features

Saudi Arabian TV tempts would-be thieves in Tokyo to test Japan’s honesty

56 Comments
By Scott R Dixon

Besides great sushi, great customer service and ubiquitous vending machines, another great thing about living in Japan is the relatively low crime rate there. Although the country certainly has its criminals (including very cute and cuddly ones), visitors, tourists and expats in Japan routinely extol how Japanese culture has created a society where even a wallet full of cash will be returned to its owner most of the time.

After hearing about Japan’s reputation for being an honest, rule-abiding country, a Saudi Arabian TV show created a social experiment to see what would happen when they left a very conspicuous wallet on the busy streets of Tokyo.

While hardly a scientific experiment, the team at Aram TV sent a team of reporters to a bustling plaza in Tokyo with a wallet full of yen. Wondering how the people of Tokyo would react to seeing an obviously misplaced wallet, the main reporter picked a very conspicuous green bench where it would be very easy to spot.

The reporter leaves the area and lets the cameras capture what happens next. Within what seems like a few minutes, a couple walks past the wallet. At first they walk around the bench, apparently trying to see if the owner if nearby. But when they can’t immediately find the wallet’s owner, they pick it up and take it to a nearby police officer.

After seeing the wallet being turned in at the police box, the reporter heads there to talk to the police and get what he “dropped” back. The Japanese authorities apparently are quite used to seeing lost items returned to them and instruct the reporter to go to a larger police station where such items are sent. The reporter heads to the station and gets his wallet back without losing a single yen.

Although many non-Japanese commenters on the YouTube video praised the couple for quickly returning the wallet and thought it pointed to the great values in Japanese society, many Japanese netizens were less than thrilled at the social experiment. They thought it oversimplified Japanese values and some shared their own examples of losing something valuable, but never getting it back. But beyond the results of the informal study of Japanese culture, a lot of netizens thought it was irresponsible to waste the time of the police and passers-by just to “prove” that Japan is safe.

"To any other foreigners wanting to do this kind of experiment, please think of the time you will waste, not only of the police but also the people who return your 'lost' wallet."

"I’m sorry to ruin the image of Japan, but I lost my wallet twice and both times it was returned…with all of the money stolen."

"Meanwhile, bikes and umbrellas get stolen all the time."

A few of the more, ahem, racist comments by the Japanese netizens accused the majority of crime in the country on immigrants, especially those from “Specified Asian Countries.” And many of these Internet nationalists were irked to see a video that might attract even more foreigners to Japan, seeking a safer place to live, because “immigrants bring their overseas crimes here and force us Japanese to be even more vigilant against crime.”

Besides the uncomfortable racial and xenophobic discussions, other comments from Japanese netizens were happy to see how their country is portrayed overseas and felt lucky to live in such a country. Although only in Arabic, check out the video below starting at the four-minute mark to observe the wallet-dropping research. Let us know in the comments below what you think of the social experiment and whether you have had a similar experience in Japan or another country.

Source: Otaho

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- People of the World Speak: 9 Random Reasons to Love Japan -- Shoplifting becomes an increasingly difficult problem for Japanese officers -- “I will never forget again”: Nagasaki man gets back the cash he left at an ATM

© RocketNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


56 Comments
Login to comment

Tabloid TV comes in all societies. Without breathing hard. Isn't it amazing the pap the masses will watch, so their brains don't have to work so hard?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Oh Christ, here we go again. Japan = nirvana on earth etc etc....

6 ( +20 / -14 )

In my opinion, honesty is still the best policy.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

I'm not too surprised that Ali G got the wallet back. I once had a young member of a biker gang return my wallet with 30,000 yen inside it.

I think the punishment for theft in Saudi Arabia is potentially getting your hand chopped off, so I was a bit surprised to see the people in the second part of the video actually take the wallet!

2 ( +5 / -3 )

As any half-decent person would do.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

@bilderberg_2015

Oh Christ, here we go again. Japan = nirvana on earth etc etc....

Ok, tell me, what country for you is closest to be called nirvana on this world ? For me, its Japan, for several reason, and trust me, I know majority of bad things that Japan has, but still , the positive things are for me more important, and one of those things are mentioned in this article .

-8 ( +16 / -24 )

The show is about honesty in Japan, but an unintended consequence of this Saudi Arabian TV show may be to gradually liberalize the conservative way that women are treated in their home country.

On the TV show there are women walking around without head scarves, some of them unescorted by male relatives, and some, no doubt, driving vehicles, all of which activities are still illegal in Saudi Arabia.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

And many of these Internet nationalists were irked to see a video that might attract even more foreigners to Japan, seeking a safer place to live, because “immigrants bring their overseas crimes here and force us Japanese to be even more vigilant against crime.”

Oh là-là ! We can't possibly have that happening ! There are already far too many of us "gaijin" over here...

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Yes.... the average Japanese Citizen is honest to a fault.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Yes, 99% People of Japan are honest but you also considered yourself it is your lucky day as well because you could come across the 1% that are not. How about an experiment in Saudi Arabia to see if their own people fair and let the world d know how honest they are.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I found a wallet in a bar by Tamachi station with about Y80,000 in it plus it was bulging at the seams with all types of cards which I handed over to the bar staff. The female owner apparently came in the next day and got it back but I never heard a word of thanks from her (not that I wanted any). And I am giving the benefit of the doubt to the swine who went home with my expensive (birthday present from the wife) umbrella from the Windsor Bar in Azabujuban. Well off the tourist trail but well worth a look is going to the lost and found depots in you local area. Quite amazing.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

These type of media 'experiments' are patronising and waste the time of the innocent by-standers and authorities. They should have been nicked for wasting police time.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I would say the typical Japanese citizen is certainly scrupulously honest. It's such a pity that this phenomenon doesn't seem to exist in political or business circles.

Our leaders seem to be as bent as anywhere else in the world. They just spend a bit more time crying when they get caught.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

One thing people should realize is that if you find a wallet with money, and take the money, it's considered theft in Japan and you can be arrested for it if you get caught. So if you do decide to turn in a wallet, make sure you turn it in with the money that was inside, or you could find yourself in some trouble.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Strangerland

"Theft by finding" is a common offence in many countries.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

what kind of experiment consists of one test? if you're ever gonna get a lost wallet with money back, japan would be the most likely place for it to happen. nuff said.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Put the wallet where people can't be seen or ever found out and the results might be different. I suggest social pressure and fear of doing something 'wrong' and being caught rather than some deep sense of morality creates the low-crime rate in Japan.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

I would rather live in a nation where there was less theft by people in authority (political corruption) and organised crime (yakuza) than by petty street criminals. That kind of crime is far more harmful to society.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

I knew the producer of one of the "candid camera" TV programs in Japan and he told me nearly all the people they showed were hired actors. Depending on hapless amateurs never obtained the desired results -- most people just sat there like zombies, with their faces in the horse racing news or tabloid magazine and paying no attention whatsoever to what was going on nearby.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

I've had my briefcase stolen - only later to find it on sale on Rakuten in another prefecture! I imagine its contents were also sold online. Police were somewhat sympathetic, but not prepared to hunt it down (as I didn't have any proof of purchase). I've also had various items returned, such as house keys.

Didn't live in the safest part of Tokyo, which probably didn't help things (cops had better things to do, really).

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Isn't it amazing the crap the masses will watch, so their brains don't have to work so hard?

LOL

So does this honesty apply to used car salesman? That's what want to know, cuz I want to buy one in the near future. Any opinions?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Had a wallet lifted in a movie theater. Never saw it again. A friend left her wallet in a taxi. Found the contents (minus the cash) scattered in the streets within a 5-km radius of the train station where she lost it. Another friend's bike was stolen. Twice. Only got it back the first time when the police returned it to him from the rice paddy where the thief dumped it. Never saw it again after the second time.

Umbrellas? I've just rewired my mind to accept that they are viewed by most here as freely traded communal property -- on the hush-hush, of course.

Japan is definitely safer than any place I've ever lived, but I'll be honest when I say I had never had anything stolen from me in my entire 30+ years living in the States. Not saying that Japanese are more prone to steal though. I'm just saying that thieves exist in any society, and when the right opportunity presents itself, things are going to go missing in Japan. Which, I guess, makes me stupid for not being more vigilant while in Japan.

Still, what always bugs me about these little social experiments is that they are never really done right, IMO. If they really wanted to test people's honesty, they wouldn't place a wallet in plain view in a heavily trafficked area. There's an expression that a true hero is someone who does the right thing when no one is looking. The same holds true for thieves. It's when no one is watching that we learn the most about a person's innate character.

Next time, put the wallet in a toilet stall at a train station, or next to vending machine on a dark, deserted back street, or in an aisle at a department store ten minutes before closing time. I don't think the owners would enjoy nearly the recovery rate a public, well-used plaza will generally promote.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

"immigrants bring their overseas crimes here and force us Japanese to be even more vigilant against crime." Kind of sad to see the short-sightedness of some and the apparent xenophobia, especially when the intention of the tv program was completely lost. Anyhow, everyone has the right to feel the way they do. To each their own.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I would say the typical Japanese citizen is certainly scrupulously honest. It's such a pity that this phenomenon doesn't seem to exist in political or business circles.

touche...

except for umbrellas, i've dropped/forgotten my wallet and other things and have gotten them back. never ceases to amaze me.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I had never had anything stolen from me in my entire 30+ years living in the States

I guess you've never lived in a university dormitory ;)

0 ( +5 / -5 )

A friend had the bag she left in the "bathroom" handed in. Huge sigh of relief for everyone present.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Overall, I agree that MOST Japanese are honest people. However, the only time I have ever lost my wallet was here (with 50,000 yen and all my cards) outside a conbini... I never saw it again after racing back 10 minutes later. Lesson learnt - don't get complacent carrying cash around, anywhere!

4 ( +6 / -2 )

There is always another thing you can try if you find a wallet, which can save people time and worry. If you find a wallet, the chances are the owner isn't far away. Check for I.D, see if there is a business card or something with the owners mobile phone number on it and give them a call. If you think it's wrong to go through someones wallet then just hand it in but i'm sure the owner would be grateful to get it back quickly rather than much later on, they might even not yet know they dropped it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This experiment has been repeated in Britain - actually a genuine experiment. 50 wallets with £50 were "dropped". The majority were handed in.

The experiment was repeated with the picture of a couple of children in the wallet as well as the money. A far higher percentage was handed. The finders were able to identify with the owner, apparently.

A one off experiment in Japan proves nothing.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

But beyond the results of the informal study of Japanese culture, a lot of netizens thought it was irresponsible to waste the time of the police and passers-by just to “prove” that Japan is safe.

Seems like it was more for entertainment, not "just to prove that Japan is safe". If you want to go there, half of Japanese TV is seeing how "gaijin" live or react to certain situations.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Honest people everywhere and it just takes one to cause problems.

I had my wallet returned here when I dropped it while cycling. I've also turned in countless wallets though have learned over time to leave them alone because of the time and paperwork that comes with dropping them off - you are entitled to a reward if the owner comes forward and there is money in it. I've also had numerous bicycles stolen, students have had their wallets ripped off while on the train and the like. No different really than Canada IMO.

As for the "oh Japanese are oh so innocent and honest" if that was the case, we couldn't have had the Tokyo sexism issue which we still don't know who made the comments, we wouldn't have bailing Nonomura who ripped off tax payers, we wouldn't have stolen bikes and umbrellas... Is it better than other countries? Perhaps but there are other countries who are just as "innocent and honest".

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Meanwhile the whatever-flavor-of-the-month-sagi is underway. Frankly, I've had enough of this pretentious image the Japanese have of themselves and that they love to feed on. No doubt this will be picked up by one of the qualitative daytime tv-shows to explain how the outside world adores and respects Japan soo much.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Oops ! I (the "gaijin") got that the "wrong way round"... It was my birthday and the whole family was going out for dinner. I was driving when I saw something glinting on the stony mountain road. I stopped the car and got out. It was a lady's platinum wristwatch. We stopped by the Koban before going to dinner. The family teased me saying it was probably a gift from a "secret admirer". The police told me that if it hadn't been claimed by January 10th (which happened to be hubby's birthday) it would become mine. I did receive it... only to have it stolen together with my handbag and all its contents at a supermarket in France a couple of months later...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Years ago, my American friend and her Japanese boyfriend stopped off to have lunch at an okonomiyaki restaurant in Hachinohe, Aomori on their way to buy snowboarding gear. My friend had about 60,000 yen in her wallet. The table at which they were seated had a small shelf for belongings built into it underneath the table top, which is where my friend placed her wallet. Prior to being served their order, a family of four entered: dad, mom, and two teenaged daughters. The owner asked my friend and her boyfriend if they would mind moving to the counter so the family could sit at the table. When they moved to the counter, my friend forgot her wallet at the table which she didn't realize until after they had finished eating and it was time to pay for their meals. Her boyfriend went over to the table and asked the father, who was sitting where my friend had previously been seated, to check the shelf under the table top for her wallet. The father took a cursory glance under the table and said it was not there. Noticing that he had barely even looked under the table, the boyfriend then took it upon himself to check, and, sure enough, the wallet was there. Finding the father's behaviour slightly odd, but not overly suspicious, the boyfriend went back to the counter and handed the wallet to my friend; however, when she opened the wallet, it was completely empty of the 60,000 or so yen it had previously held.

A confrontation between the father and my friend and her boyfriend then ensued. Luckily they were regular customers, so the owner had sided with them, and, eventually, the police had to be called. Apparently, the father was making random accusations saying, at first, that the boyfriend had somehow stolen his girlfriend's money in the few seconds it took him to go from the table back to the counter after discovering the wallet. He then shifted the accusations to both of them and claimed that it was some kind of ruse to swindle him out of his own money.

Long story short, the police, who had grown very susipicious of the father's behaviour and random accusations against my friend and her boyfriend, asked him to step outside. A few minutes later, the father reentered the restaurant, approached my friend, bowed deeply, and handed over the exact amount of cash that had been taken from the wallet. Whether or not the wife and two daughters were aware of what the father had done was difficult to tell as they had apparently all kept their heads down, eyes fixed on the table throughout the entire ordeal. In the end, the police asked my friend if she wanted them to pursue criminal charges against the father, but she decided against it, partly because she didn't want to bring anymore shame upon the the wife and the daughters in the case that they were truly unaware of what the father had done.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

In terms of petty crime, while increasing, it is indeed much lower in Japan than other nations, or so it seems. Major crimes like murder, though, and Japan fits in with the rest of industrialized nations. As for "foreigners committing all the crime" BS by 2-channel morons, I've returned many, many things to kobans, including 1-man yen bills, wallets, bags, and anything else I have found that I thought someone might be missing. Never did I ask for thanks, nor for my name to be mentioned if the things were claimed later. I have lost a couple of things and in one case got it back (the other was a set of keys, so while inconvenient, it was no biggy).

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

If this was done by a Japanese TV show there would be no problem but a foreigner TV show does it and it's a major thing. The netizens of Japan need to get out more often.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The process of getting a wallet back with contents is a lot more complex than explained here. The owner must first locate the finder and get a release document signed and also pay a sum from 10-15% of the contents before the police will release the wallet. Of course what is also not widely known is that the item and contents is yours to keep if not claimed within 6 months.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Be careful! Just as there are opportunistic thieves, there are also opportunistic "honest people."

Recently my student dropped her golf range membership card in a busy shopping district. It had no intrinsic value, but there was a 1,000 yen replacement fee, so naturally she was grateful when someone picked it up and handed it in to the koban.

The police gave my student the phone number of the young lady who'd found the card, and told her to at least call and thank her. Of course she did so, and as a further gesture of thanks, sent the woman a book token via registered mail. The woman claimed never to have received it, and started making strange, veiled demands for "compensation."

By coincidence in the same week another student dropped her pre-paid cash card, with about 2,000 yen charged on it. It was found and handed in by a middle-aged man. When my student called to thank him, he declined any reward but started pestering her to go out on a date with him.

I advised both students to engage in no further contact with those weirdos, and if they were called by them, to seek police advice. Fortunately they've had no trouble to date, but they were very disturbed by these incidents, and even said that they wouldn't bother trying to retrieve any lost items from now on ... far more trouble than it's worth.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

I had my wallet returned to my hotel a couple of years ago... everything intact.

This Saudi 'experiment' was clearly designed to burst a few balloons. How about Japan sends some women drivers to Saudi and see the reaction from them! At least Japan's a decent place to live and visit.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Knox Harrington This video is pretty old and seems uploaded to the net 3 yrs ago. You're just spot on. Here is the youtube link of a J variety program that acknowledges this Saudi show. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQZqrummr9U

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You want to see that wallet disappear in seconds?

Do that same experiment in Roppongi at night. You'll have at least 100 street hustlers knifing each other trying to grab it.

Roppongi during the nights is the underbelly of Tokyo. It's ruled by thugs, touts, hustlers, dealers, pimps, scammers and the rest of the dregs of society.

Hell, it even got a travel warning....

http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-warden20090317-01.html

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I once left my LV wallet and my cell phone in a public restroom. When I remembered 45 minutes later, they were still there. Thank you Japan!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

If this was done by a Japanese TV show there would be no problem but a foreigner TV show does it and it's a major thing. The netizens of Japan need to get out more often.

I bet your right. I mean, they don't have a problem harassing random foreigners getting off a plane, shoving a mic in their face, and asking them the lame platitude: Why did you come to Japan?

While, generally speaking, Japanese view the rest of the world as zoo, I'm reminded that when I'm at the zoo watching the animals, I often ask myself: how do I know the animals aren't sometimes really watching me?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Generally safer and fairly honest here in terms of lost goods being returned, with a wealth of anecdotal evidence of incidences of the opposite, as we see here. Here's one more: A good few years ago I found a solid gold bracelet on the street and handed it in to my local koban. Six months to the day later, I dropped in to ask if it had been claimed. "Yes," they said, after checking the records. "When?" I asked. "Ehm, yesterday," they said.

Hmmm...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Oops again ! Maybe somebody "misunderstood" ? Of course I left the watch at the Koban and when II went back there on 10th January, I was told it hadn't been claimed and that is was now lawfully mine...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A few years ago I left my photographic backpack on the train with about 10k worth of equipment in it. It was left alone and I picked it up at the terminus, completely intact.

Love the honest Japanese.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

To any other foreigners wanting to do this kind of experiment, please think of the time you will waste, not only of the police but also the people who return your ‘lost’ wallet.

That's rich. Japanese "variety" TV programs do stuff like this hidden camera stuff all the time.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I dropped my engagement ring twice. Once from my back pack as i put it in there, and the second time during yoga. Glad that i got it back!! So it was my turn to do the same when I picked a wallet in the ladies room with ¥70.000 in it. I returned it to the restaurant staff but found it strange that I too didn't get any thank you from the owner..so up until now I don't know if it was truly returned to the person that lost the item, they even asked for my phone number and address which I hesitated to give, but they insisted, it's not common not to hear a " thank you", not that I was expecting it..it's one custom I learned from them. Truth to the matter is I felt good being an honest educated person.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Hey, everyone. I think we should examine Japan's honesty through a series of highly personal anectotes.

0 ( +1 / -2 )

@Marilita Please read my story above. It might explain why recently people hesitate to directly contact the finders of their lost property.

@Fleg That story reminds me of something I read in the papers a few years back. A foreign tourist found some money (about 50,000) on the street, and handed it in to the nearest train station, asking them to take it to the police. She later went back with a Japanese friend and discovered that the staff had pocketed the cash. From what I remember, two employees were fired as a result. I do believe that Japanese people are just as opportunistic as anyone else if they feel that they can get away with it.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

mikesensei1: That is only if you want to get money, you can just hand it in, tell the police your name and phone number and leave within 30 seconds. I've found iphones, wallets, credit cards and done the same, I think the feeling of doing something good over wanting to get some money is 100 times better.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I lost my wallet many years ago in Japan and it was returned with a finders fee removed, while i was thankful to get all my cards back it still was a bit rude of somebody to take that money. i would of easily given more of the amount that was taken as a reward. truely honest people would have returned it and not expected anything, I think there is a law that states a 10-20% finders fee

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That is only if you want to get money, you can just hand it in, tell the police your name and phone number and leave within 30 seconds.

That is absolutely true, as I found it out when I handed in some money that I found in a shopping mall. If you find something you can easily relinquish any claim on it (although if you found a huge sum of money on the street outside a betting shop you might not want to!). Personally I don't understand people who expect some kind of reward for handing in wallets or jewellery or other personal effects. Large sums of cash might be a different story, though. I do know people who have been contacted by the police after six months to be told that "OK, this 30,000 yen is officially yours!" I guess it's a judgement call.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

A few years ago I dropped my wallet in Itami airport whilst waiting for the limousine bus to take me to board a connecting flight at Kansai airport. I panicked and ran around trying to find it, and lo and behold, it was on the floor where I dropped it with a security guard standing vigilant next to it! Thank you!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The process of getting a wallet back with contents is a lot more complex than explained here. The owner must first locate the finder and get a release document signed and also pay a sum from 10-15% of the contents before the police will release the wallet. Of course what is also not widely known is that the item and contents is yours to keep if not claimed within 6 months.

This is complete BS. You go to the police station, ask if it has been returned, show some ID and fill out some paperwork. IF the person wants money , which most do not, the cops handle it all.

I have found it more time consuming to hand things is - which is why I stopped handing things in and leave them where I see them and hope the person come back. I once spent over 10 minutes at a reststop filling out paperwork and answering questions about a wallet I found in the bathroom. Was gone so long my husband came looking for me and told me not to bother handing things in in the future because of all the fuss. I stated clearly I wanted no reward but... the paperwork had to be done.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I think there is a law that states a 10-20% finders fee

No law, it's a "if you want to standard fee".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

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

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites