Reader Mail

Police street checks are going too far

I’ve been staying in Japan for four years now and I plan to live here much longer. I’m an engineer who pays 23 percent income tax and I try to follow Japanese etiquette with utmost care. I don’t get why Japanese police keep frisking me in public.

Although they are polite in word, they are very hostile in body language. Usually there are two of them and they stand too close. They always do it in very public places where everyone can see, most of the time when I’m waiting at a red light to cross the street. Asked why, their answer is never satisfying at all. Last night I got frisked 50 meters from where I stay, in the middle of the street. People were staring at me. Next time I go out I’m not sure if people will look at me differently or not. This is very humiliating.

I wouldn’t complain if this was a one-time thing, but this has happened many times in four years. In fact, two times yesterday. The other one was far away from my apartment. The total count is already three this year. Every time they do this, I ask them for a reason, thinking I might have done something wrong. But the answer is always random. Last night I was told they’re checking all foreigners.

My visa expires this year and I was considering renewing it as I’ve a girlfriend, good friends and a job I love in Tokyo. But now I’m reconsidering as I am not sure if I can go through this again and again. Sometimes I think it’s racial profiling as I’ve heard similar stories from my brown friends. No Caucasian friend has gone through a similar experience. Nor have the Japanese I know. I don’t know who to complain to about this — not, of course, the police as I don’t feel comfortable around them.

ANONYMOUS
TOKYO

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.