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Infernal affairs: Errant cops struggling to clean up their act

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"The year before last, about 250 policemen and civilian employees of the police were summarily dismissed. Prior to the major reforms implemented in 2000, however, these figures were far fewer."

A freelance journalist, referred to only as "T," tells a special issue of Shukan Jitsuwa (May 2) magazine subtitled "The Taboo" about more stringent efforts by police to police themselves.

"T" estimates internal disciplinary measures may total about 1,000 cases per year; however, only a few result in offenders' arrest or prosecution while still employed by the police.

"First, the authorities will nudge offenders out by getting them to resign, so they would be described in any negative news reports as 'a former policeman,'" says "T."

Unless their offense was serious enough to warrant prosecution, resignation enables them to receive their pension. And some, flaunting their experience as an ex-cop, might even manage to land a civilian job via the "amakudari" system. Of course, the pension payouts also buy their silence.

To make matters worse, the media are also discouraged from covering police indelicacies. Reporters who too energetically pursue news of crimes by cops might find themselves locked out of the police reporters' clubs, which cuts off their access to information from official channels.

That's why such cases seldom become major news items, "T" points out.

One exception to the above were revelations by the Hokkaido Shimbun in 2004 about a police slush fund. Although the scale of the malaise was huge -- reportedly one-third of the entire Hokkaido force of 10,000 men was said to be involved -- only about 100 were hit with disciplinary measures. The police handed back over 250 million yen of their ill-gotten gains to the prefecture.

The head of Hokkaido's prefectural police brazenly asserted at a press conference that there was "no evidence of improper accounting or diverting of funds to personal use."

Shukan Jitsuwa is particularly contemptuous of the media's cozy collusion with police, such as through broadcasts of those ubiquitous "Police 24 Hours" type programs, TV specials it describes as a "120-minute-long PR commercial for the police."

The contents of these "phony documentaries" are carefully manipulated to make the police look good, and carefully avoid their cock-ups, such as raids where they pounce on what turns out to be the wrong location or failing to nab a suspect.

"Hey," suggests "T" tongue in cheek, "how about having cops appearing in a comedy-variety, show with scenes of crimes committed by cops instead?"

There's certainly plenty of material to work with. Like these:

-- Aug, 2009, in Osaka: A patrolman (age 26) publicly exposed himself on the way home from a drinking party with colleagues.

-- Oct, 2009, in Hokkaido: A 45-year-old inspector was dismissed after he took home a 17-year-old female runaway and allowed her to stay for three weeks.

-- Oct 2009, in Tokyo: A 25-year-old patrolman was arrested after using an "encounter site" to supposedly invite a 16-year-old girl to a hotel for a "job interview" at a sex delivery service.

-- Dec 2009, in Kanagawa: A 32-year-old sub-inspector was caught attempting to take photos up women's skirts on an escalator in a station building.

In addition to these, adds Shukan Jitsuwa, there are plenty of other cases: sexual assault, fraud, extortion and accepting bribes. During a police raid on a sex shop, two off-duty cops were found in the waiting room; the names of several officers were found on the customer list of an illegal money lending business; and cops were nabbed with stimulant drugs that had previously been confiscated from a pusher.

The magazine, nonetheless, reminds readers that these bad apples represent only a tiny percentage of the total number of men in blue. Still, they are part of a privileged group endowed with authority by the state.

The police are a rigidly disciplined organization, and some officers become stressed out and get themselves in trouble, "T" observes. "Perhaps this is the reason why the others tend to be sympathetic toward colleagues who go astray."

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

19 Comments
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Well from just reading the JT website alone there seems to be enough daily crimes committed by the J-cops for them to have their own special section in Crime. Now the breaking news is that this is merely the tip of the iceberg...

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J-cops are nothing but embarrassment. 70% of them should be canned.

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All over the world there are corrupt cops. They are human too.

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japanese police corrupt??? - in this land of no crime??

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japanese police corrupt??? - in this land of no crime??

that's why there's no crime!

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It's true, there are bad cops everywhere. Doesn't make the fact that there is so much cover up going on (or even just lackluster reporting) any less disturbing to me. And cops are held to a different standard, because they are supposed to be keeping the law, not breaking it. They can't be perfect, but they shouldn't go unpunished either.

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Hokkaido Cops do an excellent job. Last year my bike was stolen and the cops spent 30 minutes devoted to checking my visa and gaijin card, where I worked etc. After all, I could easily have been an illegal, great job. My bike never turned up though, but I'm sure they're still on the case.

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10,000 cops in Hokkaido? Seems like an awful lot. There are shows devoted to cops lunacy - see "Bad Cops" as an example. A J-version would likely be hilarious - all pink subtitles, lots of swooshing noises and bells and whistles, j-presenters "eeee-ing" and "sugoi-ing" and "bikkuri-ing" and plenty of gaijin being hassled (except the Nigerians in Roppongi). and a bowl of ramen at the end. What are you waiting for TV Asahi?

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From what I've heard, there is no internal affairs in Japan and that is the biggest problem. As long as there is no third party overseeing the police force, cops will continue to do and get away with illegal stuff.

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I wonder if the cops in Japan would be as afraid of false allegations as normal citizens if there was an internal affairs division paid bonuses for every corrupt cop they found. The entire Japanese policing system is corrupt for simply this reason, regardless of what other illegal activities they get up to. The moment you pay bonuses for cops to catch bad guys is the moment that cops begin to fabricate evidence and feel "entitled" to bonuses and extra perks. The problem is in the system.

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Sounds like they cant even catch themselves!

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Cops in Sapporo used to stop me because I was walking through Nakajima park at night time (as it was on the way to my apartment). 'What are you doing around this neighbourhood?' I would often get asked. Goddamn cops.

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I dunno. I kind of like the idea of cops checking to make sure suspicious people are verified rather than letting them just pass by. Of course, if the only people they happen to classify as "suspicious are of the gaijin variety... Can you say "profiling"?

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Ah where do I start. I will indeed give my vote to the corrupt cops everywhere. I have never been asked for my card except last week they came to my door (living here 5 years) on a Sunday and they were collecting emergency contact info from all tenants (there have been robberies and pickpocketing in Donki nextdoor). Other than that they speak for the society and puts them in the normal Japanese culture and society. Over the years they have been bagged doing what 10% of what the population probably does on a regular basis. Profiling... this is what they do from the second you enter immigration. If youre dressed up and have a sense of professional business (briefcase, nice suit & tie) they would not harass you. Once you go for the lost gaijin teacher look with backpack, sunglasses and a grin, you get swamped. If I was to take a crack at in my own 2 cents I would say 10% of cops here take Yak bribes and break the law however I see the same number in the US and England (OC). I am still grateful these guys do not shoot up the place and even more grateful guns are illegal. I take more of the good than the bad. PS I have never rode a bike in Japan either.

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Captain Finney!!!!

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Hey is it only me or is the Title wrong?? Infernal affair,, I thought it was Internal Affair.. Opps Tezbo

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Hey is it only me or is the Title wrong??

It's only you, Tezbo. I would suppose most readers would see it's a humourous play on words.

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Maybe there should be an internal affairs department to held the police department accountable for breaking the laws. Is the system broken or not? Because there should be measure taken into account because no organization is perfect from the inside out.

It looks like a lot of bad behaviors by a few police officers seems to give the police department a bad name. If a few officers can't live up to their oath then they are better off leaving the police force.

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maybe if they didnt waste their time being racist idiots and stopping me, a kindergarten teacher, every time one small crime occurs in our area they would actually get some real work done.

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