From the archives: How criminals fool the police: talk like foreigners!


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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog. Friend MS was cleaning out his files and found this. Mainichi Daily News July 19, 2000. This is not the first time I’ve found cases of NJ being blamed for J crime. Check out three cases (Mainichi 2004 and 2006). where 1) biker gangs told their victims to blame foreigners, 2) a murderer and his accomplice tried to say a “blond” guy killed his mother, and 3) an idiot trucker, who overslept late for work, tried to claim that a gang of foreigners kidnapped him!

How many other crimes have been pinned on foreigners in this way, one wonders. Arudou Debito in Sapporo



4 comments on “From the archives: How criminals fool the police: talk like foreigners!

  • So, another possible source of bias in the number of gaijin arrests presents itself.
    Let’s try and list them all.

    – police more likely to arrest gaijin due to prejudice (and/or orders from superiors)
    – police more likely to stop gaijin for no reason
    – gaijin easier to track down thanks to fingerprints and records on file, and all the neighbors knowing where the gaijin lives
    – gaijin often easier to spot in a crowd, easier for witnesses to describe distinguishing characteristics, Japanese crooks have an advantage in this respect
    – gaijin less able to talk their way out of arrest, especially if it’s a gaijin’s word vs. a Japanese’s word
    – gaijin who can’t speak Japanese well more likely to be arrested due to miscommunication
    – witnesses may report a Japanese criminal as being gaijin due to their own prejudices or fears of gaijin (shotgun murderer in Sasebo wearing full motorcycle helmet assumed to be gaijin, since only gaijin have guns, right?)
    – bigoted Japanese who file false reports against gaijin hoping to drive them out of the neighborhood
    – Japanese who assault gaijin (either out of hatred, or attempted extortion), and when the gaijin defends himself, they falsely claim it was an unprovoked attack and call the police, gaijin gets arrested, Japanese jerk sues.
    – only gaijin can be arrested for not having the proper visa, Japanese can’t

    and now (and this isn’t the first time)
    – Japanese criminals pretend to be gaijin, so police focus on stopping and questioning more gaijin in the area, possibly leading to false arrests, or arrests on unrelated matters which may be discovered such as visa violations

    am I forgetting any more?

    If only there were a way to quantify the bias.

  • Deepspacebeans says:

    “… among Asian criminals in Japan.”

    Very interesting wording, I find. It seems, to me, to imply that Japan is not “Asian” nor part of “Asia” as a result. Apparently Japanese gangs would not cover their faces, restrain their victims or work in groups when committing a robbery either.

  • Didn’t you hear the news, Deepspacebeans? Japan is unique (…;-)

    Joking aside, it’s an interesting article you dug up Debito.
    Security expert Bruce Schneier (Beyond Fear, Crypto-GRAM, Applied Cryptography and so on and so forth and such like) recently pointed out that Criminals, due to the fact that they are actively searching for the weak spots in any society, function as a kind of evolutionary warning mechanism where new problems arise (see Schneier was speaking in the context of stealing previously low-value resources like copper and lead, but it holds equally true for the explosive rise in Identity fraud immediately following the increase in use of Personal Information and the unsafe practices there, and the biometric entry into Japan led criminals to see the economic value of identity fraud with fingerprints.
    Or in the case of a situation where the police and government have too strong a bias to foreign crime, it’s hardly a surprise that the criminals see their chances and use the simple but effective ruse of speaking with fake foreign accents to try to throw the authorities off track.
    Of course now the government’s role becomes important. Being the victim of a misidentification based on a foreign accent, or stolen creditcards, or false fingerprints, or anything else is bad enough. But if that leads to, say, a false arrest, followed by detention past the VISA expiration period, followed in turn by a ban on returning for several years, to couple some known risks, that is a case of once robbed, twice the victim. And that would not be an acceptable outcome…

  • Classic piece of reporting from the Yomiuri here… Lehmans collapses thus the increase in bag snatching…

    Tokyo bag-snatchings up 50% in Jan.-April period
    The Yomiuri Shimbun

    The number of bag-snatchings in the Tokyo metropolitan area is increasing rapidly, at a rate over the first four months of the year about 1.5 times greater than the same period last year, according to a Metropolitan Police Department survey.

    In today’s stagnant business environment, authorities say bag-snatchings likely will increase as no special tools and techniques are required to commit the crime. The police have responded with moves to deter and arrest snatchers, calling up a large number of police officers, including those who do not usually work on regular crime cases such as riot police or motorcycle police.

    According to the police, the number of snatching cases in Tokyo decreased from a 1999 peak of 6,916 cases to less than 2,000 cases for the first time last year. However, the number began to increase since the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. began to affect the Japanese economy in October. A total of 930 cases were reported from January to April this year, 309 more than in the same period last year.

    More than 90 percent of the 99 snatchers arrested by the police in the second half of last year committed the crime for the first time, according to the police survey.

    In bag-snatching cases, most perpetrators traditionally have been minors. However, the current survey revealed that about 60 percent of the snatchers were adults.

    According to investigative sources, snatching is a typically “easy crime” requiring no special tools or techniques. Unlike burglars, for example, snatchers can escape easily from the crime scene by motorcycle without ever having to confront the victim.

    A senior police officer said, “I think more adults have committed the crime as an easy means of getting money in today’s recessionary environment that has produced many jobless people.”

    To address the problem, the police began taking measures this month, setting a goal of “arresting at least one snatcher per police station by the end of June.”

    The measures include deploying plain-clothes riot police officers around areas where snatching often occurs. When a crime is confirmed, they can pursue snatchers by motorcycle. In off-road areas where cars cannot enter, motorcycle police patrols are expected to have a deterrent effect.

    The police have decided to promote activities to deter and arrest snatchers by mobilizing a substantial number of officers besides the usual investigators. They plan to set up a squad of officers at each police station dedicated to pursuing snatchers.

    (May. 11, 2009)

    — I guess you gotta make hay by connecting the dots however possible…


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