A pair of middle-aged men in bright yellow uniforms patrol a business district near JR Tokyo Station in Chiyoda Ward, watching every pedestrian like hawks. They spot a salaryman carrying a lighted cigarette and spring into action.

The team, assigned by the ward to crack down on public smoking in designated areas, comes across offenders roughly every five minutes. Errant smokers, usually annoyed but nevertheless obedient, are asked to cough up 2,000 yen.

"Thanks to our efforts over the past year and the wide publicity of the ward's policy, offenders show less sign of surprise and are becoming more compliant in paying the penalty when they are caught," said Masahiro Yamazaki, 61. The retired police officer has been a street patrol member since April.