Japan Today



Bolstered measures fail to curb determined stalkers


It has been seven years since Japan's antistalking law was promulgated. In 2008, a record-high 14,567 incidents were reported to police nationwide.

Writing in the business magazine Shukan Toyo Keizai (Jan 16), author Masaki Kubota reports that a survey conducted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department determined that, 84% of the 1,077 stalking victims under its jurisdiction in 2008 were female, with 76% in the 20 to 30 age bracket.

The Tokyo MPD survey also determined that in 57% of cases, the stalker was a person with whom the victim had, or had ceased to have, a relationship. Only 11% of the reported stalkers were complete strangers. Most typically, the accused sought a relationship (in one-third of the cases); followed the subject on the street, etc (24%); and telephoned the subject persistently (20%).

In cases when a suspected stalker disregards a warning from the police department or a restraining order from the local public security commission, he risks being charged under the antistalking law, which currently provides for up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to 500,000 yen.

Consulting the police has been effective in a majority of cases. Police statistics maintain that official warnings were sufficient to ward off 90% of stalkers.

But the law is set up to crack down on offenders incrementally, which proved no help for Mitsue Hayakawa, 32, a company employee in Anjo City, Aichi Prefecture. After Hayakawa broke off her relationship with pachinko shop employee Toshinobu Sato, 31, he pursued her relentlessly. She appealed to the police; they issued a warning to Sato, who disregarded it. The police were readying the next step, and perhaps if they had acted sooner Hayakawa might still be alive today. But in March 2009 Sato attacked Hayakawa outside her home, punched her face and viciously trod on her head. The injuries proved fatal.

"I started to hate her after she'd reported me as a stalker," was Sato's justification.

Taking one's woes to the authorities may seem a sensible course of action, but a rejected suitor may perceive it as a declaration of war.

"When Ms Hayakawa was brutalized by Sato previously, the police urged her to file charges of assault, but she'd declined, saying 'I don't want him to be stigmatized as a criminal,'" a local reporter explains.

A more sensible strategy may be to retain an attorney who can insulate the victim from the stalker. That was the case of a 26-year-old event "companion" who had rejected the invitations of a 35-year-old salaryman. Warned that the man might be capable of violence, she consulted a lawyer.

"Her attorney sent him a bill via contents-certified post demanding she be compensated for her pain and suffering. This kind of bureaucratic attitude and use of a monetary amount worked to cool him off," Kubota was informed.

But when push comes to shove, contending with a stalker means girding for a "battle," Kubota advises. Even with laws in place, there's only so much that police can do. The target of a stalker also needs to grasp the potential risks and proactively adopt her (or his) own defensive measures.

© Japan Today

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stalkers?? hang on - these must be foreign stalkers as japan has no crime except that caused by foreigners...

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It's true that some Japanese can become obsessive in a way that Westerners find difficult to understand.

So true. There's nothing to understand, they're sick.

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i do not understand weak women that do not oppose their stalkers.

It's the way women are here. You wouldn't believe how many times I got rid of guys trying to grope me by simply shouting "no!" really loudly. They aren't used to people standing up to them, especially women.

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My stalker is so nuts he is even jealous of Ichihashi.

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The problem here is that as it states in the article that reporting to authorities stops these stalkers 90% of the time from further nuisance, but the other 10% fall into another category where these guys don`t care about the law, and hence this lady was killed. I am certainly for abiding by the law and not taking the law into your own hands, but what are you supposed to do when the law is not there to protect you for those small incidences? a little mace or electric stick or a golf club and knowing how to use it might just save ur life.. putting too much faith in the law is a mistake, you have to look out for yourself and prepare. Afterall, everyone doesn't play by the same rules and we don't live in a bubble.

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and what if the stalker is police himself???! or CIA??!?!? wowww I am so scared.

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LoveUSA: I know what you're saying and felt kind of the same way...'Why didn't this woman press charges!?'--but I can imagine if a woman had been dating someone, perhaps even fell in love with him, and then later realize that he is a total nut case...well, it's understandable that it could be hard to see the him as a criminal; to admit that one's own judgment was so poor would be difficult too.

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Japanese police = fail on everything.

i do not understand weak women that do not oppose their stalkers. I am able to drive my stalker crazy - soon he will enter the mental hospital.

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it's hard to prevent stalker crimes, it's a crime of passion and Temporary insanity. Sometimes love can be compared to insanity.

I call it perversity. Any stalker is a pervert which of course is insanity too. It is a ludicruous obsession to a perverse degree.

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Japanese police = fail on everything.

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It is a crime of passion, but it's certainly not love. Intense infatuation, perhaps.

how can a person be even infatuated with a woman who is ugly and does not make anything to be beautiful or kind and who likes itazura and drives the stalker to his wit's end!??? I want to understand this so I can stop my stalker.

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I think the headline is a bit misleading. The record high of reported cases of stalking could just mean that more people; especially women, are willing to come forward and report it. Before laws were in place it probably seemed pretty useless to stalking victims to go to the police. Now, victims feel somewhat empowered. So that is good.

Assuming the police stats are accurate, it's also reassuring to know that 90% will stop their stalking behavior with a warning. As for the other 10%. Well, these people are probably the really deranged, obsessive-compulsive types who could very well get violent.

Women should be educated to notice the signs of a possibly dangerous stalker. The woman in this article obviously didn't know that her stalker would later become her killer. Since many women are acquainted with their stalker, it's not that surprising that they might feel some guilt about laying charges against him. Hopefully, more women will not be afraid to step up and do whatever it takes to protect themselves.

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I'd like to advocate, too, for greater education in schools about what constitutes stalking and the consequences thereof. I know a lot of this kind of educational ballyhoo goes in one ear and out the other with kids and teenagers, but some DO listen, and that's what's important. It could help current and future victims understand their rights and responsibilities, and it might just deter some potential stalkers who weren't aware that their obsessive behavior might constitute stalking. Hopefully this proactive approach would, in the long run, free up police resources to provide greater aid to the victims of the 10% of nutcases who really don't care about the law.

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It's true that some Japanese can become obsessive in a way that Westerners find difficult to understand. So the law needs to protect the victims.

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Both dontknockit and kiljoy616 must not live in Japan. So let's reality check these recommendations.

"learn martial arts, get a Taser": The list of stories where foreign residents spent long periods of time in jail or were deported for defending themselves in a conflict are too many to note here. Suffice to say if a foreigner engages a Japanese in any kind of defence you are as likely to end up the villain as the attacker. And you may suffer more consequences than the assailant. This is the reality of law enforcement in Japan. Like it or not, gung ho American approaches to self defence will not work in your favor here.

"The police are not your personal body guard." No one said they are. But they should be responsible for acting against obvious threats. It is their responsiblity to keep the peace and prevent the need for people arming themselves or getting into violent conflicts just to protect their day to day lives. That kind of wild west reality serves no one. Laws should be empowered to effect results.

"but those small minority will just get even more destructive." The phrase catch 22 comes to mind. Damned if you do or don't, right? We cannot let fear of reprisal prevent us from reporting these nut jobs to the authorities. That same risk exists even if we don't report these people. Esclation is common in stalking as the stalker's frustration rises, so does the risk. You have no real choice but to report it.

I will be clear here. I am more than capable of defending myself. I was more than capable of neutralizing the stalker had she turned to violence. And there were many days when I imagined doing her absolute harm.

But I am a citizen of a civilized world. I don't carry weapons, I don't engage in fights and I respect the law and rights of others. Even nut job stalkers. My actions to go to the authorities expecting the law to act reflects my belief in a rule of law and not of chaos.

But when the laws fail we cannot turn to violent vigilatism. We must turn to creating better through through laws and improved enforcement to protect our people from the mental and physical violence of stalking.

To imagine macho solutions does not help address the problem, nor does it eleminate the very real threat some of these people pose to the public. The only viable solutions rest in better law enforcement and greater respect and consideration of reports of stalking.

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I go with "dontknockit" if you have problems deal with them, learn martial arts, get a Taser, do what ever it takes to show pain is coming to those you don't like, and it ends really fast.

Asking the police for help every time you need it is a dead end. Tougher laws just means more people in jail, and can backfire sometimes when the stalker has some capital and turn the law against you if you can't show proof of the stalking, great way to get revenge.

Using the police can lead to some who would have done it anyway to stop, but those small minority will just get even more destructive because not only is this about power over someone but also that they now see that person even weaker than before.

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Taser their nads when they are caught. That will stop them doing it again.

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tkoind2: The police were useless for months before they finally did anything. I am surprised more people don't find private means of putting an end to stalkers threats.

This is exactly it. The police are not your personal body guard. Aside from being at your side and sleeping at your house, there is almost no way to catch the stalker in the act. So how are they supposed to know you have a real stalker or just one of the many idiots out there making mountains out of molehills?

You got to take matters into your own hands. Buy a security camera. Hire a PI. Get a dog. Talk to his/her family. Move house. None of it will be easy and it probably won't be cheap either. But giving the police quick and awesome power to jump on someone because another pointed a finger is a really, extremely, super bad idea. Its like destroying the house to get a mosquito. And it will have the police running circles while everything else goes to hell.

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And one other note. Repeat offenders should be jailed. If they fail to stop harassing people after paying fines and receiving mental care, maybe a few months behind bars will help.

In my case the person made life hell for nearly a year. The police were useless for months before they finally did anything. I am surprised more people don't find private means of putting an end to stalkers threats. The laws must be improved more to assure that innocent people are protected from stalkers.

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Having experienced a stalker in Japan I think the laws are not strong enough. The slow move forward on stalking means that the stalker has time to attack or threaten the victim long before the police are empowered to act against them.

Perhaps much stronger civil action would indeed help. For example establishing a civil law that would allow any stalking victim who has issued a "stop" notice to the stalker would have recourse for filing a civil case. In these cases the penalty fee should be standardized at a very high amount. If evidence is provided of continued stalking after the stop notice, then the amount would almost automatically be awarded by the courts. With the option of waving the penalties less a more modest charge if the stalker signs an agreement to stop bothering the person and agrees to a manditory mental health care program to address that person's illness.

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punched her face and viciously trod on her head

splatter journalism.

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Junichi: It is a crime of passion, but it's certainly not love. Intense infatuation, perhaps.

The only difference between infatuation and what we often call love is that love is more or less mutual. Its entirely fair to say the stalker is in love. He or she just either lacks the ability to see that the love is not returned or cannot control themselves despite seeing it.

bdiego: If the stats are correct, simply a warning works in 90% of the cases which makes sense.

I made that case before and got beat over the head because of a case that was in the 10 percent range. Nobody said that warnings were the end-all be-all solution. Anyway, glad to be vindicated. Now if people would learn that news articles are the extremes and not the norms, and that an article is not a statistic, we may be able to get somewhere. Too many people out there think reading the newspaper qualifies as an education. I guess it would be if misconception and paranoia were your idea of an education.

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It is a crime of passion, but it's certainly not love. Intense infatuation, perhaps.

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it's hard to prevent stalker crimes, it's a crime of passion and Temporary insanity. Sometimes love can be compared to insanity. Depends how far one takes it. Women should not be affraid, to hire an attorney or go to court.

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Great article, lots of interesting info. If the stats are correct, simply a warning works in 90% of the cases which makes sense. Most stalkers are not hardcore or even aware that they've crossed the line. In the US we helped a friend confront one and he was genuinely surprised of being accused of stalking.

In Hayakawa's case, she was specifically asked to file charges but she didn't because she felt sorry for the guy. So this is not an example at all of the the law being ineffective, because in Japan the police are not legally allowed to file charges without her permission (unlike say the US).

Certainly though, there are going to be stalkers where a warning isn't going to work and the warning sets them off. But unlike Pokemon you can't catch em all.

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