crime

U.S. Embassy warns Americans to avoid Roppongi bars due to drink-spiking increase

72 Comments

The U.S. Embassy in Japan on Tuesday issued an alert to the American community that Americans in Tokyo avoid frequenting Roppongi bars and clubs in Tokyo due to a significant increase in reported drink-spiking incidents.

The number of reports of U.S. citizens being drugged in bars has increased significantly in recent weeks. Typically, the victim unknowingly drinks a beverage that has been secretly mixed with a drug that renders the victim unconscious for several hours, during which time large sums of money are charged to the victim’s credit card or the card is stolen outright. Victims sometimes regain consciousness in the bar or club, while at other times the victim awakens on the street.

Because this type of crime is already widespread in Roppongi bars and is on the rise, the U.S. Embassy has recommended that members of the embassy community avoid frequenting drinking establishments in this area. American citizens may consider this recommendation as it applies to their own behavior.

According to the embassy, establishments in the area of Roppongi Intersection (Roppongi Dori and Gaienhigashi-dori) have had the highest level of reported incidents.

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72 Comments
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Huh? Did somebody mix up April 1st and St. Patrick's Day?

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Just avoid all nigerian bars and clubs. Those guys are only about scam and theft. 419 was not enough, now they take the money directly from your wallet.

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That's a good start, but maybe even better if Nigerian Embassy could warn Nigerians to stop spiking peoples' drinks.

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Sounds like roppongi!

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So the ambassador and his cohorts are encouring embassy staff (diplomats) not to go out and engage in dangerous behavior? Have they been doing so up until now? What ever happened to staying on embassy grounds and getting absolutely shxt-face at the US tax payers expense? As somebody who is very much out of the loop regarding such habits, I would like to know from others how bad this problem actually is? Is drink spiking really out of control?

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I think more foreigners are going to go to Roppongi now to see if it is true. Who is going to pass up drugs and drinks. Two for the price of one. Unless someone else can find a way to mix sex in the drink too. THE HOLY TRINITY!!!

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An article like this could give every bar owner in Roppongi a heart attack! I'm sure many other USains are gonna be wide berthing the place as a result. Wouldn't be surprised if the US militarians have been advised to stay clear as well.

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Strange crime scene. A simple ride on the Odakyu line Friday or Saturday night would be a buffet of passed out Japanese old men with tons of cash in their pockets. Which bars I wonder were accepting the credit cards without proper ID or signuture.... Bet they are working a bit too closely with the criminals in question. Seeing this is a crime against foreigners it will get the respected investigation. none

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they spike the drinks of foreigners because they don't have to with the japanese customers

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I think it is better to have drink-spike than mugging or something.

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I was a designated driver back in NY, and someone spiked my cola. I crashed my bran new car. Roppongi sucks anyway. Go out to Japanese places. Much more fun.

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I agree with Yelnats. Go out to the Japanese places -- improve your Japanese language ability -- and make friends. That's how I learned most of my Japanese. I've been here 7 years and have yet to go to a 'foreign' club.

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There's one place I know of in Roppongi for such an incident. Wall Street. I bumped into a German Doctor one morning on the street of Tokyo. He told me that he went to Wall Street in Roppongi the night before. Lost his wallet and missed his flight. I took him back back to his hotel and helped him make a Police report. This was sometime in 2005.

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Like someone hinted at earlier. Foreigners are prime targets because there will be almost little or no investigation involved. They will do the formalities and that will be as far as it goes. As long as it doesn't involve the Japanese customers and some money is kicked back to Japanese gangsters it will continue.

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ilcub76 -- please define a "foreign" club? Are you defining it by clientele? I hope not, since the vast majority of customers at even places like Motown and Wall Street are Japanese. And, certainly you can't be defining it by ownership, since, again, the vast majority of clubs in Roppongi are owned by Japanese, even those that attract foreigners. Respectfully, Japanese places are not necessarily "more fun". It all depends on what someone is looking for. Unfortunately, this situation may be another symptom of the bad economy, since it is a known fact that most of the clubs in Roppongi are suffering, since their customers, principally Japanese salary-men, have less money to spend. So, some unsavory types are targeting Americans to make up the shortfall.

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I'd like to know how they notified the American community since there is nothing posted on the Embassy website other than the typical Roppongi warning.

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Not a big surprise... I mean about the charges to credit cards. Many places I've been to in Japan and used a credit card at don't even require a signature, let alone check the name. And if you DO sign, they never check the back of the card to see if it's similar to the signature there.

If they're charging the stuff online, it's pretty hard to verify as you have the cardholder's name (as it appears on the card), expiry date, security number on the back, etc. The only problem online is that in most cases to purchase something there you need an address to send to as well as a profile, in which case tracking would be made easier. So, I guess we go back to the people not asking for signatures, not checking if they are similar to those of the card, and/or not asking for PIN numbers.

And as one poster pointed out above... why not just rob all the passed out oji-san on the trains?

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Why are the bars still in operation? It's obviously credit card fraud.... the yakuza double standard strikes again.

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Roppongi might be quite a good place if American soldiers and Nigerians gangsters could stay away.

Totally Agree.

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I'd like to know how they notified the American community since there is nothing posted on the Embassy website other than the typical Roppongi warning.

An e-mail maybe? There's a longer version of the document posted here.

http://www.blacktokyo.com/2009/03/17/roppongi-security-notice/

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The Pacific Stars & Stripes ran the article too:

http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=61390

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They are targeting Japanese as well, though perhaps not so much in Roppongi. At least one ordinary salaryman has died in the past couple of weeks in a spate of spiking/theft incidents in Kabuki-cho (never a very savory neighborhood in the first place). I never go to a bar I don't know or haven't been introduced to by someone I trust. I never drink in Roppongi, either. Or Kabuki-cho for that matter.

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On other websites there have been a number of posts about this kind of thing recently. Not an early April Fool's Day joke at all, it really happens, and quite often. Apparently the police say there's nothing they can do.

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No surprises here...Roppongi has always been a dump. I would love to see the foreign community completely snub Roppongi, then all the Nigerians can go home and work on their 419 mail scams instead. A couple of friends had this happened to them though it was in Shinjuku a few years back, Nigerians again. Luckily they did not produce their credit cards but did lose a few 10,000YEN notes. The drug is very strong.. they did not enjoy it one bit.

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Solution, very simple. CAUTION! where ever you go.

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also some of the foreign girls you meet at the various bars also work on you.they are called "drink back girls"there.mostly,they are the one's who drug you as they move you from bar to bar and strike your card somewhere.not forgetting,the "ladyboys" at motown ,they steal your wallets.just be careful

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The number of reports of U.S. citizens being drugged in bars has increased significantly in recent weeks.

Would like to get more of the particulars than this article delivers.

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The Embassy sent an e-mail to all Americans who have registered with them.

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Here's the mail:

Date: March 17, 2009

This is to inform the American community that the U.S. Embassy has recommended that the embassy community avoid frequenting Roppongi bars and clubs in Tokyo due to a significant increase in reported drink-spiking incidents. American citizens may choose to avoid frequenting drinking establishments in this area as well.

The number of reports of U.S. citizens being drugged in bars has increased significantly in recent weeks. Typically, the victim unknowingly drinks a beverage that has been secretly mixed with a drug that renders the victim unconscious for several hours, during which time large sums of money are charged to the victim’s credit card or the card is stolen outright. Victims sometimes regain consciousness in the bar or club, while at other times the victim awakens on the street.

Because this type of crime is already widespread in Roppongi bars and is on the rise, the U.S. Embassy has recommended that members of the embassy community avoid frequenting drinking establishments in this area. American citizens may consider this recommendation as it applies to their own behavior. If you, nevertheless, choose to participate in Roppongi night life, we urge you to remain extra vigilant of your surroundings and maintain a high level of situational awareness. Establishments in the area of Roppongi Intersection (Roppongi Dori and Gaienhigashi-dori) have had the highest level of reported incidents.

For further information please consult the Country Specific Information Sheet for Japan, available via the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department's travel registration web site at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/ so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security. Americans without Internet access may register in person with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the embassy or consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security. For additional information, please refer to "A Safe Trip Abroad" found at http://travel.state.gov.

For further information or any emergencies involving American citizens, please contact the American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit of either the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo or one of the U.S. Consulates in Japan listed below:

U.S. Embassy in Tokyo American Citizen Services 1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420 Tel: 03-3224-5174 Fax: 03-3224-5856 http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/tacs-main.html

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Roppongi might be quite a good place if it was hit by a tsunami and wiped off the map. Screw the clubs, go to a cheap hole-in-the-wall izakaya instead.

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Well, the fact is that the Japanese government isn't warning foreigners to be careful of Roppongi. Interesting all of this--I am quite out of the bar loop. Prefer my wine at home.

Interesting that this is not something that the Japanese government or media care about. The Police and the politicians and the media do make a big deal out of "foreign crime in Japan" but almost never about crimes against foreigners in Japan. I wonder if anyone knows which is greater.

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Ahh wonderful pure Japan ! As if Japanese would do that to foreigners...isn't it just gaijin doing it to gaijin ?? haha,what a wonderful country....

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It happened to me recently in The First Bar.

I only had a couple of beers before going to The First Bar so was far from being drunk. My second drink there was my last. The next thing I remember was asking the staff why they were trying to charge my credit card over 130,000 JPY.

Still dazed when I woke up at home the next morning, I really thought it was a dream, until the credit card statement came through. There were not many people there when this happened which does raise the question - are the bar staff involved?

I know of others who are regularly strongly encouraged to buy 40,000 JPY bottles of champagne. As someone mentioned earlier why don't we all boycott the place. That's the only way to stop the rude and disgusting nigerians stopping you every 5 meters, holding your arm and trying to get you in the clubs. Likewise the disgusting Chinese trying to physically pull you into the "massage" pits. Then once these are forced out of Japan the rest of us can enjoy a cleaner Roppongi

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C'mon...what type of NORMAL foreigner would fall for this ???

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Who cares... Roppongi is for losers anyway...

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I urge EVERYONE to avoid ALL bars in Japan. That way, everyone would waste less money and breathe less cigarette smoke.

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"Roppongi is for losers"

Tom Cruise is a loser? Gosh, I can't wait to hear where the winners go.

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To Potsu. Any NORMAL foreigner who needs to go to the toilet. That's all it takes, then when you come back you have no idea your drink has been spiked!

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what kind of idiot leaves their drink unattended anyway? And if a girl or Nigerian in Roppongi ever offers to get a drink for you, only a fool would accept. Not that I go to Roppongi. I live in Osaka. I would be very suspicious if a Japanese girl ever offered to buy me a drink.

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If the bar staff is involved, it'd be impossible to know if your drink has been spiked beforehand or not. Same for the locker keys - if the bar has a second set of keys, you are done for. Who leaves their personal documents in a locker anyway? In a bar, of all places. Anyway, I don't discard the possibility that the bar staff is involved in order to get these crimes done smoothly. After all, bars in Japan are known to prostitute their staff (hosts and hostesses) and demand them to cover a "quota" of spent liquor and money per client. The best course of action is to migrate out of Roppongi and find another entertainment place. Sure there must be another one.

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Roppongi might be quite a good place if American soldiers and Nigerians gangsters could stay away.

It could without douche bag English teachers, Nigerian pimps, Russian prostitutes and Gaijin hunters. Now to think about it, Roppongi should just collapse into itself and do the world a big favour.

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I agree with Soudesune and Azrael. I know of people also being stung for 100,000 JPY upwards after buying what appeared to be spiked drinks whilst on the floor. Always best to go to the bar to buy a drink and watch it being made. Many bars in the Pong are owned by dodgy people and managed by the same foreigners that hassle you on the streets. Once inside staff continually walk around for you to order drinks from and have delivered. It's no surprise TFB and other similar bars are often mentioned in the same sentence as spiked drinks and a large bill. At last this is coming to the attention of the foreign establishment, enough so that us Americans have been warned of it.

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take out some cash and leave your credit cards at home.

moscow mule fetatsu onigaishimas!!

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maybe a case for being more Japanese and using cash instead of cards... I wonder if this in visa's self promoting "Japan guide"

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I can't believe it. It happened to me too!!!

I went for a "quiet drink" in Roppongi, had a few "chu-hi's", then was ushered into another bar for a "nomi-hodai" (all you can drink). I was then co-erced into walking down the street to another bar, where I was ordered to request the Moet-et-Chandon 1992 vintage. After which, I was requested to kick on to a "snack-bar" , ordering numerous drinks for hostesses and buying karaoke tickets for 5000 yen a pop.

I dont remember how I got home. I must have had my drink spiked.....I demand the US government take stern action! Or at least refund my 140,000 yen on my AMEX card.

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"Japanese Only" signs make sense now.

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i actually feel relieved to wake up and see such an exorbitant bill. then i know that i didn't do anything really bad

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Cash is good and avoiding foreign joints is better. I only use cards if I'm in a hotel or restaurant that I know.

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why don't they tell us which bars specifically have had such incidents?!

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It's the bars that serve alcohol that are doing it.

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As always, Caveat Emptor. Roppongi is not some distortion in the time/space continuum. Was there last night actually for a quick drink and been going for 14 yrs without a problem - just excercise common sense. Six Trees is not my favorite place at all (prefer Ebisu) but sometimes just an easy choice. Plenty of interesting joints and quite a few craptacular places. The touts can spot a stooge a mile away.

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BurakuminDes - ha ha. I'd like my money back too. I spent 2,500yen the other night - they took me!

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Suspect the Japanese government to get behind this too. "To be completely safe from drink spiking, just go home back to your home country!"

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Apparently, this whole system of drink spiking by bar tenders is by far more clever then having some wild stranger do it. Honestly, whether the secret mechanism is to get foreigners to go home or to get quick cash and do away with most of these peoples money. I laugh because any regular open attraction such as Roppongi, Las vegas or any other party district is bound for those things. Common sense would indicate not to go where areas of trouble (gang fights etc) are started.

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At first glance I thought they were talking about the price spikes at Motown, I see now they're charging 900jpy for a lousy beer.

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Don`t take mixed drinks then, only buy in the bottle. By the way, if this news is official what J police is going to do about it?

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Don`t take mixed drinks then, only buy in the bottle.

It does not need to be a mixed drink - a friend got it in a bottled beer that was purchased for her in a 'round' for the table.

what J police is going to do about it

I think that would depend upon how much the card companies are losing. Once they turn it into a business issue, the police will start to take notice, if they have not already started.

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I would much prefer hot girls taking me back to a hotel and stealing my wallet after they had sex with me and I fell asleep!!

If anyone hasn't noticed the whole world of finance has collapsed under bad debt. Why have a credit card in the first place? Carry just enough cash for the night and when you need more go to a 24 hour ATM.

Problem solved.

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there´s another BIG problem: by law, J banks are not responsible for any problems or misuse of their cards. So, no refunds or compensation later. I remember of a case of a men who had more than 20 mil sacked from his bank account and the bank just washed their hands.

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Moral of this story is drink at home. If you want to socialize try Starbucks. I've yet to hear of the capachino being spiked.

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Roppongi is a hell whole, and lots of scum bags work their, both Japanese and non-Japanese. Should anybody be surprised by this kind of news? The Japanese mafia(yakuza) can not get anymore money from their own Japanese customers, so now they are trying what they used to do with J customers, with wealthy ex-pats. Surprise, surprise??

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"Carry just enough cash for the night and when you need more go to a 24 hour ATM. Problem solved."

That's like saying carry just one pack of smokes for the night and when you need more, go to a conbini and buy another pack! Problem solved!

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Another reason I'm glad I don't drink.

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I cannot recall the US or any embassy ever issuing a warning to its non-military nationals about any place in Japan. Pity about Roppongi. Used to be a nice place. Darts at Bernie Inn. Best to say way from Roppongi en mass. When the the good businesses start complaining that the scummy businesses are ruining them perhaps the police will take an interest.

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take out some cash and leave your credit cards at home.

Bad advice. Then your cash will be gone. If they take your credit card, you may have some hassle, but you will not lose any money. You can cancel any charge which has not been authorized by your signature or PIN. It's the risk of the company which accepts the card (or credit card company, depending on contracts).

LostinNagoya, I think your comment refers to ordinary cash cards, not credit cards.

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Pity about Roppongi. Used to be a nice place. Darts at Bernie Inn.

jumpers for goalposts...

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Jumpers for goalpost?! Translaion please!

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Jumpers for goalpost?! Translaion please!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Manager

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Yea I got drugged by the barman, he kept giving me drinks of cola all night and I didnt wake up until noon the next day.....watch out for that stuff called whiskey....

but seriously, its a shame that this is happening because the best thing about Japan is that you can go out for a good night without the fear of violence and crime to the same extent as other countries. Of course things happen in any town....but where im from you have to keep one eye on your beer and the other on everyone else...

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That's it, then. The only thing to do is head down to Roppongi and get a part-time evening job as a bartender. Do unto others before they do you.

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Live in a college town in the u.s., there's a story about a girl getting her drinks spiked and raped every single week. The only real question is if they end up dead or not. It's not the most uncommon thing really, but still must be bad if they issued a warning like they said.

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take a good look at my face cuz im the guy haha

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