crime

Man, under arrest for eating without paying, dies in detention

47 Comments

A 69-year-old man who was being held at a police station in Uraga, Kanagawa Prefecture, died after being found unconscious in his cell on Friday night, police said Saturday.

According to police, the man was discovered lying unconscious in his cell with his hands covering his face and a moist undergarment inserted in his mouth just after 6 p.m., Fuji TV reported. He was taken to hospital where he died at around 9:30 p.m., police said.

The man had been detained on March 30 for trying to leave an eatery without paying the 500 yen bill.

A Kanagawa prefectural police spokesman said an officer saw the man seated and alive at 5:50 p.m. when he checked the cells.

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47 Comments
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500 yen?! That's it!?! I mean, come on. Poor old guy. Something like this really hits hard to me personally. I find that there's just something "human" about eating, and for him to end up like this.

22 ( +25 / -3 )

This is too strange... I do not know what to make of it..... What did the police officer do or say to the man at 5:50pm. .... In my own mind I could not have stood by and saw the old man arrested for a 500 Yen meal..... If anyone else was there at the time I hope someone could he treated him to the meal by paying for it for him...

14 ( +18 / -4 )

he comitted a crime, detained, and could not face the consequences so he comitted suicide all in the name of 500 yen.

-34 ( +5 / -38 )

He likely had some psychological emotional problems. He committed suicide by his own hand. Nobody killed him. He opted out. He chose his exit. Rest in peace, ojisan, sayonara...

-20 ( +4 / -24 )

I'm sorry he suffered so much.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

If I were the Police investigating this so called crime I would have given the innkeeper the 500 yen and sent this old man on his way its possible this old man was broke maybe even homeless and in a country like Japan no one should have to go without a meal besides let leave the space in the jails at the police station for real violent criminals. This is a sign of real human stupidity to me may this poor unfortunate person RIP.

15 ( +18 / -3 )

Hindsight is 20/20.

It’s easy for everyone to yell at the cops AFTER the fact. Right there, they had just another case when somebody tried to get way without paying. Oh, yes, the police officers were supposed to pay for this guy. Right, because it’s his responsibility to feed all the poor and the homeless.

This time it ended in a tragic way, and the guy chose this way. However, think of the cops BEFORE the incident, and the day before, and the week before. Another and another case of people trying to ditch the joint without paying. Think what they saw at that time, not what you are seeing now. It’s not normal for people to decide to die because they haven’t paid 500 yen. Why should this time end up in such a way? With such a mentality, you can’t ever arrest or warn anybody because they just might commit suicide.

8 ( +15 / -6 )

He should have been put on suicide watch in his cell. No rope to hang himself so he stuffed underwear in his mouth to suffocate himself. Darwin awards, once again.

-24 ( +1 / -25 )

There are plenty of people starving in Japan who do not have enough money to live. Japan doesn't really give much help to the old and homeless. We have given money to poor old people when we see them scratching around for any coins left behind in drink dispensing machines. It is sad.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

If I were the Police investigating this so called crime I would have given the innkeeper the 500 yen and sent this old man on his way its possible this old man was broke. In other countries the police might be hailed as hero but Japanese does not work like that. When someone files the complain, the police will be never above the law to judge, no mater what the degree of crime.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

seriously, this country is ridiculous. they take pride over their "Kouban" system etc. but fail to address the problem in a proper way when a "perpetrator" is caught. Seriously, I worked many times with the police here (translation) and it always baffles me when I see they're trying to make a case out of the most ridiculous things, just like this one in the article. Wasting resources, personnel, court, literally HUNDREDS of pages when a teen is caught stealing a chocolate in the combini or an ojiichan is found walking with 2 raddishes from a nearby garden. Where's the counseling, welfare here? One meal alone in the detention costed more than 500 yen.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Does the word "empathy" not exist in Japanese ???

11 ( +14 / -2 )

This is too strange... I do not know what to make of it..... What did the police officer do or say to the man at 5:50pm. .... In my own mind I could not have stood by and saw the old man arrested for a 500 Yen meal..... If anyone else was there at the time I hope someone could he treated him to the meal by paying for it for him...

Ultrack, Bobby, your attitudes are very human and common sense, completely opposite and against the norms and mindset of the system in this place. Even if somebody stood up and said they will give him the damn 500 coin, the cops would tell you the "crime" is already consummated. Forced convictions at all costs, hence the high conviction rates here, all makeup.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

For a mere Yen 500 put in the cell-block?

Give me a break!

Aren't there more serious "crimes" those cops should work on?

A slap on the wrist, a serious counseling for a couple of minutes would have been enough!

But that's how the system works over here. This is so disgusting!

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Poor man. This should not have happened, and I don't understand how it did. Between 5:50 and 6pm, what happened?

Cue utter speculation:

Man wets himself while in his cell.

Copper: "You're disgusting you are. You were hungry? Well, eat this."

Copper inserts underwear into man's mouth tapes hands over mouth, and leaves.

Copper comes back ten minutes later, and several minutes late.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Zybster: "Hindsight is 20/20. It’s easy for everyone to yell at the cops AFTER the fact."

Here's the thing: I agreed with you, to an extent, until I reread the specifics. I think that if they detained the man ONLY long enough to bring in some kind of counsellor and/or other help and talk to the man, tell him he needs to work off the 500 yen and then maybe they can help him find something, then okay. I would agree that the cops couldn't just let the man walk, as we do indeed read of so many cases of people stealing or doing this kind of thing because they WANT to be caught or don't expect to be detained.

But here's the thing -- he was detained on the 30th, which means last Wednesday, and he was found dead Friday night. That means he was in there for two days, or more depending on what time he was detained on Wednesday. How much is 48 hours worth, even in prison? Why was he kept so long with just the slightest of supervision?

So, no, no sympathy for the system here.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

The police do their job and hold someone for skipping on paying. Is it really that awful? That doesn't usually lead to suicide.

With everyone's holier than thou posts on here you all make it sound like the police should be admonished for doing their job.

The old man would've probably been let go the next day. He had a place to sleep and something to eat for the night and next day. They might've been doing him a favor.

Everyone needs to get off their high horses of disgust.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

Ugh. I'm sure we're missing more information here than what is reported in the article. Did he commit suicide or was there foul play involved? I'd hazard a guess it's the former, but something just seems fishy with whatever transpired within that 10 minutes.

I can't help but recall the article awhile back about asylum seekers in Japan having mysterious, sudden deaths while in detention. Hmm.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

i would have bought him the meal at 500 yen its nothing. poor sod, things must have been bad.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

One soul costing one coin :(

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Considering the dearth of facts, the outpouring of sympathy is odd. I have been yen/pennies short of a bus fare on many occasions and had to walk long distances as a result... And I have had to skip meals in times past to feed my children. 500 yen might not seem like a lot but how many times must a business owner have to let it slide (as those on this blog like to engage in hypotheticals and hyperbole) before he decides to put his family's bottom line before a thief's? I refuse to steal or to put my problems upon others. If someone should choose to do so out of what they feel is necessity, I might not judge them overly much depending on the facts (which are lacking) but regardless of their justifications they should bear responsibility for their actions and the consequent events.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

moist undergarment

Quote of the day!

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

@25yearsinjapan , those men scratching around for coins that you take pity on just use that spare change to buy.. alcohol. You are not helping them giving them money. But them a bentou box or sandwhich instead.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

Buy

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

FightingVikingAPR. 03, 2016 - 12:54PM JST Does the word "empathy" not exist in Japanese ???

NO

10 ( +10 / -0 )

You can't even get a big mac set for ¥500. What did he eat needs to be made public.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

A moist undergarment? Moist? Is that necessary? Anyway- 500 yen is a ridiculous sum to warrant the headaches of calling the police in Japan. At 5000 yen it is at least arguable but 500 yen is not. There is no justifying police involvement for some old man over 500 yen.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I'm certainly critical of the police when warranted, but this is not one of those cases. The police detained this gentleman for only one reason - the owner of the place he stole the meal from filed an official complaint - when a victim files a complaint, the police have to investigate, they do not have authority to decline. My experience has been for something this trivial the police will encourage an apology and settlement with no further action. That the gentleman was apprehended means the owner refused a settlement and demanded to file a complaint. So if you want to direct your ire at someone, I'd suggest the restaurant owner.

Additionally, I'm sure most folks reading this site are aware that there has been a significant rise in destitute elderly in Japan breaking a minor law on purpose to get arrested and sent to jail - for the housing, the food, and medical care. That's a sad comment on the overall social situation in Japan, but not something you can blame the police for.

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5 ( +5 / -0 )

lincolnman, "My experience has been for something this trivial the police will encourage an apology and settlement with no further action. That the gentleman was apprehended means the owner refused a settlement and demanded to file a complaint. "

I agree with the first sentence, but not necessarily the second. It's also possible the man refused to apologize or participate in any settlement. Since the article says he initially tried to leave without paying, as opposed to apologizing to the owner and offering to help cleanup or otherwise compensate the owner, perhaps he wasn't inclined to do so even after the police were called.

Danny Bloom, Why should he have been put on suicide watch? Plenty of people are arrested for shoplifting, or failing to pay for a meal. Very few of them commit suicide while in detention.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

500 yen meal only? Can't be true---surely?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Very tragic, and another black mark on Japan's "police force"

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I agree with the first sentence, but not necessarily the second. It's also possible the man refused to apologize or participate in any settlement. Since the article says he initially tried to leave without paying, as opposed to apologizing to the owner and offering to help cleanup or otherwise compensate the owner, perhaps he wasn't inclined to do so even after the police were called.

Yes, its possible the suspect declined to cooperate in a settlement - and this would be consistent if he wanted to actually be arrested. However, irrespective of the suspect's actions, the victim had the option of filing a complaint, or not - he/she elected to file a complaint making an official police investigation mandatory.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I can see the restaurant owners side, at what point do you let things go 100-200-300-500-1000 yen? if the restaurant owner lets things go, other people could/might jump on the free for all, personal i would get the man to clean the pots or the floor for an hour or so. that would be more sensible.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I love how the usual haters are so quick to condemn the police in this instance. The police in Japan generally avoid arresting people for small crimes. They give warnings and let people go on their way, even when faced with belligerent drunks who are shouting and screaming at them (which I've seen plenty of times late at night). And even if the police were heavy-handed in arresting this man, they still can't be blamed for his death. It's more than obvious that this man had psychological problems.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Why was he still being held? It was petty crime. I don't like a thief but the punishment must suit the crime. Call me naive but surely a police warning or possibly a charge and a fine are enough?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

nakanoguy01: "And even if the police were heavy-handed in arresting this man, they still can't be blamed for his death."

Why not? How long do you keep a man detained, and clearly not watched, for refusing to pay for a 500 yen meal? Because he was detained for more than two days without being closely watched, and then killed himself. People are quick to condemn the police because the police deserve it here, and in the many other cases when the police are condemned. Should we praise them when they forget to lock the back door of a station and the suspect escapes? or how about when they shoot the person being robbed instead of the robber? the hazing that causes so many rookies to shoot themselves in toilet stalls? Their forced confessions? The 10,000 calls received and ignored before someone is murdered? There's a reason why a number of people have called for a PoliceCrime section of its own, my friend.

And there are cases, of course, where they do not deserve to be criticised as some people criticise them, but those are the exceptions when the police make the news, unfortunately, and there is a reason the J-cops are called "The Keystones".

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Danny BloomApr. 03, 2016 - 04:38PM JST @25yearsinjapan , those men scratching around for coins that you take pity on just use that spare change to buy.. alcohol. You are not helping them giving them money. But them a bentou box or sandwhich instead.----------------------------------------

I don't care what they do with the money. To some of these people, a cup of sake or a pack of cigarettes is the only pleasure they have in life. Anyway, the time and the place does not give me a choice to supply a bento unless I carry one with me everywhere I go.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@25yearsinJapan, in that case, you have a point, and you are a good person to care. Sorry if I didn't explain myself well earlier post you objected too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Lincolnman, "However, irrespective of the suspect's actions, the victim had the option of filing a complaint, or not - he/she elected to file a complaint making an official police investigation mandatory."

As you point out, the restaurant owner is the victim in this case. And we don't know anything about that person, who might be rolling in money, or might be running on a thin margin and is wary of being nickle and dimed out of business. Perhaps even has a running problem with similar eat it and beat it types. Until I hear details that say otherwise I'm inclined to think the owner had good reason to call the police.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As you point out, the restaurant owner is the victim in this case. And we don't know anything about that person, who might be rolling in money, or might be running on a thin margin and is wary of being nickle and dimed out of business. Perhaps even has a running problem with similar eat it and beat it types. Until I hear details that say otherwise I'm inclined to think the owner had good reason to call the police.

You may be correct. I was merely supplying the facts with regards to when and why the police must detain an individual and begin an investigation, versus the parties agreeing on a settlement with no further police inquiry.

Also, regarding the comment on his detention, I imagine most folks know that the police (when a complaint is filed against you) may detain you for up to 48 hours (72 over a weekend) without any type of court order, to conduct their investigation. After that period, they must get a court approved 10 day extension which can be granted again - for a total of 23 days. At that point a Prosecutor must indict you or you are let free. If indicted, you can remain in detention until a trial is concluded (if a major offense) or a fine paid (for minor offense).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@ Dandy Nong

That's what I was afraid of...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maybe the police 'may' detail you for 48 or 72 hours, I'm sure they don't have to though. Even a 48 hour detention for this crime is too harsh. If the police had used that time wisely, perhaps this man might not have died.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@ sea dog

"500 yen meal only? Can't be true---surely?"

Sure it can.

I often eat lunch at a tiny family-run Chinese restaurant near Gotanda Station in Tokyo, where they have a lunch set for 500 yen (e.g., fried rice, soup and pickles).

Perhaps the problem wasn't the amount itself - maybe this guy had ripped off the restaurant previously and the owners had lost patience with him. Whatever, he won't do that again!

@ lincolnman

"police (when a complaint is filed against you) may detain you for up to 48 hours (72 over a weekend) without any type of court order, to conduct their investigation. After that period, they must get a court approved 10 day extension which can be granted again - for a total of 23 days. At that point a Prosecutor must indict you or you are let free. If indicted, you can remain in detention until a trial is concluded (if a major offense) or a fine paid (for minor offences)."

Hmm, sounds a lot better than Guantanamo (GITMO) - only 23 days compared to 10 or 15 years!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Suspicious circumstances and means of suicide.

Can't believe this is happening in today's Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

He died for a 500 yen bill ($4.50 USD to put it in perspective). The police themselves should be charged with gross negligence. They could've let him work his bill off in the restaurant, but no, they figured that locking him up was the sensible thing to do.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

my guess he got free food and didnt pay an cent

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

autopsy anyone ? You certainly die more in detention than in the death row in Japan ....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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