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