crime

Vandals target metro subway lines nationwide

87 Comments

Since September, subway lines throughout Japan have been hit by graffiti artists who have up to now spray painted the word "CUTE" or the cryptic letters "MTGS" in eight Japanese cities, the most recent occurring in Nagoya on Oct 26. The trains were defaced at night while parked in shunting yards or at stations.

The Sankei Shimbun reported this week that from the style of the vandals' designs and images captured on surveillance cameras, it is believed two or more people are involved.

After striking first in Kyoto, the taggers moved to Osaka, followed by Fukuoka, Kobe, Osaka, Sendai, Sapporo, Yokohama and Nagoya. The Tokyo Metro line was also defaced in September, but according to a source at the company, "That one may have been a copycat crime."

Nighttime security for most of the subway lines hit is said to be relatively lax. The vandalism apparently occurred between 1:30 a.m. and the time the trains made their first runs. At several shunting yards, security fences were damaged during break-ins. At stations, the culprits may have hidden in toilet stalls before closing times.

None of the subway lines hit by the taggers were forced to delay morning train runs, but cleanup costs are estimated at around 100,000 yen per car.

The security cameras at Fukuoka and Sendai captured images of two of the graffiti artists at work, but the image quality was too poor to make any identification.

Tokyo's Toei network, anticipating the possibility of similar attacks, has increased nighttime patrols. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure Transport and Tourism has been circulating warnings to railway companies around the country.

In 2008, two foreign nationals, a Slovakian and a Hungarian, were apprehended by Osaka Police on suspicion of a series of similar acts, raising the possibility that the same group is responsible this time as well.

© Japan Today

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87 Comments
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Why would they neat to clean up the cars? Just leave graffiti there.

-33 ( +3 / -34 )

I can never understand this pointless crime. The media coverage is only adding to their “exploits,” encouraging others to do the same or worse.

2 ( +8 / -5 )

Why would they neat to clean up the cars? Just leave graffiti there.

Broken windows theory. NYC suffererd through the same problem for decades, but then starting in the late 80s a huge clean up effort began.

6 ( +10 / -5 )

Why report it now here, weeks after it was done on the TV-news?

And I hope they catch those crims.

-2 ( +4 / -5 )

Why would they neat to clean up the cars? Just leave graffiti there.

Graffiti is a form of stealing- Stealing space, stealing a falsely procured spotlight, and stealing attention; like a charming party-crasher who pisses in the fireplace.

Graffiti is destruction of public or private property.

As a very young artist, I posted graffiti-art, to protest certain social practices of that day.

A very wise teacher saw to it that I cleaned the space, and gave me this advice, that I will lay on these perps :

Find the proper channel for your talent.

17 ( +22 / -7 )

100% agree with Pamelot.

Catch the perps and let them do the cleanup, repainting of stuff that has graffiti, etc (ie Community service) and maybe let them shoulder a part of the costs for paints, materials, etc.

Many cities now provide walls for graffiti artist to do their stuff and those get cleaned every so often as to provide a new canvas.

Many of those guys are truly talented and many turned a leaf and have become successful commercial artists.

Know one former graffiti artist he specialises in garage door/rolling shutters. For hire now of course.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Please - do not call them "artists." If someone torched your house, you would not call them a "pyrotechnic artist." If someone burgled you, you would not call them a "financial disposal artist."

They are vandals, simple as that, and should not be glorified in any way.

13 ( +18 / -5 )

Taggers are cowardly narcissists. The practice has been spreading in Japan (Tokyo's Meguro-ku is especially bad for some reason), with the shutters and facades of unoccupied stores particularly at risk. I think the police should set up traps and whoever they catch should spend eight hours a day for the next six months under tight supervision as he is escorted around the city with a generous supply of paint remover, brushes and rags -- paid for out of his own pocket.

6 ( +10 / -6 )

Laguna.

Agree they are "vandals" but many also are good artists, not mutually exclusive. As Pamelot said they just haven't found the proper/legal way to express their artistic skills.

-5 ( +4 / -8 )

Also agree with Virtuoso.

-5 ( +2 / -6 )

Some taggers do outright beautiful stuff if they get the time. One group in Philly deplicted 9-11 on a wall, it was deep and beautiful at the same time.

-7 ( +1 / -9 )

At least in America grafitti is an art. Here it is really poor.

I went to a graffiti art show once in Soho in The City and it was fantastic.

-6 ( +3 / -8 )

2 words - Public Beatings. Or if they are too frail, they can wear a placard on street corners. Special permission allowed for taxpayers spitting in their direction.

@It"S ME, I agree they can be artistic. Give them some blank walls, where they won't bother others, and let them paint to their hearts content.

-5 ( +4 / -8 )

"Please - do not call them "artists." Bansky is an artist!!! he could "deface" my car or my house ANYDAY! just becuase their are only a handful of decent graffiti artists in the world, does not make ALL of them non-aritist. but These d-bags dont sound like graffiti aritists, they sound like a-holes that scibble some dumb $$$$ on a wall (train). Same with Okinawa. Some places there is some dumb tags like "tank" all over the island, some American teen I am sure. but other places you can find treasure troves of AMAZING talented work.

0 ( +5 / -4 )

I don't know what "MTGS" stands for but here's the image:

http://www.jiji.com/news/photos/photo_news/images/450/view1660186.jpg

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

MTGS

Metal Gear Solid?

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

People hit Shimokitazawa in Tokyo and walk through the under-passes there and check the walls.

More places like that, same for many schools here, when students are allowed to decorate walls, etc.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

To me increased Graffiti reflects a disenfranchised feeling among Japan's youth.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

These scum are not artists, they are vandals and need to be prosecuted for defacing property. Anyone who thinks graffiti is cool needs a good swift kick.

I realy hate seeing walls and things that have been grafitti bombed and would love to catch somone in the act I would turn the spray can on to their face.

0 ( +7 / -6 )

If I ever caught one of those little morons red-handed defacing a wall in my neighborhood, I'd break both his arms, strip him naked, and paint MTGS in day-glo colors across his scrawny buttocks.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

pamelot: While I agree with your sentiments, please do not redefine words. The effort to redefine the words theft or stealing in particular has led to much trouble here in Sweden.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I would prefer that the trains and subways here don't become like New York ones. Yesterday I took a train with red and cream livery and I enjoyed looking at it. Would hate to see grafitti everywhere.

2 ( +7 / -4 )

Vandals, not "artists" or "taggers."

4 ( +9 / -5 )

the street is their art gallery and the public their viewers; its free art. From looking at the picture i think the trains look much better. I don't agree with 'tags' that lack artistic creativity but on the whole graffiti and stencilism only add to their surroundings. Art is such an elitist and rich person's scene, this is their version of it. gambatte!

-13 ( +2 / -15 )

Robert Dykes, I agree with your comment, I love Banksy Art.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Maybe they are upset cause there's no where to sit and now they are starting to put drink vending machines IN the trains. Sorry, I don't know why they're doing it. People aren't happy these days with Corporate Government.

-8 ( +0 / -6 )

If they want to be 'artists', then fine, let them paint stuff on their own walls or canvases. Painting on other folks' or public property is vandalism, no matter how technically sophisticated it might be.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Art is such an elitist and rich person's scene, this is their version of it.

Twaddle. Not all artists are rich. Many work for years in obscurity. There is a discipline in creating and expression; displaying by arrangement; invitation or renting of space. Just putting it where ever you "feel" is lazy, and turns art into vandalism.

While I agree with your sentiments, please do not redefine words. The effort to redefine the words theft or stealing in particular has led to much trouble here in Sweden.

If one artist pays for their exhibition space, and another "steals" it-painting on public or private property uninvited, how is this redefining stealing?

0 ( +5 / -5 )

I don't know too many foreigners who, running the risk of getting caught vandalizing, would spray paint 'CUTE' somewhere. Anyway, I agree with others that, if caught, these guys should be made to do the cleaning and then some.

I also agree with some posters that say some people who spray graffiti ARE artists, and there IS such a thing as 'graffiti art'. This certainly is not it, though.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Spray painting on someone else's property is wrong. It's an intrusion, it's invasive and it can have a negative impact on others.

I hope these offenders are caught, are fined for the clean-up fees as well as any other costs associated with their acts and then are sentence to something appropriate - say community service and cleaning up litter.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

HYPE!!!!!!!! BOMB THE SYSTEM!!!! graffiti is art. It's a simple expression that comes from a can of paint! To deny it's existence as an artform is subjective.

-12 ( +1 / -12 )

As Pamelot said they just haven't found the proper/legal way to express their artistic skills.

As such they are criminals. Whether they have artistic skills or not is quite beside the point.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Why would they neat to clean up the cars? Just leave graffiti there.

Yeah, why stop there? Why not forget to check the brakes and not have qualified conductors for the trains, as well?

It is almost as if they actually care about their train system or something.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

BOMB THE SYSTEM!!

-11 ( +2 / -12 )

Looking at the pictures, it should cost more than 100.000 yen/car to clean them... Idiotic vandals - at least they should use water soluble sprays....

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

There are cases where graffiti is a piece of art and cases where it's just an act of vandalism. In this case, it's the second. I hope they catch them and they will get punished by making them clean all of the tags.

Btw, Japan is one of the "cleanest" countries in the world when it comes to graffiti (leaving authoritarian regimes aside). Back in my home country, this act of vandalism would have been just another daily routine of some punks or "kids with a lot of free time on their hands". You rarely see a clean railroad car over there and it gets even worse when you see road signs covered with graffiti. While there is graffiti in Japan, it is definitely not so popular in comparison with other countries.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Art is art and graffiti is graffiti. Yes, some graffiti is artistic, but it is still just graffiti. The Australian Gov recently declared war on graffiti and passed a law that nobody under 18y/o can buy pressure pack paints and those over 18 have to provide ID to purchase them. I was a sign painter for many years and very quickly got sick and tired of having my work destroyed by these hoodlums. I hate graffiti! It is a stain on society!

0 ( +8 / -8 )

It's all about respect. These vandals have ZERO respect for others space or property. The End...

2 ( +9 / -7 )

To all the thumbs downing, graffiti lovers: Could I please have your address? I have some art I want to create on your houses.

4 ( +11 / -7 )

MTSG: Marine Turtle Specialist Group? Mountains to Sound Greenway? Perhaps it's, Manchester Trainee Solicitors Group? The possibilities are endless. CUTE is another fun one, but my favorite is: Constrained and Unconstrained Testing Environment

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

If this were happening in my area I would camp out with a super soaker and a thermos full of hot water. It might teach them that being sprayed is not all that fun.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Disillusioned:

That is a great law. Perhaps they can can put pictures on the cans of hideous art work, sort of like the new tobacco package laws.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Those who thumbed me down at 12:04 - Are you saying these vandals do have respect for other peoples property? How very delusional.

-5 ( +3 / -7 )

THIS IS NOT ART, if you think this is art then assaulting someone in the street or a bar must just be boxing.

It is vandalism full stop, nothing else !

Same as assault is not boxing !

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Disillusioned

The Australian Gov recently declared war on graffiti and passed a law that nobody under 18y/o can buy pressure pack paints and those over 18 have to provide ID to purchase them.

Yeah but the local councils also set aside some areas for graffiti artists to paint which is also a positive idea. By the way, those over 18yo do not need to show id to buy spray cans, they will ask for proof of id if you look under 18 yo nothing more. Oh and the ban on selling to minors had as much to do with stopping chroming as it does stopping graffiti.

JapanGal is right, what next graphic images on spray cans!!!

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

They're vandals, plain and simple. Whether they have talent or not is irrelevant.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I still stand by my original comment, 21 down thumbs notwithstanding. Graffiti is art, in fact, I would go a bit further and encourage graffiti. When graffiti becomes endorsed a lot of who do it as vandalism will stop doing it, and only the true artists will remain.

-11 ( +4 / -16 )

That isn't a tag... that is graffiti... a tag is a like a signature only

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

dude graffiti is awesome! form of art

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

Yeah but the local councils also set aside some areas for graffiti artists to paint which is also a positive idea.

Yes, they do, but only some and it is usually just the local skateboard bowl! However, it only encourages these these bored twits to deface property that is not theirs. It is not art! It is vandalism!

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

In 2008, two foreign nationals, a Slovakian and a Hungarian, were apprehended by Osaka Police on suspicion of a series of similar acts, raising the possibility that the same group is responsible this time as well.

So blame the gaijin? Were these guys tried and found guilty? Doesn't seem so based on what is written here.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

アメリ フセイン,

I still stand by my original comment, 21 down thumbs notwithstanding. Graffiti is art, in fact, I would go a bit further and encourage graffiti. When graffiti becomes endorsed a lot of who do it as vandalism will stop doing it, and only the true artists will remain.

Let's be clear. You have a nice, new house you have just bought and I come along and create some art on it. You would be okay with this? Why not leave a set of spray cans outside and supply the address. I am sure some truly inspired artists will be willing to decorate your home in the same way they have 'decorated' the subway cars.

5 ( +8 / -4 )

As the world increases its security around train holding yards to prevent acts of vandalism and potential terrorism, Japan's train yards remain a walk in the park for graffiti vandals worldwide to exploit and deface at will. I can jump half of the fences (which many have no barbed wire I have observed) into the holding yards here and strap a bomb underneath any train carriage, walk away and no one would be none the wiser.

Japan desperately needs to beef up its security for its transit system quick smart because all the useless finger print scanning, alien card checks and immigration "security checks" are doing absolutely nothing to prevent attacks of vandalism on its train lines.

Japan is known as the "holy grail of asia" for these graffiti vandals and the government needs to save face by beefing up the security before another London bombings style attack happens here in Japan, giving the population something to be concerned about in addition to the economy, Natural disaster recovery, and other important issues THAT COULD NOT HAVE BEEN PREVENT UNLIKE THIS PROBLEM!!!!

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

graffiti art

Today it is crime but it's only a matter of time before makers exploit it and start using as a guerrilla marketing tool for product promotion and the government might join them in due time using it for manipulating public opinion as whispering propaganda.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

In 2008, two foreign nationals, a Slovakian and a Hungarian, were apprehended by Osaka Police on suspicion of a series of similar acts, raising the possibility that the same group is responsible this time as well.

What exactly did they paint paint on the trains in 2008 and what did they name for reason of traveling 9000 km for that action. What meaning MTGS carries? Manitoba Transportation & Government Services

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The word artist should not be near Bansky

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Graffiti is just brand promotion/advertising that hasn't been paid for. Tagging does my head in, but so does all the other visual pollution that covers most public space nowadays. If the problem here is an aesthetic one, train carriages are just advertising billboards that you get locked in to and a few tags aren't going to make them look any worse.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

In Singapore, subway train vandal was caned & jailed. All you liberal bleeding heart hold your condemnations. Because someone's else property was vandalised, you get all accommodating and soft. For me, I think the punishment should be financial. Make him/her pay for the cleanup & legal fees. Japan should do the same if these people are caught.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I thought in calling them vandals, criminals and a few other bad names however after I checked the link CrazyJoe posted here I have to agree it looks pretty neat :-) well at least much better than those colored trains you find in Osaka that heads to Universal Studios or those ugly blue trains in Nagoya dome station which have Chunichi Dragons painted on it :-P

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

59 comments so far, 60 including this one. Much ado about nothing. It is exactly this kind of feedback which encourages the "artists".

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Both sides of the coin of Foreign influence…

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Yeah, why stop there? Why not forget to check the brakes and not have qualified conductors for the trains, as well?

Well...how about because it would be dangerous? Unless I am very much mistaken - and I'm not - graffiti is only an eyesore and doesn't affect the train's performance in any way.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The security cameras at Fukuoka and Sendai captured images of two of the graffiti artists at work, but the image quality was too poor to make any identification.

Am I the only one here, who wonders what the point of the security cameras is if they can't capture an image good enough to identify someone?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

MTGS referred to in the article is almost certainly MTG Salvation

http://wiki.mtgsalvation.com/article/MTG_Salvation

http://mtgsalvation.com/

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@アメリ フセイン or amerifusein.... hahahah I don't mind their graffitis as long as it's artistics and pleasant to the eyes. Japan laws about this graffiti makers are so lenient. I remember in Singapore, an american was caught spraying paint or graffiti on a Mercedez Benz, and he got the worst nightmare in his life with too many back lashes he will never forget for the rest of his life. Even a very high US official trying to intervene to pardon the american teenager by the Singapore government was in vain.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This argument has been going on since some dudes vandalized some caves in France a while back. What a way to drive traffic though.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Perhaps they should move their artistic movement to Singagpore...but I am 100% sure they would not like reaction to their vandalism.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

just a bunch of losers.

japan is no lost angeles, where the disillusioned youth had a spell of creativity in the 1980s with one group in particular going by the moniker of CIA (for criminals in action)...

that was a unique movement in a highly specific socio-historical context.

these people are just unoriginal jerks looking for attention and trying to make a name for themselves among their equally no-talent cronies.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Thanbkfully i have a life and don't let small scale vandalism upset my life. Too many Victor Meldrew characters about.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

the Vandals deface public property, creative people should express their art in other places. This happens often in Italy and in metro where you can not see the window and you don't know where make you go '<>

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I live in Arizona and my wife and I visit Japan once a year to get away from this type of behavior.. There is nothing artistic in inner city or big cities like Phoenix, LA, San Francisco, NY, Chicago, Detroit, Miami or even Honolulu where this is common place. This is nothing but destructive rubbish and gives any visitor an idea that the societies that allow this are low quality, low class and on a decline.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Ben_Jackinoff

Yes. If the graffiti is good, I'll be delighted. You prefer boring walls? not me.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Yes. If the graffiti is good, I'll be delighted. You prefer boring walls? not me.

Most of them are simply disgusting I could hardly ever seen any artistic or nice once.

They, I think, should have the right to do this if they buy a land and the wall, but presently they are using other people's properties without their permission.

Painting on a company's train is the same as they paint graffiti on your car in the night. I doubt it would delight you next morning. Same stands for walls.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

if i had a house i would allow graffiti on it ^o^ anything is welcomed on it!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@アメリ フセイン i'm with you buddy! ^-^v graffiti is beautiful not an eyesore. especially graffiti in japan, they know how to graffiti go japan!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

the other day I noticed Sydney (Australia) bus seat fabric is a graffiti pattern...

(it's not graffiti on the seats - it's actually a pattern in the fabric that's made of graffiti or tags like the crap graffiti you see in Japan occasionally - not the "beautiful" murals you might see in NY)

does anyone know if this was a response to criminals doing graffiti on these buses ?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Banksy is one artist...And as a matter of fact..He is classified as a stencil artist..I have been practicing the art of graffiti for about 20 years. There is a difference. And my address is a public building so go ahead and bomb the hell out of it! Just don't go over my piece, it's fresh!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

There are cases where graffiti is a piece of art and cases where it's just an act of vandalism

Whatever else it is, it's vandalism, unless you have permission from whover own the space.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

graffiti is accepted--but Westerners apply only their logic and is inconsiderate of all others. How dull. Just not in Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I bet if Japan started to beat in public all of these graffiti artists with canes and whips as they do over on the big brother controlled island nation of Singapore, bet that all of these punks would think twice before spraying all of their so called art on other peoples properties, right Jackson??

0 ( +0 / -0 )

graffiti is only an eyesore and doesn't affect the train's performance in any way.

In general, it actually affects society's performance quite negatively. When people live in sloppy conditions, it only makes them act sloppier.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes. If the graffiti is good, I'll be delighted. You prefer boring walls? not me.

Actually, I prefer to decorate my property myself and not have criminals deciding it for me. Let them put graffiti on properties they own, or you do instead if it makes you so happy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Whatever else it is, it's vandalism, unless you have permission from whover own the space.

Hmmm, it seems some people enjoy thumbing down facts.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Vandalism is defined as the intentional destruction of personal or real property. This is a serious crime.

They should be treated as criminals, not artists. They are often haters filled with anger and disrespect to others. They do not want others to be happy, loving and caring as they are not.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In 2008, two foreign nationals, a Slovakian and a Hungarian, were apprehended by Osaka Police on suspicion of a series of similar acts, raising the possibility that the same group is responsible this time as well.

Hope Japanese police can catch these idiots.

In US, many judges give a special punishment seriously to these offenders and make them wash (undo) what they have done to the property in addition to a normal criminal charge. Often times, judges also send cleaning bills to these offenders. Hope Japanese police can do the same. They are scums of society.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Any link with photos? When I was in Nagoya, someone wrote some ugly letters in one of the walls of a building next to ours and the Japanese landlord went crazy: it was not art at all, and the horrible letters were written in a style that showed that the author never knew the meaning of "design". And the ugly graffiti kept appearing in other buildings. To my surprise, when I arrived in Brazil I saw the same kind of graffiti everywhere. Here, it's done by quasi-illiterate juvenile gangs. Now I see that the graffitis in Nagoya were done by Brazilians. It is really ugly, it has nothing to do with what we see in American cities.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes. If the graffiti is good, I'll be delighted.

In perusing this discussion again, I noticed this caveat. So, if you thought the graffiti was "bad", you would not be delighted, right? These people did not seek the opinion of the owners of the areas on which they put their marks. If artists have the permission and delight of the people who own the property, there is no problem. However, in this case, they neither had permission nor the delight of the owners and people responsible for the property.

Again, my question is, if people came and painted stuff (whether you like the design or not), would you be so complacent? I highly doubt it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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