national

English language services available at two police koban in Tokyo

32 Comments

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department has stationed officers who speak English at two koban in Shibuya and Shinjuku.

The police department said the two koban are in front of Shibuya Station and in Shinjuku's Kabukicho nightlife area, Fuji TV reported. The Kabukicho koban is also staffed by an officer who can speak Chinese.

The new language services began Friday and a total of 25 officers who speak English or Chinese will be on duty 24 hours a day during a six-month trial period.

A police department spokesperson said the move is aimed at helping police better deal with inquiries from tourists and that in future, more foreign language-speaking officers will be stationed at other koban around the city as the number of tourists to Tokyo is expected to increase in the lead-up to the 2020 Olympics.

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32 Comments
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2.. wow .. are they kidding?

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Alex, it's a trial period. They're giving it a go.

I hope this is successful and the project expanded.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

The koban at Roppongi Station would seem to be a logical place for English-speaking officers.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

is this news from the Meiji era? took their time...

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Is there enough English speaking staff for more than 2 koban?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Most foreigners forget that there is an official language in many countries like Japan, Austria, etc.

Government employees like cops, etc only need to speak the official language.

Now the USA has NO official language but other countries do and they don't need to cater for non-official languages, that is an added service/bonus.

Back in my home-country street cops wear flag badges which indicate what languages they can speak apart from the local one.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Why no Chinese speaking cops? The big electrical goods stores in Akihabara seem more in touch with the profile of foreign visitors than the police. There are Chinese-speaking shop clerks all over the place. Italy has even brought in Chinese cops to help Chinese tourists.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Now the USA has NO official language but other countries do and they don't need to cater for non-official languages, that is an added service/bonus.

Actually they do in certain cases. If you're arrested in Japan, you must be informed of the circumstances of your arrest in a language which you understand. This is required by Japanese law.

If you make a complaint to the police in a foreign language, they still have a duty to investigate it to the best of their abilities. They can't simply ignore you, just as they can't ignore a Japanese deaf person despite sign language having no official status. Hiring English speaking officers to help investigate crime and carry out their duties more effectively is really not that different from hiring an officer with any other special skill, like a shoeprint or DNA expert for example. The fact that it's convenient for non-Japanese speakers is just a bonus.

Government employees like cops, etc only need to speak the official language.

Air traffic controllers are government employees. I don't think they can refuse to speak English.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I saw some footage on TV. They were unveiling signs that say "English Available" rather than "English spoken here." Not a promising start.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Air traffic controllers is a given. Ever tried to file a complaint in English, German, etc here you will wait for hours to get a translator. Been there done it and even corrected the translator in Japanese on some points.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Why no Chinese speaking cops?

According to the article, there will be both English and Chinese speaking officers.

The new language services began Friday and a total of 25 officers who speak English or Chinese will be on duty 24 hours a day during a six-month trial period.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I spent a summer many years ago teaching English to air traffic controllers, and got the chance to see them working. While their "on the job" English was flawless, they were no better at holding a conversation than any group brought in at random off the street. Same with doctors- perfect medical terminology, but nothing to write home about otherwise.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good job on them.

I don't see Japanese language services available at my local police station, so ignore the naysayers.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Pacech1967OCT. 01, 2016 - 05:52PM JST Most foreigners forget that there is an official language in many countries like Japan, Austria, etc. Government employees like cops, etc only need to speak the official language

Why confine the discussion to legalism? Everyone knows it's not legally necessary for koban staff to speak English, hence it being this late of a date that they've made it without doing otherwise. Sometimes however there are choices that are quite wise to make without being required by law. Having officers of the law in your two most famous tourist spots who can function in the world's two most widely-spoken languages would seem to be one of them.

For as much stick as this board likes to give J-cops, I'm surprised someone would complain about them making an effort to do their job better, even if the effort is small.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I am NOT complaining about the cops making effort but more about the posters expecting to be catered for them in their own language.

As I said most tourists in my home-country don't speak the locsl lingo but the Cops carry badges/flags of the languages they can speak. So just look for a cop with your country flag.

English, French, Italian, Dutch and Spanish are the most common as most of us are tri or quadlingual at age 18.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Shibuya Koban: Hey mate, where are all the naughty places at Dogenzaka?

Shinjuku Kabukuki-cho Koban: Hey mate where is the Hino Maru ?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

bullfighter: "Why no Chinese speaking cops?"

Article says there will be at one koban in Kabukicho. Mind you, that's ONE officer in a city of millions of people. Better than nothing, as anything usually is, but let's hope this is just the beginning. I've never had trouble dealing with officers in the past in English, but for those travelling or residents who are having trouble, it is obviously problematic if there is a lack of communication ability.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Most foreigners forget that there is an official language in many countries like Japan, Austria, etc.

Government employees like cops, etc only need to speak the official language.

You do realize that Austria has not just one but four official languages? On top of that I guarantee you that most Austrian cops can speak pretty decent English.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Just wanted to ask,

How many Japanese language services do you have in your countries?

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

@James

You might see signs written in other languages, but the only official language in Austria is German.

@jj1067

My part of the UK has notices on the trains in English, Welsh, German and Japanese.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

2016, Tokyo - Metropolis with a population of 13.6 million. Record number of 11.7 million foreign tourists in the first 6 months of the year. Total of 25 English speaking cops in 2 kobans. This is not a joke.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The guys make an effort, said that I know and train with many cops here who are multilingual.

Back home we learn English from age 7 by age 13 we can read Shakespeare and write English essays, plus we start learning a 3rd or a 4th language.

Look at Switzerland it is trilingual so everyone needs to speak German, French and Italian, English is not taught in school many can speak it though.

Being multilingual I found is the norm as I traveled this ball of dirt.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I'm curious as to how far afield they had to go to find 25 cops with second language abilities. That must be just about every cop in the country with second language skills.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Not sure what level those Cops are.

Most of the Koban in my area use it as we have many tourists, etc.

Just another fluff piece to generate hits for Jt.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

jj1067OCT. 01, 2016 - 11:16PM JST How many Japanese language services do you have in your countries?

That's an okay question to ask, but if you want it to be meaningful you also have to ask how many foreign tourists who speak Japanese and not English visit our countries vs. how many foreign tourists who speak English but not Japanese visit here. I think you'll find the numbers don't balance.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japanese have an obsession with the assumption that that their inability to communicate with foreigners is due to a lack of English language ability. This is a MYTH. Most Japanese people just get freaked out when a foreigner approaches them which is why they cannot deal with the situation. If a tourist comes to a koban asking for directions the policeman can just show them a map and point. I've been able to give directions to Spanish tourists many times even though I couldn't understand Spanish and they couldn't understand English.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A good first step but indeed, this should have been done about 100 years ago. When I read Meiji Era documents and recollections of foreign/Japanese sources the problems they address about their interactions are still the same today. (I teach History.) I often wonder how slowly this country is (not) changing.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How many Japanese language services do you have in your countries?

Right back at you! - How many billions of dollars do those countries spend on Japanese language education? How many of those countries teach Japanese to everybody in the country for 6-10 years?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

In USA, younger people speak Japanese pretty good. They don't learn in school. They just learn from Nintendo and other Anime on video.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In my city (Paris) there was police officer who can speak other language (english, german or other) since 1908. They were called "Berlitz officers", since they were trained by Berlitz language school. The Police Chief made this possible because he got many ideas, as Berlitz Officers, Boat police, bicycle police, police box (to call police), red box (to call firemen). He introduced forensic science Police, he introduced fingerprinting and criminology (to analyse psychology of criminals.) His name was Louis Lepine.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

American people love to visit Paris and they. Practice French. They. Lo hearts and music. Best iinnn the world.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Hello.

What i don't get, there are many services in Tokyo, Kyoto who have english speaking staff since many years (JR in most big station in Japan, many Department stores, Tokyo main post office ...) and why only now Police staff got english speaking people ? We are talking about 2 Koban in Tokyo , what about Kyoto and Osaka ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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