Eyewitness report on how NPA is targeting NJ in Gotanda as security risk for APEC Summit in Yokohama


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Hi Blog.  In case you haven’t heard, the latest APEC Summit is coming up in Yokohama this weekend.  Aside from the regular boilerplate on places like NHK about how we’re gearing up to greet and communicate effectively with foreigners (with some smattering on the security measures — cops on every corner looking busy and alert etc.), we once again are hearing next to nothing (if any media is talking about this, please send source) about how security means targeting NJ as potential criminals and terrorists.

It’s one thing to have Police State-style lockdowns.  It’s another matter of great concern to Debito.org for those lockdowns to encourage racial profiling.  This seems to happen every time we have any major international summitry (see past articles here, here, here, and here), and as usual no media seems to question it.  An eyewitness account redacted only in name that happened last week in Gotanda, Tokyo, quite a distance from the Yokohama site, follows.  Anyone else out there getting racially profiled and zapped by the fuzz?  Make sure you mention the whens and wheres, please.  Thanks.  Arudou Debito


November 5, 2010

Hey Debito, Just to keep you abreast of a recent NPA excuse for a ‘stop and search’ shambles, here’s my story.

I have been living in Tokyo for around eight years now and this was the first time I have ever been stopped. I was on my way to meet a client in Gotanda in Tokyo on November 3rd and as I went through the ticket gate at approximately XXXpm [daytime] there were two regular police officers waiting on the other side. I saw one of them clock me and registered that he had decided to stop me for whatever purpose. Resigned to my fate, I watched him beeline his way towards me and gesture for me to stop. I took out my earbuds and responded to his question (“Can you speak Japanese?”) with a polite, “just a little.” Suprisingly, he then spoke English to me and continued to do so for the rest of the time I was delayed (I am not a fluent speaker of Japanese so I was quite happy to stay in my native tongue rather than struggle along with what little I know). First he asked if I had any I.D. such as a passport or Registration Card so I obligingly opened my bag, got out my wallet, closed my bag and handed him my I.D. I then asked him why he had stopped me and what he said was, and still is, the shocker of this whole story for me. He said that they were stopping foreigners “because of the APEC meeting being held in Yokohama.” I will refrain from launching into what I think about this ridiculous statement but I’m sure you can imagine my chagrin, so to speak. When I asked him why he had chosen to stop me, he then said that they were focusing on searching foreigners bags for “dangerous goods” and asked if it wouldn’t be too much trouble to have a look inside my bag. I said no, he couldn’t look inside my bag. He was a bit flummoxed at this and had to gather himself in order to proceed correctly. First he called over his sidekick and asked him to fill in the relevant form with my Registration details – sidekick obviously hadn’t done this before as he had a hard time guessing which bits of info to write down and had to check more than twice with the guy I was dealing with – then, he confirmed that I had just said “no” and asked me again if he could look inside my bag. We went back and forth a couple more times. Next he asked me to cooperate and that it wouldn’t take much time; I said I was cooperating and asked him if he thought I wasn’t cooperating. We went back and forth a couple more times. The discussion went round in circles a little longer but I must stress that at no point was he ever threatening or aggressive, and neither was I. In the end, I asked for his name and I.D., which he obligingly gave me. Once I had taken this down I opened my bag to put my notebook back and allowed him to have a look inside – by this time it was getting close to my appointment and I wanted to get on with my day. The one thing I forgot to ask him before I showed him the inside of my bag was if I could leave now, once they had taken my Registration details. It’s easy to think about it in retrospect… He only gave the inside of my (fairly sizable backpack, messenger style) bag a cursory look even after the reason he gave for the search, too! – I guess he supposed I would refuse if he asked to open the other bags which were inside my bag (soft lunch bag, quality waterproof bag with spare clothes, book bag). At least, in the end, he was polite, even though he was persistent. The whole affair took about 10 minutes of my time and I can’t help feeling like I was the victim of some inane body-count for administration purposes only.

Police Officer Seiya NC 217 of the Osaki Police Station looked like he was still in his 20’s and had been tasked with the job of targeting foreigners for the sole purpose of satisfying his superiors that Japan was doing it’s bit to ‘fight’ terrorism. I’m sure he believed in what he was doing and most likely still does but I’m also sure that he and many others like him have no clue that targeting foreigners and not even considering the idea that terror can be home-spun is not only hypocritical (and ironic – sarin gas, anyone?) but ultimately damaging to the good nature, honesty and humility of the vast majority of Japanese people in this country.

Isn’t there something I should download from your blog that would be ideal for explaining why I refuse to have my bag searched?

Best regards, rock on and keep banging that hammer, Debito.


38 comments on “Eyewitness report on how NPA is targeting NJ in Gotanda as security risk for APEC Summit in Yokohama

  • They are of course considering the idea that terror can be home-spun. If you try googling “APEC 職質” you’ll get all sorts of reports by J bloggers and twitters who got stopped by the police. Nonetheless the police are having some of its officers assigned to specifically target foreigners and that is not a happy thing I’m sure, but I also think that that’s not the entirety of the police activity going on over there.

  • eyeinthesky says:

    I dont know why people ask many questions when being searched. I actually like it and go overboard with it, like dumping my wallet and taking off my shoes, they quickly want me to go away then. Thats how things work in Japan, same with bullying, if you allow it, it gets worse. When I get pushed on train or something, I gladly push back. Works great for me!

  • But, but, but….
    All terrorists have Middle Eastern faces, long beards and wear rags on their heads, no?
    Didn’t you fit that profile? Then you should have told the poor ignorant police officers.
    Not all gaijin are alike… Of course, there are no Japanese terrorists, and Bin Laden knows that full well…

  • The standard answer I give cops now is “ごめんなさい、時間がないんです” or a hurried equivalent in English if they address me in English. (It helps that I always tend to walk quickly.) If it is just a pointless spot-check to make numbers, they will let you go on your way. If they seriously suspect you of something, they will insist on stopping you, at which point you can start asking why you are a suspect — but I have never gotten that far in multiple attempted police stops, all of which end with them basically saying “OK, sorry for bothering you.” Even though you technically have a duty (as an alien) to show a passport or gaijin card to cops, they are rarely trying to enforce that particular law, and as long as they don’t dig in their heels you are perfectly free to walk away and say you don’t have time to deal with their silliness.

  • I got stopped and ID’ed at Narita last week, but I also getting the same treatment in 1995 at Narita. In the airport, I feel more obliged to obey but if it happened out on the streets of Tokyo, I would refuse.

  • Seventeen years in Tokyo, never been stopped. Not walking, not riding a bicycle. Not anywhere I’ve been in Japan either. What am I doing wrong? (Right?)

    I’ve had the show-me-your-passport challenge at hotels. I once had to *take off* a tee shirt at a pool – to prove I don’t have tatoos, I guess. I allow the Post Office to copy my alien card whenever they want to- because you don’t know my local Post Office. Starting a debate, I’d never get out of there. They are inept.

    But through it all, I’ve never experienced a stop by a cop.

    — Good for you. So what?

  • I was just passing NHK on the way back from my jog around Yoyogi park when I noticed a policeman and woman go straight up to a black guy and card him and ask him to open his bag. I went straight up to the omawari san and told him he should be ashamed of himself – my blood was boiling- with his racism.

    He said it wasn’t racism it was a security check, and I shouted at him of course it was fucking racism- why did they single him out and not me- because he was black maybe and an easier target? I shouted him down and he got angry and demanded my card. So I whipped it out and threw it on the floor forcing him to pick it up.

    The other guy looked so tired and depressed. The policeman was really cringing, you know “you got eijuken, you are alright.” I shouted at him you know, you are just picking on him because he’s black and a foreigner, why don’t you do your job and catch some fucking criminals. The policewoman told me they weren’t racist, they were just doing their job. So I said, yeah, that’s right, that’s why you stopped me over 50 times for being caught in the open while being a gaijin when I was younger.

    So the cops pissed off and the other guy said that he is being hassled daily. His main crime seems to be being black, which makes him an automatic suspect for police harassment and stop and searches.

    This sort of thing really pollutes Japan. Passers by see black man stopped in street being searched and given the programming by the media i.e. gaijin = entertainers or gaijin = different or gaijin = criminals or gaijin=funny or gaijin = scary I suppose at least some of the passers by naturally think black man = trouble or black man = criminal or black man = suspicious….otherwise why would the police be stopping and searching him at 10:00 in the morning.

    Of course with me ranting there it’s worse- the passers by see gaijin = trouble.

    The irony was I was just writing about how things appear to have been getting better for me. The obvious discrimination is being sublimated. My wife said it was just because I was white and obviously getting into middle age. But if you are under 40 and black and obviously not corporate, Japan must be a hell of place to live in.

    Shame, shame, shame on you, Japanese police force.

    — I think it’s just fine that you’re ranting there. Gaijin should = trouble, in that if you stop NJ without probable cause, you deserve to get an earful. Double kudos to you for sticking up for a complete stranger like that.

  • GOTANDA-right, as soon as I saw it was in Gotanda I saw a pattern emerging. In 2007 (when there was the G8 in Hokkaido) the security around there was ridiculous. They also deputized oji sans to stand literally every street corner around our gaijin house. I didnt mind, until the police came to check out our gaijin house too. Door to door, name by name.

    The Ohsaki police station was recently rebuilt so after a quiet couple of years, we can expect more of this hassle.

    Having said that, I was round my Japanese girlfriend’s house in Meguro Ku a couple of days later and the police knocked on her door too, to ask who was living there. She was shocked, said it was the first time they d done that. Really paranoia inducing.

    But in Ohsaki, Shinagawa Ku, the police used to come round quite often “just to check who was living there”, once a year or so.

    Don’t live there.

  • In the context, you’re gonna love this:

    So, this was what all these checks were about.

    — Very good timing all around.

    The Japan Times THE ZEIT GIST
    Muslims in shock over police ‘terror’ leak
    Japan residents named in documents want explanation — and apology — from Tokyo police force
    November 9, 2010

    This time last month, Mourad Bendjaballah says he was just another anonymous foreigner living and working in Japan. Today he fears his life here may be over, and receives phone calls from reporters asking him if he is an al-Qaida “terrorist.”

    “I’ve no idea why they have picked on me,” says the Algerian, who has lived and worked in Japan for over 20 years and is married to a Japanese national. “My wife and I are still struggling to believe it.”

    Bendjaballah’s name was one of several released in extraordinary leaked documents from a counterterrorism unit of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s Public Security Bureau. Listed as “terrorist suspects,” the men are Muslims who live and work here, in many cases for decades.

    The documents, which have been obtained by The Japan Times, contain vast amounts of personal information, including birthplaces, home and work addresses, names and birthdays of spouses, children and associates, personal histories and immigration records. Even the names of local mosques visited by the “suspects” are included.

    In most cases, the causes of the initial police suspicion appear to have simple explanations. Bendjaballah’s former work as a travel agent placed him in contact with Arab students, businessmen and diplomats.

    “I had a lot of ambassadors as clients,” says the 47-year-old, who now works for a Japanese construction company. “I can’t believe this is enough to put me on a list of suspects.”

    Apparently released via file-sharing software, the files and the background on how they were compiled reveal that Japanese police, under pressure from U.S. authorities, trawled Tokyo in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, in search of intelligence data among the city’s tiny Muslim community. According to victims of the leak, in some cases the Security Bureau tried to recruit them as spies.

    Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20101109zg.html

  • >So what?
    (・_・?) Why so snide?

    — Not snide. Just saying that this hasn’t happened to you, so what? Does that mean that it’s not happening to other people? Please make germane to blog topic. Thanks.

  • It’s my ninth year in Japan without being stopped. Please no “So what?”. Some people don’t or won’t get stopped. That said I am working smack in the middle of Yokohama and walk by dozens of police officers everyday so 2010 could be my year. Two of my co-workers were stopped and carded last week. In Yokohama of course. White middle aged Americans.

  • Michael Weidner says:

    I was actually in Yokohama and Tokyo over this last weekend for a conference and the police were out in full force.

    Here’s the funny thing: I wasn’t stopped once. Not at all. It also gets better: my Japanese co-worker got stoped twice during our time in Yokohama. So while some officers may be targeting foreigners, they are doing random car searches and stops (as I saw on my way home from the conference and no, they weren’t foreigners nor foreign-looking) and random stops of Japanese people as well. I have to say that this is a big step up from the whole Toyako debacle; while it still sucks to be stopped and such, at least they are making somewhat of an effort to treat everyone equally.

    — Good. Well, better, anyway. Anyway, THIS is germane to the blog topic, thanks.

  • in Ohsaki, Shinagawa Ku, the police used to come round quite often “just to check who was living there”, once a year or so

    Here’s where I get contrarian again.

    The police in my neighborhood (western corner of Shinjuku) did this recently too. I met them at the entrance to the building and filled out their standard contact card. Personally, I would like the police to know where to contact me if there is some sort of emergency in the neighborhood, and that trumps any privacy concerns I have about telling them my phone number and workplace. I did not volunteer unnecessary information like our honseki, and the beat cop collecting the form didn’t seem to mind.

    Now PKU’s story really bothers me. The cops in question were probably ordered to “find foreigners and card them,” and the black guy got carded because he was more visible. The carding does not seem to be something that individual cops do of their own volition; their bosses (and probably their bosses’ bosses’ bosses) told them to do it. You should feel free to say that said orders are stupid and dehumanizing, and insist on keeping records if rights might be violated, but you have to be polite about it. Throwing your ID on the ground and acting like a git doesn’t do anything to help the situation; it just makes the individual cops wary of “crazy foreigners” when they really ought to be wary of harassing reasonable individuals who know their rights.

  • “The standard contact card”? thats funny, I ve never filled that out nor when the Ohsaki police came round to the neighborhood gaijin house, they just took notes on a clipboard each time. No “card” per se.They wanted to check if “the residents had changed”.

    Actually after reading about what happened to Mr Bendjaballah, I am starting to worry that they are targeting long term residents who have built up a lot of data via transactions in Japan and are therefore more “visible”; they asked for me by name when they came round in 2007, which they hadnt done previously.

    This is probably just me being paranoid, but notice how this induces paranoia. It’s why I don’t live in Tokyo anymore.

  • On a similar note to eyeinthesky (#2): randomly stopped in Shibuya, a drunken rugby mate once went (nearly) the whole hog: handed over his wallet, opened his gearbag, took off his shirt, dropped his jeans, and looked inquisitively at the cop while hooking his thumb into the top of his boxer shorts and shaping to pull them down. Quality response. Don’t think the cop even looked at the I.D. Might only work for certain kinds of people, though…

  • The checking up on who lives where seems to come up quite regularly. From what I can tell, it seems that in some areas, the police do this regularly for all houses, but the frequency varies a lot by location. I think we had it once, a couple of years ago, after living for more than 5 years in the same house. I don’t think there is any evidence that they target foreigners.

    We have started getting ID-carded at the guard-house entrance to our offices, which has never happened previously. This is with guards who have known us for years. I’m not sure if it is a specific APEC-related policy (I hope, as at least in that case it will stop soon). Pretty silly as we need the swipe card to open the doors anyway!

  • Twenty-five plus years in Japan was never stopped by the Japanese cops UNTIL last summer when *LEAVING* Narita Airport on the Keisei train platform.

    Why? Obviously, the cops needed to fill their quota of gaijin shake-downs.

    This is similar to what happens to me back in the States—ALWAYS without fail, I am targeted for “extra security” at airports *BECAUSE* I look like a big, blond, friendly, Sunday-school teacher. Shaking me down makes it look like the TSA security goons are being “fair” and not racial profiling.

    Now it seems the Japanese-joke police are targeting me for the same reason. That is, *BECAUSE* I look harmless and obviously speak Japanese, I’m a perfect target. Five times in the past two weeks commuting to and from fuckqueing Denenchofu (Tokyo’s Beverly Hills) I have had wave-off the cops by brusquely growling at them, “時間がないんだ” (jikan arimasen da—I ain’t got the time). The fact the J-cops are intimidated by my crude Japanese makes me feel that any real terrorists will never be caught these J-police checks, sheesh.

  • Thanks to the heavy patrols during APEC, I used my color coded cards with the card check laws that you kindly provided everyone for the
    first time last Saturday night. I was on my way to a union meeting in 飯田橋 and I was stopped. First one guy stopped me, then his partner showed up.

    They asked me for my ID and I asked them to read what was on my yellow card and to give me the 疑うに足りる相当な理由 for stopping me. At first they asked 「どした?」and I told them 「まあ、日本に住んでいるから日本の法律を勉強してるね。」

    So one of them explained that APEC was in full swing so they were just checking people for their cards. I asked one of them 「アジア系人も?」 and he said 「もちろん!」 I asked again「 本当?」 and he insisted 「もちろん!」

    So I said OK and told them じゃあ、コスプレの店に行ったらさ、俺はこんな衣装を買えるから and I pulled out my orange color card and that says that they need to produce their IDs before I produce mine and they read it. One of them pulled his out and showed me his, and the other began digging for his but I motioned that one was enough and I showed my card. I asked 「APECは大変でしょうね!」 and they said そう!忙しいですよ。and that was that. They didn’t write down my info, they just glanced out it and they walked away after pleasantries.

    As a reminder to readers, anyone can download the wallet-size “Gaijin-card-laws” cards here:

    Thanks Arudou!

  • Regarding PKU’s post, I’m glad to see someone standing up for a stranger’s rights just because it’s the right thing to do in any country. However, I can’t say I subscribe to the idea that gaijin should = trouble. At least, not entirely.

    IMO, that only reinforces the notion that gaijin are difficult and aggressive. The cop won’t think about them as hurt people, he’ll come to see gaijin only as a nuisance. Maybe that *might* lessen carding, but for the wrong reasons. Being too confrontational doesn’t create positive change in how gaijin are perceived. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying people should be submissive. Folks have all the reason in the world to get well miffed at racial profiling (I would too), but I think a different approach should be taken that encourages positive change.

    I favour Erich’s approach. Do make sure they’re informed of your rights as per the law, but I feel it’s important to remain friendly and polite (note, I don’t mean submissive or weak, mind you). That (to me, anyway) would better serve to foment the thought that gaijin are people too, who are easy to talk to, and who are not dangerous or difficult.

    Being stopped by cops is a very off-putting experience, but keeping a cool head and staying amicable while ensuring that your rights are recognised is (IMO) the best way to remind them that gaijin are no more or less threatening than any Japanese on the street, which paves the way for better equality.

    Shouting and insulting may be satisfying, but all you’ll get is a pissed off cop who now hates gaijin even more. Making them think, and creating a positive image of foreigners will ultimately yield better results.

    Just my (perhaps very naive) opinion. I’ve never had the “pleasure” of dealing with this situation myself, so I can’t really presume to talk about it.

    — Well when you do, please get back to us. And also how you feel when it happens on a regular basis, at the tenth, 25th, (in PKU’s case) 50th, and (in Mark in Yayoi’s case) 125th time. You might feel a smidge differently.

  • Cop: Sumimasen, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah?

    Me: Please show me YOUR Identification, OK?

    [He WEARS an official black Identification Holder Necklace.]
    [He KEEPS his Identification within his Identification Holder.]
    [He KEEPS his Identification Holder Necklace around his neck.]
    [He FIRMLY HOLDS his Identification Holder Necklace open to see.]
    [He STANDS LIKE A STATUE while I write his details in my notepad.]
    [I calmly begin taking a video* of myself from this point forward.]

    Me: XYZ123, Sapporo, Suzuki?
    Cop: Yes.

    [I WEAR an official black Identification Holder Necklace.]
    [I KEEP my Identification within my Identification Holder.]
    [I KEEP my Identification Holder Necklace around my neck.]
    [I FIRMLY HOLD my Identification Holder Necklace open to see.]
    [I STAND LIKE A STATUE while he writes my details in his notepad.]

    Me: Am I free to go now?
    Cop: Blah, Blah, Blah.
    [He is trained to avoid answering this legally vital direct question.]
    [He is trained to change the subject by asking something else.]
    [He is trained to fool people into giving up their legal rights.]
    [He is trained to trick people to voluntarily submit to his will.]

    Me: Am I free to go now?
    [I am trained to calmly repeat this legally vital direct question again.]
    [I am trained to ignore any sounds he emits now except for “Yes.”]
    [I am trained to calmly repeat the question for as long as it takes.]
    Cop: Blah, Blah, Blah.

    Me: Am I free to go now?
    Cop: Blah, Blah, Blah.

    Me: Am I free to go now?
    Cop: Blah, Blah, Blah.

    Me: Am I free to go now?
    Cop: Blah, Blah, Blah.

    Me: Am I free to go now?
    Cop: Blah, Blah, Blah.

    Me: Am I free to go now?
    Cop: Yes. Of course. You are free to go now.

    [With my video-camera still filming myself, I slowly, slowly, walk away.]

    [Cop says to his cop buddy, “Damn! That guy knew how to legally avoid a search.]
    [His cop buddy replies, “Well, most people don’t know, so let’s keep fishing for fools.]


    * Filming interactions with Japanese cops is allowed, but careful:
    Current American fascist laws call this “wiretapping” = 15 years Prison.

  • Joe Jones wrote:

    The standard answer I give cops now is “ごめんなさい、時間がないんです” or a hurried equivalent in English if they address me in English. (It helps that I always tend to walk quickly.) If it is just a pointless spot-check to make numbers, they will let you go on your way. If they seriously suspect you of something, they will insist on stopping you, at which point you can start asking why you are a suspect — but I have never gotten that far in multiple attempted police stops, all of which end with them basically saying “OK, sorry for bothering you.” Even though you technically have a duty (as an alien) to show a passport or gaijin card to cops, they are rarely trying to enforce that particular law, and as long as they don’t dig in their heels you are perfectly free to walk away and say you don’t have time to deal with their silliness.

    Yes!!! 🙂

    Thank you Joe Jones for having the balls to try that technique, and thank you taking the time to share your experience with us.

    I remember I posted here last year about how an African guy told me how he handles such racial profiling, he simply keeps on walking, and I asked if anyone else has had the confidence to try this:


    So, now we have Joe Jones’ first-hand evidence as confirmation that Non-Japanese who are brave enough to act “too busy to stop” are (at least sometimes, perhaps even most times) allowed to keep on walking, just like we have seen brave busy Japanese folks do!

    Be brave, fellow “Gaijin”, and be busy: you wouldn’t slow down and stop and have a big debate with a person on the street trying to pass out tissues, right, you just keep on walking by busily.

    OK, here’s my UPDATED ADVICE, if you don’t want to be searched:

    #1. Do exactly what Joe Jones suggests: just keep on walking busily.

    #2. If the cop actually stops you, then, only then, do what I suggest:
    Me: Please show me YOUR Identification, OK?
    Me: XYZ123, Sapporo, Suzuki?
    Me: [Show Alien Registration Card]
    Me: Am I free to go now? [Repeat question until free.]


  • Taro wrote:

    I look like a big, blond, friendly, Sunday-school teacher. …
    I have (successfully) waved-off the cops by brusquely growling at them, “時間がないんだ” (jikan arimasen da—I ain’t got the time).

    Yes!!! 🙂 Wow, I’ve really got to start reading everyone’s comments before writing.

    Thank you Taro for having the balls to try that technique, and thank you taking the time to share your experience with us.

    Well, that’s 3 super success stories of KEEP ON WALKING: the guy I met last year, and Jim Jones, and Taro.

    Debito, perhaps you should start a new thread called “Keep on walking” or “I don’t have time” in which people post personal success stories with this efficient technique?

    Refusing to even slow down is analogous to Rosa Parks refusing to stand up.

    The more people do this, the more people share their experiences of continuing on their day without delay, the more we will all become brave, the less motivation the Japanese police will have to try fooling people into voluntarily submitting to street interrogations.


  • In my total time in Japan, which all in all was about 12 months, I got stopped by the police 8 or 9 times (can’t remember). So in average about every 1½ months. It ended up getting quite annoying. They always checked my card, did a full body search (padding me down), and checking my bags. I was never told any of that was voluntary.

    A few of the times I can excuse the police. I can understand I might have looked suspicious. Two of the times were when I was walking back and forth for ages (one time waiting for my girl, the first being lost on my first vacation), and one time when I was walking a lil drunk down a dark alley alone. Fair enough. But I’ve been stopped in the middle of the day just walking down the street. I’ve been stopped trying to get a taxi. I’ve been stopped for walking out of a nightclub.

    Originally their excuse, when asked, was my hair and clothes (black/red hair, and punk’ish cloths). But at the end of my time there, I was wearing all Japanese brands, and had my hair dyed blonde/brown. So that one doesn’t quite hold water.

    It’s quite frustrating to keep getting stopped on almost a monthly basis, for doing nothing except walking down the street. They never bothered saying who they were or showing their badges or any such thing. Not to mention that I later found out they didn’t even have the right to do the body and bag searches, since they never informed me if they could, they just asked me to show them my stuff.

    — Let’s relate this back to APEC security please.

  • @ Debito: I concede, you’re probably right, If I was put through it as frequently as others have been, I honestly doubt I would keep a cool head (or my sanity for that matter). I do apologize for my admittedly presumptuous comment.

    I tend to let my naivete get carried away often. With that in mind, I’ll leave the discussions to those who actually have experiences to discuss, and something worthwhile to contribute, from now on.

    — Thanks for being so nice about it. Contribute away. Don’t worry, we touch upon lots of things here, so we’ll get something that strikes a chord with you sooner or later.

  • Tony in Saitama says:

    Noticed on NHK news last night that the police have issued ID cards to all the local residents in Yokohama, so they have now established a precedent for carding nationals also….

    — I saw that too. But the ID cards are useless without a driver license anyway (the cops checked that too). Nice of NHK to wonder with a live camera in a car if ID checkpoints were actually inconveniencing anyone.

  • I guess they should pay more attention to their own stuff.
    Did you watch the news to night, where they said one of the 警備員in the very hall was caught with 8cm knife.

    Japan arrests knife-carrying APEC guard
    AAP November 10, 2010, 5:22 pm
    Japanese police said on Wednesday they had arrested a security officer who was found carrying a knife at the APEC meeting being held in the port city of Yokohama.

    Police in Kanagawa prefecture, which covers Yokohama, arrested Hisanori Sekizawa, 44, on Tuesday as he tried to enter the heavily guarded convention centre where the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum is being staged.

    “Police arrested him on the spot for carrying the knife for no legitimate reason,” a police spokesman told AFP.

    Kyodo News reported that the man was employed by a security contractor for the Japanese foreign ministry and that he was carrying two knives, which he said were for self-protection.

    Police carried out raids on locations related to the man and seized another knife, Kyodo said.

    Japan has deployed 21,000 police to guard its second-biggest city during the APEC event, which began on Wednesday with ministerial meetings ahead of a two-day summit opening on Saturday.

    In addition to world leaders including US President Barack Obama, about 8000 delegates, journalists and other participants are expected to visit the city, south of the capital Tokyo, during the week.



    THE JAPAN TIMES Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010
    APEC guard arrested for bringing knives to work

    YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) A security guard at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum meetings in Yokohama has been arrested for showing up at work with two knives, police said Wednesday.

    Hisanori Sekizawa, 44, an employee of Rising Sun Security Service Co., was found Tuesday carrying the knives in his bag at a security checkpoint in front of the Pacifico Yokohama convention center, the venue for the series of APEC meetings being held through Sunday, according to the police.

    They said he told investigators the knives were for self-protection.

    The police raided locations related to Sekizawa, including his home, and seized another knife, they said.

    The knives he was carrying when he showed up for work were reportedly about 8 cm long.

  • And similar to that — idiot APEC cop forgets his loaded gun in restaurant lavatory, is found by patron (courtesy Getchan). Talk about security risks…

    飲食店トイレに拳銃置き忘れ 警部補がAPEC警備中に
    産経新聞 11月11日(木)17時55分配信



  • An employee was late to work today (he never got here) because the police had carded him in Tokyo station but he didn’t have the card or passport with him; that’s when we got the phone call from the Koban to ask to confirm his identity.

    The police are carding all people randomly passing through Tokyo station regardless of race….


    Guess what? He is a white Australian.Well, fancy that.

    So don’t use Tokyo station at the moment Walking While White.

    I have noticed smaller stations have (deputized?) security guards standing at the ticket gates, presumably they don’t have the authority to ask to see The Card.

    They don’t.

  • I work next to the government district in Tokyo. As I was walking back from lunch today, I noticed that the police had set up a checkpoint at a stoplight, and were walking up to drivers of cars at the stoplight asking if they could inspect their cars (while carrying large signs to that effect in Japanese and English).

    I watched them talk to several Japanese-looking drivers at the light, and not once did the police actually inspect anyone’s car. I suspect that everyone was just saying “no” to avoid the hassle.

  • They are carding foreigners at the train exit near the Nissan bldg in Yokohama. I think its a check point. I been carded twice, but only there. I saw a disabled white guy also get carded. Kind of felt bad about that one. Once you clear that point, the cops arent so bad, but they are everywhere.

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    Here’s what I’ve seen while bicycling through Tokyo the last few nights:

    * Several inspection stations where a part of the road is closed off and surrounded by two police cars. A digital messageboard announces 検問中 (kenmon-chuu).

    * Many street corners now have police officers standing at attention.

    * Many police boxes that are normally staffed by a single officer late at night now have two officers on duty.

    The good news is that I haven’t seen any of these extras actually stopping or hassling anyone. I saw a pair of cops inspecting the bicycle of one unlucky student-type in front of Tokyo U.’s agriculture campus, but that was it. (They were busy with him and didn’t even notice me zipping by, thankfully.)

    I’m disappointed to hear about the carding in Yokohama; it had looked like the police were just trying to assert their presence without actually bothering anyone. Has anyone seen any carding outside Yokohama?

  • This country is… turning into one giant Meiji Mura, the shame is tourists won’t come to play the part the japanese want them to play.

    This is only going to get worse as japan slips into global insignificance. The US has a new upcoming giant of a friend in Asia now, Russia is publicly slapping japan over territory, so is China.

    All the more reason to punish the non yamato in some way or another. Has much really changed in the last 150 years here?

  • I remember the Toyako Summit a few years ago now, I happened to be in Hokkaido doing a series of hikes. By my count I was stopped 8 times in total by police officers, once being detained and questioned in the back of a police car. In many of these encounters when I questioned why I was being stopped the stock standard reply was given; The Toyako Summit is on and you are a foreigner, therefore… What shocked me the most was that they actually expected me just to accept this as a valid reason. I don’t see how someone can reasonably expect an innocent individual to accept this sort of discrimination. In Sapporo I also had two police officers called on me at an internet cafe as the staff at the front desk had not turned my gaijin card over and noted the updated expiry date (learned my lesson to use a drivers license instead when someone asks you for ID in Japan). By the end of the trip I was so frustrated and angry by constantly being regarded with suspicious eyes I actually cut it short.

  • I was just walking around my neighborhood when I happened to pass a patrol car just parked on the side of the street. Two officers get out and run towards me. They ask me “are you Japanese?”, and I reply “no.” They then ask to see my gaijin card, so I show it to them. They then ask for a body search!

    I refused, and one of the officers became increasingly offensive, saying such things as “This is how we do things in Japan. If you don’t like it, go back to America.” Yes, he actually said this! Why should I be told “go back to America” just because I exercise my right to refuse a body search? This went back and forth for about 20 minutes. I was clearly refusing a search, which I had the right to do, but these guys just wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

    What I’m a suppose to do in this situation? I must have told them “no” about fifty times. So then the offensive guy puts his face within a centimeter of mine, trying to stare me down and intimidate me. I continue to refuse a search, and then he tells his partner to call for backup. At that point I didn’t want to be delayed any longer and have to face more police officers trying to intimidate me, so I emptied out my pockets and handed them the contents. And here’s the shocker: He opened up my wallet, looked through it, and wrote down the information from my HEALTH INSURANCE CARD!

    Why in the world would the police be writing information from my health insurance card?

    — Where did this all take place?

  • Tom makes a very interesting point regarding his gaijin card and the details being updated on the back. I too have had problems with this. Once at a post office collecting a parcel – the lady behind the counter took about 15 minutes to “collect” my parcel from out the back. Evidently she had called the police – who took one look at the back of my card and apologized several times. Then just recently Shinsei bank staff at the Ueno branch in Tokyo refused to let me open an account, claiming my card had expired(the visa is fine though they said!). I tried to explain the details had been updated on the back but the clerk was not having any of it.

  • @Alex and everybody

    You have the right to say no, but standing there saying “No, No, No, I don’t have to, I have a right to say no, this is racism, why are you doing this to me, you’re discriminating, blah blah blah” is not very effective, because to the police officer, and the onlookers, and later the judge, everyone will see YOU as being argumentative and non-cooperative.

    Listen: legally, the cop has the right to keep trying to intimidate you into bending to his will, for hours, and hours, and hours… UNTIL you ask the magic question.

    “Am I free to go now? (Iitemo ii desu ka?)”

    This question is a magic pass to freedom, because the police officer is legally forbidden to say “No, you aren’t free to go now.” unless you already UNDER ARREST.

    If you intelligently wrote down the police officer’s name and number and station right at the start of the conversation, to keep him accountable, the police officer will be MUCH more inclined to honestly answer, “Yes, you are free to go now.”

    If you folks continue to NOT write down the cops information right at the start, and if you folks continue to NOT ask if you are free to go, then you folks are going to continue to LOSE: you will continue to be intimidated into voluntarily giving up your rights, unsuccessfully arguing for hours with police officers, and in the end needlessly agreeing to searches.


  • > Where did this all take place?

    It took place halfway between Kameari station and Ayase station, in Adachi-ku, Tokyo. According to the map on the Kameari Police Station homepage, Kameari Police has jurisdiction over the place where I got stopped.

    On a side note, even if the police officer doesn’t show you his ID, you can still make a complaint just from his badge number. It starts with two capital letters followed by a 3-digit number, like “SH256”. They wear their badges on the left chest. But you must also ask him which station he works at, because the badge number is only meaningful within that specific station. The number on the photo ID that he carries, however, is issued by Tokyo Metro Police and is therefore good regardless of what station he is working at. It’s a 6-digit number written in small print right under his photo. Make sure you write that number down in the case of plainclothes officers because they don’t wear their badges.


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