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Roughed up by the cops in Shinjuku

127 Comments
By Yvonne Lee

On April 18, my friend and fellow Singaporean, Joyce Tok Mui Ling, and I were outside Shinjuku station, specifically right outside the Toei-Oedo line entrance (where the train ticket gantries are), around 11:30 p.m., when we were stopped by two Japanese men, dressed both in blue shirts who flashed a badge at us that said "Police" and who repeatedly said "Passport" to us.

Doubting the authenticity of these supposedly plainclothes "Police," we tried to ask them if they spoke English and we tried to walk to the nearby train control station which was about 10 steps away from where we standing to ensure that these suspicious men were not posing as officers.

As we took a step away, one of these "officers" grabbed my friend by the arm and tried to walk her away. She tried to get him to take his hands off and so did I. We repeatedly told them to take their hands off her, and when I tried to take the man's hands off my friend, the other "officer" grabbed me and tried to lead me away.

Feeling quite threatened at this point, I started shouting at them to let go, and there was a mild tussle between us, as we had to repeatedly get them to let go of both of us. We literally had to drag and shout ourselves over to the station control where I asked the station control officer whether they spoke English and whether they could help us because these two men were trying to grab us.

The station officer looked confused and the two "police officers" started their spew of Japanese at us. One of the "police officers" once again grabbed me by both hands and tried to drag me into the station control room and I physically refused and asked them for the umpteenth time what they wanted. They kept asking for "Passport" and when i asked WHY, they simply repeated clearly the only English word they knew -- "Passport."

I asked one of the "police officers" to get on the phone and get someone who DOES speak the English language to speak to me, at which point my friend said just show them the passport. I then opened my bag and showed them my passport while asking them "Do you read English? My passport is in English, if you can't even read it, why are you bothering to look at it?"

One of the "police officers" saw my passport, then asked me for my visa. I informed him that as a Singaporean, I did not need a visa to enter Japan. All of a sudden, their attitudes changed and I heard one word I did understand -- "Arigato."

The ridiculousness of the situation really hit me; these men who just man-handled us, were thanking us?? And before I could ask them for their police badges again to note their numbers down, they disappeared. My friend did catch the name of one officer: "Yamashita."

We have no idea even now what the whole incident was about. We would like to know and more importantly, we would really like some form of apology for the way we were physically handled. This incident was extremely disturbing and I cannot believe that the Japanese police acted so aggressively, like thugs in such a public area, without any ability whatsoever to explain themselves.

It has marred the image of Japan for both of us, and for all I read about the polite and courteous culture of Japanese, we are now left to wonder if that only applies to non-governmental situations.

A few burning questions that arose from this incident:

1) Are these police officers authorized to request our passports as they wish? 2) Under what circumstances can these officers exercise this authority? 3) Without any resistance in any way from us, other than just asking why they require our passports and trying to walk to the station control, where we feel safer, are they allowed to use physical restraint? 4) Are these male officers allowed to use physical restraint on females like us? Should they not have waited for a female officer? 5) In such a predominantly tourist area like Shinjuku, where these officers are checking for foreign passports, should they not have received some form of language training so that they can explain why they need to see my passport? I do not believe that expecting them to be achieve a basic level of communication skills in the English language which is spoken in most of the rest of the world is unreasonable in anyway. What kind of training DO these officers receive? 6) What in the world did my friend and I do that warranted the passport check and the physical restraint?

Editor's note: This commentary was submitted by the writer. Japan Today contacted the Shinjuku police but a spokesperson declined to comment on the incident.

© Japan Today

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127 Comments
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Go to the local bar association. Next trip go to a real democracy.

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you should have just shown your passport and walked away. why all the fuss? you are a stranger here. Its not disneyland and its not an English speaking country so you take your chances when you come. Of course they had a right to manhandle you if you were trying to run away. they will assume guilt and why not? you are lucky all you got was man handled. it could have been much worse. hours on interrogation as to why you tried to run. there must be all kinds of Asian illegal aliens here in Japan. The plain clothes beat may have a special mandate to spot check passports. I have no problem with that at all.

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Totally agree with romulus3! They came up and showed you their badges... now you show your passport and you are done!! Next you will be cribbing you could not read the badge because it was in Japaneses!! Either stick to traveling to countries that speak English or get on with it!

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just ask to see their police badges and upon confirming the authenticity show them your passports. If in doubt use your mobile and phone 110.

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Agree with romulus3... Hmm, 11:30PM in Shinjuku, two gaijin gals...yes, they can ask for and you should just show your passports right away - why the drama? Now if they ask you to get in a car or accompany them down a darkened alley, then you may want to establish things more clearly.

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These cops make me mad. However if the police comes up and demands to see your ID you have to show it to them. However you are also entitled to see their ID.

learn your rights.

http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#checkpoint

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welcome to japan the paranoid land! next time, just show your passport as they requested.

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Come on people, if you went to a foreign country could you tell the difference between a real and a fake badge? Wouldn't you also think there may be a chance that they could steal your passports?

Their point 5) especially is most valid; even just a card in a few languages explaining who they were would be much better.

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Question, if these two ladies were Caucasian, would they have been handled the same way? My guess is not. The J cops would be too intimidated to try and harass Caucasian women. Also there are many illegal aliens here in Japan and not just Asians. Probably there are some from your country romlus3.

For a country who is trying to attract more foreign tourist under the BS "Yokoso Japan" campaign they are not doing a good job, even if Japan is not an English speaking country there should be an effort to communicate in English. It is a shame English is mandatory from middle school to high school, 6 years, 6 freakin' years and Japan is not an English speaking country. Pathetic ! Technically Singapore is not an English speaking country.

Of course Shinjuku Police will decline to discuss the matter.

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1) Yes they are.

2) They are allowed to check passports/gaijin cards of foreigners whenever they like. They do not need a specific reason. You do not have to be acting suspicious.

3) Yes, as police officers they can restrain you if they feel it necessary. Did you make it clear to them you wanted to go to station control? I suspect your attitude and actions may have given the impression that you were trying to run away from them.

4) They'd be pretty useless as police if they had to wait for female backup just because the suspect is a woman.

5) Do all police in Singapore speak Japanese?

6) Apart from being a "tourist destination", Shinjuku also has a large red-light district, with a number of illegal South-East Asian women working there. I do not mean this as a racist comment, but to the police no doubt two non-Japanese Asian women standing around at 11:30pm could possibly been seen as suspicious. The fact that they were plainclothes cops suggests to me that they were in fact undercover cops keeping an eye out for sex workers.

As others suggest, just show your passport when they ask, and you'll find that they will treat you much nicer. I can imagine trying to pick a fight with a cop in Singapore would yield similar, if not worse, results.

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Be happy you met cops who at least knew that Singaporeans don't need visas.

Next time a cops asks you that show him your credit card.......

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Something very similar happened to me in Ueno Station last year. Fortunately, I'm a permanent resident and I speak Japanese. That didn't entirely prevent a very unpleasant few minutes with the plainclothes cops.

I was accosted by at first one fellow who asked "Do you come here often?", as his two colleagues moved in from the flanks. It seemed like a strange question to ask in a major train station, and seemed extremely suspicious, as did their movements. I thought at first that, amazingly, they intended to try to attack and/or rob me in Ueno Station at mid-morning. He then moved closer, showed me a badge and ID folder, and asked to see my passport.

I explained that I don't generally carry my passport, and showed the main guy (of the three, one looked like a thug and another looked like a chinpira/gangster wannabe...the guy apparently in charge was the only marginally respectable looking one among them) my "gaijin card" as requested. None of the trio liked my refusal to let the card out of my possession, as their glares and muttering indicated.

There have been several cases of criminals using fake police credentials for various nefarious purposes, so I required them to look at it while I held it. One of them took exception to this, so I explained my reasoning. That's the best that they were going to get without arresting me, for which they had no grounds at all, and both they and I knew it.

I very much doubt that most people, Japanese or foreign, would be able to distinguish between authentic and faked police badges/IDs, anyway.

After a few minutes and a couple more questions, they very courteously thanked me and wished me a good day. The thuggish cop seemed very pleased when I told him that he didn't look at all like a cop, but more like a criminal. Successful disguise, I suppose he thought.

I found the encounter mildly unpleasant but weirdly interesting in its way. For someone unable to speak/understand Japanese, it might have been quite frightening.

A complaint to the police would get you nowhere; a complaint to/through your embassy might (eventually) garner a reluctant apology. But I doubt it.

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It would help if the police were a little more professional. Just mumbling the word "passport" over and over without offering any sort of explanation seems almost designed to put one on the defensive. In a lot of parts of the world, gangs of thuggish, inarticulate men demanding passports are more likely to be thieves than policemen, and one would be well advised to flee.

Even the uniformed Japanese police are scarcely credible. I was stopped recently at Narita airport for an identity check. The policeman approached me as I was walking along, then veered off. He gathered his courage and came back, timidly asking if I spoke Japanese. He was so nervous his hands shook as he took my papers and it took ages of fumbling with his clipboard for him record my name and (Japanese) address. In his ill-fitting uniform he looked more like a child in a Halloween costume. It was like being questioned by Mr. Mole.

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To all the people saying simply, "You just shouldve shown your passport," please take into account that the men were not wearing uniforms and did not show their I.Ds, according to the womans story. If I were a foreign woman in Shinjuku and two men in ordinary clothes came up to me demanding to see my passport without showing any sort of I.D., I would refuse til they produced it.

As GeorgeRoualt says, you are entitled to see their police identification.

Thanks for the story, Balefire.

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When I'm vacationing abroad and going out and about, I'll take a color photocopy with me and leave my passport in the hotel safe/friend's house. The fake undercover cop who is actually a brazen identity thief may get some private info when you show him the paper but not your actual passport.

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pathat,

The first paragraph of the story says they DID show their identification. If the girls wanted to see it again, they should have asked. Instead they refused to show their passports and tried to walk away. No sympathy from me there I'm afraid.

Yes, perhaps the police could have been more professional. Perhaps they could learn a bit more English, or carry around crib notes. But English ability or cards in various languages saying "show us your passport" is no guarantee of police authenticity. It would be just as easy for a criminal to do the same. In fact I'd expect criminals to go to more effort than police to be nice and coax a passport out of their victims. Trying to force it from someone would just create a scene and they would run the risk of getting caught.

So as a word of advice to everyone in Shinjuku, it is not the grumpy men with police IDs you should be worried about, it is the smooth talking ones that are the real threat.

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When I'm vacationing abroad and going out and about, I'll take a color photocopy with me and leave my passport in the hotel safe/friend's house. The fake undercover cop who is actually a brazen identity thief may get some private info when you show him the paper but not your actual passport.

It's my understanding that in Japan, a non-resident is required to carry a passport or a gaijin card, so I wouldn't recommend your approach here. As another poster said, you are required to show these but not to give these to anyone other than immigration officers. My ward office is asking for my passport next time I re-up my gaijin card, but I don't know if they have legitimate grounds to do so.

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Well, go ahead and carry your passport around as you barhop, etc. When I do this, I'm a tourist and generally not far from where I'm staying. Should they want the real document, they can accompany me to my hotel. The risk of getting in trouble with authorities is outweighed by my piece of mind of not losing a passport to pickpockets or just bad luck. This is fine for routine ID checks and has worked for me in Thailand, Bali, Korea and HK. If you've done something seriously wrong then you're just in a bit more trouble.

The ward office will obviously have the right to double-check your passport when you renew your gaijin card, as the gaijin card and your ability to carry it is based off the passport and the visa inside it and has the passport number displayed on it.

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this is the first time ive posted ,having been amazed by the number of ridiculous comments on here.there are many things wrong with this incident. these people were racially profiled-the people on here who are saying this is acceptable are saying anyone who doesnt look japanese can be legitimately stopped and questioned for the crime of not looking japanese. there are many japanese who do not look typically japanese. they are meant to have a legitimate reason for stopping you-to them you being foriegn is a good enough reason.

they did not show their id-one of them flashed a badge quickly and put it away -no names or numbers - can you imagine policemen in other countries being allowed to behave in this way??. there is no reason why these 2 singaporeans should get out their passports when they have no idea who the person requesting it is. people on this blog suggesting they should,are at best naive at worst offering very dangerous advice. this system of racial profiling is abhorrent

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Should they want the real document, they can accompany me to my hotel.

Hahaha. Unless they were very very nice policemen, I don't see this happening.

What they would most probably do is take you to the koban, where you would have to remain until you could find someone to retrieve your passport from the hotel safe and take it to them. Not a good way to spend your holiday in Japan if you ask me.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

flyingfish - I'm white and I'm racially-profiled by just about every Japanese person I come in contact with. On a minor level, everyone tries to speak to me in retarded Engrish and on a major level I'm legally refused housing. If I couldn't handle it I'd go home. Particular to this incident, cops do profile based on situation, dress, attitude and looks, as it is basic police work.

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Pathat,

"stopped by two Japanese men, dressed both in blue shirts who flashed a badge at us that said “Police” and who repeatedly said “Passport” to us."

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The correct response to "Passport" is "No thank you, I already have one."

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this system of racial profiling is abhorrent

What bubble world do you live in?

Name one country where the police don't have the authority to check the legal status of foreigners.

Name one country where police pull out their ID for you to study and write down their names and badge numbers, without you requesting to inspect it more closely first - something these women failed to do.

Name one country where the police are just going to shrug their shoulders and say "oh well, never mind" when someone refuses to show them ID after repeatedly being ordered to do so.

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The ward office will obviously have the right to double-check your passport when you renew your gaijin card, as the gaijin card and your ability to carry it is based off the passport and the visa inside it and has the passport number displayed on it.

Yes but does the ward office have the authority to take it off me or photocopy it?

And the visa extends beyond the life of the card, so by asking for the passport AGAIN, they are saying that they don't believe the information on the ID they themselves have made.

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Yes but does the ward office have the authority to take it off me or photocopy it?

Hmmm, not sure about that. When I renewed mine last year they copied my passport. I didn't really think about the legality of it. Maybe they just want to check

You haven't lost your old passport/got a new passport since the last time they checked. Haven't changed your name (gotten married etc.) Haven't changed your visa status and forgot to tell them about it.
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Ahh, I see what you're getting at and while it is logical, when you're dealing with "ink-stained wretches" to quote Peter the Great, you will have to go along with the program. Bureaucrats are concerned with following rules and covering thier behinds, they leave thier logic at home. Are you concerned they won't give it back? I have found the folks in Meguro and Setagaya to be fairly cool so far.

<strong>Moderator: Readers, stay on topic please. The subject is what happened to the two women in Shinjuku, not what happens at the ward office.</strong>

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papasmurfinjapan:

Legally the police have no right to ask for your ID unless they suspect you of a crime.

The Police Execution of Duties Law (Keisatsukan Shokumu Shikkou Hou--in kanji 警察官職務執行法), Section 2, says "A police officer is able to ask for a person's ID, but only if based on a reasonable (gouriteki) judgment of a situation where the policeman sees some strange conduct and some crime is being committed, or else he has enough reason to suspect that a person will commit or has committed a crime, or else it has been acknowledged that a particular person knows a crime will be committed. In these cases a police officer may stop a person for questioning."

You asked for another country that doesn't permit random id checks? Well, the UK springs to mind rather readily. In fact, could you mention one 'advanced' country (other than Japan) where random ID checks are tolerated?

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Ms. Lee,

1) Yes, they are. Legally, the Japanese police have the right to ask foreign visitors for official documentation and identification at any time.

2) Legally, they have to have a reason, or what may be referred to as probably cause, to ask for identification. Unfortunately, the vagueness of the guidelines concerning this provision is means that just being visually identifiable as non-Japanese is all the legal justification police need, particularly in this current age of greater border security, ostensibly to keep out terrorists. Yeah, it stinks and it certainly brings up questions of racial discrimination and racial profiling, but it’s still the law in Japan. Until that changes, it behooves the traveler to research what the local laws and customs are in a country before visiting.

3) You walked away from a police officer giving you a lawful order to show them your passport. What did you seriously expect would happen when you walked away? At best, your actions may have been interpreted as you ignoring the officers, which, while not only rude, constitutes obstruction of official police business. At worst, you may have appeared to be preparing to flee. In either case, by walking away from a legal order, you put the officers within their legal right to physically detain you.

4) You seem to be under the impression that being female somehow gives you an immunity of sorts from certain aspects of the law. The Japanese law requiring you to produce official documentation is and should be blind to gender. And if you decide to ignore the law and the officers carrying it out, then again, the officers, whether male or female, are within their legal right to physically detain you, no matter how much your personal sensibilities may have been offended. Besides, we’re talking about detainment here, not a strip-search.

5) Just as you stated, Shinjuku is indeed a hub for foreign travelers in Japan. With that in mind, you’re making a grossly inaccurate assumption that most of those travelers are from English speaking countries like Singapore. In fact, the vast majority of tourists to Japan are Chinese. Koreans are another large group. So are Brazilians. So which language should Japanese police be required to learn? Chinese? Korean? Portuguese? Or English, as you demand? As smithinjapan pointed out above, do the police in Singapore speak Japanese? How about Portuguese? Your demand is not only unrealistic, but stinks to the high heaven of cultural arrogance.

6) Short answer: You were foreign travelers in Japan who walked away from a lawful order to show your passports. It’s as simple as that. More specifically, you were female foreigners walking around in Shinjuku at 11:30 at night in an area that is rife with clubs that employ a large number of “entertainers” from surrounding Asian countries. Many of these “entertainers” are in Japan on expired or illegal visas. And if you are Singaporean, then odds are pretty high that you are Asian in appearance. Thus the police officers’ reason for wanting to check your identification. And yes, it’s all perfectly legal.

I don’t like that the police can do ID spot checks any more than you do. And I probably wouldn’t like it too much if they physically restrained me without cause. But I also accept that these are the laws in Japan and the best way to avoid hassles like the one you went through is to be aware of what laws foreign visitors should pay particular attention to when visiting other countries. The Singapore ban on chewing gum is just one such example that comes to mind. Yes, many travelers in the world roll their eyes at the sheer draconian silliness of that law, but it’s your law, and I’d respect it if I visited your shores.

As for your concerns that they were suspicious looking men, fair enough. But Japanese police are also legally required to produce identification en asked. Did you ask? Or did you immediately walk away? Put yourselves in the shoes of the officers and ask yourself how you would have reacted:

You, in uniform, approach two foreign-looking women in an area frequented by illegal and undocumented workers in the sex trade who would just as soon not be deported, and you produce badges and say two simple, but universally understood words among travelers, “Police” and “Passport.” Rather than produce passports, the two women back away, as if to leave. The women speak no Japanese. You speak very little English and can't make out the screaming and carrying on that these two women are going through after such a simple request as "Passport." You, as a police officer are still required to carry out the law, which dictates you find and apprehend illegal visitors. You grab their arm to prevent them from leaving, and the screaming and yelling increases. Again, what exactly did you expect the officers to do in this situation?

And underlying this entire story is the unavoidable truth that while the Japanese officers (as they actually turned out to be) didn’t speak stellar English, you and your friend didn’t really speak any Japanese either. No phrase books. No travel guides. Just an arrogant assumption that because you spoke English, the rest of the world should follow suit to make you feel more comfortable.

Next time, show your passport and be done with it.

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I didn't really think about the legality of it.

This how they want you to behave. Don't question or think about anything, just be good, subservient gaijin. Then, whether or not they're breaking any laws becomes a moot point.

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Legally the police have no right to ask for your ID unless they suspect you of a crime If you read Debito carefully, you will find that law only applies to Japanese citizens. There is another law that I cannot be bothered to look up that says they have the authority to check passports/gaijin cards of foreigners.

The only difference between the UK and Japan here is the cops will think up an excuse before asking to check your ID. "Mate, your shoelace is untied. Show us some ID." "That backpack looks awfully heavy. What are you carrying?" I'm sure plenty of arab looking fellows have some interesting stories to tell about "no random police checks", especially after the bombings a few years ago.

Here they just don't bother with the excuses.

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LFRAgain - well done, you own this thread. Basically, walking while gaijin is probable cause.... Taiko666 - what is your reply?

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dressed both in blue shirts who flashed a badge at us that said “Police” and who repeatedly said “Passport” to us

I stand by my opinion. From the available information, I would also be hesitant if I were a foreign woman in Shinjuku Station late at night to allow someone not in police uniform, who only flashed a badge at me saying "Police", to demand to see my passport.

I am well aware of the fact that the police have a right in their official duties to ask foreigners to show proof of identification, passport or gaijin card. I have lived here for more than a decade.

I think women should be very careful in these kinds of situations and make sure who they are talking with before handing over their identification.

Good day to you, papasmurf and LFR.

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A police officer is able to ask for a person's ID, but only if based on a reasonable judgment of a situation, where the policeman sees some strange conduct and some crime is being committed, or else he has enough reason to suspect that a person will commit or has committed a crime, or else when it has been officially determined that a particular person knows a crime will be committed.

http://www.debito.org/japantimes072704.html

This means that being a foreigner is technically not a good enough of a reason to be pulled over by the cops. In any case if the police finds something "suspicious" about you, you have to show your ID but the police can not force you into a koban/police box without arresting you. The police officer demanding to see your ID also has to show his/her ID. Do not let the police officers bully you around! And if they cross the line COMPLAIN! It is a good idea to carry the Japanese laws with you at all times. You can get them at Debitto's site. And if you have a keitai take photos and video tape them.

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pathat

Don't get me wrong. I think healthy skepticism is necessary, especially if you are not sure of the person's credentials. But I think Ms Lee and her friend handled the situation badly. I can understand the sense of panic, but in situations like this is is essential to remain calm and as friendly as possible. Ignoring their demands, fighting with them and trying to walk away is probably the worst thing they could have done.

If they doubt the authenticity of the police they should

Kindly ask to see the ID again. If they are still not sure, perhaps they could ask the police to send over a uniformed officer, or ask to go to the koban. There would no doubt be one nearby. As others have pointed out, show, but do not hand over, their passports.

Done. They can enjoy the rest of their holiday.

And a good evening to you too pathat. :)

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If a police officer demands to see your ID you can ask why? Such as..Is it because I look suspicious? You can ask is it because I am a gaijin? Is this not discrimination? In Japanese the word is jinshu sabetsu. Then you can read some agreement which Japan have signed under some international agreement against discrimination which you can find on Debitto's site and read it to the police officer. I urge people to take a minute and read your rights.

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GeorgeRouault,

If you really study your Debito, you will find they DO have the right to check ID of foreigners.

To quote Debito Now, if the cop really knows his law (and chances are that he does), he will come back at you with another law, the Foreign Registry Law, which does explicitly state that people officially charged by the Ministry of Justice with immigration or law enforcement can ask for your ID, and if so you must present it. Hence it creates a loophole that needs to be plugged. Here's what it says in Japanese

Or perhaps more importantly, to quote the law 外国人登録法 第十三条 第二項 外国人は、入国審査官、入国警備官(入管法に定 める入国警備官をいう)、警察官、海上保安官その他法務省令で定める国又は地方公共団体の職員がその職務の執行に当たり登録証明書の掲示を求めた場合には、これを提示しなければならない。

"The Foreign Registry Law, Section 13, Clause 2. Foreigners, when asked to show their Gaijin Cards by immigration investigation officials (as outlined in separate laws), police, coast guard, or any other national or local public official or group empowered by the Ministry of Justice as part of the execution of their duties, must show."

If the cops show ID (which in this case they did), you are required to show your passport, gaijin card. You may not like it, but that's the law. The policeman in this story was just doing his job.

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Sorry, here's the link http://www.debito.org/instantcheckpoints2.html

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read it to the police officer in english? hopping that he can understand! ha! hopfully they won't bring me to a koban, question me for day then kick me down from the koban top floor and say that i commit suicide!

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papasmurfinjapan. My information was not good enough. Yes you seem to be correct. There is no way out of the ID it seems like unfortunately. More Debito here.

Note the loophole. The cop only has to show I.D. if he stops you on the street, or anywhere other than the police box. So to avoid showing you his ID . . .

A cop may try to take you to a police box.

They cannot do so against your will, unless they formally arrest ("taihosuru") you.

You as citizens can ask questions to the police and take every single detail out of the police officer if being stopped by the street but as soon as you step into the koban/ police box you are on their turf and then they don't need to show you anything.

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i agree with the posters who have said that policemen who work in areas that have many people from other countries should have at least some knowlege of a foreign language. english is one language that many people from many countries have studied - here in japan as well. i also know for a fact that most police academies have english classes. the police handled the situation VERY badly. what are the women supposed to think when two guys just flash "badges" and try to take you somewhere. ive always learned that when people like that approach you go somewhere that is well-lit and with a lot of people around. it didnt seem as though they said they were trying to flee. they were practicing being safe.

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There is a lot of discussion of this kind of issue in Canada right now. In the Western world (at least) there has been a noticeable change in attitudes by the citizenry towards figures of authority. In Canada it has been discussed for a while now that people are not giving the police the respect required for the police to carry out their jobs in an effective manner. This has caused all sorts of problems with police having to use more force to control situations. More force means more suspicion. The citizenry has become more and more skeptical of authority figures in general, perhaps due to scandal, misuse of power, etc... or perhaps it's just a result of degrading belief in a standard of moral values and manners (many people seem to feel that things do not exist or are not necessary in a modern society). Often the public perception does not match reality, the public tends to be easily misled and manipulated by emotion rather than fact. There have been many cases of police abuse, and corruption, PROVEN IN COURT, but it has to be recognized that if you take those incidents as a percentage of total police contact incidents with the public, the percentage of negative contact is very low, less than .05% (in Canada). From this we can draw the conclusion that police are extremely well trained and professional in the way they carry out their duty, yet the public insist that they know best in an arena in which they have no professional training. If a police officer presents you with identification you are obliged to cooperate according to the rules employed by the specific country. Often the suspicious or hostile nature of a public citizen escalates a situation beyond any real or perceived threat. I have had one incident with police in Japan and found them to be extremely professional, appearing to be nothing but friendly, and with my cooperation, they assessed the situation quickly and without difficulty to me (as compared to my one police incident in India, LOL!).

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This is really the cops' fault. They were not in uniform and did not properly identify themselves. They could not properly communicate with the Singaporeans. Instead they resorted to violence. Then they escaped before the Singaporeans could get their IDs--at act of guilty men.

Anyone can flash a badge and say they are the police. In fact thugs often claim to be the police.

The cherry on the pudding is that the Shinjuku cops don't want to discuss this incident.

Welcome to Japan, foreign tourists, the land of cherry blossoms and cops who are dumber that dog dirt.

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I have seen undercover police officers asking Japanese to show their IDs inside Akihabara station at daytime in Tokyo. The officers were in a group and quickly showed their badges. Unless you are not criminals, just obey what they request. If they request money or something illegal, it's another story.

Suppose the cops in this story are real ones, there are many reasons why they were undercover. Japanese police think uniform officers are offensive to citizens. Shinjuku is one of the dangerous areas in Tokyo, especially in Kabukicho where Yakuza and foreigners with illegal passports (many are Chinese, Koreans and some South Asian people) are involved in crimes.

I feel sorry that the two women felt offended. But these cases happen anywhere in the world. Japan is not exception. Everybody becomes vulnerable when visiting or living in a foreign country. That's the nature of nation state. Singapore gov possibly does the same to foreigners within its territory.

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J-Cops also have to carry a Te Cho. It is a small wallet with police identification that authenticates the badge they are carrying. Anyone has the right to ask the officer to show his te cho for proof that he is an actual officer of the law. If they fail to produce it, they are probably impersonating police officers. Straight scoop...use it in good health.

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I live in Shinjuku about 10 minutes where this incident took place. I walk by the koban on the way to work everyday and am always observing new things about how the police act.

For the most part they are quite well behaved. They of course spend most of their time helping people find whatever store they are looking for on the map. However, after dark "shokumushi.t.sumon" - asking to see ID and searching bags is very common. They also stop people on bicycles constantly and check the registration numbers. This applies to Japanese as well. In fact 90% of the time I see this happening it is a Japanese person (which is about right for the population ratio).

It is not pleasent for anybody, and you have every right to question it, but it is the status quo and you should not feel hard done by because you were a foreigner or unlucky or whatever. Personally, if stopped (which I haven't been) I would definitely voice my discontent but I would not refuse to cooperate with police in Japan. I think you are quite lucky to have escaped without further punishment.

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Moderator - so many Japanese words contain the English "S word", like the one I posted above. You might want to turn off the filtering feature for that word.

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In 2006, the police arrested 10,724 illegals. To get those numbers, sometimes you have to use these methods.

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You are luck you did not end up in jail after such an awful display. You are the one who created the scene. You clearly understood the word passport, a request made by the officers after they presented their ID. I have never been asked for ID, but when that day comes I am going to cooperate in every way. The chances of those officers not being authentic is very slim. Frankly, your behavior was disgraceful

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Well Everton2 your advice is worth its weight in toilet paper. I would be quite surprised and suspicious if two morons ran up to me screaming "passport".

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You are luck you did not end up in jail after such an awful display. You are the one who created the scene. You clearly understood the word passport, a request made by the officers after they presented their ID. I have never been asked for ID, but when that day comes I am going to cooperate in every way. The chances of those officers not being authentic is very slim. Frankly, your behavior was disgraceful

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one friend has a theory why these passport-asking j-cops are everywhere: they just have nothing to do!

i was stopped 4 times last year, in the same station, by the same civilian-dressed cop. i cried harrassment each time, and thank him for just ruining my day. i also told him that if i were an illegal alien, i won't be seen in public places in broad daylight. the j-cop said he will try to remember my face. i was like 'great, that's so sweet of you.!'

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For me, the problem here is that the polthese police were clearly unable to satisfactorily identify themselves as police officers. I had a similar experience and actually laughed when the "officer" produced his ID. It's basically a plastic card with a photo and the word "Police", in English, and NOTHING else. No name, no ID number, not even any convincing looking seals, Japanese writing, stamps etc. Looks like a 10 year old made it. I presume (as pointed out above) that this "ID" is for the benefit of foreigners and is not their actual ID, but frankly it wasn't until I spotted a gun that I actualy believed they were police.

If you're going to randomly stop foreigners and demand papers you simply MUST be able to identify yourself in a satisfactory way. This doesn't necessarily require liguistic fluency, but it does surely require a common sense approach - perhaps a card in half a dozen languages explaining the purpose of the check, and offering the option to stroll to the koban to see some uniforms if necessary.

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I would be quite surprised and suspicious if two morons ran up to me screaming "passport".

So would I, but there is nothing in Ms Lee's account that suggests the police officers were morons, or that they ran up to her, or that they were screaming.

a theory why these passport-asking j-cops are everywhere: they just have nothing to do!

That would be news to the police officers I know. Simply preparing and submitting the paperwork generated on a regular 24-hour shift can mean an extra half-day's work. If anything slightly major happens, no one gets to go home.

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woah! a similar thing happened to me on tuesday! i was walking home from mcdonalds and these two cops in a car stopped me and asked to see my belongings as this happens to me often, i checked up on my rights on the internet a while back and read that i was legally allowed to refuse their request, at which point i did after refusing several times, a second cop came out of the car and grabbed my arm i asked that he let go and not touch me but he ignored me and pulled and tugged at me then i tried to take evidense of this and took out my phone to take a video then the cop tried to grab my phone saying i wasnt allowed to take videos or pictures then i asked that we go to a koban because his behavier wasnt appropriate and i wanted withness's other then his partner again they refused eventually they asked to see my ID which i handed to them and i then asked the cop who was constantly grabbing on me to see his ID to take down his information at which point he flashed his badge for a split second although i asked, he wouldnt show it again then they finally told me i could go then i tried to take a picture of their car's license plate so i had some info on who they were so i could report them, at which point the cop grabbed my phone, tugged really hard causing the screen to break i was able to take a few videos for evidense, they were saved on my SDcard i immediately went to a near by police station to report all this, but was sent away because the cops werent one of theirs i went to komagome police station and the cops were apparently sugamo police but finally i was able to get the Komagome police to do something he alerted sugamo police of what happened and i was told to go to their police station but i was already pissed enough and didnt want to have to spend money (which i am really short on) to go to sugamo's police station, so i went to a sugamo koban where i told my story to sugamo police via phone they told me they would get back to me the next day two senior police officers came to my home the next day at noon to check out my phone for evidense they took pictures and tood me that they would not compensate for the repairs because it was my fault the cop broke my phone because i refused the cops request for a search (which i am legally allowed to), i became "ayashii" and then because i tried to to a video for evidense, which in japan you arn't allowed to whichout permission taking pictures of video or recording sound for evidense is apparentlly illegal in japan, so said the two senior cops i really doubt how much of what they said is true, probably just sheilding his cop buddy they told me if i didnt like the results, i could sue them but then i told them that would just cost me even more money then the repairs itself and that i didnt have the money for legal services and even if i did win, the costs for legal services would be much more then what i would get for the repairs i asked them that since i didnt have the money and was poor, i couldnt proceed any further and take any legal actions, it automatically ment that they are right and i am wrong and theres nothing i could do about it and they told me thats pretty much how the legal system works so i looked up on the net for free legal advice and found some i called, and although i was redirected around i was finally able to get a reservation for some free counsaling i go today to see if theres anything i can do though i doubt its much since even though i can get free legal adivice taking legal action will cost me money...

i used these homepages oh, and just to let you know, im japanese but i grew up in the states so my japanese kinda sucks (elementary level) so thats why i sought legal advice for foreigners since i cant even read or write a word of kanji

http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-legal.html http://www.horitsu-sodan.jp/english/ http://www.nichibenren.or.jp/en/legal/counceling.html

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Lovevictim is right on the money here. While some here are automatically assuming that any form of Japanese authority is the one to blame in conflict situations, how convenient they forget that there are always two sides to every story. I'm actually quite disturbed that no one seems to be questioning the account of these two Singaporeans, but are in fact taking as absolute fact their account in its entirety.

No one here knows exactly what happened because they were not there to witness it in person. For all we know, these two could have been screaming and making a scene which caused the two apparent plain clothes cops to act the way they did. The two plain clothes officers did not automatically resort to "violence." The two females refused a simple request to show their passports, and in the heat of the moment they appeared to try and run off, which caused the cops to react the way they did. This I gathered from Miss Lee's very own statements.

Again, and this is critical, no one here who presumes to blame the cops for this incident know exactly what happened. Perhaps a better method of showing I.D. and the like is perfectly understandable. But hindsight is always 20/20. You do what the cops tell you to don't matter what country you go to. An unfortunate incident for sure, but to base this or any incident to justify negative perceptions of a country makes as much sense as negatively stereotyping China for the Tibet scandals.

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sorry, i use the enter key alot instead of using periods.

should have previewed what i wrote.

hope you can understand that huge blob of writing.^^;

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Walking up to persons based on their "appearance" and demanding to see their personal identification in the form of a passport, which they may or may not have on them if they reside in Japan, with no external appearance of authority to boot, IS moronic. As are many things in this country.

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In addition, taking complaints to the police department seems counterproductive as well and on this point I can't agree with Debito on always trying to argue to the police. Rather if you feel your rights were violated, consider going to the local bar association and speaking to a lawyer when this happens, see http://www.toben.or.jp/english/english_legal.html; or the Japan Civil Liberties Union http://jclu.org/index_e.shtml.

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I am aghast at the majority of responses from my fellow JP residents. "Just show your passport and be done with it" seems to be the broad consensus.

Are you guys out of your collective minds? Basically, your advice is to roll over and play dead? Yeah, I'll show my papers AFTER I have validated the person asking is actually a cop. If it's someone who flashes a Toys-R-Us ID at me and just says, "Passport", I will resist until it is verified they are truly cops.

Points to consider here: 1) There was no validation here that these thugs were actually cops. Walking up in plain clothes and just flashing a badge that says "Police"? Well, as I said, you can get one of those at a toy store. Proper JP cop IDs are in a "techo" form. 2) The cops handled this improperly (duh, as they do in their frequently ham-handed manner). 3) Yeah, Ms. Lee and friend were wrong to try to walk away. They should have pressed for more ID from the police.

But, Ms. Lee did not act "disgraceful". She panicked, as I'm sure any of you would if, say, you were stopped in Shanghai by a shady character posing as a cop asking for papers. It didn't help the situation, either, admittedly, but the police should have been better trained to handle the situation in a more professional manner. Yeah, yeah, I know...we have a real gap to address there.

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Interesting discussion...

My 2¢: A badge is not ID. Good info from Sharky1; Any proffesional police org will have an official ID which corresponds to their badge... but of course anyone with a decent color printer & laminator can make something official looking with little effort.

From reading posts from those familiar with the area, the police certainly had probably cause to ID check 2 ladies "walking the streets" at 2330. No mention of how they were dressed, not to blame the victim, but if they were wearing anything remotley provocative, that would certainly add the the attention they attracted from police.

The "victims" handled the situation poorly... while they may have been concerned, despite the language barrier, I am sure they could have politely and calmly expressed their concern. To just walk away is asking for rough handling.

The overall tone of the letter reeks of pompous attitude. I'm all for countries promoting tourism trying to do what they can to strategically employ those with multilingual capabilities... but bottom line is, it IS Japan... you can't demand everyone speak YOUR language.

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Excellent observations NotJohnWayne. I've tried to be open minded about this and re-read the whole thing. But it tells you something when the very account from Miss Lee herself makes you wonder the appropriateness of their actions, and whether in fact their own actions created this situation in the first place. There are certainly many circumstances that could have existed there that we would have not known about. Again, always two sides to every story, so perhaps these two can make it an international incident to highlight the xenophobic and reckless behavior of Japanese police and officials. But of course with some embelishments and further downgrade of their own actions in creating this situation.

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rjd_jr...As usual, I will disagree with you entirely. You too, NotJohnWayne. Here is my 2 cents. The basic problem here, which causes this kind of incident and many others like it, is that J-cops don't need any real "probable cause" for stopping someone and demanding their ID, or even to search them. Other than that they are visually assessed to be non-Japanese. (Which is obviously very easy here.) In many other civilized countries, such blatant racial profiling is illegal. But here, it is standard practice. I often wait for my fiance in Roppongi station, and see this sort of thing all the time. Plain-clothes cops stop the Thais, Filipinos, Brazilians, Africans, etc. -- but NEVER the Japanese and not generally the caucasian foreigners. My educated guess is, NotJohnWayne, that at 11:30 on a Friday night, there were probably a lot of J-women in Shinjuku station dressed "provocatively". How come these two got singled out? Your argument confeniently ignores that.

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jerseyboy - agree with you (from Jersey myself...) Been here 15 yrs and have NEVER been asked by the local Five-Oh to furnish ID - I happen to be caucasion.

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On an almost daily basis at my train station, I see plain clothed people approach foreigner-looking people, flash a badge and ask for ID. Of course I presume that they are police.

But why are they plain clothed, and not in uniform? Certainly for a stake-out of a criminal that would likely flee if they were spotted it makes sense. But for random ID checking of potential foreigners, where no other offense is suspected other than failure to carry an ID, or being over your period of stay, it does not make sense to me. And particularly so at the wickets of a station – where there is not a lot of freedom to avoid the check.

And as others have said – why are they not better prepared, with multi-lingual explanations, questions, and even IDs?

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But why are they plain clothed, and not in uniform?

If the point of checking IDs is to look for illegal aliens, then wouldn't ditching the uniform make sense? It is much easier for someone to avoid the police when they can spot them in uniform from 100 metres away.

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papasmurfinjapan

I strongly suggest that they could check just as many IDs while in uniform. Certainly those that overstay their visas do not all run and hide at the first sight of a uniformed officer. Such overt action would draw attention.

What I observe almost daily is a team of two at each wicket area of the station. The option for one wanting to avoid the check is to find a station where no check is going on. Alternatively, they could simply hold back until someone else is being checked, and walk on by. Quite easy whether the police is in uniform or not.

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I want to know if the 2 gals behavior warrant a routine check. What would 2 gals be doing in Shinjuku station at midnight? Most depato are long shut. With a hysterical response, of course you're going to get nailed. The cops probably thought you were high or something. It's pure ignorance. This is Shinjuku not Singapore. Shinjuku can be a crazy place especially at that hour, Singapore is known as a safe and secure place and most Singaporeans aren't used to random security checks.

The same thing happened to me in the same station 1 year ago. I co-operated with the undercover cops and we end up having a great conversation about life and traveling in limited English of course. The cops are simply doing their job keeping the city safe for everyone else.

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This is Japan and this is the way its done here, like it or not... if your in Japan leagaly just show the cops your id, they'll look at it, say thank you and then leave you alone, taking no more than 3 minutes.

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How some foreigners here love to see themselves as victims. Incredible.

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the sooner you co-operate the sooner they'll leave you alone

i greased off an undercover security squad once, initially i had no idea why they kept eyeing me so i caught one of their glances and stared right back at them, next thing you know 2 guys and a lady come up flashing badges at me. obviously they were just 'abusing their power within rights', so after a quick search through my bags they let me sign some form and we were both off on our own ways.

if these japanese police were asking to perform a strip search on you then of course that's an entirely different matter, they were asking for 'passport'... in the victims' defense, i always leave my passport at the hotel...

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Jerseyboy,

You are correct, they didn't need probable cause to do a document check. There are two justifications for them being Id'd: 1) as a routine document check because they are obvious foreigners, which is allowed 2) per takio666's post on The Police Execution of Duties Law:

Section 2, says "A police officer is able to ask for a person's ID, but only if based on a reasonable (gouriteki) judgment of a situation where the policeman sees some strange conduct and some crime is being committed, or else he has enough reason to suspect that a person will commit or has committed a crime, or else it has been acknowledged that a particular person knows a crime will be committed. In these cases a police officer may stop a person for questioning."

My point was, from what I understand of the area, it is known for foreign women employed in the "adult entertainment" trade, so two non-Japanese women on the streets at nearly midnight could certainly be percieved as potentially being in the area to commit a crime, thereby giving a police officer reason to stop and question them.

Given the outcome of the situation (the police checked the passport, established they were good to go, applogized, and went on their way) I would suspect they were targetting illegals and not sex-workers, because if they had been working that issue, just a good document check wouldn't have resulted in a "thanks for your time."

THAT was the point of my "argument"

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A lot of the responses here seem to confuse "the way things are" with "what is right". Assuming this account is accurate, the cops: acted dubiously and failed to make clear their intentions as peace officers; didn't establish their id's and therefore didn't make clear their public responsibility/duty to check passports; totally failed to control the situation and through their amateurishness allowed it to get out of control. It reads like poor police work.

I'm wondering if these guys were really cops. This story doesn't make clear whether the women were actually taken into some sort of holding room at the station. If all of this happened outside, maybe they weren't police officers, and these women were actually pretty lucky.

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NotJohnWayne...You are really not serious with that argument are you? You think just being a foreign woman in Shinjuku station at 11:30 on a Friday night is probable cause? Where is the "strange conduct"? Or, even the "reason to suspect" them? Simply because some foreign women work in "adult entertainment" in this area, you can therefore assume any foreign woman must be doing it? If I see an attractive Japanese woman walking through Ginza or Roppongi late in the evening, should I automatically assume she is a hostess? Or, if a J-guy happens to cut down a street with some gay bars on the way to the station, should one conclude he is gay? What you are saying is that blatant stereotyping is OK when it applies to foreigners, but not Japanese. Wow, you really have become Japanese in your thinking. And, sarcasm, I hope your snide -- doesn't rise to the level of sarcasm --remark was not aimed at me. I have not once in 7 years here been asked to show my ID, so I don't perceive myself as the "victim" of anything. Which is the whole point. How come I can walk into a convenience store early on a Sunday morning in Roppongi to buy a paper un-deterred by the J-cops, while they are making a black guy unload his pockets? (This happened just two weeks ago.) He was a victim -- not me. Why, becuase his skin is not the right color? How can you defend that kind of thinking?

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This is not about arresting someone because the alleged may be involved in the sex industry. This is about clamping down on overstayers or visa violators who happened to involved in such industries. There are estimated 200K or so illegals in Japan of which only 10K/year or so were apprehended while another batch keeps pouring in.

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Where to start, where to start...

"NotJohnWayne...You are really not serious with that argument are you? You think just being a foreign woman in Shinjuku station at 11:30 on a Friday night is probable cause?"

Listen, dear Jerseyboy, I have seen others here (and probably you too) describe Shinjuku as hell on earth + infested with "Yaks" and adult entertainment, especially SE Asian women on an "entertainment visa". True or not?

True.

What do we have in this story? Two foreign women hanging around in the station of "hell on earth" late at night. They attempt to run when asked to show their ID. True or not?

True.

Let's get this perfectly clear, jerseyboy. There is not one developed country where these women would have been treated better given the above facts. You can pretent there is, but the reality is different jerseyboy.

I will give you another fact: tomorrow you will be on this site complaining about the cops never doing anything about the "entertainment" in Shinjuku. True or not?

True.

"If I see an attractive Japanese woman walking through Ginza or Roppongi late in the evening, should I automatically assume she is a hostess?"

Well, dear jerseyboy, I have seen posts of you where it actually seems as if - yes - you do think that way. So, what was your point? Problem is, a Japanese woman doesn't need a visa to work in Japan, and what's more, "hostess" is not an illegal profession.

"Or, if a J-guy happens to cut down a street with some gay bars on the way to the station, should one conclude he is gay?"

I would say that the chances are higher than average.

"What you are saying is that blatant stereotyping is OK when it applies to foreigners, but not Japanese."

He did not say that, and I doubt he wants to be accused of that by Mr. "all Japanese men spend their evenings drinking with some hostess" Jerseyboy.

"Wow, you really have become Japanese in your thinking."

You were saying what about stereotyping?

"I have not once in 7 years here been asked to show my ID"

I will put this one on paper for the next time you claim otherwize.

"How come I can walk into a convenience store early on a Sunday morning in Roppongi to buy a paper un-deterred by the J-cops, while they are making a black guy unload his pockets?"

I have no idea, but I think it is the same reason as the one that causes black people in your country to get far more easily in jail than white people.

True or not?

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I have seen police stopping foreginers and Japanese in Shinjuku and searching bags etc. Also i believe if they are real cops can ask to see passports as foreginers should carry them at all times, this is expected in many countries. Many countries request foreginers to carry passports as proof of entry to and ID.

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A strange story, I think the police should be in uniform when doing ID checks, I'm not convinced these people were police officers, perhaps immigration but most likely self important dicks. If you find yourself in this situation you should head for the nearest police box (koban) or insist on a uniformed police officer being present.

The "police" should not lay hands on a member of the public unless the person is behaving violently.

I'd contact your embassy and have them check if the police or immigration are doing such checks in Shinjuku and ask them to insist that they are done by uniformed officers. There are too many crazy stalkers in this country to believe anybody flashing a badge is a policeman.

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The "police" should not lay hands on a member of the public unless the person is behaving violently.

And what should they do when someone tries to walk away instead of responding to the officer's questions? Ask them pretty please to come back? Offer them a sweetie to stay?

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Pathat et al,

I too don’t believe women, or any traveler, should necessarily eschew maintaining personal safety simply for expediency. If you feel there is something suspicious about a person flashing a badge and asking for a passport, then by all means, you should take the proper steps to ensure that you aren’t handing your identification over to frauds. But the proper step is NOT to walk away from the officers, real or fake. With that said, what steps did this woman and her friend take to that end? From the article, it appears they took none other than the following:

“…we tried to ask them if they spoke English and we tried to walk to the nearby train control station…”

“As we took a step away, one of these “officers” grabbed my friend by the arm and tried to walk her away.”

They stepped away from the officers as if to leave. As a police officer with two non-Japanese speaking foreigners who appear unable or unwilling to respond to a fairly simple request for a passport, there are only a limited number of possible scenarios to describe what might happen next. Heading to the station control booth to find someone to validate whether or not these men are indeed police officers doesn’t rank high on that list of possibilities, IMO, especially from the perspective of the police officers. Had it been me, I quite honestly would have thought she was trying to run away, and I would have responded by grabbing her. If she struggled, I would have used more force to restrain her. That these officers may have overreacted is entirely possible, but looking at the facts as Ms. Lee presents them, it seems she and her friend made a poor decision that would have gotten them similar or far worse treatment in a half-dozen other industrialized countries around the world.

It’s even harder to sympathize with her when her letter is tempered with some bizarre Imperialist throwback to the extra-territoriality demands that colonizing nations heaped upon China in the 19th Century, berating the Japanese police for having the audacity to demand a passport from a visitor to Japan in, gasp! Japanese! The little quip at the end when they ultimately showed their passports (“Do you read English? My passport is in English, if you can’t even read it, why are you bothering to look at it?”) doesn’t exactly put her into a flattering light. Talk about unmitigated arrogance and contempt.

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with an official from the Okayama Prefecture National Police Agency and we spoke at length about foreigner requirements regarding showing their passports or gaijin cards to Japanese officials. Simply put, we have to because that’s the law here. Immigration control requires it. But he also offered up advice regarding what to do in the event you suspect the officers are not who they seem. The first thing you should do is ask for more identification from the police officer, include his or her “techou,” as pointed out by another poster above. A “techou” is basically a detailed identification card which includes a photo, their name, their official assignment or rank, and an officer number. The police are required by law to present this when asked, and if they don’t, they are either breaking the law or aren’t police.

Now, a few posters here have suggested that badges can be faked. Of course they can. And some posters have suggested that even a “techou” can be faked. Sure. And so can uniforms. And so can patrol cars. And so can the entire array of clearly identifiable signs that police officers are who they say they are. I’ve seen enough movies. It’s amazing what the imagination can come up with just to scam people. The point is this: When should one be satisfied that an officer has sufficiently proven his or her legitimacy? When they’ve called in a whole squad of officers in riot gear and armed to the teeth to deal with two foreigners who are squeamish about showing their damned passports?

As for those who think Japanese officials asking for passports is somehow demeaning, get some perspective. Being asked for one’s passport when visiting the shores of another nation may indeed be inconvenient, but it’s not exactly an imposition and it’s certainly not a violation of human rights. A country has a right to decide whom and under what circumstances non-citizens visit and move within its borders. Coming from an English-speaking country doesn’t make one exempt from this – although you’d never know it judging by how many people think precisely the way Ms. Lee does.

Furthermore, as foreign visitors, we are beholden to the rules of the land we choose to visit. Don’t like those rules? You have two choices. Do what Debito did and become a Japanese citizen. Then when you get stopped for something as inane as looking foreign, you can pursue a legal case against the government for infringing on your constitutionally protected rights. The other choice? We, as foreigner visitors and travelers, do not have a right to anonymity in Japan. An official asks for a passport? Show it. Don’t like that? Then leave. Don’t visit Japan again. And stop whining about it in letters to the editor.

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LFR, again, good post.

Just one question, do you live in Okayama? just curious..

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sarcasm...It would take me all night to respond to your sheer lunacy. (And I have much better things to do this evening.) Your imagination really ran wild this time. But, in short, and as usual, you did not refute a single one of my points, you just tried vainly to bury them in an avalanche of bullcrap. And LFRAgain, your post made some sense, until the last paragraph. Which is just the usual, "if you don't like it here leave" nonsense. Since Japan chooses to be homogenous, and therefore us foreigners stand out, one must assume that we will be potentially considered a greater risk to society, and therefore subject to questioning by police at their whim. And this is a country that desperately needs immigrants in areas like health care, and wants to attract more tourists. Good luck.

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Thank you jerseyboy. I also thought you were wrong. Good that's cleared up now.

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papasmurfinjapan,

Thanks. I think we see eye-to-eye on a lot of this.

I'm down in Shimane actually. The Jewel of Nihonkai. ;-)

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In my opinion the problem is the way the police presented themselves. I understand that not everyone is fluent in English, but police waking around checking passports ought to be able to communicate with foreigners. Maybe these officers were looking for someone special and were unable to speak English because they are trained for completely different tasks. Arguing and refusing to cooperate with police always brings out the worst in them. In their minds people should be respecting their job. Not everyone does. So police have a very difficult job, because they don't always know who they are dealing with, and it is therefor hard to know what approach to take. Whatever they do, it seems it is just wrong for someone.

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This is almost as much of a non-story as tough guy with the purple shirt and tie saga a while back. If JT is trolling for stories of persecution by J police, surely there must e some legit stories about there other than these tales of pampered middle-classers who essentially are disobeying laws or police instructions?

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Although I'm usually neutral, I'm casting my lots in with the "No sympathy from me" crowd.

These women broke the law (twice) and reacted with about as much tact as a drunken Chris Farley.

Would they have reacted the same to Singaporean, Chinese, American, [insert country of choice here] cops?

Probably not.

The last fellow I saw refusing to show ID, yelling at a police officer in a foreign language, while attempting to escape on the show "COPS" had his head knee-grinded into the pavement. All the while 4 other officers twisted his arms in a fashion that would make MMA fighters wince.

That's right, there were 2 more officers there just to point guns at him and yell "Stop Resisting!!".

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A lot of the responses here seem to confuse "the way things are" with "what is right".

Excellent post telecasterplayer. J-Police should learn how to do their jobs right so events like this could be avoided.

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Haiya, Singapore women are pampered, incorrigible and hard-to-please. They are well protected here in Singapore. You can be prosecuted for molestation by touching their hair mistakenly. So foreign men beware when knowing one. Ms Tok and Ms Lee should have been to Ginza and remain there rather than the 'darker' part of Japan in Shinjuku. Wonder how would they like wondering around Geylang or Desker Road close to midnight here? They are so naive but fortunately they met with real policemen, of course thinking that they are illegal aliens plying illegal trade. So do know where you are traveling and be mindful that the way how little Singapore is run is not how the rest of the world behave.

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The J-Police are thugs!

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the japanese people i know are kind and repectful reading this article may change me preception i wish the japanese police can do better show respect to your guess dont judge people because the colour of their skin

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This is almost laughable to see how these females are condemned to your stupidity. If anyone comes up to me with our proper identification I will not listen to them. Now put yourself in there shoes... IF this was your wife or daughter how would you feel if some strange men came up to them and flash a badge asking for the passport. They did the right thing trying to go over to the counter and get help. I would tell them to make a huge fuss even if they have to call in reinforcements/backup that’s fine. Maybe one of them will speak English and get to the matter of this. Again no undercover office should ever be doing passport check to a foringe national. It has happen in the state with worst affect where a poet from the UK was receiving an award was assaulted by an undercover cop and was hurt. I think that many of this stems not from language barrier but who is being hired to become officers and the training they are getting. Not the brightest or the best become police and the training is a joke. (Side note many of the officers do get off on the power of it all.) I think they have simple forget the first thing about becoming an officer/police there job is to server and protect all.

The is a wrong way and right way force should be a last resort. Matters not if they could not speak there tongue the officers should have either took them to the counter or phone for backup of someone that could speak there tongue. And to anyone that says its not there job, then whose job is it to uphold the moral and high standers if not our officers.

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After all these posts, those blindly supporting these two ladies have conveniently side stepped the one biggest issue I have, which is why they continue to choose to absolutely take these two for their word, and cast judgement on the two apparently undercover police officers.

To those of you who support these ladies unquestionably, you are all aware that it's a 'he said she said' scenario, right? What makes you so absolutely convinced that their account is the entire truth as reported here? None of you were present to witness this incident, and I don't care what you have seen previously or heard previously, the fact remains none of you were there and don't know the particulars. I've read the posts here from those supporting the police officers, and at least they come up with sensible scenarios, such as the time of the evening, the area, possibly getting attitude and acting as if it is Singapore and not Japan, etc.

The sad thing is, those of you supporting these ladies' account are the same ones who would criticize Japanese ladies if they faced a similiar scenario in Japan or elsewhere, by questioning what they were doing out so late at night, it's their fault, etc. etc. None of you would side with these Singaporean ladies if it happened in your native countries, in that case you would rightfully question the ladies' account. Yet because this is Japan you automatically cast doubt on the police. Sad double standards.

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rjd-jr

When did you become defender of all things Japanese? I'm surprised you haven't posted your usual "Good for them" yet. Anyway, why shouldn't we believe the girls' account? Ms Lee may be exaggerating a little but given what we know about the Keystone Cops in this country, her account is not surprising. Also, as JT editor states at the end, the Shinjuku police were given the opportunity to comment but declined.

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I don't want to comment on what happened to these ladies but do think that one observation needs to be picked up on - why can't the J cops in tourist areas (for simplicity let's include all of Tokyo) have a card written out saying "blah, blah, can we see your passport blah blah"

Actually they should have a number of cards - English, Korean, Mandarin, tagalog etc etc

I would say the same for the bobbies in London

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I believe the girls' account. Just from what Ms. Lee tells us in this article, it's obvious the girls acted badly. Approached by police officers who show their ID and ask to see passports, they -

1 try to walk away

2 start shouting

3 'tussle' with the officers

4 complain that the officers are 'spewing' the local language instead of talking nicely in the girls' language of choice

5 make sarcastic comments about the officers' lack of English ability

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Answer to question 1. Yes, they are allowed to ask for you to produce your passport at any time. As a foreigner, even one from Singapore, you are required to carry your passport at all times, and show it to a law enforcement officer IMMEDIATELY upon request. Failure to do either is a chargeable offence. The officers are not required to speak English, but a translator will be made available to you their convenience, not yours.

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I have been pulled up by the cops before on my way home. he was in uniform so no prob. I must admit I would be sceptical/careful of plain clothes people asking for my passport or gaijin card . But I would probably still show it if they showed a badge like they did in the case of the girls here. As far as I know they can ask for ID anytime they want. They way the cop was speaking to me seemed like he just wanted to talk to a gaijin in japanese, so used the gaijin card as an excuse. As for the shouldn't they speak some English. Like a lot of other posters said. Japan is not an English speaking country. Shouldn't you learn some Japanese before you come??? or at least carry a phrase book.

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What effort would it have taken to flash your passport(s) and said you are on holidays and don't need a Visa? I used to always carry my Passport in JP, actually, whenever I am anywhere on business EU or Asia I carry it with me and if someone asks I don't care if I "doubt" they are cops I show it to them.

Actually to that end, most of the tourism books here say ALWAYS CARRY YOUR PASSPORT because the JP officials can ask for it at any time. I only stopped doing it because my wife called me an idiot, and if I have any trouble she can take care of the thugs for me.... I hope...

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Be thankful you weren't in the U.S. Struggling against an office would get you an immediate Tasering and probable charges of assault.

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MichaelJP Good point! That kind of behavior in the US could get you killed.

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MichaelJP and Everton2, I also concur with your sentiments. These two ladies are rather fortunate to have gotten off relatively lightly with the way they acted, and being able to send their story to JT. And contrary to the title, these two weren't "roughed up." These two have no idea what being truly roughed up is. Resisting the police when they are trying to restrain and control you is hardly being roughed up.

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After reading this article, I have even less respect for the J Police - if that is possible. These two "policemen" had no right to demand the passports of foreign tourists without explanation, and the tourists made the big mistake of complying with their request without asking for THEIR identification. The whole thing just shows the sorry state that Japan is in today - xenophobia reigns, aided and abetted by the Fascist Governor Ishihara of Tokyo and other such politicians making anti-foreigner public utterances. That, coupled with the fact that a Japanese man in uniform believes that he should be obeyed, without question. Ive lived in Japan peacefully for decades, but there is a definate change here - growing intolerance of gaijin, who are viwed as potential criminals and terrorists. I myself recently suffered haradssment by the J police. They accused me of not stopping my car at a stop line. I did, but I knew it was useless arguing with them , because I as a gaijin have no human rights in this country. Its a sad fact of life. I contribute taxes and do all that is required of me - yet I have no voting rights and will always be an "outsider" in Japanese society. My sympathies are with these two unfortunate Singaporeans. Now they know the truth about "polite" japan, like the rest of us who live here.

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I see a few things here. One: Strangers pretending to be Plainclothes Police Officers - who can really tell they really were police officers? Real police officers do show IDs and do allow verification, which is why they have BADGES with NUMBERS. Real police officers approaching tourists would at least have a few PHRASES in at least English to address the tourists. Most policemen I've met have a pamphlet with lists of questions in several languages. Two: There are many thugs in those areas trying to draw women into prostitution. Your passport is your only valid ID in Japan when you are a tourist, and who doesn't know by now the first thing pimps do is take away the passports of the sex workers? To allow someone whose identity you have not verified take your passport is folly - specially when you are a woman. Three: The station officers pulled out a "kankenai" right there. Wouldn't the station officers have to be aware of policemen doing rounds in their station? Four: The Shinjiku police station declined comment. Maybe in fact, the two men were not policemen and the station simply had nothing to say or even deny; OR the men -might- be real policemen and the police station doesn't want trouble, so pulled a "kankenai" as well.

In any case, two men of suspicious behavior tried to force two women to produce their passports and when they asked for an explanation they didn't bother to explain but immediately tried to drag them away; and they were not dragging them to the next authority place, aka the train station's office. Aren't chikan and thieves taken there in all the train station crime news? It seems to be the usual procedure - and those men were not following it. That in this country famous by its sex trade and slavery of foreign prostitutes, IS SUSPICIOUS. I think the girls did the best thing: defend themselves.

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scoday "Actually to that end, most of the tourism books here say ALWAYS CARRY YOUR PASSPORT because the JP officials can ask for it at any time."

from your rights in Japan http://www.debito.org/instantcheckpointsbrief.html (bookmark it)

"IF THE POLICE ASK FOR YOUR I.D.:

ask why. Because, under Police Execution of Duties Law (Keisatsukan Shokumu Shikkou Hou), Section 2:

==================================== "A police officer is able to ask for a person's ID, but only if based on a reasonable judgment of a situation where the policeman sees some strange conduct and some crime is being committed, or else he has enough reason to suspect (utagau ni tariru soutou na riyuu) that a person will commit or has committed a crime, or else it has been acknowledged that a particular person knows a crime will be committed. In these cases a police officer may stop a person for questioning." 警察官職務執行法 第二条 警察官は、異常な挙動その他周囲の事情から合理 的に判 断して何らかの犯罪を犯し、若しくは犯そうとしていると疑うに足り る相当な理由の ある者又は既に行われた犯罪について、若しくは犯罪が行わ れようとしていることについて知っていると認められる者を停止させて質問 することができる。

Meaning that there must be a specific crime or suspicion of a crime before questioning can occur. Just being a foreigner is insufficient probable cause, and without a good reason a policeman's arbitrary questions to a stranger are against the law."

I think people should co-operate with the police, but giving up your freedoms just makes you a sucker and invites further abuse.

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Sounds like a case of miscommunications to me. Still, I would like to hear from the side of the cops. I wonder if they will admit that there were plain clothes cops, who can't speak English patrolling the beat.

I was asked to produce my passport once, but flashed them my gaijin card instead. He took a quick look and indeed say 'arigato'. LOL

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YOKOSO JAPAN!

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Me too; I was stopped by two non-English speaking cops in Ikebukuro in April 2006. They asked for my passport and I told them to call my New Otani Hotel and verify my info. It was not a pleasant experience for an American citizen like me. Luckily I spoke some Japanese enough to cool'em down and explain why I liked the area.

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Just one small thing,

In such a predominantly tourist area like Shinjuku

Shinjuku is not a predominantly a tourist area. Get real. Please report the facts, don't make up stuff as you go along.

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I agree with many others here. These girls did not conduct themselves properly and created more trouble than it was worth. The police DO have the right to ask to see your Passport. Showing it is easier than arguing about it. And the attitude that the cops should speak English, separate from the fact that they should for thje sake of facilitating their job, is assinine. The title of this article is completely misleading. I invite these girls to come here to the US and give a cop lip and see what happens.

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So, have we reached the conclusion?

Some still complain police officers don't speak English. But they just need to check if foreigners have authentic immigration stamps in their passports. Why do they HAVE to be able to speak English? It would be helpful if they can speak English. But I, as a non-native English speaker, feel the claim that everyone must speak English is very arrogant. Please remember the majority of Japanese people can live in Japan without speaking English and enjoy their lives happily to some extent.

This story is very biased because the "victim" wrote it.We should take this story as a sort of "letters to editors", not an objective piece.

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Lovevictim,

If the police are doing undercover checks on tourists - they should at least be able to identify themselves properly and communicate their request to the persons they are checking.

If knowing a little English (or Chinese or Korean) is what it takes to do their job properly then they should know it.

English is the main international language. That is a fact - not arrogance. Note that in this letter the police identified themselves (badly) with a badge that said "Police" - an English word, and said (repeatedly) "Passport" another English word!

I fail to see where you are going with your point about Japanese people in Japan not needing English - how does this apply to visitors to Japan, and officials who are supposed to communicate with them?

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Why should Japanese cops speak english, no more than Chinese Korean German Spanish. If i am arrested in London or paris the cop will not speak Japanese. If I were in the USA and acted like you did I wuold be arrested on the spot. Every body from the UK and the USA thinks that english is the main international langauge. Mainly because its the only language that they speak

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Too bad these policemen weren't carrying tasers. They may have been able to zap a little sense into these two foolish women...

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Starviking,

About "communication", they might think the words "police" and "passport" were enough to tell them what they want to do. As aoto says, I've never been spoken to by police officers in Japanese enough to "communicate" abroad, although Japanese are often majority in many tourism destinations. At passport control, immigration officers, for example, just say, "Kanko or bijinesu?". I don't think these words are enough to "communicate" but at least necessary for them to do their jobs. I don't think they can speak Japanese more than that.

What do you mean by "properly" and "communicate"? People have different quality standards for different purposes. Be realistic about issues. Everybody knows Japanese don't speak English well because English ability is not "national standard" unlike Singapore. What's the point of your blame? The officers in this story would be just from a local police station. They are not perhaps the special task force for international crimes. They are just "chiho komuin", not diplomats.

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After reading this article, I have no sympathy for the author. If a police officer asks you of something, you comply. Its as simple as that.

Why was the author so paranoid if these "officers" were real police officers? If they were trying to take them to the station control room wouldn't that mean they're for real?

Also I have a hard time believing that these officers "grabbed" these people. Just yesterday I was approached by two officers in Shinjuku, and they reminded me it was forbidden to smoke while walking on the sidewalk. Then of course they searched me and my belongings, which as far as I know, is legal in Japan. (In the US they need reasonable doubt I believe) Anyways I complied and assured them I wasn't carrying a bomb or anything like that and I was let go after a couple minutes. Being Caucasian might be different, I don't know. Because I'm Japanese, the usual police stories I hear from my white friends never happen to me. Does a non-japanese have a similar experience?

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starviking

"English is the main international language. That is a fact - not arrogance. Note that in this letter the police identified themselves (badly) with a badge that said "Police" - an English word, and said (repeatedly) "Passport" another English word!"

Just for good orders sake,..both the word Police (porisu) and Passport (pasupooto) are used in Japanese. One could easily argue that the cops didn't use "any" English.

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Ho Boy, English being the international language so Japanese police should speak it is hog wash! You must comply to a police directive and the word passport was clear. The Japanese police don't have to have fluent English to conduct a check on a person. There is s a lot of Japanese in Australia and the police there would be hard push to find one person in their ranks who speaks Japanese. Again they are lucky they were not arrested for their disgraceful behavior

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A somewhat similar thing happened to me at Shin-Osaka Station once just before midnight. Two men wearing casual clothes and claiming to be policemen stopped me as I was walking from the Shinkansen to the subway. They demanded to see my passport. I replied that I was not required to carry my passport, but that I did have my gaikokujin touroku shoumeisho (gaijin card). They glanced at it, lost interest, and hurried off. I don't think they really were policemen.

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I already posted to this effect once, but if you've seen one of these "badges" then you'll have a lot more sympathy for these women. All this talk of the language issue is a red herring - of course it's unreasonable to expect the police to speak fluent English, but that's not really the point. They simply MUST be able to identify themselves as officers with something that they couldn't have bought at a 100 yen shop. Personally, I'm happy to show my ID to someone who looks as though he has a right to see it. I'm not happy to produce it to some bozo in jeans who could be absolutely anyone.

In the case of these women, having reached the police station they should have just shown their passports and gotten on with their day. It doesn't change the fact, though, that in virtually any other situation one would caution against handing over important documents to someone unidentifiable. In fact, in most countries I'm pretty certain THE POLICE would advise that for all sorts of reasons - first world passports are potentially valuable commodities, identity theft is becoming more and more common, and not least because if you lose your passport it's a right royal pain in the behind.

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If the cops in Shinjuku really want to do something productive and constructive, I suggest they spend more time away from the entrances to Shinjuku Station asking foreigners for passports, and more time here and there throughout many of the surrounding parts of the city looking for criminals. Shops selling illegal porn, shops selling sexual services from Japanese and foreign women and men that are against the law, Ichihashi probably hiding somewhere in the vicinity, there are a lot of things that come to mind.

And considering that many Asians, and not just Chinese and Koreans, can be physically indistinguishable from Japanese, I don`t see how "profiling" Asians would work. Sometimes the police might recognize someone they think is a foreigner, or they might overhear a foreign language. But to use any sort of physical I.D. test as a way to crack down on illegal foreigners here makes little sense to me. Incidentally, with the number of "half" Japanese-and the varied appearances they have-increasing so much in the past decade or so, and the number of naturalized Japanese too, I think this further hampers any kind of "eye test" as a way to weed out the non-Japanese from those that are.

As far as the "speaking English" debate goes, its stupid for the police to approach every suspected foreigner they find suspicious and simply say, "Passport." How about a simple lesson consisting of an introduction and show of police I.D.? "I/We am/are police. Please show me your passport or I.D." This could alleviate a lot of potential problems. For those saying the police dont need any English because this is Japan, well, I say that if they are asking only for "Passport" then they are looking for temporary visitors who may be overstayers or simply involved in some criminal activity. Whats the likelihood someone in this category can speak Japanese? Not very good if theyve only been here a number of weeks or months.

All in all, since we haven`t heard the police side of the story, I can only say that I think mistakes were made on both sides.

I`ll feel sorry for them if Tokyo gets the 2016 Olympics or even a Rugby World Cup next decade.

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pathat

Do the cops in your country speak Japainese when in the presence of a Japainese national? I know for a fact that here in London they don't. My girlfriend’s girl friend was robbed/assaulted and badly beaten up by a complete stranger in the middle of the road; she went to report the case and instead of sympathy got roughed up by the police, in full Queen's english, even though she was here on only her second day; distraught with the whole thing she packed up and left the country vowing never to return. What about demanding Japanese cops speak Swahili as well? Cut me the crap; that's Japain and Japainese don't have to speak your language just to accommodate your deficiencies. Japainese don't get language support when abroad; why should you or anyone foreigner staying in their country? I don't speak Japainese because I'm not interested in it in spite of the fact that I'll probably end up marrying one. I don't want to visit Japain but if I were to do so wouldn't expect the locals to go out of their way to help given that I've made a conscious decision not to learn their damn language. As for these two no sympathy from the Peeping, learn the language, stoop moaning or get out!

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Peeping Tom: What is Japainese? Is this full Queen`s English?

My point is that if the cops are going to go around demanding to see I.D. and just blurt out "Passport" to people who they think are foreigners, they can`t expect that everyone, more accurately probably anyone, who needs to carry a passport has any knowledge of Japanese. You seem to misunderstand the fact that all of us who are here more than 90 days must carry Alien Registration Cards. We do not carry our passports.

"What about demanding Japanese cops speak Swahili as well? Cut me the crap" Talk about irrelevant crap....

that's Japain and Japainese don't have to speak your language just to accommodate your deficiencies.

You know nothing about my Japanese language ability which is passable, and you most certainly know nothing about Japan, which begs the question: Why do you care about all this? Youll probably end up marrying a Japanese, but you dont want to visit the country and don`t want to learn the "damn language?" Talk about deficiencies!

Again, the police would do well to be more open-minded when approaching these situations, a little more knowledge of English would be beneficial in SOME situations, and they should properly identify themselves as the law stipulates when stopping someone for questioning. The young women probably made their share of mistakes as well, however, we have only their side of the story to go by. If the police wanted their side of the story to be included in the discussion here, they should have responded to JT`s request to do so.

Cheers, Peeping Tom!

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Pathat

Now getting to the meaty part of it; I don’t want to learn Japainese because it’s just useless as far as I’m concerned. It’s not a deficiency because I don’t even want to attempt it; I’ve got better things to do. Deficient is he who attempted and couldn’t do it. You’re the one who’s been there for an eternity and yet can only speak ‘passable’ Japainese. Interest in all this, as you put it, stems from the fact that I live with a Japainese who incidentally never got any kind of language support when she was fresh of the boat. Stop being the modern day cultural imperialist demanding others adapt to your inability to be fluent. Japainese don’t have to speak any other language within their borders. British bobbies don’t speak Japainese ; on the same token Japainese bobbies don’t have to speak English. Plain and simple. As for the two girls they should have been dealt with brute force for obstructing the police. Lastly, why shouldn't a Tanzanian demand a J cop address him/her in Swahili? Or only english is allowed?

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"As for the two girls they should have been dealt with brute force for obstructing the police"

There sure are a lot of people here who do not understand legal protections and the responsibilities of law enforcement personnel in Japan. I can only imagine that these posters are racists themselves and had you written that you had UK passports they would be singing a different tune.

The police here are given the latitude to ask for identity documents under certain conditions. In no way does this allow them to use physical coercion, and your presentation of the documents is voluntary. They may escort you for questioning to a police station if they have reason to suspect you have committed a crime, but they must

a. identify themselves b. provide you with a translator for your native language and c. allow you to contact your Country's consulate

If they do not have either a warrant, direct knowledge of a crime, or provisional authorization by a proper authority (ie, a call-in to a supervisor at their police station), they can not search you or use physical force to detain you.

And all of the foolish comments here about Tanzanians and brute force merely bely the fact that the readers who have thus responded know nothing about Japanese law and that it has adequate regulations in place to check the behavior of the police and safeguard the rights of individuals.

This is why the police tend to ask you as a question, if you will show them your passport or contents of your bag, and this is why they carefully apologize if it seems that they have overstepped their authority,

You are perfectly correct in asking them to first present proof of identity, and they are required to do so.

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This actually happened to a friend of mine in Koenji a month or so ago as well -- http://koenjicalling.com/2008_04_01_archive.html

I think a lot of the commentors are missing a very large point of concern for the women who have been stopped by these plainclothes 'policemen': one or two women are being stopped and harassed by what is usually a group of plainclothes goons who are manhandling and treating them far rougher than their uniform wearing equivalents. I think women are always on their guard when they're harassed by groups of men, especially when those groups of men try to use force or intimidation to get them to co-operate.

And so far I have yet to hear of any men being harassed by the plainclothes 'police,' only women usually of non-caucasian ethnicity. This is a serious issue for the police if it's legitimately their work, and I do feel their goons should be trained with more English or with a pamphlet to set the minds of the women they're pursuing at ease if this is, in fact, legit. Because from every woman I know who has dealt with this the first time it looks like goons pretending to be police to either a) steal a passport or b) commit an assault. Both of which are not unlikely as any street smart woman in Tokyo knows or has experienced.

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In Singapore in certain areas the street are full of call girls. I think we need the service of the two cops.

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