One night in May, a man dressed in a ski cap, mask, and leather jacket walked into a branch of Japanese convenience store Family Mart in the town of Kanie, Aichi Prefecture. He walked up to the register, where the store’s 27-year-old manager was working, and pointed a knife at her saying “I’m a Vietnamese. Money! Money!”
The robbery attempt ended unsuccessfully, with the man running away without obtaining any cash and the manager, thankfully, unharmed. Still, no one likes getting a bladed instrument pointed at them while they’re just trying to do their job, and following an investigation the police last week caught the would-be robber, a 21-year-old man named Yuto Watanabe, who has admitted to the charges.
▼ The store where the attempted robbery took place
If that name doesn’t sound particularly Vietnamese to you, it’s because it’s not. Watanabe, an unemployed resident of the neighboring prefecture Mie, is a Japanese citizen, and apparently he thought that by declaring himself to be Vietnamese he could throw any post-robbery investigation off his tracks.
It’s a deplorable tactic, and also one that was extremely poorly implemented. For starters, while there are, of course, cultural differences between people of different nations, nowhere on earth will you find a country whose people verbally announce their nationality when trying to knock over a convenience store. Second, in trying to sell his act, Watanabe used broken Japanese in order to make himself sound less like a native speaker, saying “Jibun wa Betonamujin” instead of the more natural “Watashi wa Betonamujin” to mean “I’m Vietnamese.”
This unnatural use of jibun instead of watashi to mean “I” is often seen in entertainment media to make a speaker sound more foreign, since the exact reason watashi is more natural in this case is a matter of somewhat subtle nuance that’s a little tricky to explain in concrete terms. But while you’ll see uses of jibun like this in manga and video games, what you’re unlikely to find is an actual learner of Japanese as a second language saying “Jibun ha Betonamujin.” Every person who studies Japanese learns watashi long before they learn jibun, and “I’m Vietnamese/American/Thai/etc.,” using the natural watashi, is one of the first sentences any student of the language learns how to say in Japanese.
In addition to his false flag operation, Watanabe has two prior arrests on his record, one for suspicion of burglary at a different Aichi convenience store.
Source: Tokai TV via Yahoo! Japan News via Hachima Kiko
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