It’s a minefield out there.
Every step is at your own risk. Of deadly viral infection? That too. But threats like that come and go. It’s less transient ones that Spa! (March 24-31) alerts us to, seeking to fortify us against them. The bad news is, you’re highly vulnerable. The good news: highly vulnerable, yes, but not, after all, utterly defenseless.
You’re on the train to or from work, minding your business, lost in your thoughts or your smartphone; suddenly: “Chikan! He groped me!” You look up, bewildered: “Me?” “You!” The nightmare begins. Where will it end?
“It was 8 in the evening,” a 38-year-old systems engineer recalls for Spa!. “The train was crowded. I had my smartphone in my hand, I was chatting with my wife on Line. ‘Chikan!’ I looked up to see a woman glaring at me as though I were the devil himself. It was so sudden – my mind just went blank. ‘Get off with me at the next station!’ I did.”
He thought he was doomed. He may well have been, had an almost freakish stroke of luck not saved him. A woman who got off with them told the station master, “He did nothing.”
The matter ended there. Honest mistake? Attempted shakedown? We’ll never know. The man went home to his family, to either regale them with the tale or savor his relief in stunned, incredulous silence.
What do you do if caught in a trap like that?
One thing you might consider is an app JR East Japan is testing on its Saikyo Line. You tap the screen and it signals the conductor, identifies your position and records the scene. The conductor immediately sends an announcement through the speakers, mobilizing fellow-passengers as witnesses. A crime consultant and former police investigator Spa! speaks to is generally favorable to that approach, though he fears the vigilante justice it may encourage.
If collared, he advises, go willingly and boldly to the station office. State your name and present your business card. Insist on your innocence. “Never,” he warns, “say the word sumimasen (I’m sorry).” It’s a word that slips out all too easily. Make sure it doesn’t – it’s a quasi-confession.
“I was in Osaka on business,” says a 37-year-old employee of a steel maker. “I was wandering around in the evening when a young tout approached: ‘Cheapest and best drinking around here! Two hours, all you can drink, 3000 yen! Girls, ero-talk.’”
It was a nice evening until the bill came: not 3000 yen but 60,000. “My heart sank. The guy looked menacing. I paid.”
He shouldn’t have. The menace is pure pose, the magazine hears from former club manager Kenji Matsumoto.
Rip-off prices are not a crime, he explains. The police won’t act. The clubs know that, of course. They rely on panic. If that fails them, they won’t press the point. What do you do? “Don’t say you’ll go to the police, that’s useless. Pay. Not 60,000 yen, however. Three thousand. And say, ‘If that’s not enough, take me to court for the rest.’”
And if the club people turn violent? They won’t, says Matsumoto. Violence is crime, which drags their operation into new, untenable, unprofitable territory. They don’t want to go there.
A 37-year-old trading company employee admits a fondness for female university students. He posts on social networks catering to papa-katsu – young women trolling for friendly, financially rewarding, not necessarily sexual relationships with older men. Once he connected with a 19-year-old. They hit it off, and their first date culminated at a hotel.
A few days later came a call from an unknown caller, male and truculent. “I’m her friend, she came to me crying, she says you forced her. She’s 17.” Sex with underage minors is statutory rape.
The caller demanded 500,000 yen. The man paid. It was not only the law he feared. What if word got out to his company? It would ruin him. Still, Spa! says, he should have stood firm. Here too, the shakedown artists are looking for an easy mark, not a fight. If they can grab the money and run, they will. If challenged, they run without the money, knowing tomorrow’s another day, and as for easy marks, there’s no shortage of them.© Japan Today