Japan Today



Hanky-panky in kobans leave police blushing


Is this story about a serious moral problem within the police establishment, or is it about the tabloid media’s tendency to magnify small things into big things? Let the reader decide.

Furthermore: Assuming Shukan Post (Nov 28) is maintaining a reasonable perspective on the issue, what, precisely, is the issue? Is it the troublesome but morally innocent “empty koban” problem, or is it rampant sex among on-duty officers whose pleasurable distractions leave the public at risk?

Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department is a vast organization – 46,000 people protecting a population of 13 million. The 1,084 koban police boxes scattered about the metropolis symbolize a neighborhood policing system much admired and imitated internationally. Sometimes you phone or visit a koban and it’s empty. This can be vaguely disquieting if the matter is not serious, or alarming if it is. Sometimes it simply can’t be helped. The police are short-staffed, many koban are manned at certain hours by only one officer, and the officer may be out on patrol.

But journalist Kensaku Tokito, writing in Shukan Post, tells this story: A young woman carrying a bento lunch box sauntered casually into a koban one day. Evidently she felt quite at home. She and the lone duty officer soon disappeared into an outbuilding in the “back yard.” The building, designed as a sort of rec room, has cot beds for catnaps, on the assumption that another officer will cover in the koban. In this case there was no other officer, and a catnap was not the point. While the couple was busy in the rec room, the koban was unmanned. The location is Tokyo’s "shitamachi," an area known for folksy charm and also for relatively high crime.

Though not made public before Tokito’s expose, the story is apparently well-known in police circles and is the subject of an ongoing investigation. Tokito says he heard it from several police sources. Who was the young woman? A police officer herself – off-duty at the time. How did the matter come to light? In a most interesting fashion, says Tokito: the woman had made a formal complaint of sexual harassment at the hands of a senior police detective. The ensuing investigation uncovered the incident and, says Tokito, numerous others of a similar nature.

Now, it’s no news to anyone that police officers, like anyone else, have their human failings. It’s impossible, Tokito admits, to gauge the scale of this particular sort of indiscipline. Very likely it’s rising along with the number of female officers – still low at 8%, but the trend is upward. The department naturally investigates such instances that come to its attention as quietly as possible, lest the public gets the wrong idea – or the right idea – about what is uppermost in the minds of young officers on duty. And how many instances do come under investigation? The happenstance manner in which this particular one surfaced suggests the degree of unlikelihood involved.

Tokito recalls earlier related police scandals. Last November, a 50-year-old officer was arrested on allegations of drunkenly forcing a kiss on a female officer in a train. In April, a 24-year-old officer murdered his 24-year-old fiancée, also an officer, and committed suicide.

How much of a case does this make for “unheard-of infamous goings-on” among police officers that Shukan Post claims to be exposing? Again – let the reader decide.

But the “empty koban” problem is widely acknowledged. “It’s a problem nationwide and getting worse,” a senior police official is quoted as saying. “Even if the officer is out on patrol, it shakes trust in the system. If it’s because of the officer’s private business, that represents a vacuum in the protection of public safety.”

© Japan Today

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No offense but that was one the most boring stories I've ever read here.

30 ( +33 / -3 )

the “empty koban” problem is widely acknowledged.

Which is it, empty or full of sexy time fun? One assumes a call box and other communication is available at koban including video. The article asks for 24/7 police presence at the box? 1084 boxes, 24hrs. Still cheaper than crime.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

So, let me get this straight, if I want to commit some crime and keep the cops busy while I do so, I just have to send in an accomplice to keep them busy?

Usually in the movies they need to create some kind of explosion or something. But I guess a pretty face and a bento is all you need in J-land.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I have no problem with the hanky-panky, but the Romans used to execute guards caught sleeping while on duty.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Give me back two minutes of my life.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Another case of a irresponsible policeman without morals or values who seem to think they can behave as they wish, anywhere, anytime and it won't matter in the least because they are above the law and are men of power and position. If you want others to respect you, you must first demonstrate self-respect. Don't waste the taxpayers money by being dishonest at work wasting time getting promiscuous and not performing you duty honestly.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Empty Kobans are a bummer too, but what about foot patrols? A little street presence would perhaps reduce the low rate even further, but the police seem to like sitting around waiting for someone to make a complaint.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If empty, use the phone, and help comes immediately.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

If I id that on my job I would be fired.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

99.9% of the time there is no-one in the koban is because the mawari-san is doing the rounds on his mamachari.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

"empty kobans"

A certain koban on the corner I go by every day is ALWAYS devoid of cops. The good point of this is I can cross the street on a red light when there's no oncoming traffic.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Okay, here's the thing about the empty-koban "problem." Only a scant few years ago, perhaps 7 or 8, people were whinging and whining about how the police never left their koban to patrol the neighborhood, effectively signaling the demise of the cherished and respected "o-mawari-san" police officer who wandered the local neighborhood and knew its residents by name. After much hand-wringing and complaint, the NPA urged its officers to go on patrol more often in order to a) reconnect with the community, and b) help deter crime.

Fast forward to now, and people have flipped on their original complaint, opting for a baffling "The police are never in their koban!" Let me guess: People want police in the koban and on patrol 24-7. Well, that costs money, and judging by negative public reaction to an additional sales tax increase, I don't see the funds for effectively doubling the number of police on duty at any given time coming from a public that, as the Skunan Post would tell it, are become petulant children.

Mind you, this is coming from the Shukan Post, which has its mast head pasted right next to the definition of "sensationalist journalism" in the dictionary. But still, a case or two of hanky-panky on the job? Not exactly the earth-shattering revelation of pervasive moral decrepitude I was expecting based on the article’s title.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Pay the police more, and ho;d them to same standards expected for the money and responsibility.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hey now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, surely the answer is to merge two functions and have a Love Koban?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The author seems to suggest that the increase in number of female officers is responsible for the increase of of sexual misconduct.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Being a J cop sounds like a cushy job, and then to have a bit of sexy time with a lady,,,, where do i sign up??

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Pay the police more, and ho;d them to same standards expected for the money and responsibility.

You are joking, right? Police are already overpaid for the work they do, and what they do, really isn't much.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Shukan Post = not a reliable news source in any possible way.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The new meaning of under cover cop or should I say private investigator!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Is this really newsworthy?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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