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crime

Living next door to a stalker: Reporter recounts time her neighbor stalked her

15 Comments
By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

Japan is reputed to be a safe country, but that doesn’t mean it’s not without its problems. One of those problems is stalking, with more than 20,000 cases reported in 2018.

One of SoraNews24's Japan-language reporters, Mai, has firsthand experience of being stalked recently, and in order to help protect others she has now decided to share her story with our readers.

While she’s comfortable speaking about it now, at the time it was frightening, so she hopes that this cautionary tale can help at least one other person from suffering the same way she did. We’ve laid out her account of the experience below.

At the beginning, I had a good impression of my neighbor

At the time, I was living in a small apartment block, with only four one-room units spread out across two floors. In between apartments was a staircase, and I was living on the first floor.

▼ The apartment block had stairs in the middle, with my apartment on the bottom left and my neighbor’s on the bottom right.

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Soon after moving in, I first saw my neighbor when we left our apartments at the same time one day. I remember he was in his 30s, not fat but stocky, and wearing a tight leather jacket. He had small eyes and wore glasses, and his short black hair looked unkempt. Seeing as our gaze met when we exited our apartments, I greeted him quietly with “Hello. I just moved in.” He returned the greeting in a quiet manner, so I thought he was polite, and I got a good first impression from him.

But then, strange things started happening

After that first meeting, I gradually noticed that day by day he started leaving the apartment at the same time I did, and after a few months he was leaving at the same time as me for half the week.

Our front doors were pretty close to each other, so whenever we saw each other, I felt I had to be polite and say hello to him. Sometimes he would try to start up some small talk, but it was nothing strange or out of the ordinary.

Then, not only did the timing of us leaving the apartments coincide, but the time we returned home began to coincide as well. Whether it was in the evening or late at night, he began appearing on my walk home, always greeting me from behind as he walked up to me, and not only near our apartment block, but near the station closest to us as well.

So we would end up walking home together, and he would just talk casually about everyday things, and I didn’t think he liked me or that it was anything to be worried about at the time. But gradually, the conversation began shifting to include comments about my personal routine, with him inquiring about the times I was away from home, or commenting on the fact that I stayed up late at night.

That started to make me feel uneasy, but I figured he probably saw my light on late at night because we were neighbors, so I told myself it wasn’t anything to be too concerned about.

The plushie incident

While at home one day, the intercom rang so I went to answer it and saw it was my neighbor. He said, “It looks like something dropped outside your place so would you come and take a look to see if it’s something you left behind?”

So I went to open the door and then I saw this:

▼ He was showing me a stuffed toy.

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My neighbor held the plushie out to me with a smile and said, “It fell”. And then, instead of looking at me, he looked beyond me and into my room. It was then that I became convinced there was something strange about him and this whole situation. I told him it wasn’t mine but he kept talking, so I pushed the stuffed toy back at him and closed the door.

Did he look through my trash?

After the plushie incident, I talked to some trusted people about my situation and they told me what he was doing sounded like stalker behavior. They told me I should move somewhere else, but I didn’t want to waste money moving all over again after I’d only been living there for six months.

They also told me I’d better be careful to make sure he wasn’t going through my trash so one night, after I returned to my apartment from taking out the trash, I put my ear to the door and I heard his door open. Then I heard the sound of someone going through the trash, but I was so scared I didn’t dare open my door to confirm it.

From then on, I tried to open my door as quietly as I could so he wouldn’t hear it. I dreaded living there, so I often stayed at a friend’s house instead.

The used underwear on my door handle

After being away from the apartment for a while, I eventually returned. And when I did, there was a plastic bag hanging from my front door handle.

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 I checked inside and saw it contained women’s underwear. And they weren’t new underwear, either, they were used, with marks on them.

I have no words to explain how disgusted and scared I felt. I knew this was the neighbor’s doing, and now I felt it was actually dangerous to continue living here so I made arrangements to move out straight away.

From then to now

It was a hassle to move out, but everything was finalised in about two weeks, thanks to the help of my friends, who were a great support. It’s now been a month-and-a-half since the underwear-on-the-doorknob incident, and I’m in a much better place and haven’t seen that neighbor since. 

I’m sure there are some people out there who will think that I was partly to blame for letting things escalate to the level they did. However, I grew up in the country where I was taught to greet people with a smile when you see them, and to be amicable when people strike up conversations with you.

I don’t think it was wrong for me to greet him. His character led him to do what he did, and I honestly didn’t fear for my safety until the plushie incident occurred.

I hope other women don’t have to go through what I went through, but if you do find yourself in that situation you should never compromise your personal safety. Don’t prioritise things like saving money or wanting to avoid the hassle of moving out. Reach out to people around you and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Many victims of stalking are afraid to contact police, but Japan has an Anti-Stalking Act to help protect people in these situations. If you feel you are being stalked in Japan and need to talk to somebody in English, you can contact Tokyo English Life Line (TELL) on 03-5774-0992 or Japan Helpline on the toll-free number 0120-46-1997.

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Almost half of Japanese people hide when their doorbell rings — here’s why

-- “My father was arrested”—Student’s award-winning essay tells the story of a crime in her family

-- Japan’s public broadcaster goes thug-style, tags the house of man who refuses to pay fees

© SoraNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

15 Comments
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What was the guy hoping to accomplish with the dirty underwear on the door handle ?! It really confuses me...

6 ( +6 / -0 )

If you ever wonder why women are often reluctant to speak to men whom they don't know, this is why.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Bad situation. Best thing you could do is move. If you can't, especially with all the money needed by all the bs fees and such, a police report would be advisable.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Report it to the police, hopefully they will take it seriously. Stalkers are either mentally ill or have entitlement issues.

It's a shame the victim has to move, often the stalker can track down the victim to their new home, so they have to keep moving. It's extremely stressful and exhausting.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It is strange to me (a guy) that YOU have to move because of a crazy/stalker neighbor. Get the landlord involved, if necessary the police, and make the offender move away. I do know that in real case scenario, at the end of the day the victim will move, but it is just not right. Of course, there is the problem of "claimers" as well, which makes things even more complicated

6 ( +6 / -0 )

^^^^ The problem with 'making' the stalker move and not the victim, is that the stalker will still know exactly where their victim lives. I agree it's not right that way but that's just the reality.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

timeone:

It is strange to me (a guy) that YOU have to move because of a crazy/stalker neighbor. Get the landlord involved, if necessary the police, and make the offender move away.

Alas, that would not solve the stalking issue. Usually, stalkers do not live next door anyway. And the police are notoriously unable to do anything, before he actually commits a crime.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

No understsanding that he was in love with that lady.

No telling he was annoying and that he should get another boyfriend.

No brother, no father, no (male of preference) friend, no boyfriend to tell him if he causes any issue, he'll regret it (or his teeth).

Of course that guy is mentally-ill. That does not mean he can't understand the trouble he's looking for if you tell him.

There is no woman empowerement if women never apply it.

And that is a woman who has the "guts" to tell on Japanese Today.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Girlfriend not boyfriend sorry.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Not every guy has Moves like Jagger...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Sounds pretty damn scary, and fortunately it did not escalate any further! This woman is going to have some issues moving down the road, and I for one hope she takes some time and gets counselling!

Also this is one time I would love to hear the "other" side of the story! Now that the woman has moved out, it would be a great public service for one of SoraNews24's Japanese-language reporters, to do a follow up and interview the guy next door!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Often, guys who do not receive any attention from women, get weird when they do receive attention from women. This guy probably wanted to approach her, but was too chicken, and got all weird about it. This turns into a cycle - she gets weirded out by him being weird, so he acts weirder, freaking her out even more, and so on.

Unfortunately, that can also end in violence. I can understand this lady moving. Likely a prudent decision.

She should have also gone to the police with the undies though - if not just to have a record.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Jonathan PrinJune 20 07:13 pm JST

No understsanding that he was in love with that lady.

He was not "in love" with her. He was obessesed, and that is not the same thing.

No telling he was annoying and that he should get another boyfriend.

No brother, no father, no (male of preference) friend, no boyfriend to tell him if he causes any issue, he'll regret it (or his teeth).

Of course that guy is mentally-ill. That does not mean he can't understand the trouble he's looking for if you tell him.

First you suggest that the woman get her friend, boyfriend, or some other male to leave her alone. Then:

There is no woman empowerement if women never apply it.

And that is a woman who has the "guts" to tell on Japanese Today.

You criticize her for not telling him herself.

Which is it? Should she let a man do it for her, or should she do it herself and be "empowered"?

And you say those things despite all the news reports of stalkers murdering women even after the police (who have the most power) have confronted the stalker.

As someone who has had multiple run-ins with men who don't take no for an answer, I can tell you that this situation is not as simple as you seem to think. I suggest reading up more on the psychology of stalking before you make any other public comments on the subject.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

All stalkers, male and female can become very dangerous and should always be reported to the police.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Working theory: he really did think the plushie was yours. Same goes for the knickers. Maybe he putting out the trash, saw them in one of the bags and thought you had thrown them out by mistake.

I'm assuming, of course, that he's a full-bore loony.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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