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Practical tips for dealing with stalking in Japan

21 Comments

Not long ago, I was talking to a guy, whose girlfriend came to visit him in Tokyo. One night, she went out around midnight to get ice cream at the convenience store and didn’t come back for four hours. Completely freaked out, he asked where she was. She told him, “I just walked around the streets all night, luxuriating in the safety of Japan.” True story.

Seriously? 1) That’s not super smart and 2) For four hours?

Back in January, there was an article on safety in Japan for women, giving some great information for English teachers on how to work with privates, and just managing daily life. I recently went to a women’s workshop and wanted to share some of the practical tips. As someone who has had a scary run-in with a creeper here, I think sharing ideas on staying safe is important.This isn’t an alarmist post… no need to freak out– but here are a few facts, and some tips on how to stay safe.

The Facts:

-- In 2000, there were 2280 reported cases of stalking in Japan. -- Last year, there were 19,920 reported cases. -- In 2000, the national law against stalking was put into effect after the murder of Shiori Ino.

Here’s the law: http://www.keishicho.metro.tokyo.jp/seian/stoka/stoka.htm

Recently, cyberstalking has been added to the law to protect women from internet harassment.

Mace and pepper spray are illegal in Japan. There is a loophole for women with pepper spray, but as a foreigner, I’m not sure I’d risk carrying it. Article 1-2 of the Minor Offense Act states that “a person who secretly carries around, without justifiable reason, knives, iron rods, or items that are used to harm another person’s life or body” shall be fined or punished by temporary imprisonment. If a woman carries pepper spray with a rational purpose such as to defend herself, such act shall be justified. However, it still may be punishable under the Minor Offense Act if she carries it without any necessity. So, you can carry it, then be arrested or fined for carrying it if you can’t prove you need it? Taser guns are illegal.

You should always report stalking cases to the police, but avoiding sketchy situations to begin with is always your best line of defense.

Here are some other useful tips, submitted by women who have lived here for years:

-- Get an apartment on the second floor or higher. -- If you have to be on the first floor, hang men’s clothing/boxers on your laundry line. Also conceal your underwear by hanging towels or larger clothing around them. -- If you get groped on the train, grab his hand and raise it in the air, yelling “Chikan!” (pervert). I talked to a Japanese man about this practice and he said it’s true, but sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s doing the groping. Because of this, he keeps both hands up on handles in crowded trains. He doesn’t want to be wrongly accused. -- If you get groped on the train by a salaryman (and you know it’s him) grab his company lapel pin. These ubiquitous pins are required by most companies and can act as an identifier should your groper flee. Japanese companies take train groping very seriously, and will distance themselves from these employees immediately. -- Put a little personal alarm on your key ring. You can get them at Donki.

Useful Expressions:

“Hoittoite!” Back off!

“Chikan da!” groper/pervert!

“Keisatsu o yonde!” Call the police!

“Yamero!” Stop it!

It’s true that Japan has low crime compared to say, the U.S., but low crime doesn’t mean no crime. Just a few smart choices can keep you from being a target.

© GaijinPot

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

21 Comments
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1) Don't bother going to the cops

2) Mace. In the eyes.

3) Keys. In the eyes.

4) Kick. In the nuts.

That oughta do it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

gaijinfoSep. 18, 2013 - 08:01AM JST

1) Don't bother going to the cops 2) Mace. In the eyes. 3) Keys. In the eyes. 4) Kick. In the nuts. That oughta do it.

If by "do it" you mean "get you arrested and sent to prison for excessive violence", then yes.

One hint the author didn't give was to just scream. No Japanese words, no catchy phrases, just scream as loudly as you can as long as you can. Someone WILL come to investigate, if only to ask you to please keep the noise down. This is a classic, it works anywhere in the world, won't break any local laws and is guaranteed to get you help.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

My ex-wife was stalking me. I needed to call the police 4-5 times just to stop her from doing one thing at a time. She is still cyber-stalking me on Facebook, because apparently Facebook is still not included in the Cyber-stalking rules of Japan. So she consults her lawyer to find legal ways of stalking me (!) in this strange society. I have been told to watch, only, for any innovative moves she makes to avenge my attempt to divorce her! The point is stalkers may get "legal advice" on what they can do to keep being a stalker, but never caught!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

You notice that articles like these always have to have that unnecessary comment, "Japan has a low crime rate compared to ... the U.S.". I wonder why they find it necessary to write that? I would probably find articles like this more informative if they stopped stick to the facts and not try to force their sense of superiority on the rest of us.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

“Hoittoite!” Back off!

Should be "Hotteoite" (ほっておいて)

some great information for English teachers on how to work with privates

Hmmm. I think I would reword that:)

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Warning to females on the trains, stay away from males that have their phones out. Males, be leary of using your phone on the train. Warning to females be aware of your surroundings, avoid dark alleys, never enter a parking lot by yourself without something in your hand as defense should something happen. Males avoid walking by a female alone on an open road. Take the opposite side of the street to avoid superficial claims. And females don't post fb pics of slumber parties, you are only baiting those perverts.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

—In 2000, there were 2280 reported cases of stalking in Japan. —Last year, there were 19,920 reported cases.

I somewhat doubt that the number of stalking incidents has really increased since 2000 (and maybe even decreased slightly). Rather, I think the police are just much more receptive to taking these matters seriously than they used to be, as a consequence of some high profile tragedies. Plus, the general public is much less in denial of these sorts of crimes than they were just a decade or so ago.

Before 2000, the police here had a terrible reputation of helping people who found themselves pursued by stalkers, often mocking or even blaming the victim. Let's hope that has changed significantly.

Recently, cyberstalking has been added to the law to protect women from internet harassment.

I wonder why this law doesn't protect men as well. I've found that in Japan there are many male and female stalkers.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Sensato, the law does of course also protect men. There is nothing in the law about the sex of the victim. The writer either misspoke or does not understand the law.

One important bit of advice that was overlooked, and I say this as someone who has gone to the police in Japan to complain about a stalker: Always keep a detailed record of every bit of inappropriate behavior, including the date, time, place, and circumstances. Any time anything sketchy happens, write it down. Each incident may seem trivial, but a record showing a pattern of harassment will be a huge help when push comes to shove. The Japanese police are reluctant to act (on anything!) without a LOT of evidence.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

he asked where she was. She told him... I just walked around the streets all night, luxuriating in the safety of Japan...

Japanese women come out with some hilarious stories.

Poor guy that he believed her.

He might want to consider the possibility that she took the opportunity to visit other male "friends" during the evening.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

choiwaruoyaji: Japanese women come out with some hilarious stories.

I got the impression that the woman mentioned in the beginning of the story was a foreigner.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Marlin HughesSep. 18, 2013 - 09:58AM JST Warning to females on the trains, stay away from males that have their phones out.

... what?! You've just slandered 100% of the male population below the age of 50.

I should be able to check my mail or change the music I'm listening to without someone giving me dirty looks as if I'm about to molest them.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Yeah...the woman at the beginning of the story was an American. :)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

this article is all over the place. what's the connection between a "safe japan," "stalking," "pepper spray" and "groping on trains"? don't really see any advice about stalking, so here's one: don't marry the first girl that you think is cute. get to know her a bit before you propose and end up with a stalker.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Three opening sentences (Story of nutso girlfriend, Back in January, I went to a workshop). Choose one and then get to the story.

raise it in the air, yelling “Chikan!” (pervert). I talked to a Japanese man about this practice and he said it's true...

What's true: the practice of grabbing a hand and yelling? or groping women on the train? One person saying it's true makes it true?

I agree with Sensato, those 'facts' are skewed by the indifference of the police prior to 2000 and many police are probably still indifferent (despite stalkers murdering their victims) so the 19,920 is probably under-reported, too.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

giving some great information for English teachers on how to work with privates

I agree with Sensato - that sentence REALLY made me smile... !

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There IS an alternative to MACE or pepper spray... cheap perfume. Spray that in their faces and it's have a nasty effect. Or... since it's flammable the extreme measure would be to spray the perfume over a lighter, thus creating a mini flame thrower. Stalkers deserve what they get.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ned that is really scary. I had a terrifying stalker in SF who finally stopped after the police got involved. California takes stalking pretty seriously after a few notable murders of actresses and models. I think maybe because the majority of stalking/personal assault cases are against women, perhaps the police don't take a male complaint as seriously here?

Ricky...This article was really geared for women, because I usually cover female-centric topics on GaijinPot. The apartment tips I think are sound advice, but yeah- the groper tips are really about personal safety for women, which really is what this opinion piece is about. Good edit- thanks. :)

Sensato- Dude, because of your comment, my friends are giving me so much crap about that line! You all need to get your heads out of the gutter. ;)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

fight or flight

depending on the situation

They have pens that have mace or pepper spray buy thoughs or ask your family to mail it to you from your home country.

always spray there eyes or nose.

hold the spray tightly in your hand or switch hands keep spraying person in the face until the can is empty

Most sprays look like underarm deodorant spray. Buy as many as you want...

If you are afraid carry it in your hand or readily available in your purse.

Again spray in the eyes and nose area.

If the guy can't breath you have an oppotunity to call the police or get somebody.

Nose and eyes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have a feeling that there is a huge discrepancy between number of actual sex crimes and the reported sex crimes. Also what constitutes a sex crime is different in different places. I am sorry but this is one area that I don't believe for a second Japan is safer than most other places in the world.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Also what constitutes a sex crime is different in different places.

As a Japanese bud once retorted why J-sex crime stats are low compared to other countries: "Because what's illegal there are legal here!" Ha.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

whiskeysour: One should always be aware to turn your face away when you're using pepper spray. If there is any wind or breeze, it can come back at you and render you temporarily blind or just in a lot of pain. Aim, turn your face away and close your eyes and mouth. It's not much good if you've incapacitated the other person but are also in too much pain or unable to see well enough to run to safety or for help.

I'd add that it's not a bad idea to have a whistle on your key chain. It's been well documented that people will often not respond to calls for help but will respond to loud, irritating noises, if for no other reason than because they are irritated and want you to be quiet. I have a metal, referee's whistle on mine and it is damn loud.

You can also buy key chains that double as a kind of brass knuckle or are just one long bar with a shorter one attached perpendicularly, like a T. You hold what would be the top part of the T in your palm and place the bottom part of the T between your middle and ring finger. If need be, you can quickly jab someone with it, inflicting enough pain to hopefully give you some time to run.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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