Sankei: Police “cleaning up” Roppongi of shitsukoi NJ


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Hi Blog. MS sent me an interesting article from May 26’s Sankei, reporting about how enjoyment of Roppongi is being spoiled by over-persistent street touts (a sentiment I somewhat agree with, but…), who lead people to bars that even the US Embassy is cautioning against. So we have the new “Clean Town Roppongi Action Group” launching into the breach, putting up cautionary billets in English and Chinese only Japanese (advertising “punishments”), organizing patrols and volunteer policing groups, and advocating “safety for each resident” (fortunately rendered as juumin, not kokumin). All this, says the article, justifiable under the new controversial Tokyo City ordinance banning “public disturbances”, passed last April. Here’s the Sankei article. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


20 comments on “Sankei: Police “cleaning up” Roppongi of shitsukoi NJ

  • Frankly, I welcome it (like I welcome the proposed zairyuu cards). Roppongi used to be a really fun place. Now I wouldn’t walk through the area without a really good reason and a baseball bat.

  • the problem in roppongi is not NJ, it is the japanese yakuza that controls the entire area. But the local keystone cops of course try to focus the attention on NJ because then they can more easily justify this absurd new policy to the homogenus mass media..

  • I don’t really understand why there are scare quotes around “cleaning up”. Roppongi is an absolute fucking pit. The Japanese government does plenty of shitty stuff to NJ, but cleaning the cess pool of Roppongi isn’t one of them.

  • Cracking down on the lowest level of thugs and touts, rather than those who employ them, is not the most efficient way of doing things. The employers just replace them with the next guy off the boat. In theory if you start arresting enough of them to make a dent, the employers might give orders to the lower ranks to tone things down. But basically it’s trying to wipe out an ant colony with a magnifying glass. Focusing lots of effort for a bit of perverse fun and little effect on the whole problem.

    But I guess we don’t really have to go over why it’s easier to recruit fake cops from the native populace of frustrated aging Japanese males if you’re going after gaijin rather than their Japanese bosses. The gaijin on the bottom of the pyramid don’t pay out bribes or use threats of lawsuits or violence to intimidate anyone who gets in their way either. Easy targets.

    Not to say such lowlifes aren’t deserving of police attention, but again, isn’t this just another case of official channels reinforcing racist stereotypes?

    And is the irony of the likely tactics of this group rich? Do exactly what they warn the touts not to do. Berate and yell at the target, follow one as a group and surround him until he can’t move. Then if he even tries to slink away or after multiple requests to the gang of fake cops to please make a gap so he can move, nominate a member to throw himself against the target and then fall down screaming in fake pain like an Italian soccer player, demanding the target be arrested for “assault” because he “threw me to the street”, at which point the waiting J cops who have been watching the whole scene from a few meters away will happily do so. Watch the documentary “A” (about the Aum Shinrikyo cult, post-sarin attack) for a scene revealing the fake cops’ methods to have the real cops arrest someone they are targetting. (The J cops used similar tactics on an innocent nerd who happened to carry a little pocket knife in his bag in Akihabara after the knife murders, but he didn’t take the bait, and just waited unmoving for 90 minutes until the cops got bored.)

    Note to debito – I believe the article says the placards are in English and Japanese, not “English and Chinese”. Though it seems as usual – the only time English is written above and in a larger font than Japanese is on notices warning against possible criminal activity, further reinforcing the racist stereotype, “gaijin = criminal” (and this kind of requires that the signs have Japanese text)

    — Yes, sorry about that mistake regarding sign language. Correction made.

  • My Japanese isn’t as jouzu as yours, Debito, but I can clearly see in the article where it says the signs are written in English and Japanese. (I know the kanji for “nichi” and “naka” are easily confused.)

    — You’re quite right. Sorry about that. I’ll correct the comments above.

  • Brazilian says:

    I don’t think we really (considering “we”, generally speaking, are) should feel some kind of fealty/allegiance to these people just because they’re foreigners, like us. They’re the ones (at least the majority of people we see there) who really don’t contribute to our image (not that they have to, but it would be good to refrain from “those” embarassing acts we see in Roppongi).

    As long as they don’t use this as an excuse for racism/discrimination/etc, to act like Big Brother on all foreigners, etc, I would support it.

  • The rumours being passed around in the Roppongi pubs is that the mayor’s son was hassled by a tout in Roppongi a couple weeks back, that’s why they had the crackdown last week.

    Quite frankly, I welcome this measure too. My dojo is in Roppongi, and I used to dread “walking the gauntlet” between the dojo and the train station, and having to avoid the overly-aggressive touts.

    That said, I hope they’re also cracking down in Shinjuku and Ikebukuro as well. Something tells me that they aren’t.

  • To add to my previous comment, it is true that I welcome this measure in Roppongi, but I am not crazy about the implementation or the comment from the “woman on the street”. It seems that only foreign touts are affected, which in a way I can understand because they certainly do tend to be more aggressive than their Japanese counterparts, but still seems unfair. Also, really not crazy about that lady’s comment “It would be nice if Roppongi was a safe city, but as it is, at nighttime there are a lot of foreigners…”

  • I welcome it. I been ripped off, assualted, followed all the way to Azabu, drugged and more. Im sick of it. Roppongi used to be a place us foriegners could go to meet other foriegners and just feel yourself for once a week. Now its just a place to get the beat down. I think what is happening is that allot of other places have been so well policed that Roppongi is where all the criminals have run to. It used to be pretty good in Roppongi but in the last 5 years it has progressively become worse.

  • I don’t go to Roppongi for this very reason, but it is troubling that this seems to be targeting foreigners who, after all, are just doing their job.
    Why aren’t the police laying heavy fines on the establishments that employ these hawkers?
    And this problem isn’t limited to Roppongi. Attractive Japanese women can’t walk through Shibuya or Kabukichyo without being attacked by recruiters for hostess bars or hosts.
    Why not a blanket ban on these kinds of solicitors?
    I find it very troubling when the government starts cleaning up with the specific intention of booting out the foreigners. I’d like to know how often Japanese hawkers are stopped by these community patrols.

  • Jib Halyard says:

    I’ll take these Keystone Kops seriously the day they start cleaning the streets of the scum who drive around in the black sound trucks, contaminating the air with their festering rants. there’s plenty of these vile beings in roppongi too, and they’re an infinitely greater public disturbance than some tout on a street corner.

  • I’ve stopped going to the “Six Trees” precisely due to the behaviour of these touts.

    What concerns me is that these measures are focussed solely on non-J.

  • I have seen many complaints before against these touts in Roppongi. However, I do remember the “crows” (karasu zoku) in Sakae, Nagoya. For years, every time I went to Sakae after 6PM I could see them waiting in the subway, harassing women and there wasn’t anyone to stop them. Feeling sorry for the victim is the best one can do, facing these menacing groups of agressive young men dressed in black. This kept going on for years. I wonder why no one tried to clean the area just like they are cleaning Roppongi now?
    And I feel curious about the remark of that OL(if she is real):”There are so many foreigners at night, I feel scared…”As far as I know, there are many yakuza there too. I guess they are safe and quiet, are they?Besides, she is saying just “foreigners, who stand there” without specifying kyakubiki or foreign customers, who hang around(waiting, talking on the phone, thinking where to go, enjoying the view, smoking)

  • Alexander says:

    Thank you! Please get them out of kabukicho, too. I am tired of walking home or heading out for a bite to eat, having to be hassled by these guys. They did a good job with the same law of cutting down on the Japanese scouts doing the same thing. I am surprised the foreigners have gotten away with it.

  • Reppugni is the last place in Japan I would want to visit, but to have English characters double the size of Japanese characters on the sign seems discriminating.

  • A woman cannot walk around Shibuya or Shinjuku without being spoken to by guys trying to pick them up, get them to work in some suspicious bars, etc. A few weeks ago I was walking in Harajuku, and the same thing happened there too, over and over again to a joung woman walking in front of me. Within 500 meter she was attacked 3 times by sleezy guys, one of them trying to get her to join some hostes club (judging from the pictures he was showing her). Even though she clearly indicated she was not interested this guy kept talking to her for ages.

    Needless to say, these guys are all? Japanese.

    On a less annoying level: stand at Hachiko-mae for 2 minutes and notice the guys coming along trying to invite you to izakaya bars.

    When will we see similar signs in Shibuya, Harajuku, and Shinjuku?

    Never, I think.

  • We’ll start seeing similar signs in Shibuya, Harajuku, and Shinjuku when the Japanese touts get as fucking obnoxious as the foreign touts. Shibuya is swarming with scouts, and they can be a bit obnoxious, but they don’t hold a candle to the Roppongi touts. I’ve never seen a Shibuya, Harajuku, or Shinjuku tout actually grab the arm of someone walking by, for example.

  • Ironically I go to Roppongi to go to a church that has been located about two blocks from Roppongi Crossing for the past 40 years, so there is a wider spectrum of NJ activity in that neighborhood than most people realize. I do get tired of the touts, but I do know that it is not just the foreign ones who get obnoxious, the foreign ones are just a LOT more visible.

  • The cities suck anyways. Move to the countryside. The most vicious tout-like behaviour I see is the sparrows bickering at the bird feeder outside my window.

    The urban trench between Osaka and Tokyo is the area best avoided.

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