAN

      「MAD」さん、こう書いて掲げると誤解が生じないと思います。
      よろしくお願いします。
      札幌在住 有道 出人
      (携帯番号)
      H20.6.9
      =======================
      Readers, if you have a better sign, fax away! Debito

    10. debito Says:

      THIRD UPDATE
      MAD just phoned me back with thanks and said they would use the English text I sent in a new sign.

      Much better. Debito

    11. K.A. Says:

      Debito,

      You are the most positive person I have ever seen. I personally wouldn’t have even attempt to talk to them after reading this sign. I gave them up long ago.

      I sincerely wish you good luck and success for the future (if a little cheer or support like this one from me counts).

      –Believe me, it does. Thanks for saying so. Debito

    12. DR Says:

      I am just appalled at this attack, especially on the heels of so many similar types of attacks in Japan of late, the number of injuries/fatalities in each being the only variable. There’s a creep down in Nagoya, still at large, who has stabbed numerous people from behind as he cycled past them at high speed. And another in Kariya I think, still at large, who corners schoolgirls and cuts a lock of their hair before high-tailing it way. All of this happens during a supposed high-alert NPA crackdown on “terrorists.” (I have seen the enemy, and they appear to be domestic!)

      Related to this, and an open question that I think is fair as public order seems headed down a slippery slope of deterioration, “What can you do to protect yourself?” I’m not in favor of folks carrying knives or guns in Japan, as that would make matters worse. I’m not sure what the Sword & Firearm Control Law covers. What constitutes a defensive weapon, and is it permissible? Or what constitutes an offensive weapon? Mace? Illegal? Batons? Illegal? Japanese law is obscure at best, but heads off to Kafka & Escher land when it it comes to NJ. What can one do and still stay on the right side of the law?

    13. Jake Says:

      This is a very shocking tragedy, and my condolences go out to all affected by it. I will never understand why those who desire to self-destruct feel the urge to take others with them.

      As for the sign, good show, Debito, and kudos, too, the owner of the shop for correcting the sign. A simple phone call can go a long way.

    14. icarus Says:

      You are the most positive person I have ever seen. I personally wouldn’t have even attempt to talk to them after reading this sign. I gave them up long ago.

      KA, this exactly why you need to focus on more positive ways to vent your frustration. I personally saw that sign, and the first line – “not for sightseeing” was the first indication that this was a clear misunderstanding, especially since this is Akihabara; just think about how many foreigners probably want to buy a samurai sword, for example. Time and time again, even on this site, it has been shown that personable, honest communication fixes these kinds of localized problems. Debito’s approach to this problem was positive, but that’s not how I look at it. It is the ONLY way to deal with this problem.

      In all honesty, I suggest you stop looking at things like us and them. You may want to believe that the Japanese government is out to get you, but society is made up of individuals, and individuals aren’t so unreasonable. Government policies might be irrational, but that happens everywhere.

      To DR:
      The best way to protect yourself is to keep an eye on your surroundings and stay clear of situations that seem suspicious. This applies to anywhere in the world. If someone is intent on assaulting you in such a surprising and malicious way, even with all the weapons in the world there is nothing you can do to protect yourself. Seriously, if you have time to pull out a gun, baton, sword, knife, mace, etc. you have time to run in the opposite direction. Scream, call attention to yourself, run to a crowded place (easy in Tokyo). Weapons don’t serve as self defense – being aware is the only way to protect yourself.

    15. Justin Weiss Says:

      I applaud MAD’s changing its sign text to avoid anti-NJ discrimination. However, their stated rationale for not selling to tourists is nonsense. Unless I am mistaken, you are perfectly welcome to take a knife with you when you fly out of Japan so long as you put it in your checked baggage; you just can’t have it in a carry-on or on your person.

      While this was in the pre-9/11 era, I once brought back kitchen knives from Japan for my parents and a samurai sword for a friend as souvenirs, carrying them all in my checked suitcase. Has the law changed since then?

    16. scott lucas Says:

      These kind of random attacks seem to happen a lot in Japan and not just recently. Knife attacks are on the increase in Britain (if you are to believe the media), but it is very rare for attacks of this nature to happen. Just imagine what it would be like if Japan’s laws on gun ownership were the same as America’s. Doesn’t bear thinking about.
      Well done, Debito for contacting the shop in question and helping them draft a new sign.

    17. K.A. Says:

      Ikarus, good point. Well, I wish it was just frustration that’s the easiest thing to get rid of. I had many frustration in my life and all I needed was a bit of positive thinking and some victory and they have gone. But this is not the case here. I am very disappointed and not without any reason and there’s no way I would ever trust them or I would ever believe them again. However, I know it’s nuts, ’cause among the first things I have learned in my life even when I was very young that it doesn’t matter whether we believe in something or not. What does is whether we are open to it. And I am open, let’s give it a try. This time it worked. So, it clearly shows that Debito is going to carry a weight for years to come. Might need to convince not only the Japanese but disappointed foreigners too. Easy with people like me who come and talk but there are many who wouldn’t even bother to write.

      But there’s one point I totally agree with you,
      “………but society is made up of individuals, and individuals aren’t so unreasonable………”

      That’s right but here comes the Japanese phenomena – that I mentioned in one of my previous post – for they’re being individuals doesn’t matter any more if they always team up together in the big impersonal mass and their personal existence is washed away and is always subordinate to the shared. And their team where they belong to will always be the first before anybody else including their own children, wife, parents or lovers.

      Change this and they seize to exist. They can’t even die alone. They need to team up even for suicide in cars with charcoal stoves or as this chimpira did who cannot even die or get rid of his frustration without dragging others along with him.

      But I do wish good things would happen.I cross my fingers, wait and wonder if I there’s anything I could do or I could write to make things go better. May be not yet.

    18. icarus Says:

      That’s right but here comes the Japanese phenomena – that I mentioned in one of my previous post – for they’re being individuals doesn’t matter any more if they always team up together in the big impersonal mass and their personal existence is washed away and is always subordinate to the shared. And their team where they belong to will always be the first before anybody else including their own children, wife, parents or lovers.

      Change this and they seize to exist. They can’t even die alone. They need to team up even for suicide in cars with charcoal stoves or as this chimpira did who cannot even die or get rid of his frustration without dragging others along with him.

      K.A., you really should have stopped at the first paragraph. Everything you said after that is just hogwash. Not only is it inappropriate to classify a whole group of people based on generalizations and stereotypes, but you’re doing yourself a disservice. What impersonal mass are you talking about? What “shared” are you talking about? I meet individuals every day. I don’t meet a giant walking blob of goo with a Japanese name tag. I say hello to the old woman working at the convenience store, I say thank you to the man directing traffic on the sidewalk? Do they fit in with the masses? Are they gunning to discriminate against you? Why is this so hard to understand? There is a strong sense of unity amongst Japanese people, but that is the same EVERYWHERE. Traditionally Japanese culture has frowned upon those who differentiate from the norm, but that is just on the *surface*. Japan has wonderfully unique individuals everywhere – artists, engineers, athletes…if you feel the need to perpetuate the stereotype of “Hi, my name is Japanese” go right ahead – just keep in mind you’re wrong.

    19. K.A. Says:

      Ikarus

      That is all right.

      That is how differently we see and evaluate the same thing.

    20. jim Says:

      concerning the previous post, i too would also like to know if it japan it is allowed to carry mace for self defense?????????????????????? COULD someone answer this question please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      or do you have to be japanese to carry mace and too protect yourself in japan? WILL the japanese government let foreignors carry mace and protect thereselfs in japan?

      –Jim, could you please calm down, use less hyperbole, and do more spell checking? Your posts do not represent themselves well, neither in presentation nor in tone. It’s hard to engage your points when you come off childishly every time you post.

    21. tornadoes28 Says:

      At least the store was open and receptive to your questioning and suggestions and apparantly willing to redo the sing with what you sent them.

    22. Yajiuma Says:

      MAD Store in Akihabara–Converted or Perverted?

      Well, if Debito can get the crazies running the MAD store to post a less offensive sign, he has performed a minor miracle.

      This is, after all a store that will not sell foreigners a Leatherman multi-tool, a combination screwdriver-pliers-wrench-wire stripper et al. with a 4 cm knife available to children in any hardware store in the West.

      This is, after all, a store that has the following policy posted on its website:

      WARNING !

      Drinking or eating in the store aisles, opening merchandise, writing memos, taking photos, carrying a cell phone or a wet umbrella into the store are absolutely forbidden!

      We cannot guarantee the lives of those who break these rules!

      Turn off the cell phone and put it in your pocket or bag.

      If you bring in a cell phone, we will smash it.

      Only persons who agree to these conditions may enter the store.

      We refuse entry to persons who do not agree to these conditions.

      店内通路での飲食 商品の開封 メモ書き 写真撮影 
      携帯電話 濡れた傘の持込みは 断固禁止! 
      違反者は生命の保証なし
      携帯電話は電源を切ってカバンかポケットの中に
      もし 手に携帯電話をお持ちの場合 破壊します
      上記入店条件を承諾した方のみ御入店ください
      上記入店条件を承諾できない方は入店お断りします

      Someone should follow up to see whether, once the owner’s tranquilizer pills wore off, he actually changed the sign (which also forbids sales to foreigners in Chinese as well).

    23. jim Says:

      sorry debito but i think sometimes you are overlysensitive and you micromanage the comments too much, its called overkill.let people freely discuss things without trying to control cyberspace so much. i had a simple question, and i asked for a simple answer..i dont see anything childish at all about that, in fact everyone makes grammer mistakes for godsake this is not a TOEIC TEST is it? anyways i will remember what you said and i will try to write more effectively ok…

    24. debito Says:

      JAPAN TIMES FOLLOWUP:

      Akihabara’s denizens try to make sense of tragedy
      http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080610a4.html

      A day after the senseless attack that took seven lives on their streets, members of the Akihabara community in Tokyo contemplated the damage done to their neighborhood’s reputation, as well.

      A 29-year-old clerk at a duty-free shop, who only gave his surname, Kawai, saw the stabbings and the road covered in the victims’ blood.

      Hearing a loud noise, “I thought there had been a traffic accident,” he said Monday. But when he saw what was happening, “I had to turn away. I could not eat dinner” Sunday night.

      “The district is really weeping in frustration today,” he said. “I would hate to see (Akihabara’s) public image tarnished” by the killings.

      Another man, Satoshi Ikeda, 52, manager of a shop selling security gear, said, “I wish (the suspect) hadn’t come to Akihabara but had done it in his own town. This is upsetting, isn’t it?”

      Due to airport security measures, Ikeda does not sell the knives on his store shelves to foreign travelers. A sign at the entrance states that only Japanese customers are welcome.

      “Guys who do bad things are the same no matter whether they are Japanese or foreigners,” Ikeda said.

      Hiroshi Ito, 35, a clerk in a game shop, said that despite the murders he expects customers to continue coming to the area.

      But many will carry the mental scars for a long time, he said. “When we come to Akihabara, we might be reminded of what happened. Everyone will have doubts about the people next to them.”

      At the intersection where the murders took place, people came to pray and make offerings of flowers and drinks.

      “I can’t help but think that I might also have been harmed,” Akihabara resident Shuzo Tanaka, 68, said.

      A 23-year-old patron of Akihabara’s shops said, “It’s awful that this happened in my favorite part of the city. Everyone has problems, but I cannot and do not want to understand how (such dissatisfactions) can be directed toward others.”

      The Japan Times: Tuesday, June 10, 2008
      ENDS

    25. jd Says:

      Just wanted to say, a great job with talking to the shop staff but I have been into that shop quite a few times. Never had a problem once they’d asked me a few questions in Japanese to check if I was “civilzed” or not.
      Anyone can buy mace in Japan, there are a few places that sell it. You must allow the shop to copy your ID (gaijin card/drivers license((the law for Japanese or NJ is the same here, the seller needs a copy of official ID) and usually you must be able to speak Japanese so they can explain things to you (it is partly their responsibility if one goes on a madness spree) about the rules/laws and Police rules on these products.
      I have bought mace once for my wife to carry with her when we had a lovely banker/broker stalking us, funny the police were no help…
      My first question is though why does a grown man think he needs mace?

    26. HO Says:

      >it is allowed to carry mace for self defense?
      Jim, the answer is no.
      軽犯罪法
      第一条  左の各号の一に該当する者は、これを拘留又は科料に処する。
      二  正当な理由がなくて刃物、鉄棒その他人の生命を害し、又は人の身体に重大な害を加えるのに使用されるような器具を隠して携帯していた者

      “Code of Misdemeanor
      Article 1. A person who falls into one of the following categories shall be imprisoned (up to 30 days) or petit-fined.
      Item2. A person who carries, in concealment without justifiable reasons, a knife, an iron bar or any tool that can be used to harm the life or seriously injure the body of other persons.”

      The court maintains “self-defense without manifest danger” is not a justifiable reason.
      I personally hope nobody carries a mace in Japan

    27. jim Says:

      a grown man may need mace, when nuts like the one in akihabara decide to kill people for the simple reason that they are tired of life..
      how else can a foreignor in japan defend thereself without getting arrested? and im still waiting for somone to answer my question, can mace legally be carried in japan? what are the laws concerning carrying and using mace for self defense? because it is obvious that the keystone j-cops are unable to protect anybody, infact they cannot even protect there own citizens that are just out shopping, so how do you expect them to also protect and to serve foreignors best interests..it seriously looks like we have to be ready to defend are self, and how can we legally do that without being arrested?

    28. michael spiridigliozzi Says:

      The follow-up article that Debito notes has this exchange:

      “Due to airport security measures, Ikeda does not sell the knives on his store shelves to foreign travelers. A sign at the entrance states that only Japanese customers are welcome.

      “’Guys who do bad things are the same no matter whether they are Japanese or foreigners,’ Ikeda said.”

      End quote. This sort of reporting makes me want to not bother reading newspapers. The response is screaming for a follow-up, ‘THEN WHY DO YOU HAVE THE SIGN UP?” or at least “Then why don’t you qualify the sign?” Was the reporter trying to be objective? Non-controversial? Besides, the reporter’s explantion about airport security and foreign travelers doesn’t make sense given the sign’s message. But given Yajiuma’s post, the no foreigners sign is/was one of many outrageous sings.

    29. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      “My first question is though why does a grown man think he needs mace?”

      To protect himself from an over-grown man?

      Or someone wielding a knife, or a gun, or any weapon at all? If someone’s attacking you, you need all the self-defense you can get. Some of the people who died in Akihabara might still be with us had they been carrying mace.

    30. Adrian Havill Says:

      Bravo and good work to all the people that got them to change the sign!

      The original sign also had Chinese on it — can anybody here provide them with a sensible Chinese version as well?

    31. debito Says:

      FEEDBACK FROM LANCE, THE GUY BANNED FROM THIS BLOG SOME DAYS AGO FOR TROLLING, THEN LYING, CONTINUING IN HIS VEIN ON JAPAN PROBE:

      (NB: I would regularly ignore this kind of person, because as usual he’s talking nonsense; but he’s accusing other people on this blog of “sock puppeting” (a person posing as more than one poster): That’s simply not true, and if commenters here dislike being portrayed this way, feel free to comment on Japan Probe to the contrary. Debito)

      ============================
      Comment by LB
      2008-06-10 12:36:38
      “Dumbass” is about right. Granted, the sign was not phrased clearly enough but holy bad choice of timing…
      He says he got the photo of the sign on May 24th, but did nothing. Then this tragedy happens, and he seizes the (wholly inappropriate) moment to launch a crusade. And it was a crusade that didn’t need to be launched! One phone call and the situation was resolved!
      But did he make the call first? Of course not. He grandstanded, asked others to do it, then finally did it himself in a self-promotion opportunity designed to get the adoring masses (some of whom I strongly suspect are sock puppets) to get all doe-ey eyed and coo “Oh Debito, you’re so cool! You’re our man! Bless you for standing up for us!”
      And that’s the really sad part – given the chance to do things the right way, talk things through, or build bridges, he will choose the confrontational way just to make it “about him” and get people to look at him.
      EVERY
      SINGLE
      TIME

      ============================
      http://www.japanprobe.com/?p=4829

    32. Icarus Says:

      Debito,

      It doesn’t really seem appropriate to be using personal information acquired through indirect methods in your blog posts. Lance, as you are referring to him now, posted as L.B. while allowed at your blog, and now you are calling him by his first name. I’m not sure how you came across that information, but since L.B. is fairly generic I’m going to assume you got his name from his email address.
      In order to post on your blog an email address is required, and as it states, “Mail (will not be published) (required).” Considering that the first name is probably part of the email address it seems that you are not following your own rule. I think it’s fine if you want to criticize us for not using our real names, or it’s fine to criticize people who post derogatory statements about you on other blogs, but it seems questionable to be violating this basic concept of privacy.

      –Sorry, no I didn’t. He published a critical letter in the Japan Times in his real name, contents of which first appeared on another blog, so his name is in the public domain.
      http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/rc20080309a2.html
      That’s how I got it. I made that clear to this blog on May 22.
      http://www.debito.org/?p=1664#comment-160550

    33. jim Says:

      thank you HO for the answer to my question concerning MACE, just like i assumed, they sell Mace in stores but we are not allowed to carry Mace!
      one of them only in japan, things i guess, DAH! it sounds like a catch 22..
      so i also guess that only the keystone j-cops can carry MACE..
      WOW I FEEL SAFE..NOT!

    34. James Says:

      Jd, I strongly disagreed with your explanation on “Japanese Only” sign issue.

      “Japanese only” implied both “store owners did not speak foreign language” and “Store owners did not allow foreigners to enter”. Basically, all the store owner had to do is changing the sign to something like “We only speak Japanese”. I don’t think it’s shameful to say so.

    35. boobs Says:

      Jim, HO, reading your exchange was quite amusing, but I think it’s time to end this.

      HO, Jim was asking if one can carry “Mace” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mace_%28spray%29), not “a mace” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mace_%28club%29). So the law you quoted does not seem to apply to a pepper spray.

      –You know, that never occurred to me. The difference between “mace” and “a mace” being at the root of the miscommunication here. Thanks for pointing that out. Debito

    36. Cath Says:

      IMHO, you should be ashamed of yourself for even making the sign a big deal at such a terrible time. People are dead and wounded and all you can do is say “hey wow, let me bring up this store that is completely unrelated to this tragedy just because it sells KNIVES and is in AKIHABARA.”

      Who really cares if ONE store will not sell you knives because you are a tourist? I realize the sign said “foreigner”, but to be honest I’m sure the number of foreigners who live in Japan are few compared to tourists. Plus, a sign like that doesn’t just get put up because of “racism”, it most likely was from too many foreigners who don’t live in Japan trying to buy weapons.
      So basically, it’s one store. If it’s that much of a problem go somewhere else… if you’re a foreigner don’t be such a jerk to make them conform to your ideas just because it’s not what you’ve been raised to believe.

      Most of all, if you’re a foreigner living in Japan and feel so upset about being “discriminated” against go back to your own country.

      –Some people completely miss the point… and in this case, “completely” is the word.

    37. Drew Says:

      The Japanese Wikipedia article (I know, I know…) about Pepper Spray says that there are no particular regulations about it in Japan…

    38. eponymous Says:

      One line in the Japan Times’ followup rather stood out:

      “Another man, Satoshi Ikeda, 52, manager of a shop selling security gear, said, ‘I wish (the suspect) hadn’t come to Akihabara but had done it in his own town. This is upsetting, isn’t it?'”

      Yes, it’s upsetting, but what is more disturbing to me is that, rather than comment to the effect that it would have been better if this had not happened at all, he seems to imply that these kinds of things are okay, just NIMBY.

      What the dilly, yo.

    39. Cath Says:

      “Some people”

      Or you could like, say it in a not passive way and address me directly.

      If I’m missing the point then what in the world is it that you’re trying to convey?
      All I see is that you are posting about a knife store who at first glance “won’t sell to non-Japanese people” and then mentioning the recent stabbing news at the same time.
      I’m taking it at face value, and what it looks like is that you are taking the wrong moment to point out something so minor, how can I not think that you are “trying to ‘monster’ a case in racism” or “exploit a tragedy”.
      As for a sign that says “Japanese only”, I’m stating that it’s simply ignorant and rude to expect a store in JAPAN to cater to your English needs. Wanting to help them out with English is one thing, but complaining about it and updating how they haven’t changed a sign is ridiculous.

      Most likely I’m still “completely missing the point” so if you could please clear it up for me that would be nice.

    40. HO Says:

      Boobs, thank you.

      Jim, I am sorry for misunderstanding your question. I have no idea about regulations on purchase or possession of tear gas.

    41. Drew Says:

      “Most of all, if you’re a foreigner living in Japan and feel so upset about being ‘discriminated’ against go back to your own country.”

      I can’t believe how often this argument comes up. In most cases, the same person making the argument would be horrified to hear someone in the US tell an immigrant “If you don’t like it, then go back home to India (or wherever)”.

      Arguments about whether Japan *is* our own country aside, I don’t see the problem with trying to fix something that you see as unfair (or even just annoying).

    42. Drew Says:

      “As for a sign that says ‘Japanese only’”, I’m stating that it’s simply ignorant and rude to expect a store in JAPAN to cater to your English needs.”

      It says Japanese People, not Japanese Language. The *english* on that sign is ambiguous (because of the ambiguity of English itself) but both the Japanese and the Chinese are as clear as day.

    43. kimmykat Says:

      “Most of all, if you’re a foreigner living in Japan and feel so upset about being “discriminated” against go back to your own country.”

      By this logic Arab and African immigrants in Europe and the U.S. who don’t like being “discriminated” against should also just go back to their own countries.

      Ridiculous.

    44. jim Says:

      can you believe that the keystone j-cops, just came up with another stupid plan for akihabara, they know stopped the pedistrian paradise, that means that now everyday the street is no longer off-limits to cars..why would they change this system that they have had since 1973, well this is a sure way to make sure that akihabara is no longer a popular place to enjoy…again one of them only in japan stupid rules…

    45. Makochin Says:

      The whole reason we have blogs are so that people can have a forum of their own on which they can say what they want, when they want. So I will not criticize anyone for saying something which I would possibly not put in my own blog.

      As for self defense in Japan, I agree with Icarus. The time taken to realize the danger of a situation and then produce a weapon in self defense is longer than that to get on those highly effective defense mechanisms which your maker gave you and high tail it out of there. Unfortunately if you are the victim of an instantaneous attack like those poor victims in Akihabara, more reactive police or the ability to carry a weapon with you will not make it possible to avoid situations like this.

      As the amendment of the sign in the Akihabara weapons shop goes to show, in Japan in particular it is not confrontation or violence that will get you heard, but talking through problems. Even if some of the time those words may seem to fall upon deaf ears.

    46. KK Says:

      You know what’s strange, is I went into that store back during GW and they didn’t tell me to get out. I honestly didn’t see that sign, though they had so many signs it was easy to get sign overload and not notice. I even had a pretty nice chat with the guy at the counter. Maybe it’s a case of the management being jerks but the staff not caring one way or the other.

      –I think it’s a matter of being careless with the language(s) of a sign…

    47. Tony Says:

      Looks like the police are taking anything related to knives pretty seriously now. Best not to walk around with a swiss army knife if you’ve got one…!

      http://www.akibaos.com/?p=3600

      (source not entirely safe for work)

    48. TO Says:

      They don’t really enforce that much, I remember walking into that store and having a look around and clerks didn’t say anything (I’m white).

      –I was there too today–no problems at all. And the new sign is up…

      Now all they have to do is get rid of the “we don’t sell to foreigners” bits still up on their website. They said they’ll get to it…

    49. pipkins Says:

      “Most of all, if you’re a foreigner living in Japan and feel so upset about being “discriminated” against go back to your own country.”

      I might as well add that not everybody is here because they necessarily ‘choose’ to be here or even want to be. Some have family commitments, Japanese partners, Japanese children, etc.. It’s an extra slap in the face when you sacrifice everything to be in Japan and when you make every effort to fit in for the sake of your Japanese partner only to be treated with disdain by certain of his or her compatriots.

    50. Joe Says:

      This incident and my own personal experiences lead me to believe that most of the perceived “discrimination” of foreigners in Japan are actually misunderstandings due to language barriers.

      I certainly believe that a white guy in Japan faces far less discrimination than a black guy in America.

      –Oh, so I guess that’s okay, then.

    51. Drew Says:

      “I certainly believe that a white guy in Japan faces far less discrimination than a black guy in America.”

      Yeah? What about a black guy in Japan? Or an Arab? Or non-Japanese Asian? I think it’s dangerous to judge discrimination in Japan based in your own experience as a member of the least-disliked group of foreigners here…

    52. sully Says:

      Just the other day a good friend of mine was physically confronted by a member of staff at that Akiba MAD shop. To be more exact he had stopped outside the shop to sit down on the railing and eat some food giving him a good excuse to listen to their perverse announcement tape end to end.

      Upon sitting down he was then shocked to notice two signs right next to where he was sitting. One said “Chinese people its time for change, don’t drop your trash here!” while the other sign said “You drop trash here, we’ll fucking kill you honey”.

      As foolhardy as it may seem, he couldn’t resist and decided to press the button presented forthwith.

      With slight of hand, making as if he had stuffed some trash down the back of their delivery trolley he got up and proceeded to walk leisurely away from the scene. Within a second or two he was physically grabbed from behind and pulled away by one of the shop assistants without a single attempt at verbal/visual confrontation, almost ripping the shell material of his jacket in the process. Heeling backwards and just managing to keep his balance, he was able to turn around only to see the back of his assailants head. There were no eyes or mouth. No attempt at communication.

      Finally a pathetic attempt to justify the man-handling was made by the assistant and the shop owner (a small nezumi like mane), based on their grief with Chinese tourists apparently regularly throwing litter in their trash cans (yes… not on the street, in the trash cans).
      When repeatedly reminded that he had invoked a physical attack, the shop assistant now threatened with the chance of becoming world famous then scurried into the chaotic madness that the shop is, to hide away in shame.
      Needless to say photos were taken of the assistant in question and the shop owner.

      Do we really need a shop like this that employs violent and racist staff, selling sells knives that aren’t even knives with a purpose other than to be looked at (so called kansho niafu – ex. knives with 8 blades in all directions) and also sporting signs that quite simply say “Chinese and any other litterers, we will fucking kill you honey” within 200 meters of the scene of the incident that happened earlier this year.

      //Editorial//
      And in the spirit of Andy Warhol
      http://i35.tinypic.com/141i103.jpg
      http://i38.tinypic.com/mhfrwh.jpg
      (the guy with the red top is the one to be careful of it would appear – maybe one day he will start stabbing Chinese tourists)
      please doctor photos as seen fit
      After a bit of research even the local Japanese get their fair share of trouble from Akiba MAD.
      The down side of activism is that you run the risk of cleansing, by proxy, a shop that really has no need to exist, let alone be cleansed so as to be acceptable to foreigners. If you need pepper spray for your GF or who ever, there are plenty of decent and responsible shops out there – shop with them, deny MAD their existence.
      //Editorial//

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