Tokyo police raiding Roppongi, stopping NJ on Tokyo streets for urine tests (UPDATED)


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UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog. Followup to last May’s blog entry. After the recent scandals with Sumo Wrestlers (J & NJ) smoking pot (and the wrestlers blaming it on Roppongi foreigners), I’ve been receiving reports that Tokyo police profilings of NJ are further stretching the boundaries.

According to readers and GaijinPot, NJ are being stopped on Tokyo streets for urine tests:

Submitter HC wrote to me the following, with followup email when I asked for dates and times:

On Jun 17, 2009, at 11:18 PM, HC wrote:

hello debito, my friend and i have been stopped by police in shibuya and he, a foreigner, was asked for a urine sample. apparently it was a drug test.

the test result was negative, but my question is: is it legal to be stopped by police for that? can we refuse to give a sample?

btw. your page is amazing, thank you for so much work!


hello debito,

I think its getting common now, at least weekends at entertainment districts in Tokyo.
In our case it it was 2 weeks ago, Saturday night, about 23:30 in Shibuya, not far from station.
Just got stopped on the street and asked to provide a sample at the police station.

It seems that its not the only case, as i found more cases:

Hello I’ve been in japan about a year now, and live near roppongi. In the past couple of weeks, police have been stopping late night/early morning revellers when they are leaving bars and clubs, and asking them to provide urine samples. Essentially they are testing for drug use/abuse. Whilst i have nothing to hide, i cant help but think this is an invasion of my personal liberty/human rights. It also concerns me that things are quite easily added to drinks without people knowing much about it.

its not much surprise, that out of the 40 or 50 that i saw being pulled on fri night, all bar one were gaijin. I just wondered if they are within their rights to be doing this? thanks

Do we have a right to say “NO” to the request for an urine sample?

The answer is, obviously, yes, you have the right to refuse. More on your rights dealing with Japanese cops here.

Meanwhile, according to Japan Probe, last weekend saw another raid on Roppongi:

June 26th, 2009 by James
Last night, a task force of some 220 police and immigration officers descended upon the Roppongi area of Tokyo, tightening their crackdown on illegal activities by foreigners in that neighborhood… The massive force managed to make a grand total of 6 arrests: 5 foreign hostesses and 1 Indian suspected of visa violations.
Are things like this happening to other readers of Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Hi Blog. It’s confirmed. Called Asabu Police Station today (03-3479-0110(代表)) in Roppongi and talked to an officer Teshima. He admitted that yes, they are carrying out urine tests on people. He denied that they were targeting foreigners, but he refused to divulge what sort of criteria they use to select their testees. Separate blog entry on this by midnight tonight. Arudou Debito

62 comments on “Tokyo police raiding Roppongi, stopping NJ on Tokyo streets for urine tests (UPDATED)

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  • This added information about all the testing equipment being bought makes me wonder if this could be another misguided ‘training’ activity like the one where airport narcotic officials were using unwary mules in order to train/test their drug-sniffing dogs and related systems. Maybe the journalist who covered that would be interested in pursuing this latest along those angles.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the NPA start using urine testing to charge people with public intoxication. They could start really clearing foreigners out and truly making criminals out of the bunch of us.

    Re: the above comments about the guy who was allegedly nabbed and then tested and then busted the following week and sent packing back to NZ, I think it was. Perhaps the cops made him an offer he couldn’t refuse — face public prosecution and spend the next 6 months in a Japanese jail waiting for a chance to defend yourself and good luck finding and paying for your legal representation or — leave ‘voluntarily’. Even a completely innocent guy would think twice about tangling with the man under rules that so clearly seem to favor the house.

  • Jesus christ, can’t they just leave this behavior to crappy UK cops? I never heard of Japanese police being so creepy. How disappointing.

  • my wife and i are Korean and were stopped near Roppongi for test. we do not speak Japanese and when I showed my Korean passport they acted disgusted and called us “trash” in English. Why are Japanese police so racist to outsider? We have to be in Tokyo for work, and most people very nice to us, but never police.

  • Jean-Jacques X. says:

    One thing worth pointing out vis-a-vis urine tests is that, as far as I am aware, Japanese laws concerning marijuana criminalize possession. A urine test suggests evidence of use, but use itself is not criminalized: they actually have to nail you for having it in your possession, not in your system. So I am unaware of what crime they can charge you with in this case.

    I am no legal expert, but I had this explained to me by somebody (Japanese) who had done his research into the topic.

    Re. telling the cops they have no right to take your piss (or search your car, whatever) without a warrant, the problem with this is that at the end of the day, assuming you wait out the detention in jail and take it to trial, they will probably claim you were drunk & disorderly or resisting arrest, and it will be their word against yours, and we all know who the judge is going to believe. So unless you have witnesses, not a good idea.

  • Is there any precedence of someone asking the cops if they have a warrant?
    令状-new word for the day!
    Debito – when you called the Azabu police station, did you ask under what power they were able to take urine samples?
    I assume they have a duty to quote the law and to understand the limits of their own power.

    Isn’t there a free legal advice centre in Japan? – the powers of the police should be clear.

    This post isn’t about people being caught with disco biscuits, it’s about the extent of the police power to search without a warrant. It boils down to:
    Can the police do this to anyone (J&NJ)? If so, welcome to Police State.
    If so, it should be a domestic rights issue as well, I doubt if Japanese people would react well if they knew about it.
    Anyone who ever passed through an airport over the last few years knows that Gaijin profiling is rife. It also seems to be a Shibuya/Roppongi-based activity – I wonder if the xenophobe Tokyo mayor has anything to do with this?

    Anyway, interesting stuff!

  • I am so pleased by Mr. Debito’s work for the foreigners of Japan!
    If I am stopped around my home ( near Roppongi and Shibuya ) as I have been before, I don’t mind the police searching my bags or even my pockets but what about my blood/urine? I don’t even take illegal drugs but I don’t think this is reasonable…I think if there are many police as Matt Baker described and only me they can do what they want, right?
    Also – how to extract blood or urine?In the street?!

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    If I am stopped around my home ( near Roppongi and Shibuya ) as I have been before, I don’t mind the police searching my bags or even my pockets but what about my blood/urine?

    Fiona, forgive me, but please don’t say this. Just because the police are trying to do truly outrageous things (like hauling innocent people to the station for drug testing) doesn’t mean that we should accept the mildly-outrageous things. The law prevents a search of your person and belongings without your permission. If people keep giving in to them without protest, the police will only push harder. Defend your rights!

  • One of the most disturbing things about this is that while police are harassing preppy middle-class foreigners who would blanche at committing a parking violation, real criminals are getting away scot free. My guess it that they probably have a ‘noruma’ (target figure) for how many stop-and-searches they have to do a month, and that they’re looking for an easy way of bumping up the figures. Soft-looking foreign guys who wouldn’t say boo to a goose will be an immediate target because they will be docile and do as they’re told. They don’t vote, after all, so they don’t matter.

    I was identity-checked a couple of years ago while walking down the street minding my own business (in a suit). What upset me most about it was that at the time I was having problems with somebody throwing stones at my windows and vandalizing my mail box. When I called the police they said it was too trivial for them to bother with.

    I do know of Japanese people who have been similarly harassed – a student, for example, who was accused of being a chikan for no discernible reason other than visiting a convenience store late at night. But that doesn’t make the issue any better. All this time is wasted checking out innocent people because they’re easy targets, while Tatsuya Ichihashi and his ilk are left free to roam the streets.

  • havent been stopped for a urine test ever but it wouldnt surprise me if these rumors are true. Personally, I have been stopped and identity checked on my way back into Narita airport from overseas trips 5 times in a row now. 5 TIMES IN A ROW. At first they were using the SUMMIT in Hokkaido as an excuse but #4 and #5 was after the summit. Also been stopped once downtown by two cops that assumed I was carrying drugs and asked me to show my bag’s contents. Definate racial profiling. Ive lived in Japan longer than any other country in my life including my “home” country. Sad and annoying to have to deal with this crap.

    — To address your first sentence, these aren’t rumors. The cops themselves confirmed that they are stopping and apprehending NJ for urine samples. They’re just denying it’s racial profiling. Yeah sure.


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