Take our user survey and make your voice heard.

Here
and
Now

kuchikomi

Potpourri of post-quake crimes contradicts foreign media's reporting of placid Japanese

46 Comments

Following the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, Japanese in the disaster-stricken areas were praised in the foreign media for their sang froid and sense of decorum. Unfortunately, reports Shukan Gendai (Nov 26), not everyone was so noble. In fact, crimes did occur. We know this because the culprits have been apprehended and prosecuted for their misdeeds. The following are just a few of the cases introduced in the article.

In late March, a group of six young males set off in Sendai's Wakabayashi-ku around three in the morning. Holding flashlights, they broke into an abandoned two-story residential building in an area that had been hit by the tsunami. In addition to 12,000 yen in cash, they made off with a TV set, snowboard, and other items that could be easily sold for cash.

The thieves, realizing their car had been spotted by a neighborhood patrol traveling in the opposite direction, attempted to discard their booty by throwing it from the car window. It was later learned that the leader himself had lost his home to the disaster and his family members had been dispersed to various evacuation centers.

"As a victim yourself, surely you must have known what it felt like," the prosecutor chided him. "As the oldest in the group, you could have discouraged the others."

"To be frank, I didn't think about other victims," he is said to have responded. "I was living all by myself and felt that it would be nice to have a TV to watch. I'm sorry."

Last July, the trial convened in the Sendai District Court, in which three men were prosecuted for stealing electric power cables and fixtures. According to the charges, following the destructive tsunami, the men had knocked down utility poles along the coast near Ishinomaki City, and made off with sections of cable and several small power transformers.

Anticipating a rise in the price of copper, they had planned to sell their booty to scrap dealers. To avoid being spotted, they wore clothes resembling the volunteers who were beginning to merge on the area. Their mistake was to be out stealing cables at 5 a.m. -- a time when real volunteers were still in the sack. A policeman caught them red-handed.

"Since there were so many people involved in cleaning up the rubble, we thought the police wouldn't take any notice," the 66-year-old felon was quoted as saying.

Ishinomaki accounted for nearly one fourth of the total fatalities, and the court was disinclined to show leniency. The man was sentenced to four years in prison.

Another crime that occurred soon after the disaster was a variation of the old "it's me, send money" scam. Around March 18, a 45-year-old man in Tokyo, claiming to be a tsunami victim, contacted some 40,000 people via the Internet under his real name asking for donations. Despite his piteous pleas, not a single person appears to have taken the bait.

Around the beginning of April, a Tokyo man, upset over rumors that the capital would be hit by a major aftershock, became so anxiety ridden he was afraid to sleep at night. To prevent drowsiness, he obtained some stimulant drugs, which he injected. The drug served its purpose of keeping him alert, but no aftershock occurred. However, a policeman noticed the man behaving suspiciously on the street near Shinjuku's Kabukicho entertainment zone, and attempted to question him. Suspecting stimulant abuse, the officers requested the man to voluntarily give a urine sample, but he refused, and they wound up pinning him down on a table while attaching a catheter to his urethra and extracting the specimen by force. It tested positive for drugs.

The man's defense at the trial was that he had begun taking the stimulants out of "anxieties caused by the aftershocks."

But a veteran judge, noting his record of prior abuse, said to him, "It seems you always claim some special reason every time you take drugs."

© Japan Today

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

46 Comments
Login to comment

What a pointless article. To the author of the original... do you really think these crimes in any way alter the global perception that crime was a non-issue during the disaster? I mean do you really think these trivial things amount to anything other than minor incidents?

Look to other parts of the world and you will see what real crime is. Where people are killed, raped, abused and robbed of everything. It is pathetic that you would even bother with this list of petty crimes. Especially when there has been talk of more serious issues that have gone uncovered in the media.

More evidence that the media here is just another form of mindless pop entertainment. Shamefully so.

11 ( +13 / -3 )

Four instances of petty crime are a 'potpourri' of crime? Come on. Worse happens on a daily basis. Never mind 'a carefully-researched article' from a low-end rag. Where are all the videos of people running through the streets fighting with riot police and looting shops for anything and everything?

10 ( +12 / -3 )

I'll answer my own question - not in Japan, is where.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Heck... overall Japan is an extremely safe place to live and we all know and appreciate that but to believe that evil opportunistic individuals do not exist is just a fantasy. If you live here you easily can see this. That said I'm sick of turning on the TV almost every night to see a Japanese variety show reporting on drugs, crime, gambling... you name it in countries outside of Japan. I'd like to see a few good investigative foreign broadcast companies come to Japan and dig up some of the dirt we all know exists in abundance.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I think these stories actually validate the foreign media perception of placid Japanese. Nothing big here, nothing you wouldn't see anywhere else in the world at non-crisis times.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Four instances of petty crime are a 'potpourri' of crime?

Exactly, cleo. Wow! The Japanese are human and not perfect just like the people in the foreign media! I am so shocked. Compared to many, many, many citizens of many, many, many countries the Japanese acted very admirably in the wake of an extremely horrible disaster and this article does not change this one little bit.

4 ( +7 / -4 )

It's all pretty relative - to a section of the Japanese press, stuff like this is worth reporting. For the foreign press, some guys who stole a snowboard, 12,000 yen and a TV or whatever barely compares to general crime that goes on in their own countries.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@ tmarie - agreed that the respective medias tend to focus on either the good or the bad. Most people (90 percent) in all these nations equally are good folk - with a higher percentage for rural folk over city folk IMO.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Wow. Give us a urine sample, or we'll strap you down and take one.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

while attaching a catheter to his urethra and extracting the specimen by force.

Shouldn't "attaching" be "inserting"

That just seems very, very wrong. Couldn't they just bought the guy a couple of beers and waited for nature to its course.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

an adult man had sex with an underage girl, who consented before it. However, later on she changed her opinion and it became a rape case.

Dunno which country you come from, but in the general run of things the law states an underage girl cannot by definition consent to sex. (That's what 'underage' means). No matter what she said later, an adult man who has sex with her commits rape. Let's not go down the path of 'understanding' men who cannot keep it where it belongs.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Suspecting stimulant abuse, the officers requested the man to voluntarily give a urine sample, but he refused, and they wound up pinning him down on a table while attaching a catheter to his urethra and extracting the specimen by force.

That is completely ridiculous. That better not be true. Of course, the source IS Shukan Gendai, which is mostly famous for its pornography, so it probably isn't true.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

the officers requested the man to voluntarily give a urine sample, but he refused, and they wound up pinning him down on a table while attaching a catheter to his urethra and extracting the specimen by force. It tested positive for drugs.

Ouch.

Is that legal?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Dear Shukan Gendai

According to NPA's recent statistics, crimes are way down in affected areas compared to the year before.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Ugh, why couldn't a blood test be taken for suspected drug use. Seems way less invasive than putting a condom catheter.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan is similar in many ways to Australia after her disasters - people tend to help each other out. There is a community spirit, particularly in rural areas, which seems not to exist in joints like the US and the UK where people use any excuse to embark on a looting spree - as we saw in the UK riots and after every US disaster.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Burak, I don't think it is fair to label all Amercians or all Brits. There were plenty of clean ups done by the public after the riots in the UK - and same with Americans. People know about these things because these countries report it. The same can't be said here where a lot of stuff gets kept out of the media.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The minority of crimes compared to the vast amount of honest citizens who have so far handed in property and cash to the value of millions of yen,only proves to me that a huge majority of the Japanese population are indeed to be trusted.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Most of the RAPES, MURDERS, FIGHTS, LOOTING, SUICIDES have been deleted from ALL JAPANESE MEDIA, but talking to the actual Japanese and foreign volunteers up in Ishinomaki, many horrible things happened but they can never have it printed in newspapers, nor put on air for Japanese radio, tv, etc..

1 ( +4 / -3 )

According to NPA's recent statistics, crimes are way down in affected areas compared to the year before.

Because so are people. Less crime when your criminals and other citizens are floating to California.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

About half the women I know have been molested on a train in Tokyo let alone a crowded shelter . I'm pretty sure it's gonna happen in force in a situation like that, although I imagine they are probably better now, but at the beginning I bet it would have been almost a free for all, scary to think but probably true. Just a thought but is there a way of hacking these good and bad tags? Because looking at the comments it seems to be more consistent with the people posting than the point they are making. People with exactly the same point as those with very high ratings are getting bad ones?! Also, shouldn't it be agree/disagree because I don't see anything "bad" about most of these poorly rated comments. I heard about the opportunist robbing of banks and ATMs and such but in a country with so much yakuza activity to think that won't happen is mad. Generally the Japanese were saintly compared to what would have happened in I would say 90% of other countries.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I agree with many people here...these happenings are nothing compared to what would happen in somewhere else, hit by similar disasters. In Brazil, my home-country, much worse crimes happen everyday, and surprisingly, the culprits are often healthy, and didn't need to commite these crimes.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Never mind 'a carefully-researched article' from a low-end rag.

Weekly magazines are read by millions of Japanese, just as Murdoch tabloids are (well, were in one case) are read by millions of Brits and Americans. Then there's the National Enquirer, etc. Not all printed matter caters to MBAs wearing pinstriped suits. If you want investigative journalism in Japan, you have to go to publications outside the sphere of the press clubs. That said, I agree with you, Cleo, about the lack of riot police, etc. Most of the article seems to be about petty thievery. At least it's getting reported somewhere. And it probably reinforces in people's minds that compared to other places Japanese are, as a whole, pretty decent folk.

0 ( +3 / -4 )

"Suspecting stimulant abuse, the officers requested the man to voluntarily give a urine sample, but he refused, and they wound up pinning him down on a table while attaching a catheter to his urethra and extracting the specimen by force."

In Japan, the Supreme Court ruled back in October 23rd, 1980 that taking a urine sample by force can be legally done. The police will need a court order (warrant) and a doctor has to perform this usually at the hospital. (The police will never do it by themselves, lol)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Suspecting stimulant abuse, the officers requested the man to voluntarily give a urine sample, but he refused, and they wound up pinning him down on a table while attaching a catheter to his urethra and extracting the specimen by force. It tested positive for drugs.

WTF!?!?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I disagree with the headline though, for the most part there was no pushing and shoving in food or water lines, stories like this so often take on a gloating 'so you're not so different from us!' tone.

I still haven't seen Japanese baseball fans burn dozens of cars when their team wins a championship...the society is overall less violent. The things that have occurred, and that occurred in Kobe in '95, are a drop in the bucket to what is often seen in other nations.

Yes, I did see the story of people taking food out of convenience stores, but I don't think anyone would advocate people sitting in the shelters starving. It's quite different from the stealing of TV's, computers, office chairs etc seen on the news from the US after any upheaval. Very little of what was stolen was edible, on contrast with bags of rice from a conbini.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Where are the licentious stories of rapes?!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The real story has been swept under the rug as usual, just a small piece of fluff to see now.

How about the banks that were burgled and robbed, the ATM's that were ripped open the companies offices that were burgled and their safes stolen or cracked ? The rapes, fighting and other violence that went on ? Plenty of crime up there just swept under the rug away from the paper boy reporters.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Swept under the rug??? Gee Exportexpert. If you knew about them, they were reported by the media, is it not?? I could give you stats on ATM theft and rape on other countries which are basically ignored by their media due to the fact that it's an everyday event that needs no reporting. That's " swept under the rug" IMO.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Strange that there is no report of the infamous 'gangs of foreigners' commiting crimes that a few JT readers believed would materialize.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@nigelboy:

The perception of rape as an everyday event depends very much on the exact definition as there are certain shades of grey. I can remember a case in my country where an adult man had sex with an underage girl, who consented before it. However, later on she changed her opinion and it became a rape case. He can be judged as a pervert for his Lolita complex, but the question of rape or not cannot be clearly answered in such a case. Thus, be careful with accusations.

However, if you take a harsh definition, then rape is not only common in most countries (Japan included), but a majority of male adults have been rather close to it at least once in their lives. I think this definition requires a lot of care, because it is easy to do someone injustice. Strike out against those who commit rape deliberately, but be careful in the grey areas because damage is done quickly and fixing it is hardly ever possible.

I guess due to the Japanese way of reporting acts which could "disturb social harmony", stories of rape in emergency shelters and so on mostly stay rumors. I was shocked when I heard my Japanese girlfriend tell me stories about rape happening in shelters.

By the way, it is rather easy to keep crime low, when borders are closed like Japan and there is no "transit crime". Compare it to New Zealand, Iceland, Madagascar or other island countries (with the exception of GB), if you like. Other comparisons are quite meaningless IMO.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

A lot of the drama from Katrina was made up. Was there looting? Yes but not anywhere near the rates the media made it seem. the same goes for those rapes and murders in the stadium - all proven false.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

There were plenty of clean ups done by the public after the riots in the UK

The riots also came from the public. The tsunami was outside man's control. Can't really be compared. I shudder to think what scenes of utter mayhem would occur if a tsunami hit England.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Look, you are always saying, about a number of subjects, that you 'never saw that on the news' so I wondered.

You're volunteering in Tohoku? Hats off to you!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The man’s defense at the trial was that he had begun taking the stimulants out of “anxieties caused by the aftershocks.”

That was his defense? I'm wondering how stupid this guy is

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Some dudes stealing from an abandoned building, some other dude under drugs effects. A whole lot worse happens and Japan still has that placid image. I don't see how these crimes could possibly contradict that image.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Most of the RAPES, MURDERS, FIGHTS, LOOTING, SUICIDES have been deleted from ALL JAPANESE MEDIA, but talking to the actual Japanese and foreign volunteers up in Ishinomaki, many horrible things happened but they can never have it printed in newspapers, nor put on air for Japanese radio, tv,

What news do you watch? I've seen reports of all these things, sen videos on YouTube about the suicide rate. There is less drumming of stories here like there is in the US (24 hours a day of Kim Kardashian's divorce, for instance...)

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Don't feel pity on them, they are organised crime to get the uniforms and know what to steal.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Will agree with you on that. Just think the media style is very different.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Dear Himajin, you want to KNOW where I get my INFO?? OK! My info not from youtube, not from blogs, but ON THE GROUND yes from both Japanese and International volunteers that flew into Ishinomaki etc..right after the quake, and both the Japanese and International volunteers talk to me about many, many dangerous incidents that happened up there in Tohoku, no electricity, no POLICE no JSDF out patrolling the streets at night because they would go back to their barracks at night! Any other country you would have your armed forces patrolling, assisting etc..24 hours but not here in Japan, so imagine you are in some jr. high school gym with hundreds of other victims of all ages and how many hentai perverts are in this country, women sleeping there in the cold, need to go the bathroom in the middle of the night and guess who is waiting for you out in the dark?? Same thing happened during Hurricane Katrina and it happens all over the world, whether or not NHK etc..prints it is another matter completely, IMHO.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

If a drug suspect refuses to provide a urine sample, the police here are empowered to take it forcibly.

I don't generally associate Shukan Gendai with porn aside from the occasional girly photos, but even if it did, in what way would that detract from a carefully researched article? I don't follow your logic@pawatan.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Nigel, if you wish to think that the Japanese gov. stats are correct be my guest. I will ignore your posts on that because I don't trust the stats they put out - the unemployment rate and rape stats are laughable in this country.

Also, you go on and on about how they are lower. We since they lost are large chunk of the population, one would hope they did drop.

Export, well said! Weber, sad to say I wasn't the only one who heard stories of rape in shelters - though I wasn't surprised. Wouldn't want to report it and let everyone know the truth! Nope, head, sand, we are a safety country...

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/20/japan-disaster-survivors-lose-trust

Old but along the lines I was referring to.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Lost, JT reported one attempted rape on a aid worker a while again. Other papers have reported a few - and the women sleeping in groups for safety. Sadly, it seems any search comes up with the 'rape on nanking" or gang rapes by uni students. The Japanese media and foreign media are different. Japan likes to cover things up, the foreign likes to have chicken little running around screaming the sky is falling. The truth is usually in the middle. I'm not saying it has been mayhem but if anyone believes all is well and nice and cozy...

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

Cleo, what I would like to know is where are the stories of rape and women sleeping in groups because they feel unsafe? Where are the stories of kobans being set up at school shelters because of the issues of security at the shelters? This "article" is nothing but fluff and doesn't do any justice to those who have suffered violent crimes in the aftermath.

Where are the stories of the girls who have sold themselves on the streets of Tokyo to make some cash? Why are their no reports as to who is enticing them to move to Tokyo? JT did feature ONE article about it months ago nut nothing since.

Add in, there have been numerous robberies of cash machines. No mention here either? The media keeps painting things like all is well and that certainly isn't the truth.

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites