A little over a month ago, the Japanese Internet was shocked by a photo of two Canadian police officers carrying Starbucks coffees while on patrol, since such relaxed behavior would be unthinkable for law enforcement officers in Japan. Then Japan got hit with several weeks of record-breaking, still-ongoing heat, which has changed decision makers’ minds about what sort of behavior is appropriate for on-duty officers.
This week, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department announced that it has officially granted permission for members of the kidotai (often translated as “riot police,” but also referring to officers assigned to security details) to carry plastic beverage bottles or thermoses while on duty. Previously officers were required to wait until they returned to their assigned guardhouse or vehicle to drink water or otherwise rehydrate.
Members of the kidotai are often posted outside Tokyo’s government buildings and foreign embassies, which means standing out in the blazing sun. While possible dehydration is always a concern in Japan’s hot and humid summers, the threat is especially great this year, which prompted the relaxed regulations.
Due to the nature of their work, however, the officers need to be ready to deal with potentially violent criminals, and thus they’re not allowed to carry their beverages in their hands like the Canadian officers were photographed doing. Instead, Tokyo officers have been seen with beverage bottles in holders strapped to their belts (previously such accouterments were not allowed under department uniform regulations). The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department has also begun issuing special vests with interior pockets filled with ice packs to help prevent heat exhaustion.
Given the stigma of colored beverages as discretionary, leisure-time drinks, it’s unlikely that any Tokyo officers will be sipping on lattes. Still, between simple water, Japan’s numerous clear sports drinks, and its new breed of transparent, non-carbonated flavorful soft drinks, they’ll at least be able to keep hydrated while they keep the country safe.
Source: TBS News via Hachima Kiko
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