Lifting lid on sexual harassment within police force


“The policeman is your friend,” we’re taught as children. Policewomen know better. To them, the policeman and his groping fingers are at best a constant nuisance, says the monthly Takarajima (October). Sometimes they’re a downright menace.

What can parents tell children who watch the news and hear, as they would have in July, that four Kanagawa policemen were involved in sexually molesting a female colleague? If honesty is the best policy, the answer would have to be, “It happens all the time.” That, at least, is what we read in Takarajima’s interview with a former policewoman, pseudonymously named Shinobu Yamazaki. According to her, the unusual thing is not the occurrence but the disclosure. Most of the time it is simply kept quiet. It surfaced this time, she says, only because of the victim’s exceptional bravery.

Yamazaki, 42, joined the Nagasaki police force out of high school and quickly learned that women in that severely masculine environment were considered “decoration.” Sexual harassment is not just sexual, and is maybe better termed gender harassment. Being out on patrol was a relief, because in the office she was relegated to filing papers and cleaning ashtrays, the tasks deemed suitable for a woman. There was another, more unpleasant obligation she learned went with the job. This was attendance at after-hours drinking parties. An “unwritten law” made it, in effect, mandatory.

“At worst,” she says, “there would be scenes that would’ve made a cabaret club hostess blanch.” Esprit de corps compelled the women to suffer in silence. Problems arising from any consequent sexual encounters would be settled by superior officers in the male’s favor – by forced transfer if necessary.

“There’s no one you can really blame,” she says. “After the (1989) Equal Employment Opportunity Law, the National Police Agency really did try to establish an equal opportunity workplace.” But even more so than the corporate office, the police office was traditionally a man’s world, and the brutal nature of the job at its worst has helped keep it that way.

“Not like on TV,” observes Takarajima.

“Well, no,” laughs Yamazaki. “You can hardly show policewomen being groped in the elevators on TV.”

She finally quit the force – she doesn’t say when or specifically why – and now works for a leading security firm. Interestingly, she has not lost faith in the ideals that drew her to police work to begin with. “I still believe that the police exist to enforce the law and justice in the interest of citizens.” But a “revolution,” she says, will have to occur before the force is a dignified workplace for a woman.

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Pathetic, and pretty depressing that this article doesn't surprise me at all.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Yamazaki, 42, joined the [Insert Business Here] out of high school and quickly learned that women in that severely masculine environment were considered "decoration."


13 ( +14 / -1 )

“Well, no,” laughs Yamazaki. “You can hardly show policewomen being groped in the elevators on TV.”

No, because that might make good, hard-hitting drama, as well as raising awareness of entrenched mysogenistic ideas in the Japanese workplace. TV fiction bolsters gender discrimination (amongst others) to the extent that even if some characters challenge unfairness they ultimately revert to type and keep the suits happy.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Did she truly not know? That seems unlikely with all the training that goes into being certified as an officer that she never heard or saw any women being treated poorly.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

“There’s no one you can really blame,”

realy? how about all the male colleagues. And what about bullying, every now and then some police officer goes into the toilet and commits suicide. And the Police officers that get arrested for al sorts of crimes (stealing, drunk driving, etcetera) Maybe there is a "small" problem in the whole police culture in Japan?

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Come on guys, who wants to be a cop? Generally ppl who want power over other ppl is one type (tho there are others). In other words, a trait in common w/ the yakuza, etc they protect us from. They enjoy their impunity. Impunity against women is just par for the course. This can't be a surprised to anyone.

On the benefit of the doubt side, this is one woman from one station, and she is talking to a magazine which reports stuff like this for the titillation of their male readers, they try to make it sound as salacious as possible to both put down the object (In this case both the police and women I would say) and let you feel superior to them and simultaneously give the reader a vicarious thrill of imagined participation. The whole "can't show it on tv", and "would make a hostess blanch" way of writing is purposefully leaving it up to your imagination for effect. Cheap rag, not completely believable.

Yes, I believe both paragraphs simultaneously.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Male cops have nothing better to do?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

“Well, no,” laughs Yamazaki. “You can hardly show policewomen being groped in the elevators on TV.”

You can in AV movies though

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Being out on patrol was a relief, because in the office she was relegated to filing papers and cleaning ashtrays, the tasks deemed suitable for a woman.

Somebody needs to do that- Im sure there are plenty of dudes who were relegated to this mundane role.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It is a real shame that so many institutions in Japan think that 'harass' is a part of a woman's body.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

the brutal nature of the job

Yeah, so tough stopping HS girls on bikes and such.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Being out on patrol was a relief, because in the office she was relegated to filing papers and cleaning ashtrays, the tasks deemed suitable for a woman.

How about they do it themselves? Something needs to be done about this... I mean just because a woman is a woman doesn't make her the office tea lady/cleaner. In my office I make the tea and stuff...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I wouldnt call having an anonymous interviewlifting the lid. Also, she seems to have left the force without actually reporting anyone. I havent read the full article, only whats reported here, so it seems like that. Im not familiar with that magazine either but even if its sensationalist, as someone mentioned above, that doesnt mean its not true. Women should get more respect but lifting the lid publicly and not through asensationalistor otherwise kind of magazine, would be a start. I know it could affect her future but that doesnt give any credit to potential employers who would love to have this woman, who still believes in the system, watching their backs. The fact that she has found work in the security area is a positive sign. No doubt she probably had to explain why she left the force.

The sad thing is that children are asked to trust cops and most of the time they can but not always - and its not just cops, its other authority figures as well - and that, unfortunately, applies not just to Japan but everywhere. It`s not just children either. A lot of adults do not have faith in their local police force.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A police Department is only as strong as it weakest link, in this case, the link is the Chief of Police. There is no room for any kind of disorder in any form in any Police Dept. The Chief needs to go and any other officers that are breaking down the respect of the Dept. This is 2012 and there is no more room for this type of behavior. No Police Dept. should allow its officer to act in this way.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'll bet it never happens in the precincts where there is a woman police chief! Oh, wait...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It surprises me to no end that Japanese females enter into this profession knowing fully well that predators lurk from within. Either that or they all are overly altruistic in thinking that they won't be the one's harrassed.

I hope the day comes when no women apply for the police academy here and the people in charge finally get it through their hard heads that they are the problem and have to enforce changes that start at the top.

(Never going to happen, being overly optimistic I do believe.)

1 ( +1 / -0 )


harass = herass? :o

4 ( +4 / -0 )

**** If the situation is like this in Japan and what about other countries in the world. A lonely lady can walk in Japan streets and safely reach her home at 0 hours but I wonder why she face trouble to work as a police in a country where the crime rate is very lowest among the world .

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I really wonder what that "brutal" work is that the average Japanese Koban supposedly has to do. Unless you're in the homicide / suicide department, the job should be pretty easy and safe. You aren't supposed to touch the Yakuza anyway, so all you need to do is stop people on bikes to check their registration, help out tourists who don't know how to use their smartphone's map application, and stand in front of your station to give passing foreigners the eye a bit. What is it with the Koban never doing anything about traffic violations? In front of my building alone, every day there are dozens of dangerous situations created by car or bike drivers ignoring lights or other rules, under the police's watch. They literally stand there, a few feet from the offence, and just act like nothing happened.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Kaeru no ko wa kaeru. It shows the true nature of the country. It might have advanced in many aspects, but still trailing in other areas like basic humanity.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Sexual Harassment training & discipline

Also threaten them if they continue they will receive forfeiture of pay and demotion

It's the only way to wake these a holes up

1 ( +1 / -0 )

not surprising. the japanese police are a joke. selective law enforcement, cozy with the yakuza, is sexual harassment and molestation is not surprising at all.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sounds like she took a "shouganai" attitude and basically gave up. I wish she could have fought a bit more and helped to bring about needed changes in the police service. It doesn't surprise me this happens at all. Seems to be the same in most companies, hospitals, and government agencies in Japan. The line between fun, jokes and harassment can be very fine sometimes but, more often than not, the line is crossed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is things like this that sicken me about this country. Women are people too. If I was this chick I would straight shit kick these Senpai in the balls and when I was given a talkin' too by the superior, I would have put his balls in a vise and said, "People are watching, and there is always a camera that saw something. If you want a public scandal; trust me I have plenty of time and I am in state of wanting to F up a couple lives aside from my own. I am the Phoenix and you are about to feel the burn of my anger.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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