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Tokyo: Do you feel safe while out and about in Japan?

by Mami Maruko and Magdalena Osumi

Sachiko Mori
Office worker, 33 (Japanese)
There are some strange people in Tokyo who you’d be better off avoiding. Recently I had to dodge a weird man, probably in his 50s, who was lashing out at people near the station where I get off for work. You never know if such a person is holding a knife, or on drugs or something. Also in Tokyo, I was followed by a homeless-looking guy, and I asked the staff at the nearest convenience store for help.

Anne Tuschinski
On gap year, 35 (German)
Yes, of course. Here, I walk home from the station with my iPod earbuds stuck in my ears, not worrying about who is behind me. There are no strange people in the streets and nobody approaches you in a weird way. I only feel uncomfortable in Roppongi, where I was once followed; in other places, I feel safe. I’ve been to a lot of places in Japan but it never happened anywhere else.

Misato Nakamura
Ballet instructor, 23 (Japanese)
Overall I feel safe, but there are times when I don’t. When I was a student in Chiba, I was followed by a guy on a bike in his 40s or 50s. He followed me for about 15 minutes on my way home from the station at night. He would pass me, turn the corner and disappear, then reappear and follow me again. Maybe it was because I was wearing a mini skirt — who knows? I was terrified, so I got my mom to pick me up.

Svetlana Bondarenko
Housewife, 33 (Russian)
I think Japan’s a safe place, even if you walk the streets at night. But I do feel uncomfortable in crowded Shinjuku or Shibuya. Although I feel pretty much safe near my home in the Ginza area, I was once followed by an annoying guy in his 30s who tried to offer me ¥50,000 to spend some time with him, even though I kept saying no. I wasn’t wearing anything that could have led him on.

Sayaka Tagawa
Unemployed, 26 (Japanese)
There are some places where you can never feel 100 percent safe. I remember one guy hanging about near my house around the same time of day for a few days in a row. I don’t live there anymore, and I guess that was one of the reasons I decided to move out. Clubs can be quite dangerous, too. There are a lot of people doing drugs, and they are casually offered to you even if you don’t show any interest.

Yoko Harano
Student, 36 (Japanese)
I find Japan very safe compared to other countries I’ve been to. Currently I’m living in Africa but I’ve also been to several countries in Europe and Asia. There aren’t many places in the world where you can leave your bag unattended and you don’t have to worry about your purse getting snatched. In that sense, I feel relaxed in Japan.

Yumi Okita
Receptionist, 22 (Japanese)
Living on my own, sometimes I feel uneasy. About six months ago, someone ding-dong-ditched me two days in a row. The first time I opened the door to check and there was no one there, and that was scary. I also feel uncomfortable when guys try to hit on me. I had to call my friend once because a guy was being really pushy and even grabbed my arm.

Interested in gathering views in your neighborhood? For further details, please mail community@japantimes.co.jp.


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Do you feel safe while out and about in Japan?

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  • humberto tochio v.

    i lwork ten years in japan and never was i scared. there are not police men in the streets, but the neighbor allways lookout the streeets.

  • Lilly

    I agree with Yoko – compared to other countries, Japan is really relaxed an safe. Overall, Japan’s bigger safety issues seem to always involve some kind of stalkerish weirdos…
    As for my own experiences, I’ve never felt unsafe in Japan (especially compared to other countires in which I am scared even at daylight) but I avoid strange areas at night generally.