Subject: crime in Japan-my own experience

Hey Bart,

Just read your reader's comment about crime in Japan, and wanted to confirm what they had said.
I went to Tokyo last year, and though the city is easily twice as big as New York (30 million people
in greater Tokyo) there was literally _no street crime_ there. You could walk around the dark alleys
at 3AM and never have to look over your shoulder or anything. You'd sometimes see mafia types,
but those people would actually protect you if there were crime, because it would make their business
look bad. I was told that the only people I'd have to worry about were other tourists.

The most bizarre evidence of the lack of crime there:  In NYC last summer, I saw a bicycle chained
to a post, stripped. It was only a frame when I saw it, someone had taken the wheel, sprockets,
handle bars, even the brakes and pedals.  In Tokyo, most people would ride their bicycle to the
train station, and take the train to work, so there are _hundreds_ of bicycles outside of every
train station, and you'd rarely if ever see one locked up _anywhere_ in the city.

When you asked the question initially, I had the same response in mind that your reader had
('there is no crime in japan.'), though I didn't live there, I am positive that they don't have to worry about it.

Everyone I met there were very courteous and hospitable. They'd stop everything just to help me with
directions (one guy actually took me through several train transfers to my hotel.. over 30 minutes out
of his way!) People told me I'd have a culture shock there, but that didn't happen until I got back to
Texas, and realized how rude many people here actually are in comparison. I was bowing at cash
registers here for about a week after I got back:)

Honestly, the people there were so friendly, I often stop Japanese tourists here to tell them how much
I enjoyed the trip to their country.  I'd have to say that Tokyo is the safest place I've ever been,
and likely the safest city on Earth.

And a funny follow up to the bicycle story:  A friend of mine went to Tokyo with a group of people
a few years ago. A guy that was with him got lost, with no money, but he knew how to get back to
his hotel on land. (addresses are not decipherable, to say the least.. the residents told me that only
the police and postmen knew how to read the address system)

Anyway, this guy decides he'll 'borrow' a bicycle, to get back to his hotel. Someone sees him,
and must've known that it wasn't his bike, so next thing you know, he's being chased by the police.
They take him to a 'station', and start questioning him (angrily) in Japanese. He asks for the American
Embassy, and when his translator arrives, the police give him the details.

"They say you stole a bicycle?"  asks the translator.
"Yes, I was out of money and couldn't walk anymore."  was his reply (or something to that affect)

The translator discusses this with the police..

"So, are you sorry?" asks the translator.
"Uh.. Yeah, I'm sorry." answers the guy.
..More discussion...
"Ok, you're free to go.."..

Hehe.. well as long as he was sorry, eh? :)

K, Off work.. I'm outta here..


Subject: Yes, Japan is that safe


Besides being one of the most densely populated countries in the world, Japan is one of the safest.
I have read many anecdotal accounts from travelers who would leave thier bicycles, backpacks, etc.,
without fear of  theft.

It's called being civilized.  I am a student of Buddhism, and I remember the accounts of the first Zen
Monks who wanted to come to the USA, and how some of their teachers would discourage them
from going, by telling them they didn't want them going to a "barbarian" country.

By the way, I was watching the History Channel the other day (in the gym).  It seems your whole state
(OK) was once an Indian reservation, because all their land had been occupied and stolen, then their
reservation was also.  I think this is what the Japanese Zen masterns meant by barbarian country.  Of
course, the militaristic Japanese were pretty barbarian in WWII and the occupations of China and Korea.

By the way, when I am in the gym on the rowing machine, and Dim Son comes on the news, I start
yelling, "Fuck you, who cares what you say or think, you brain dead, coke head, illegitimate bastard".  I
always yell it out.  It is shocking some of the others, but they usually turn to me and agree (this is
the People's Republic of Vermont, after all).

Can't help myself..........

Take it slow, I just started the Atkins diet, and Tequila is OK, no carbs,


Neil in Vermont

Subject: crime in Japan

Hey Bart-

Of course they've got crime in Japan, they don't slaughter each other the way we do in this country.

In a country the size of California, the Japanese have half the U-S population,
60 percent the U-S economy, and about ONE PERCENT of the U-S  murder rate.

No sushi, Sherlock!

There are around two hundred murders a year in Japan, versus about 20-thousand here
(11-thousand committed with guns).

Cohesive families, respect for elders, and lots more classroom time for children are
some of the reasons. Essentially NO access to guns in another.

That guy in the black panthers had it right...
Violence IS as American as cherry pie.


Subject: From Expat about crime in Japan

Dear Bartcop,

I lived in Japan for about 7 years until just recently.

In fact, many people DO leave their doors unlocked.  I
have heard this is also the case in many rural areas of Canada.

Is it safe?  Well, maybe.  Generally speaking, anyone
who comes to your door will NOT have a gun.  In my 7
years of life there, I never saw a gun that wasn't attached
to the belt of a police officer in uniform.  Illegal possession
of one is an instant ticket to jail.  However, they MIGHT
have knives or baseball bats, and unless they are just psychos,
will outnumber you.

Crime in Japan until recently has been about organized
crime.  Kuma is essentially correct in what I read of
his letter to you. 2 grains of salt, however:

1.  Japanese statistics mean nothing, since most
police are useless at fighting crime and would prefer
not to file reports, and many homes and people are
ashamed of victimization and don't report it.

2.  There is growing random violence, usually in the
form of a crowd of cowardly punks on motorbikes or in
sleazy vans, with bats and chains who beat up homeless,
drunk, or weaker-looking people at random on the streets
at odd hours of the night.  I don't know how helpful it
would be own a gun in fighting this kind of situation.
It is rare enough that most people (including myself)
still consider it safe to walk on the street at night.

The dirty secret of Japanese crime (and its "clean"
looking record) is that most crime, even serious crime,
is committed domestically or in the workplace against
victims who feel helpless to speak out (and will probably
only suffer more if they do).  Japanese police do not
regard their job as "preventing" crime.  If you complain
of harassment, the attitude will be that they can do nothing
until a crime is provable, i.e. someone has been killed and
they have a body.

The legal system is even more screwed up, with a 99%
conviction rate and the right for PROSECUTORS to
appeal against acquittals (Ashcroft would love it), but I
digress, and this is already probably off-topic for you.
Anyway, basically I agree with Kuma that guns are
overkill in Japan unless you've got a beef with the
local mafia, with the caveat that things are changing a lot.


Subject: Home invasion in Japan

As a long time ex-pat living in Japan I have to say Kuma is right about the lack of gun violence
and gun crime here. Due to very strict gun laws and unpleasant prisons, gun violence/crimes are
few and far between.  However,  I can tell you from first hand experience that home invasions
are a longtime tradition in Japan. The martial art of Aikido (the one Steven Segal practices) is
based on the act; the first movements are learned on one's knees, going back to the days when
attackers invaded the family home and the master of the house didn't have room to stand and
fight due to low ceilings. Kuma is also very misleading when giving impression that homes are
safe in Japan...bullshit! Everybody has their doors locked 24-7.  Most homes have gates with
intercoms and almost all first floor windows are barred. At night most private homes are closed up
like up stores in a shopping mall; windows have steel garage doors or metal gates pulled down
over them, and that's out in the countryside! In the last year several friends as well as myself
have had our apartments broken into........(the cops investigating my friends{all Japanese}
instantly deducted that they were victims of "foreigner thieves". They were politically astute
enough not to say the same to me).
As for rape, thousands go unreported here because the police investigation usually starts with
asking the victim if she "was asking for it." There are signs on in the subways of Osaka stating
"CHIKAN AKAN" which translates into "PERVERTS STOP!" directed at the thousands of
molesters that get their jollies to and from work.  I have personally confronted thugs beating
the crap of their girlfriends in public. When the police finally did arrive they were more interested
in me than the thugs.   When looking for an apartment, my wife(Japanese) refused to get a first
floor place that could be seen for a street because she said she was afraid that "someone would
steal all my panties!" from the clothes line.
There are hundreds of stories like this here, but you'll never hear it for the Japanese, Kind of like
the GOP in the USA, but everyone has it ingrained in them from childhood. And no one speaks
out cause the nail that sticks out the most gets hammered the hardest. Sorry to get on my soapbox...
if you're ever interested in what really going on over here drop me a line.
I love your sight and hope to start to be able to contribute some dinero after the New Year.
Sorry it can't be sooner, it takes alot of money to get the family home for the holidays. Keep hammering.
Cheers, Kyle in Kobe

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