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Tokyo: Do you have a positive or negative image of the police?

by Mark Buckton

Yoko Hayashi
Company employee, 38 (Japanese)
I have a pretty negative impression of the police overall, in large part as a result of repeated cases of young women reporting stalkers, the police then failing to act, and the stalkers eventually killing the women.

Jason Koehler
Restaurateur, 40 (American)
Overall positive, because they are fairly approachable, but I do sometimes wish they would do more than give directions, such as cracking down on people smoking on the street where streets are clearly marked as “no smoking.”

Kazuo Yoshida
Talent manager, 50 (Japanese)
I have a good image of them, as they are very important in our daily life, and without the police presence we would face many problems with lawlessness, and no resolution of things like traffic accidents and neighborhood rows.

Momoyo Chiba
Tattoo artist, 25 (Japanese)
I really don’t have a good image of the police because of a couple of stalking cases a few years ago when the police failed to act, and the girls being stalked were eventually murdered. What is there to admire after that?

Colin Carter
Teacher, 50 (English)
I’m not impressed with the police because more often than not they slow to react, and whilst they might have strong points in some areas, in others they are straight on the foreigners regardless.

Hiroshi Hashimoto
Interior decorator, 42 (Japanese)
I don’t have a good impression at all. Stories of amakudari (cushy postretirement jobs), graft and wrongful arrest are more the norm than the exception. There are some cops that try hard but most people think they are bad, which is sad.

Interested in gathering views in your neighborhood? E-mail community@japantimes.co.jp

  • Tanaka

    One thing is the image that we have of the Japanese police when living outside Japan. Other is living here for 13 years now and noticing that the police is lazy, inneficient, corrupt, oportunistic and overrated. Crime rate is low in Japan not because of the police enforcement, and by crime we imagine murder and robbery, but take the cases of corruption, fraud (sagi), the ubiquitous yakuza… We are defenseless, while those policemen perform their best giving speed tickets.

  • Ben

    i think a lot of these comments are unfairly directed at the police officers, who are only following the orders of their superiors and operating under the restrictions placed upon them by lawmakers. if you want more vigorous investigation of stalkers, lobby politicians rather than the officers who aren’t allowed to go after them even if they wanted to. in so many areas of japanese law things ‘should’ be done (as opposed to ‘must’) and even then there is often no legal punishment available to be used against offenders so what’s the point of even arresting them?

  • Ben

    while my own experiences with the police here have been problem-free, (to be honest mostly non-existent), going back a few years i remember a story about a police officer who was shot by a gang member (i think in or near tokyo) and was left writhing on the ground in agony, as fellow officers were not only ordered not to enter the property to help, but to cover only 3 of the 4 streets surrounding it. this was clearly a case of corruption (who could seriously claim a mistake in leaving an exit path, especially one whose job it is to catch criminals, obviously the man in charge helped the criminal escape) yet no investigation came.

  • Mats Eri

    Definitely not a good image of Japanese police. They are slow to react, as in stalking cases, have little or no investigative skills, forget they are public servants, have rough and abrasive manner. In the police eyes, you are guilty and that’s it. Unlike in western countries, once the police have you you are as good as convicted. Could never rely on them to help you in a problem situation.

  • FedUpWithWelfareStates

    What really rankles me about Japanese Police is that they turn a blind eye to annoying motorcycle gangs, while pulling over innocent motorists for petty infractions…What? are they afraid of the wanna-be Yakuzas?

  • Hannes Pretorius

    Compared to the South African police, they are all saints.

  • John L. Odom

    I have visited Tokyo 4 times. I speak no Japanese. I have each time had to ask the police at least once for help or directions. In each case they were most helpful and went far beyond my expectations in helping me.

    • PX

      wait til you actually live here. Police will be different.

  • Miura_Anjin

    Very much a negative image. How can one have a positive image in the face of the myriad of debacles they`ve been involved in?

    This is a great one I read today, basically a sexual assault by a police officer on a woman in custody in Osaka. http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20130322k0000m040074000c.html
    But there seem to have been a slew of similar incidents recently in which police have sexually molested women themselves, never mind allowing the stalkers to get them them later!

    On a personal level, I find the racial profiling of foreign residents here extremely disheartening.