In a comparatively safe country like Japan, it’s easy to become complacent about personal safety. Here, it’s very normal to use expensive belongings such as bags or even laptop computers to “mark” one’s seat at a cafe or restaurant before going to the counter to order, and in general, people aren’t as hyper-vigilant about their surroundings as in some other countries.
But things have gradually been changing on that front, and home security is becoming a bigger concern. In rural areas especially, the “genkan” or inside entranceway to a house was considered open to the public, and often neighbours and salespeople alike would blithely enter this space and call out to the residents within. These days, however, people are more likely to lock their front doors and totally ignore any and all visitors.
According to a recent survey by Qzoo, which polled 1,365 people between the ages of 20 and 70, 46.4% of people in Japan actively ignore knocks on their door or their doorbell when it rings, staying inside until the person goes away.
The surveyees gave a range of rationalisations for this behaviour: “Because I live alone and am scared” was the most common answer with women, however a number of men also responded that they avoided answering their doors in case it was some sort of swindler or con-man. The second most common answer was that it’s simply too much of a hassle to open the door multiple times a day to salespeople, who are often pushy, and other callers who have little to offer and everything to ask of residents. Religious groups and the notorious NHK man were cited as some of the most troublesome guests to get rid of should one accidentally open the door to them. Some respondents claimed that they “screened” callers, by either peeping through the door’s peephole, or using a video intercom system.
To be honest, none of the above is too surprising to this writer. I’ve actually had salespeople cheerfully walk into my apartment before I learned to keep the door permanently locked, and I’m regularly hounded by Jehovah’s Witnesses who cheerfully bang on my door for minutes at a time before helpfully stuffing English-language pamphlets through my letter box at least four to five times a month. People can be pushy here in Japan too, and nobody is more feared than the NHK man who is not above resorting to downright bullying tactics in an attempt to make people sign up for a completely non-legally-required TV license.
It looks like the days of neighbours dropping in on each other are well and truly on their way out, with Japanese people becoming increasingly private and suspicious of the intentions of others, though perhaps with good reason.
Source: News Post Seven H/T: Hachima Kikou
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