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Police shakedowns increasing in run-up to Tokyo Olympics

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Around the end of April, a man employed as a director of a subcontracting firm for water maintenance brought a lawsuit against the Tokyo metropolitan government, for having been illegally stopped and detained by police. While driving, the man had been accosted by a police officer for routine questioning -- a practice called shokumu shitsumon or shokushitsu for short. Upon seeing suspicious-looking tools in the trunk of the man's car, the officer detained him and he was held overnight on suspicion of a misdemeanor offense.

According to a post on the website bengoshi.com, which dispenses legal advice, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department was engaged in a stop-and-question campaign, and members of maintenance trades have been particularly singled out. 

Spa! (June 4) reports the police have been becoming increasingly heavy-handed, and don't confine their questioning to males. The writer provides six anonymous testimonies, including one from a university student and one from a housewife. But more on that later.

"It's true, stop-and-question has been increased," a member of Tokyo's finest, under condition of anonymity, is quoted as saying. "It's tied in, to some extent, by several major events, like the start of the new imperial reign and the visit by U.S. President Trump. The Olympic Games are still more than a year away, but I've heard one objective is to allow police to get more experience, particularly in the districts that front on Tokyo Bay."

"Several times a year, the Tokyo MPD conducts stop-and-question campaigns, and at such times officers are given a quota to fill," Yu Terasawa, a journalist familiar with police operations, tells the magazine. "If they fail to meet their quota, then first they have trouble taking paid leave, and if the numbers still fail to materialize, it can affect future promotions, and ultimately their earnings. So to make their own work easier, some cops on the street will purposely look for people who look easy to intimidate, or young people who can be hit with some sort of false charge.

"For example, even if it's easy to frame a citizen with some sort of illegal charge, like the case with the construction worker in Nakano, a chef at an izakaya (Japanese pub) was stopped and arrested because he was carrying a kitchen knife in a wooden box, which he'd taken to be sharpened," Terasawa added. 

A 39-year-old housewife residing in the Daiba district tells Spa! that around 11 p.m., she left her residence to purchase eggs at a convenience store for her children's breakfast the next morning and was accosted on the street by a patrolman. 

"He asked me to show identification but I wasn't carrying any, so he asked my name and address. 'Break-ins have been increasing in the neighborhood,' he told me. I haven't heard of such things, either from the city office or from my own 'mama network.' But there I was, with my hair still damp from shampooing and wearing wooden clogs -- did I really look like a sneak thief?"

Among the other five cases were a 22-year-old university student in Kinshicho who was detained for half an hour while playing Pokemon Go; a 35-year-old salaried worker in Naka Ochiai, Shinjuku, who said he was stopped to check his bicycle registration four times on the same spot over a three-month period; and another salaried worker, age 45, who while talking on his mobile on the street in Akasaka around 8 p.m. was rudely interrupted by two officers, who requested he show his identification. Then they asked he open his briefcase for inspection as well. He phoned the local police station and irately complained to the supervisor, who contacted the two directly. They stood down, apologized, and let him go on his way.

In justifying the stop-and-question activities, police point out that it is not entirely ineffective. Out of 316,000 shokushitsu conducted nationwide in 2017, about one in eight, or approximately 40,000, were were claimed to have led to righteous arrests on various charges.

The problem is, shokushitsu were up by some threefold last year, and it's starting to get on the nerves of ordinary people minding their own business. Spa! thinks police would probably benefit from a course in sensitivity training so as to reduce friction and cultivate better cooperation from the public.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

21 Comments
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"Several times a year, the Tokyo MPD conducts stop-and-question campaigns, and at such times officers are given a quota to fill,"

"If they fail to meet their quota, then first they have trouble taking paid leave, and if the numbers still fail to materialize, it can affect future promotions, and ultimately their earnings.

One shouldn't expect anything but cruelty from a people who are abused by their bosses. Can you imagine working under such oppressive conditions ? If the MDP is a Police force they should think of turning it into a Police service, Tokyo is the gateway of the country.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This article is a revelation for me. I had naively assumed that police only targeted foreign-looking people. I was asked for my I.D. twice in Japan: once in Nagoya and once in Tokyo. That was ages and ages ago.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I am stopped by police all the time, so i am now used to it. It used to annoy me because i am a person of color, and it felt targeted. Recently they stopped me at my home train station, but i was rushing for the oncoming train, so i did not stop. They followed me inside the ticket gates and all the way to the platform, and demanded my resident card. I showed them, and they left me alone.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I love living in Tokyo. Absolutely love it. I have been spending a significant time away from it over the past couple of years, and every time I get back home I realize again just how awesome I think it is.

Always something to do, always something to eat, convenient to get around, cool architecture, parks, friendly people - everything I could ask for in a society.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

My question would be, why would anyone even want to live in Tokyo?

To answer your question at least from my point of view, there are some great neighbourhoods to live in Tokyo. I'm very happy where I live with my family, the only thing being i'd like a garden with my house but there are plenty of other ares for the children to play.

I find Tokyo very fun and convenient to live in and I make way more money here than I would elsewhere, which will allow me to retire earlier and live wherever we want. I find the key to living in Tokyo happily is to avoid using public transport during rush hours.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

You can make your own work, live in bigger cheaper homes, enjoy cheaper travel, and never get hassled by a policeman

sounds like heaven! especially the last part

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Unless there's probable cause, you should not to be searched

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@zichi

Horses for courses, I suppose. I prefer keeping a distance from my neighbours ( a good morning will suffice ) and I like the variety of things to do in Tokyo. I’ve been stopped by the filth and asked to show my gaijin card maybe twice in 20 years in and around Tokyo.

Kobe is one of the better places outside Tokyo. A bit like Liverpool but not as much character ;)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sounds like you live in a nice place!

That we do!

https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/0a/7d/58/b6/caption.jpg

Jimizo

Tokyo is just another big capital city. I've lived in London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, We enjoy the quiet hassle free life. We even know all of our neighbors from the nearest 100 homes and beyond. Already received many kind gifts like last week, fresh new bamboo shoots straight off the nearby mountains.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Tokyo’s great. So much to see and do. I’ll be sorry to leave Japan in some ways, but I’ll come back and visit Tokyo. I’ve found the rest of Japan nice but a bit dull.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

My question would be, why would anyone even want to live in Tokyo? You can make your own work, live in bigger cheaper homes, enjoy cheaper travel, and never get hassled by a policeman.

I agree, I have lived in Tokyo for 10 years and I'm extremely happy to say that I am getting out next month (almost sounds like I'm getting out of prison lol). Sounds like you live in a nice place!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

You don't live in Tokyo, do you?

no I don't. Only for the first six months on my arrival but being an artist-painter I wasn't inspired enough to stay so headed out to the Japan Alps and lived in my wife's former home. Beautiful location, especially for the mountains, nature and so on. We did have the 1998 Winter Olympics and the emperor and empress passed in front of the house.

From there we went to Kobe City and stayed for 16 years. End of last year we moved to the beach area in Tatsuno, Hyogo. West of Himeji. Been here 5 months and I have yet to even see a policeman.

My question would be, why would anyone even want to live in Tokyo? You can make your own work, live in bigger cheaper homes, enjoy cheaper travel, and never get hassled by a policeman.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

Perhaps I'm just a suspicious looking individual, I don't know. But I have been stopped more times than I can remember...to be fair, I have seen them stop Japanese citizens as well. Although they shouldn't be allowed to do this to anyone in the first place, its an absolute violation of personal privacy.

Do you think police are ever stopped on their day off? Unlikely, and if they were, they would be off the hook the minute they identified themselves as an equal I'm sure...

6 ( +6 / -0 )

In 25 years, never once was I asked by the police for my Alien Card and then Residence Card.

You don't live in Tokyo, do you?

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Police shakedowns increasing in run-up to Tokyo Olympics

Yup. I was worried about that.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

In 20 years, I was stopped once on the bicycle at night, coming back from the combini with a few cold ones. The guy was stopping all the bicycles, so I was not singled out; he checked the registration, then tried to do some conversation (a really friendly fellow actually), but I told him that my beer is getting warm, he laughed and I was on my way. And once I was stopped on the motorcycle at night on the way back from work; the guys asked me why I was driving there at that time(!), and I was tired and grumpy and so I replied in polite but firm Japanese that it is not his frickin business. He apologized and I was on my way.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Wow, so much attention. I hope that Japan is still a safe country.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

In 25 years, never once was I asked by the police for my Alien Card and then Residence Card.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Been living here since 81. Only carded once. He asked, I gave and was on my way within a couple minutes. Seemed pretty easy for me.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

Same happened to me in Narita. The only thing I was carrying was my "hokensho" and no other document w/ picture. Had to explain I was waiting for someone, plus the fact I'm Japanese citizen... uncomfortable...

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Utterly pointless. The only impact is to lower the image of the police in the eyes of the law-abiding. Randomly quizzing people at Narita who "don't look Japanese" is another brainless example.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

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