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Have you ever been stopped by Japanese police, and if so, what for?


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they asked me why was I using a military-style backpack to work. I just explained to them it's a lot more comfy to use and just went on my way, it was probably a slow day for them. But I will say that I've been rarely asked for my gaijin card since I look a bit Japanese.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Had an off duty policeman give me a lift to my car. When I got in the back and put on the seat belt, he turned and said I don’t need it!!! I made the clicking noise as loud as I could.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Twice in my own Tokyo neighborhood. No reasons given. They asked lots of questions. I guess I was guilty of the serious charge of "foreigner walking on a sidewalk, minding his own business."

12 ( +12 / -0 )

I’ve had my bike checked a few times for the serial number. And I’ve had a few police stop to chat because they wanted to try speaking some English.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Twice. Being white while riding a bicycle.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

A couple of incidents. 1. Getting pulled over for speeding. I only spoke English with them and bowed profusely as an apology. I understood their Japanese, but a friend of mine told me to speak only English with them. Ever so often, I kept apologizing. In the end, they used a google translator and said, "You will obey laws in Japan. You will study Japanese more." I thanked them and never did it again. Yes, they were friendly.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

I have been stopped so many times in Osaka and Tokyo. I know they're just stopping me because I'm foreign because I always ask why as I'm taking out my ID only for them to say "The rule is that foreigners have to have their ID on them at all times."

They didn't say they were asking me for ID because I looked foreign though...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I was bothered by a beat cop while standing in front of my house late one night. I am sure he was called by someone because even though he said he patrolled regularly, I had never seen a cop in patrol in the 12 years I had been living in that neighborhood. He accused me of not actually living there, as if I am standing on the main thoroughfare with cars regularly passing by and cameras up and down the street just casing someone's house, and the conversation went back and forth for about 5 minutes until I pulled out my keys, unlocked my door, stepped inside and slammed it in his face.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Sticking my nose into other people's business.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Yes, many times for a simple ID check. And I don't consider myself to be highly suspect (white male, professional appearance). Usually I just comply, as it IS the law. The one that really sticks out was an evening in Shibuya where I stopped to watch some celebrations after a World Cup game Japan had just won. I was approached by 2 cops and asked for ID, which I promptly gave them without any grief or words at all. Then they asked to search my pockets and briefcase. Next I did something a bit out of character for myself. As I was not in rush to be anywhere in particular, and had just stopped briefly to watch the street shenanigans, I politely declined and asked them if they had a warrant. I was in a very crowded area, so felt comfortable that any shenanigans they would try to pull would be captured by someone in the crowd. This obviously was not what they expected and immediately started accusing me of hiding something "dangerous". I said all I had was my PC and some documents. This continued for 10-ish minutes until back-up arrived in the form of a very old, senior looking officer. He again asked me the same, and I declined. I told them I would be more than happy to have them look in the bag if they had a warrant. I never got loud or angry, and remained calm throughout. I really wasn't on a SJW mission or anything, I was just bored really and had a go at it. More officers arrive, one tries to speak to me in English and make his case. Stonewalled him, and then I decided to stop answering any more questions or profess my innocence. I basically just stopped talking and stood there, continuing to watch the crowd in the crossing. Eventually, after nearly 2 hours, I was free to go. However, at that point had missed the last train and had to take a taxi. 10/10 worth the money...lol.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

And I don't consider myself to be highly suspect (white male, professional appearance). 

Wait, so, those of us who aren't white and/or don't wear a suit, we're "highly suspect"?

Huh, you learn something new here everyday..!

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Several times they stopped me while walking thru Takeshita Dori, the train station, from work to the train station or simply sitting on a bench to pad me down like if I was passing thru security at the airport or a dance club. At all times I refused while they insisted coz "we're cops." I still refused but had to show them what I had in my pockets (wallet and phone). Another time I went to the koban to report a hit-and-run and after I gave them the plate number of the car that hit me, they proceeded to scan my finger prints but didn't even make an effort to find that driver.

That said, not all the times I needed help from the cops was confronted with nonsense. The time I found a lady about to pass out on the street, we worked together on her while the ambulance arrived. Or the time i stopped a young Japanese guy from chocking his girlfriend in Shimokita station, they came directly to grab him and gave me "domo arigatou."

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Stopped and asked "Whose bicycle is that?", when I explained it was mine, they asked me why I needed a "nice bicycle"... I told them that I rode to work every day, and it's not nearby.

Then they let me continue on my way.

4 ( +4 / -0 )


Yes, many times for a simple ID check. And I don't consider myself to be highly suspect (white male, professional appearance). 

As opposed to... ?


-1 ( +5 / -6 )

A few years ago one summer, I was on my bicycle heading to a store a couple of miles away when I noticed the cops in their cruiser stopped a block ahead of me. A young cop stepped out and as I was passing stopped me and asked to check the serial number on my bike and wanted to know my name. He was apologetic and explained there were a lot of theft going on. I'm ornery sometimes. O.K., mostly ornery ;p But, he caught me on a good day so I complied. Later, I chatted with my neighbor about that and told him if I might've pulled an O.J. style of getaway if I was my usual self. Like slooooooowly bicycling past and saying, "What? Huh?" My neighbor laughed and said one morning he was late and bicycling like mad to get to work when the police tried to make him stop. He told them he running late and didn't have time but they could follow him and check it at his job; which they did. He got to work and hurried in to clock in then went back out to deal with them. So, if I pulled an O.J., they would've followed me. I cycle slooooooowwwww so they would've been on my tail plus probably called for backup ;p

2 ( +2 / -0 )

they asked me why was I using a military-style backpack to work. 

This one is actually a page from their field-interrogation manual.

People wearing unseasonal clothing (coats in summer, shorts in winter, etc..), bizarre or eccentric fashion, unofficial-looking work uniforms, and military style attire are regular targeted for random stop and searches.

There are even groups of Otaku activists who protest against what they call “Otaku-gari” (Nerd-hunting). As otaku are more likely to wear one or more of the above clothing features. A lot of them also carry art supplies and crafting tools for their hobbies, and complain about being fined for carrying box cutters, screwdrivers, soldering irons, paints and solvents, etc.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Twice for speeding.  Once for other minor traffic offence.  Once for just being me.

Painful, like all interactions with cops anywhere in the world.  But not unduly so.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I don't consider myself to be what the Japanese police consider highly suspect.

There fixed that for you two champions of political correctness.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Other than routine driving stops, twice.

Once for checking my bicycle licence, cycling home at 23:00 at night.

Had it with me, then they asked to see my driving licence! So sorry, not on me!

Then, why don't you have 2 padlocks? Isn't this Safety and Security Japan!?!?

The other time was nearly 30 years ago, when using one of the first mobile phones in an airport (those were the days of massive black boxes), but I think they were more curious about the phone, as they never even asked for my ID, just what was my job that provided me with such a phone!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

for walking while being foreign.

the worst times were in Yoshikawa and Koshigaya in Saitama prefecture. The cops there are nuts.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I’m a big guy, so the cops never sweat me, but I did get pulled over for speeding, but they had a very quiet demeanor, showed my license and they told me to take care and I went on my merrily way.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

they also pulled you over for driving without a license, six months of hell, was it?

Yes, but both times, nothing negative, if people don’t sweat the cops, they’ll leave you alone. You get an attitude with them, they’ll get one with you as well.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

I didn't have my gaijin card so he followed me to my house where I got it and showed him.

So, you were in violation of the law. Seems their intuition was spot on in this case, doesn't it?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Once while driving while being white, the cops stopped me and asked me a bunch of questions about my life. I answered.

Unfortunately for the other cop, he asked my Japanese wife. Who challenged him on every question.

Cop "Where do you work?"

Wife "Why are you asking me? Did I do something wrong?"

Cop "You don't have to answer."

Wife "Okay.

Cop "Can I see your driver's license?"

Wife "Why are you asking me? Did I do something wrong?"

Cop "You don't have to answer."

Wife "Okay" etc cetera until five questions later the cop got tired and went back to his patrol car.

And why did I get stopped? They 'suspected' my lights didn't work properly. This was in the middle of the day when no one had their lights on.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

People wearing unseasonal clothing (coats in summer, shorts in winter, etc..), bizarre or eccentric fashion, unofficial-looking work uniforms, and military style attire are regular targeted for random stop and searches.

I do not think forcing school girls to wear short skirts in the dead middle of winter is normal either.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Riding my bike through Namba one night.


”No...?” I said.

”I see....”

With that I was let go.

Japanese cops have the easiest police job of any police force in the world. I was probably the first person he talked to all day.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Once for me, and it was very brief and technical. I'd advise you to try to (pretend to?) be cooperative.

In case you feel very embarrassed at a sudden inquiry on the street, you can at least ask to relocate a place, away from public attention (I hear that according to the guideline, the police must be consent with such request).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was riding my mountainbike at the beach, along the boardwalk; I happened to glance off to the side and saw something strange, buried in undergrowth. I got off my bike and went to investigate -- there was a motor-scooter hidden under the scrub! How did it get there? Even more curious now, I pushed the starting lever with my foot, and the engine started! Naturally I decided to go for a little spin up and down the beach...and then the Police arrived. There were about 5 officers surrounding me, asking to see my license and registration, and of course I had neither. I suppose they gradually realized that I was not the thief who had stolen the motor-scooter. But what really saved me was the time of day...it was a few minutes before lunchtime, and they wanted to return to the police station. I was let go with a polite warning.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm a caucasian female, living in Japan for several years.

Been stopped & checked just twice. Once just "a regular" check for my residence card.

The other one, a bit more of an incident:

It was many years ago in Osaka. I went for a drink after work, and while I was walking back home, a group of white guys come rushing behind the corner - I remember there being around 5-7 of them. They see me, come over and ask if there's a bar open nearby, where they could go. "Quick, quick", I remember them saying. Not soon after, a group of policemen run to the scene from the same direction as these guys. The policemen surround everyone, and one of them comes to me and asks for my ID, where I'm from, what am I doing there etc, sounding quite angry and serious. Gratefully one of the white guys starts saying to the cops that they should let me go, that they don't know me at all - the policeman then asks me several times, if this is true, and why was I talking to them then. I explain what happened; that no, I don't know these guys (who were probably Australian based on their accent), never seen them before in my life, and was just giving them directions. He considers for a while, jots down details from my residence card, and says "Ok, go". I look at the guys with a confused and worried look on me, "Are you ok..? Should I stick around to try to help..?" (the guys were obviously tourists, me on a working visa at that time) But the guy who "saved me" from the officer's teeth just said that I should go, and I should go as soon as I can, as fast as I can, as I wasn't involved in anything they had done. And so I did. Walked quickly home, didn't look back, but felt awkward and anxious nonetheless. Somewhat worried for the guys, even though I had no idea what they had done - maybe they really did deserve the long arm of the law. I'm still wondering what that was all about. Seemed to be quite serious.

(Mind you, I think the police was just doing their job. From a selfish perspective I was really worried though if they would detain me for questioning or something, just out of suspicion, just because I happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

In more than 20 years, I was stopped a few times, mostly for traffic offenses or check points. And once they checked my bicycle. Except one time, they were polite and I was cooperating. Only once, I went to the koban to pay a parking ticket (I didn't know you should never do that, just pay at the combini), and I ran into an idiot who asked me all kind of stupid stuff for almost 3 hours. I got annoyed and I actually started shouting at him, and they apologized. And one more time, I was going back home from work quite late on my motorcycle, and they were doing a check point, stopping all motorcycles. I was tired and a bit grumpy, so when the guy, after checking my license and address, asked me why I was riding on that particular street (I took a loop on the way back home, ride a bit and refresh my head), I snapped and I told him it's not his frickin business where I ride my motorcycle. They apologized and I was on my way home.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't consider myself to be what the Japanese police consider highly suspect.

Fair enough.

There fixed that for you two champions of political correctness.

Oh, shame. Not so professional, after all.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

More than I can remember, almost always while riding a bike. I guess a tall white dude is their mark, never went past a few questions but it's frustrating to the point I'll bike in a different direction when I see them all camped out on major intersections.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Stopped once when driving into the car park at Narita on our way to meet a friend off the plane from Hong Kong. They asked to see Mr cleo's driving license, asked if he was sending me off, checked the boot. This was when Narita hadn't been open long, opposition to the airport was sometimes a bit extreme, they were stopping everyone. Didn't think anything of it.

Second time was coming off the expressway, again they were stopping everyone. There had been a hit and run and they were looking for witnesses, or anyone with a big dent in their car. We told them we hadn't actually seen the incident but had seen the young man who had been hit; we'd stopped and used our lights to direct traffic away from his car, which was stopped side-on in the fast lane, until the police and ambulance arrived. The officer thanked us, saluted and let us go on our way.

Never been stopped for being GIJ (gaijin in Japan). I probably don't look very threatening or suspicious.

Invalid CSRF

0 ( +2 / -2 )


I don't consider myself to be what the Japanese police consider highly suspect.

Newsflash man, if you're not Japanese, then your assumption is incorrect.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Twice in 20 years. No big deal either time. The second time was with an officer who was a bit arsey in his attitude and spoke faster than any Japanese person I’ve met.

He was quite short in stature.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Quite a few times over 25+ years.

A few times on my way to/from work in Tokyo with questions like where are you going at this hour, how often do you use this path, where do you work, etc. I work in IT and we have two shifts, one starts at 7am and the other at 9am Monday to Friday with some Saturdays or Sundays for major roll outs so the times I get stopped are not out of the ordinary.

One time on a Sunday I went cycling and forgot to pack my Gaijin card and got stopped by the Rozzers. When I couldn't produce proof of who I was they made me cycle home with them following me just to prove to them that I was there legally. What kind of 'illegal' gets kitted out and goes cycling on a Sunday?

Stopped in Kyoto station when my father was visiting me in Japan and we went on a 'JR 7 day rail pass tour'. We looked just like average tourists but I guess it was our turn again to be stopped.

Every single time up to that point I had been asked for my Gaijin card but since that point I 'accidentally' found out that if they see your Japanese driver's licence while you are 'attempting' to get your Gaijin card out, they just wave you off and say okay, okay and you're on your way.

Now, if I am wearing any sort of tactical gear, boots, belt, pants, shirt, hat, lanyard or dragging tactical cases to the train/airport, I get the looks and even followed for awhile BUT NEVER STOPPED. Go figure.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Drinking a beer at a bus stop.

Miyazaki Koutsu does not allow smoking or drinking alcohol at their bus stops. Got a 2000 yen ticket.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Three times:

1) riding my bike on the road rather than the sidewalk - one of only a handful of streets that actually had a genuine sidewalk.

2) driving my car through railway crossing without stopping first

3) sleeping at a railway station (those desperate hours between the club ending and the first trains departing)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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