Japan Times readers wrote in to express their opinions about the Zeit Gist column headlind “Reported stalking cases likely just tip of iceberg” by Thomasina Larkin published on April 10. Here’s what they had to say:
Victim speaks out
I am a foreign woman living in Japan and I have been the victim of harassment.
But not because I have blond hair and fit any stereotype: I have been harassed because there’s a lot of it going on and I happen to be a foreign Asian woman.
There is a supermarket near my apartment and there are four or five different security guards who regulate foot and vehicle traffic at the entrance to the parking garage.
Years ago, one of the security guards started harassing me.
It started with staring and then last year he started waiting outside the store and when I came back from work late at night he would follow me into the store.
Every single time I shopped in the store at night, he would follow me into the store and walk by, peering into my cart or just trying to make me notice him.
In June of last year, I called the manager of the store, without giving my name, and told him about the incidences.
After this, the sicko stopped waiting outside the store at night but he continued following me into the store.
In February, I called him a “baka yaro” (idiot) to his face and I have gone out of my way to not go there when he has a shift, but it pisses me off that I have to change my schedule because of this.
I have hesitated to confront this head on because I am a foreign woman and have felt that the Japanese management would not believe me, etc.
I am now considering consulting with the center at my ward office that offers advice to foreigners.
I hope your work sheds light on the dangerous, psychopathic behavior of some Japanese men and what they have gotten away with.
Scratching the surface
This issue shows up the fact that in Japan, tragically, the reported cases of rape, “chikan” subway incidents, domestic violence and sexual violence committed against women also remain a “scratching of the surface.”
Victims of sexual violence in Japan remain voiceless.
Apart from the Tokyo Victim Support Center, such facilities are entirely lacking in Japan, and this threatens to alienate Japan from the rest of the world.
Unless such problems are made apparent, confronted, and openly resolved, Japan will perpetually frighten away the rest of the world and in the process suffer from misunderstanding.
The Japanese police and government should channel efforts to seriously tackle sexual crimes against women in Japan.
Maintaining a silent and concealing position merely perpetuates a national problem that is incomparable anywhere else in the first world.
If Japan is to achieve a status of international cultural recognition and understanding it must work to combat sexual violence.
Hopefully, the media storm following the case of the British teacher who was murdered will make the Japanese people consider what might be done to prevent such crimes in future.
This is not the imposition of Western ideology — It is a plea that the Japanese people confront this issue openly and collectively.
Male student, Galway, Ireland
Japanese police a joke
Very informative. More articles such as this one need to be published in Japan — and not only in English.
What about more accountability from the Japanese police?
It’s just an opinion, but the Japanese police always did seem like a joke.
Women in Japan suffer in silence
I think that this is not just an issue for foreign women but one that Japanese women contend with in silence.
My friend in Japan once told me her best friend was raped by her boyfriend and his friend, but she never reported it.
Hannah, Barcelona, Spain
Psychos give majority bad name
I find it really strange that on the surface the majority of Japanese men seem really timid and are genuinely really nice, harmless blokes.
It’s such a shame that a few psychos have to ruin it for the rest by triggering off fear and giving Japanese men such an awful reputation, putting many girls off going to Japan.
I felt safer when I lived in Japan than I ever have anywhere in Europe.
Julia, Leeds, England
Newcomers need to know dangers
I’m really glad you’re tackling this issue.
I am always so frustrated when foreign women come to Japan and wax lyrical about how it’s so safe and how they feel so safe that sometimes they don’t even lock their doors!
I always tell them that it’s not like that, etc., etc., but after this recent murder I have been wondering more and more what I can do to help raise awareness for foreign women about potential dangers.
Before certain incidents happened to me I knew that there were shady people around and I knew how visible I was so I made a point of being careful, but I had never felt threatened.
However, as a result of those experiences I feel it a lot more now and make a point of being just as careful as I would be in London, especially at night.
I remember that when I first got here the feeling or atmosphere was so much less menacing than the U.K.
For example, I felt that I wouldn’t be asking for trouble by looking people in the eye whilst walking past them on a night out, and there seemed to be much less aggression in the air.
That translated to me feeling and thinking that it was much safer.
It also took me quite a while to figure out who the dodgy people were because I didn’t have that “danger radar,” and the one that I had for the U.K. didn’t apply here.
I always try and tell any new foreign women I meet to be careful but I really feel that more needs to be done.
I honestly think companies hiring foreign women should sit them all down in the beginning and tell them that although it might feel safer there are some very real dangers because although many women have these stories newcomers often don’t hear them (especially those people who come on the JET program, who come in a bit of a bubble and tend not to meet or socialize with people who have come here before them).
Harriet, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Pref.
Yakuza dealt with my stalker
I was stalked for almost six months.
It started off when a car passed by and the driver asked me if he could invite me for a ride.
I’m a good-looking woman, and used to these sort of flirtations, so I simply ignored him.
But, one week later, I saw him waiting near the train station, and he was still giving me the remarks. He seemed to know where I live and what time I usually come home.
Realising the danger, I reported it to the police.
No action was taken.
I began to panic when one night I heard my flat’s door knob being twisted from outside. I went to the police again and still no action was taken.
I was already giving up and planning to move place when one night I saw the man again, and ran to the police “koban.”
He tried to speed off, but the traffic lights turned red and he had to stop, so I forced the policeman to go and check on him. That was the first time the police ever found out his details.
Can you imagine? What had they been doing for all these months?
Anyway, he denied my accusations, saying that he was waiting for his girlfriend who lives in the area.
Anyway, since he’d already been questioned by the police I was afraid he would change from flirting to attacking me. So I sought legal help, but even the lawyer wasn’t interested in taking up my case.
One day, I befriended a bar owner near my house and told her about my problem. She said to me, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it for you.”
True enough, I haven’t seen the man around since. I learnt some months later that she told her yakuza customers to take care of it and told me not to worry about it anymore . . . and the case was closed.
But the issue here is why no people in official authorities, like the police or lawyers, take this matter seriously?
I was lucky that the bar owner took pity on me and helped me out.
I think this issue is alarming and should be given serious attention.
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