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  • Freeman offers specific dialogs to deal with J police during Gaijin Card Check

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on August 4th, 2009

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    Hi Blog. Turning the keyboard to Freeman in Japan, who offers advice on what to do if the cops decide to do a Gaijin Card Checkpoint for being visible while foreign.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ==================================
    Dear Debito,
    I have read all of your great advice, thank you for kindly sharing.
    Please share this easy-to-remember summary with your readers.

    Are you a human being here in Japan who appears to be Non-Japanese?
    Do you want to avoid being coerced into interrogations by police officers?
    Then here is how to respond when a police officer asks to speak with you:

    #1  Silently show your Alien Registration Card.* **

    #2  Say, “Ittemo ii desu ka?
    Repeat this exact sentence,
    without adding any other words,
    until the police officer admits, “Hai.

    #3  After hearing “Hai.” you are free to leave.

    The police officer might try to fool you into speaking further.
    They might give a variety of clever, rehearsed, responses.
    For example, “Where are you in such a hurry to go?”
    “Where did you learn such good Japanese?”
    “We just need to ask a few questions, OK?”
    “How did you learn about Japan’s laws?”
    “You may go after we visit the Kouban.”
    “How long have you been in Japan?”
    “We just need to visit the Kouban.”
    “Why don’t you want to answer?”
    “What do you think of Japan?”
    “Do you like Japanese food?”
    “Are you guilty of something?”
    “What country are you from?”
    “Your country is so beautiful.”
    “You’ll be on your way soon.”
    “Just a few more questions.”
    “Can I check your pockets?”
    “You can go in a little while.”
    “Can I just check your bag?”
    “Will you just chat with me?”
    “Can you just pee in here?”
    “Sure is nice weather, eh?”

    Don’t let the police officer fool you.
    Simply calmly repeat your mantra.
    Ittemo ii desu ka?
    (Am I free to go?)
    Ittemo ii desu ka?
    (Am I free to go?)
    Ittemo ii desu ka?
    (Am I free to go?)

    * If you are a Japanese National who just appears to be Non-Japanese
    just replace #1 with the sentence “Nihon Kokuseki Shutokusha Desu.”

    ** If you have the time, energy, and will, to lengthen the detainment process,
    feel free to attempt to educate the police officers about your various rights.
    Risk: the police officer might decide to find (or invent) a reason to arrest you.
    Reward: your Rosa Parks speech might help make Japan better in the future.
    For example, before moving to #2, feel free to try saying the following sentences:

    Keisatsukan mo,
    mibun o shimesu shouhyou o
    keiji shinakereba narimasen.

    (Police officers also have to show their I.D.)

    Kousoku sare mata wa,
    Renkou sare moshiku wa,
    Kyouyou sareru koto wa nai.

    (You can’t force me to stay here,
    you can’t force me to go with you,
    and you can’t force me to answer.)

    Keisatsukan shokumu shikko hou,
    dai ni jou, dai ni kou to dai san kou.

    (Police Execution of Duties Law
    Article 2, Clause 2 and Clause 3.)

    Kyodou fushinsha DAKE ni,
    shokumu shitsumon suru koto
    dekimasu, guttaiteki ni donna
    fushin na koui o shimashitaka?

    (You can only question suspicious people,
    exactly what suspicious action did I do?)

    Reijou ga arimasuka?
    (Do you have a warrant?)

    Jinken no ihan desu node kouben shimasu.
    (This is a violation of human rights so I protest.)
    At this point one can calmly sit down as a protest.

    Watashi wa taiho sarete imasu ka?
    (Am I under arrest?)

    Donna yougi de taiho sarete imasu ka?
    (Under what charge am I under arrest?)

    (All inspired by Debito’s great summary.)
    http://www.debito.org/GcardLAWS2.pdf

    Thank you again Debito, for your important human rights work.

    The bottom line is, all conversations are completely voluntary!
    If you want to remain free, simply repeat, “Ittemo ii desu ka?

    Sincerely,
    Freeman in Japan

    PS – If anyone has a more effective sentence, please share.
    Also, if anyone has a success story using this, please share.
    ENDS

    32 Responses to “Freeman offers specific dialogs to deal with J police during Gaijin Card Check”

    1. Edward J. Cunningham Says:

      What is somebody has a tourist visa
      or hasn’t learned Japanese well enough
      to remember that specific phrase. Are
      you out of luck if you ask “Am I free to
      go?” in English?

      – Well, here it is. Learn it.

    2. adamw Says:

      debito,

      but according to your earlier clarifications on this ,its unnecessary to stay around and answer their questions -you can just walk off cant you

      – Yes, you can, and people I’ve talked to have done just that. But you’re asking for a failsafe method here when there isn’t one. We’re dealing with people with a strong sense of duty, poor international sensitivity training, and a lot of arbitrary powers.

      Depending on the cop (rank, mood, and whether a supervisor is watching) just walking off may enable your rights, or it may just intensify the pursuit. Freeman I believe has produced the safest dialog yet.

    3. Kakui Kujira Says:

      Not sure if this is better or worse than Freeman’s suggestion, but I have multiple copies of this printed out and stored with my Gaijin card:

      If you want to talk with me you need a warrant and a translator.
      私と話し合いを持ちたい場合は、拘引状と通訳者が必要です。
      Watashi to hanashi ai wo mochitai baai ha, kouinjyou to tsuuyaku ga hituyou desu.

      Looks like the kanki/kana text has been mangled by my English OS, sorry…

    4. Jake Says:

      The only other thing I would hope everyone does is to try to make an audio or video recording of the encounter if possible, and then report it to every outlet you can think of. Put the recording up on Youtube; if you can’t do it yourself, get a friend you know to subtitle it or translate a transcript.

      Just FYI, most cell phones have voice memo capabilities you can use to record audio. How long you can record depends on the model, of course. If you have an iPhone, the phone now includes a voice memo application that works quite well. For the extra-paranoid, there is an app for a service called Evernote, which is even more secure as it uploads your recording to a server as soon as you press the stop button, so if something should happen to your phone, the evidence is still accessible from any computer.

    5. Tinker Says:

      As far as I know the police cannot touch you, unless you consent, but they will try to make you think you have to do whatever they say.
      If you decide to make a stand-off don’t be surprised if you end up surrounded by about ten cops but from personal experience they will back down eventually.
      There was a very good article published by Spectator magazine in Japanese on this subject this time last year.

    6. Neil M. Says:

      I’m starting to wonder if I’m the only NJ who has never been stopped by the cops, and I’ve been here since ’96! Still, I’ve probably jinxed that run of good luck now, so I’ll be sure to follow Freeman’s advice!

    7. Paul Says:

      I am not sure that a non-responsive approach is best here. Of course standing up for one’s rights is important, so I probably would not agree to pee or to be searched – but to answer a few questions, and maybe ask a few in return seems to me to be the polite thing to do. For example: Them: Where do you live? Me: I live in Tokyo, Where do you live? Them: I live in Saitama. Where do you work? Me: I work for XYZ Co., What station do you work out of?

      If I have the time to chat, and am recieving answers to my questions too, then this might actually end sooner than a non-response approach.

      By the way – in 30 plus years here, I have never been stopped for a check.

      – Obviously.

    8. AWK Says:

      Debito I found this on today`s BBC news. I think it is very interesting, but have no idea where to put this here.
      Could you please check this out? Thanks
      Not only in Japan, but at least in UK there is someone to turn into like BBC and there is a law, very clear stated.

      Migrant workers face rental block

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8181486.stm

    9. Freeman in Japan Says:

      Hi Edward J. Cunningham -

      Yes, I also thought about simply using the “Am I free to go?” phrase,
      since it is highly recommended to use in English speaking countries.

      But here it would be better for everyone in earshot to understand you
      have clearly asked, numerous times, for confirmation that you can go.

      Hi Adamw -

      Yep, right, it’s unnecessary to stay around and answer their questions,
      that’s the main point stated above. No need to add the bonus speech.

      Again, before you just walk off, you need to make them admit this fact,
      otherwise you can be arrested for “obstruction” which is unfair but real.

      Hi Kakui Kajira -

      Interesting idea to have those cards ready, with your preferred sentence.
      The plus is you convey the message “I know my rights” without speaking.

      Still, the plus about verbally asking if you are free to go is that the police
      officer will feel legally obliged to admit Yes, especially with the witnesses
      around (and the other police officers within earshot) hearing the question.

      Hi Jake -

      Your suggestion to try to make an audio or video recording is very smart.
      They will not like it, but it puts necessary pressure on them to stay honest.
      You should remember to record your own face, while asking the question.
      The fact we need to prove if it goes to court is that we asked the question.
      Your suggestion to try using a program like Evernote is also great, thanks.

      Hi Tinker -

      So true, “they will try to make you think you have to do whatever they say.”
      Happy to hear, “from personal experience they will back down eventually.”
      I hope more folks step-forward with success stories to give us confidence.

      Hi Neil M. -

      I’m in the same boat, that’s why I want to be ready for when the day comes.

      Full-disclosure: I haven’t actually tried this “Ittemo ii desu ka?” phrase yet,
      but the intelligent people who know the law recommend “Am I free to go?”
      (e.g. Freemen “On The Land” who refuse to be subject to maritime laws)
      and I think “Ittemo ii desu ka?” is the legal equivalent to “Am I free to go?”

      And I think a calm, relaxed, confident delivery of this sentence is essential.
      The police officer must admit check-mate, and go question someone else.

      Hi Paul -

      The mirroring technique is good for when non-police people question you.
      It helps people remember that we do not agree to a one-way interrogation.
      Yes, it’s good to mirror back questions asked to us – by non-police people.

      But, when police officers question you, every second spent in their presence
      increases the chance they can find probable cause – to eventually arrest you.

      Perhaps your voice is slightly wavering (because you’re shy), let’s talk more.
      Perhaps your eyes are red (from overworking), maybe there’s a red stain on
      your clothes (from lunch), maybe one casual answer you give during the chat
      doesn’t match their recollection of the answer you gave them much earlier on,
      there are an infinite number of excuses and techniques police officers use, to
      rationalize detaining, questioning, searching, and subsequently arresting you,
      to pursue their irrational need to collect “points” to reach their monthly quotas.

      So… to avoid becoming an arrest statistic – I think we should walk away ASAP,
      and to walk away ASAP legally we need them to admit that “we are free to go.”

      Hi Everyone -

      The bonus sentences are only for those folks who have the guts to be arrested,
      folks willing to take a case to court, to gain publicity for the human rights cause.
      Those sentences increase face time with the police officers, so that is a minus.
      The plus about those sentences is a prosecutor won’t want to pursue the case.

      As for myself, if and when the police ever stop me, I will use, “Ittemo ii desu ka?”
      (“Iku kenri arimasuka?” also seems safe, but “Ittemo ii desu ka?” sounds best.)

    10. john Says:

      I think we should ask why we are being stopped before showing cards.
      If they give no reason then ithink we can say.
      May i go?
      If they still ask.
      ask directly” do you think i commited a crime?”
      If the answer is “no”.
      Then how about saying” may i go?”
      If they think you have stolen a bike.
      Let them do all the checks on the bike first.
      Once you are cleared and no other crime is suspected (becuase you have asked directly) and confirmed that they do not suspect you of any other crime then i would say
      “MAY I GO”.and repeat as per japanese lesson.

    11. let`s talk Says:

      Nobody has to talk to a police officer until he/she shows his/her ID. Plus write down the police car number and take a photo of the officer (mobile phone). I wouldn`t speak Japanese at all. But I have to admit I have never been stopped by a police officer. No personal experience.

    12. Jiei Says:

      Not a bad technique. While I personally don’t feel it necessary to apologize for my existence with “Nihon kokuseki shutokusha desu,” I think that depending on the officer, it could prove effective in a real showdown with the police, especially if you cannot speak Japanese well enough to assert your rights. Unfortunately the problem is that the word “voluntary” (nin’i) is not interpreted by the courts as you might hope; it’s not just a simple matter of “I don’t have to answer your questions, so I’m going to run away now and you can’t touch me,” as past supreme court rulings have found as long as shokumu shitsumon does not cross a certain level (kyousei), in some cases a limited amount of physical force (yuukeiryoku) is permissible in certain situations (for example patting the outside of your pockets, grabbing the arm of someone walking away, looking in an already open bag without express permission etc.)

      In any case, I think that Debito was absolutely right when he said there is no failsafe method to deal with this situation. In my experience, half-hearted cops will let you go in less than a minute without even checking your card if you say you forgot it, while the “shitsukoi” types will continue to grill you and try to search your pockets/bags you for as long as they can keep it up, no matter what you say. Everyone has to decide for themselves how best to handle the situation.

    13. mikeb Says:

      the video recorder works like garlic, silver bullets etc for keeping the bloodsuckers on their best behavior.I don’t know how many times i’ve been stopped,searched and researched, by up to 15 officers for as long as 2 and ahalf hours. The camera broke the ‘ole ‘routine thing’ down to 5 minutes max. Sometimes I’ll wait a minute before recording ,in order to catch them breakin character..Too many of them will hide their faces and refuse to give their name, at first.lol! Try it.
      peace

    14. Paul Says:

      Freeman, John, David – Thanks for your feedback on my conversation mirroring approach. I believe that you have it right, and most appropriate for an ID check. My suggested approach may be better for the local koban policeman who is out strolling the neighborhood and not there for an ID check.

    15. sri Says:

      Hello everyone,

      I`ve been stopped over 50 times over the years, the most recent being about a month ago, steps away from the entrance to my building in Shibuya. The police were on Rt246 and saw me walk into a kussuriya(a drug store at the street level of the building next door) as they drove by in slow traffic. They thought I was ducking into the shop, so they pulled over and waited outside.

      Anyway, Freeman`s advice is best. Keep it simple and don`t let it ruin your day. Japanese people get stopped too. One of my girl friends got stopped in shibuya recently.

    16. Bad Wolf Says:

      Sri,

      “Anyway, Freeman`s advice is best. Keep it simple and don`t let it ruin your day.”

      Your advice is overly reasonable. Please be more hysterical.

    17. ken44 Says:

      —I`ve been stopped over 50 times over the years, the most recent being about a month ago, steps away from the entrance to my building in Shibuya. The police were on Rt246 and saw me walk into a kussuriya(a drug store at the street level of the building next door) as they drove by in slow traffic. They thought I was ducking into the shop, so they pulled over and waited outside.—

      50 times! In Tokyo? Amazing. I too live in Tokyo but only once in the 20 plus years I’ve lived here have been stopped. And that was years back when I was drunk and shouting on a payphone.

    18. ken44 Says:

      —Anyway, Freeman`s advice is best. Keep it simple and don`t let it ruin your day.—

      Or just show them the damn card and be done with it. Personally I don’t think it’s too smart to play round with cops in any country but if one feels their “rights” have been violated then by all means get a badge number and report the incident later.

      – Wow, how judgmental of those who don’t want to be pushed around, especially after gaining more “rights” not to be pushed around after undergoing the difficult task of naturalizing… Which was where this discussion kicked off.

    19. KyushuJoe Says:

      I’m really not comfortable with this “Nihon kokuseki shutokusha desu” business. If you’ve naturalised, then you are, by definition, Japanese. “Nihonjin desu” seems more straightforward and less self-deprecating.

      – I’ve done that (I prefer just stating “I’m a Japanese, the end” too). During the Hokkaido G8 Summit. But boy did it engender criticism from (particularly from nasty foreigners on other blog sites) who thought I was being evasive. No doubt some cops will too.

    20. sri Says:

      “Your advice is overly reasonable. Please be more hysterical.”

      I`m not saying kiss their ass, or comply out of fear. I don`t think the battle will be won on the streets fighting with the lowly police. I do engage with them to the best of my Japanese ability.

      Ken44,
      There was this guy on another post on debito.org and that guy was on his 123rd stop. My number is a period over 7 years.
      I`ve never been stopped for any infraction of the law or any disturbance to the peace.

      One time back in 97, they came to my house at 7am on a sunday, called my keitai and asked if they can comeby. So i said of-course. Then they said we are at your front door and I looked out the window to find 5 police men to ask me if i knew the people in Aum Shinrikyo. We went through some picture book for 15 minutes.

      I think they have their work orders, and quotas, and are just being systematic. It comes from the top.

      Another problem is they are rotating the police at the kobans and maybe this is to keep them from getting comfortable with the organized crime elements. But the down side is that these koban never develop any localized institutional memory. So you get stopped by the same koban over and over and sometimes by the same robot.

      I try to keep a system level perspective or otherwise I`d be paranoid :-)

    21. sri Says:

      I`m all for pushing back but with the low level guys on the street is probably counter productive.
      They`ll just take their irritation to the next gaijin which in turn effects us all and it`s just a spiral going down.

    22. Freeman in Japan Says:

      Although opinions change over time when presented with new information, an intelligent man wrote back in September 1995,

      “Attitudes are still ‘a Japanese’ = ‘pure Japanese blood’, not ‘Japanese citizenship’.” http://www.debito.org/antiassimilation.html

      Fast forward 14 years and the fact remains: a person with white or brown skin tone claiming to be Japanese is not likely to be believed.

      If a police officer asks for your Alien Registration Card, and you claim, “Nihon-jin desu.” he is likely to want proof, regardless of your rights.

      If you simply say “I’m Japanese” and walk away… the police officer might incorrectly assume that you’re lying and arrest you for obstruction.

      Of course, later, when they realize you ARE a Japanese National… you will be released. http://www.debito.org/?p=3925#comment-180557

      So the question is, are you so intent on avoiding the extra word National that you’re willing to be unnecessarily detained+searched+arrested?

      Me personally, I would rather just show the Alien card (or say Japanese National) then ask if I am free to go, then hear “Yes”, THEN walk away.

      By the way, John – your idea about simply refusing to show the card unless they give a good reason would be great – if we could legally do that.

      Unfortunately, there is an unfair law which we would prefer didn’t exist, that explicitly states foreigners must show the card whenever police ask.

      I learned this by thoroughly reading all of Debito’s great research on the subject, before I wrote the 3-step-summary. Here is the relevant quote:

      “Now, if the cop really knows his law (and chances are that he does), he will come back at you with another law, the Foreign Registry Law, which does explicitly state that people officially charged by the Ministry of Justice with immigration or law enforcement can ask for your ID, and if so you must present it. Hence it creates a loophole that needs to be plugged. Here’s what it says in Japanese:

      **********************************
      外国人登録法 第十三条 第二項 外国人は、入国審査官、入国警備官(入管法に定 める入国警備官をいう)、警察官、海上保安官その他法務省令で定める国又は地方公共団体の職員がその職務の執行に当たり登録証明書の掲示を求めた場合には、これを提示しなければならない。

      In Romaji: gaikokujin tourokuhou dai juusan jou dai ni kou gaikokujin wa, nyuukoku shinsakan, nyuukoku keibikan, (nyuukanhou ni sadamaru nyuukoku keibikan o iu), keisatsukan, kaijou hoankan, sonota houmushou rei de sadameru kuni mata wa chihou koukyou dantai no shokuin ga sono shokumu no shikkou ni atari touroku shoumeisho no keiji o motometa baai ni wa, kore o keiji shinakerebanaranai.
      **********************************

      This is very clear, and I don’t recommend you print this up cos it won’t help your case. In translation:
      **********************************
      ‘The Foreign Registry Law, Section 13, Clause 2. Foreigners, when asked to show their Gaijin Cards by immigration investigation officials (as outlined in separate laws), police, coast guard, or any other national or local public official or group empowered by the Ministry of Justice as part of the execution of their duties, must show.’ ”

      http://www.debito.org/instantcheckpoints2.html

      We can and should discuss what steps we can take to change the unfair laws, but until then… we should use the 3-step-summary to avoid arrest.

      Well, I think I’ve pontificated enough about this subject, in the words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

    23. Rob Says:

      I’ve been here since ’98 and I have been stopped for my card twice. First in the morning on my way to Okubo station. At that time, the cop was very young and looked nervous just approaching me. I showed him my card (without letting go of it and without stopping).. He looked for less than 10 seconds (while walking with me) and then said thank you and left.
      The second time was at night as I was walking to Shin-Okubo station (get it? Okubo? Shin-Okubo? Lot of NJs? Larger Quotas?)
      I don’t even live there.. Just happened to be there.
      Anyways, the second time (different cop), I tried again just to show it to him, but he grabbed it and pulled down.. I said “Hey dude, I’m showing you my card, I don’t need to give it to you.” and with that, he said “Issho desu” and he ripped it from my kung fu grip, put it on his clipboard and wrote down everything… everything!.. (not just the Visa information.. he needed all my info to document for his NJ data quotas) and then some other stuff happened that I won’t go into but I was kinda pissed that he just grabbed my card out of my hands. But what’s an NJ to do? I just wanted it to be over with as soon as possible. No desire to be a hero to the people so.. well there you go.. All you guys who are saying how you’ve never been asked for your card, maybe spend a bit of time around Okubo..?

    24. Freeman in Japan Says:

      I thought I had come to a conclusion about my plan of action, but…

      then again, a conclusion is just a place where somebody got tired of thinking.

      I met a person recently who confidently, strongly, feels one should just silently keep walking
      like you simply don’t have time, and totally ignore the police officer’s requests for conversation.

      He reminded me about the surprising fact that most Japanese people silently keep walking
      like they simply don’t have time, and totally ignore the police officer’s requests for conversation,
      just as nonchalantly as they ignore someone passing out tissues or sales/petitioners/beggars.

      For example, notice the successful results of this technique Debito saw on June 21st, 2008,
      when a person who appeared to Debito to be a Japanese salaryman simply kept walking
      like he didn’t have time, and totally ignored the police officer’s requests for conversation.

      http://www.debito.org/?p=1752

      Perhaps the rational reasoning is like this:

      Only a weak sucker would agree to a police
      officer’s request to voluntarily enter the kouban
      (police officers don’t have to tell their names there.)

      Only a weak sucker would agree to a police
      officer’s request to voluntarily submit to a search
      (because anything you have can be used against you.)

      Only a weak sucker would agree to a police
      officer’s request to voluntarily submit to a conversation
      (because anything you say can be used against you.)

      So, perhaps the logical next sentence is:

      Only a weak sucker would agree to a police
      officer’s request to voluntarily submit to acknowledge him
      (because acknowledging him can be considered by the courts
      to be non-verbal agreement to a legally-binding “offer to contract”
      which the police officer cleverly, casually, verbally, extended to you.)

      So back to that scary law posted above, maybe it isn’t so scary.

      Perhaps we are protected by the phrase その職務の執行に当たり
      Perhaps legally I.D. checks are not part of その職務の執行に当たり

      Perhaps legally the police officer’s official duties are limited to official investigations
      and there must be suspicious activity (probable cause) to start an official investigation
      which means all other requests for I.D. are fooling weak suckers into voluntarily submitting.

      The guy recommending to ignore all requests from police officers was a big strong African.
      He has been living in Tokyo, frequenting highly-policed areas like Shibuya, for over 5 years.
      Did I ask how many times he tried this ignore technique? Doh, no, I didn’t ask, I should have.

      Here’s what I remembered: his positive, strong, confidence made me rethink my plan of action.
      Perhaps next time I’m going to try this ignore technique, to see if we have the right to walk freely.
      If the police officer were to physically stop me from walking, then I’ll switch to the 3-step summary.

      Any readers balzy enough to try using this IGNORE technique? Please let us know what happens.

      :-)

    25. Lepanto Says:

      My method is to call my friend who is a lawyer…He actually get a monthly fee from me (5.000 Yens) to be stand-by 24 hours. He makes his living from foreigners like me, who get stopped on regular basics because I am not blonde. [invective deleted]

      Once the cops realize they are talking with a lawyer and that we really seriously mean business, they turn green and they don`t even ask for my ID.

      [overgeneralizations deleted]

    26. Lepanto Says:

      Sorry, forgot to add my friend is a Japanese lawyer and we actually threat them with legal action for abuse of authority.

      - Some advice:

      One has the right to refuse any search or urine test (That`s from my lawyer)

      In some cases, they have made the excuse they are looking for illegal immigrants and Tokyo station or other areas are full of foreigners. What makes me an illegal immigrant in particular? I am not working, I am not doing any kind of business, I am walking on the street.

      [unsubstantiated claim deleted]

    27. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      Freeman, I agree with your point here:

      Perhaps we are protected by the phrase その職務の執行に当たり
      Perhaps legally I.D. checks are not part of その職務の執行に当たり

      Perhaps legally the police officer’s official duties are limited to official investigations
      and there must be suspicious activity (probable cause) to start an official investigation
      which means all other requests for I.D. are fooling weak suckers into voluntarily submitting.

      My future father-in-law is a recently-retired police administrator with 42 years’ service, and he says the same thing. Legally, you can walk right past the officer and he can’t do a thing, or even touch you at all. A non-national has to carry an alien card, but if he asks you what country you come from, you don’t have to answer, and he can’t force you. The scope of 職務 (duties) does not arbitrarily expand when the target looks non-Japanese, and a young officer might think that his “duties” are whatever his boss tells him to do, including stopping people, but, again, the boss can’t arbitrarily expand his powers.

      The problem is that cops don’t care too much about the laws that constrain their behavior, and will tell whatever lies they need to if they’re questioned about it. I tried your technique while on a bicycle, and was physically dragged into a guardrail. The cop checked the bicycle’s details (no alien card-related questions) and didn’t give a hoot if I was injured or not.

      I like Lepanto’s strategy of having a lawyer on call (can you put me in touch with him?). You’d be amazed how law-abiding police officers become when they realize they’re being dealt with by more than just a foreigner. I was once pulled over on a bicycle while riding with an elderly professor in her 70s whom the cop didn’t realize was with me. As soon as she turned around to see why I’d been stopped and asked what was going on, the cop abruptly stopped questioning and started bowing and apologizing, and sent us on our way.

    28. HO Says:

      Lepanto, if you really have a lawyer friend who makes living by responding to calls from foreigners 24 hours a day for just 5,000 yen a month, please show us his e-mail address here. You do not have any trouble helping the business of your friend as well as readers here.

    29. Freeman Says:

      So, perhaps a good combination of methods would be:

      When a cop tries to get your attention, just keep on walking. *
      (Don’t even acknowledge his existence, just totally ignore him.)

      Then, if he physically stops you, ask to see his I.D. first.
      (And if you can, record yourself asking to record his I.D.)

      Then, use the 3-step summary, “Show, Ask to go, Repeat.”
      (And if you can, record yourself doing the 3-step summary.)

      Then, if he refuses to admit you may go, call Lepanto’s friend up.
      (A Japanese lawyer threatening legal action = “OK, you may go.”)

      * I think the keep-on-walking technique won’t work when bicycling.
      Seems there is some unfair rule which allows bicycle theft checks.

    30. Pete Says:

      I’d really like to find out more about Lepanto’s lawyer friend… any info on that? It’s been a month since the last post in this thread.

    31. Olaf Says:

      nice discussion here.

      I had my share of checks at Chitose airport before the G8 summit last summer.
      I always showed my driver’s license. They never asked for the Gaijin card.

      The first time, I was ‘at rest’ and a police guy approached me.
      The second time, I was in a hurry to catch a train and the card showing took place while I walked (I didn’t slow down my pace).
      The third time (why did I have sooo many Honshu trips just before the summit???) I dashed by a policeman completely ignoring him, who then had to run after me saying his sermon of ‘I am a police officer and I……’ I took out my card, held it over my shoulder (remember, the police guy was running behind me) for one (yes, just one) second, saying ‘this is now the third time in two weeks’.
      That was all.
      As for bicycles: if you are fast enough (meaning you are already past the officer by the time he realizes that there is a gaijin whom he wants to stop), just keep on cycling. Even if he would shout something, you can ignore him – how can you know he means you?
      I also did that during the summit (and nobody shot me in the back).

    32. Freeman Says:

      “Koudou no Jiyuu”

      or

      “How to continue walking freely.”

      Unless under arrest, you have the right of movement: don’t give up this right voluntarily. :-)

      So, here’s a fresh summary about how to continue walking freely, using Socratic-Method.
      Pretend you have a simple mind, and lead the officer into admitting that you’re free to go.

      Step 1: Act like you’re so Simple-Minded… that you don’t notice them.
      You don’t notice their uniforms, or boots, or faces, or even their words.
      Just stare ahead and continue walking straight like you have blinders on.
      They’ll either let you continue walking, or physically block your movement.
      If they let you continue walking, you’re on your way quickly, you silently won.
      If they bend the rules by physically blocking your movement, here’s what to do:

      Step 2: Continue to act like you’re so Simple-Minded… that you’re surprised.
      You simply think that police only talk to people whom they are about to arrest.
      Just act stupid and surprised (head cocked to the side, mouth agape) and ask:
      “Watashi wa TAIHO SARETE imasu ka?”
      (Am I UNDER ARREST?)
      To which they’ll be surprised and will quickly say, “No, no, you’re not under arrest, yet.”
      They’ll add something to the end of that reply, to get you to voluntarily give up your rights,
      i.e. “We just need you to stop / wait / speak / answer / show / search / pee / koban / etc..”
      But the main point is they are required to admit that you are not yet currently under arrest.
      You can even act like you didn’t understand their answer, thus stupidly ask for clarification:
      “DONNA YOUGI de taiho sarete imasu ka?
      (Under WHAT CHARGE am I under arrest?)
      They’ll think you’re stupid, and they’ll loudly announce, “I just TOLD you, you’re NOT under arrest!”
      Again, you’ve just successfully made a police officer loudly announce that you’re NOT under arrest.

      Step 3: Since you’re not under arrest, and everyone around has now heard that, you may go now.
      You’ve just put the police-officer in check-mate. Before walking away, confirm the fact you may go:
      “Ittemo ii desu ka?”
      (May I go now?)
      Repeat as many times as needed until the police officer admits that the answer is, “Yeah, you may.”
      He can’t legally say, “No, not yet.” because you’re not under arrest, so he can’t arrest your movement.
      One of the back-up officers will eventually feel legally obliged to admit “Yes, you are legally free to go.”
      So to summarize: play dumb, get him to admit you’re not under arrest, and then ask “Ittemo ii desu ka.”

      :-)

      PS -
      Check out this guy’s essay, if he knew about the technique above he could’ve been on his way quickly.
      Yep, sometimes we choose to enter into a debate, but if you simply want to get home, keep it simple.
      http://www.liberal-shirakawa.net/idea/policestate.html

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