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3 foreign-born residents sue over racial profiling by Japanese police

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Good stuff. Rock and roll it to them. I was not given a tissue pack once in the street because of my demography. It seems these gentlemen have a very legitimate case.

33 ( +54 / -21 )

Officers "know that they can waste my time", he said.

But they choose keep doing that.

The third plaintiff, a man born in Pakistan who has been a Japanese citizen since the age of 13, said he has been questioned more than a dozen times, including once in front of his house.

When the last time non-foreign look Japanese being questioned in front of their house, it's obviously because their appearance. Even that agency can't reply immediately.

(NPA) could not immediately comment on the case.

.

An embassy already warn their citizen about this in the past.

https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/us-embassy-tokyo-warns-suspected-racial-profiling-by-japanese-police-2021-12-06/

-9 ( +26 / -35 )

Maurice, who lives with family members who are Japanese citizens, said he has been questioned 16 or 17 times by police during his decade in Japan.

Racial profiling is not only racist and wrong it is a failure.

Most Japanese crime is coming from Japanese driven to economic desperation and madness by LDP policies.

2 ( +37 / -35 )

The Japanese police have mistreated so many of us, leaving us all with our own stories of harassment, haven’t they?

My own experiences were always not extreme — like being detained for a few hours for theft of my wife’s red bicycle. They stopped me because they said men don’t ride red bicycles — or at least didn’t at that time. 

My oddest interaction with police was when one entered my unlocked apartment around 03:00 a.m. and tapped the sleeping me on the shoulder in the dark to awaken me. I jumped out of bed and turned on the light. Apparently, a car was blocking the road outside, and the policeman wanted to know if it was mine. It wasn’t. So he asked if I knew whose car it was. I didn’t.

But, for the most part, police in Japan help to maintain a very safe, orderly society. Kudos to them. “Social education” has also helped to craft a pleasant society in which to reside. Before taking an action, people raised in Japan generally consider the impact their actions will have on others. And they generally don’t an action if they feel it will trouble others. This “social education” has helped to craft a pleasant society in which to reside.

31 ( +48 / -17 )

I somehow managed to go 25 years with only one encounter with Japanese police - they came to investigate a break in at my business. They were polite and efficient. And that was living in four different areas of Kanto.

Being profiled constantly would be frustrating and disheartening.

42 ( +49 / -7 )

Never had any trouble and strife from the old bill me self.

9 ( +22 / -13 )

For the shame and embarrassment of being stopped and singled out by the police, I think 3.3 million is too low a number. They need to really make a message that what the police are doing is outright discrimination and needs to end.

13 ( +25 / -12 )

I only had a few random stoppages during my first 15 years here, then during Covid I had 5, 3 of them by the same officer. Might not be that huge of a deal time wise, but it definitely reinforces that feeling of not belonging. Every Japanese walking by wondering what I did, because the average Japanese won't encounter a random stop even once in their life so naturally they think I must have done something wrong to be stopped.

34 ( +40 / -6 )

If a police officer request something, people must to cooperate with the authority..

This is Japan, a country of laws, nationals and foreign people must follow them..

Japan is not a "easy money sue" country..

Japan law prevails..

GO JAPAN!!!..

-78 ( +9 / -87 )

Not really questioned but only stopped once in 25 years for the police to check my bike and ID. It was actually due to some chikan around the place, but it was not profile based, as they were waiting for others at their standpoint.

18 ( +19 / -1 )

There was survey by Tokyo Bar association, is quite common and the number is high.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Society/Many-people-with-foreign-roots-stopped-by-police-in-Japan-survey

-9 ( +15 / -24 )

Good they're doing this, but good luck. Racial profiling among the Japanese is a given, ie, seen as practical common sense, not problematic. This ain't the West!

6 ( +27 / -21 )

I must have been questioned about a dozen times myself over my all my years here too, give or take. Where do I sign up to be part of this litigation? Do feel for the guy who has been questioned 100 times though.

15 ( +26 / -11 )

TokyoLiving

Today 07:24 am JST

If a police officer request something, people must to cooperate with the authority..

How about if a police officer requests that a homeowner lets him use her bedroom to call HQ, and she walks in to find him going through her underwear drawers?

This is Japan,

No! Really?!

a country of laws, nationals and foreign people must follow them.

I always thought that was completely optional. How lucky we are to have you to set us straight.

32 ( +41 / -9 )

So what if you are racially profiled in Japan?

There aren’t any rules against it.

There is nothing that can be done.

Accept it or leave, those are the two choices.

Actually, I never mind having a chat with the police as I get to ask them a questions too.

-52 ( +12 / -64 )

“he has been questioned 16 or 17 times by police during his decade in Japan.”

That works out to 1.6-1.7 times a year on average. Well within an acceptable level of nuisance

-20 ( +14 / -34 )

answering a police officer's question is worth millions of yen? give me a break this isn't sue-happy America.

-10 ( +24 / -34 )

Dango bongToday 07:48 am JST

answering a police officer's question is worth millions of yen? give me a break this isn't sue-happy America.

If this questioning was done in Japan's infamous police detention, they are owed hundreds of millions of yen for interviews equivalent to torture.

5 ( +23 / -18 )

JeffLeeToday 07:34 am JST

Good they're doing this, but good luck. Racial profiling among the Japanese is a given, ie, seen as practical common sense, not problematic. This ain't the West!

So basically racism is okay if Japan does it?

10 ( +29 / -19 )

When I lived in Nara and worked in Kyoto, just about every day I was stopped and questioned by police. Since I moved to Miyazaki 15 years ago, just once.

20 ( +22 / -2 )

Good on them! I'm putting this article up on facebook. Thank you gentlemen, for standing up for all of us.

3 ( +24 / -21 )

answering a police officer's question is worth millions of yen? give me a break this isn't sue-happy America.

One of the good things amongst the many bad of sue-happy America is that it is a check on the depredations of mega-business and government and sometimes rewards the injured by those in

power.

Being an abject prostrate prole to those higher in the hierarchy is another choice though.

8 ( +19 / -11 )

From left, Matthew, Syed Zain and Maurice, foreign-born residents of Japan who have filed a lawsuit against the national and local governments over alleged illegal questioning by police based on racial profiling...

"illegal questioning"? lol They will get nowhere with this. "harassment" might fly, but not "illegal questioning".

-14 ( +7 / -21 )

The NPA continues to educate officers to respect human rights, the official said at the time.

Seems that the folks in the koban and stations around the country didnt get the memo!

13 ( +20 / -7 )

I will not dismiss their complaints but not once in 25 years have I ever been questioned by police and only stopped once for speeding. And never has anyone not sat beside me on a train and never have I ever been denied service.

-4 ( +10 / -14 )

Oner 25 years and as a white American, I have only once been questioned by police when I was parked along a riverside road and it was late at night 11:00-12:00. It’s a space for 4-5 cars to pull off and can park as long as you stay in the car. Unusual for cars to park there at night, so I get the suspicion. I told them I was blowing off steam after arguing with my wife. Then they asked if they could search my car. I agreed, but felt a little irritated. What would of happened if I refused?? There was a Morniaga milk processing plant just on the other side of my car so maybe something had happened there before. I did notice they raised the level of the fence by several feet from what it had been before. I had a Sri Lankan friend who told me he got stopped often. So I get it that in Japan I had or have “white privilege” (as much as I hate that term and it way over used in the clown world of America right now). Over the years we’ve all heard stories of discrimination, but considering how much safer Japan is compared to my country America, and even if I were stopped 2-5 times a year, I certainly wouldn’t try to go to court over it. Not proud to say that America is “sue happy”

6 ( +17 / -11 )

Many foreigners here just don’t get it.

The police routinely come round to my area once a year and make house calls.

Not only that but new police officers also scope out the area to learn their beat.

Is that harassment?

If being stopped and questioned sometimes is the price of a safer society then so be it.

-10 ( +14 / -24 )

As a white male in Japan for almost 15 years, I've been stopped once. I was riding a motorbike and a cop car was behind me at a red light. Copper got out of his car, told me to show my licence, took a glance at it, and let me go. It made me angry that I was profiled and didn't actually commit a driving violation. More power to these 3 guys if they succeed in the lawsuit.

-6 ( +13 / -19 )

kurisupisu

Today 07:38 am JST

So what if you are racially profiled in Japan?

There aren’t any rules against it.

There's no good reason for it either. The police should only stop and question people that they have a legitimate reason to believe can help them with inquiries, e.g. if they are in the vicinity of a crime scene and might have witnessed something, if they look like an actual suspect and n

14 ( +20 / -6 )

Oops. ... and not just a random foreign person, of they are actually behaving suspiciously.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

I guess the same conundrum exists in the U.S., EU or any place else for that matter.

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

The three times I’ve had to speak to police in Japan have been once about 10 years ago when I was asking for directions, once last year when a police officer came into our work place wanting to see the boss about a survey, and once last year when a detective asked to see street footage from our home security camera after there had been a bag snatch in the area. On none of the occasions have I ever been questioned myself or even asked for ID.

I’ve had more racial profiling on the train, but it doesn’t bother me because I like my space.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

@kurisupisu

I value the annual house call visit from the police and that they have the names of residents in a giant book.

It was helpful for the entire community when we had a big flood and people needed to be evacuated.

11 ( +17 / -6 )

I've only had a few run ins with the local Bill a few years ago when the government changed the residency cards. Each time, I didn't do anything wrong and went about my business. On the 4th time (4 times in a month) I just told the police what the deal was and how I was fed up with them stopping me without a reason. Most of the time, I was riding my bike and was asked if that was my bike. In the end, they just apologize and left me alone. I was never stopped after that.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Elvis....

I was not given a tissue pack once in the street because of my demography.

I too was refused tissues once and questioned why...

The tissues have an advert for a business. Those giving out the tissues are sometimes told to give them to a specific demographic. In my case it was young women, and I didn't qualify. They will usually give you if you hold out your hand.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

Just another personal datapoint. When I first came to Japan many years ago, I was stopped very frequently; usually on my bicycle, and occasionally detained for long periods if I didn’t have my ID on me.

But, as the years passed, and I became older and grayer, these incidents stopped.

Clearly, I just don’t fit the profile anymore.

Of course the police are profiling. And it should stop. Best of luck to these three men.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

@Simon Foston

I get where you are coming from but you are thinking from a western perspective.

Try to look at it from their perspective.

I heard the news conference where Matthew was speaking and his Japanese was fluent.

He wouldn’t have a problem in communicating with the Japanese police at all and any stops should be a minor hindrance.

I don’t know of the other complainants.

However, would I trade Japanese policing for police in the US , UK or Europe etc?

No, I would not

6 ( +15 / -9 )

During my five years in Japan, I experienced an incident at Iidabashi Station that left a lasting impression. On a Saturday afternoon, I was rushing from Shin-Okubo Station to catch the Namboku Line to reach the University of Tokyo. In my haste, carrying a moderate-sized bag filled with groceries weighing around 10-12 kg, I was unexpectedly stopped by a police officer.

The officer requested my residence card and asked me to sign a document, all of which took only about two minutes. Despite the brevity of the encounter, it became a source of significant embarrassment for me. The station, typically bustling with activity, was unusually empty at that moment. The abrupt halt, seemingly for no apparent reason, added to the awkwardness of the situation.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Japanese police are no threat. I would feel really frightening if I lived in U.S. and stopped and questioned by American polices. They are rough.

-4 ( +12 / -16 )

@Eric-Japan,

Sorry that happened to you.

Was this the Morinaga in Okudo, Katsushika?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I would feel really frightening if I lived in U.S. and stopped and questioned by American polices. They are rough.

Not to mention trigger happy and really good at escalation.

Nah I don’t really know, but there are a lot of incidents from the US that get international coverage.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

And the govt appointed judges said goodo lucku....such a corrupt skewed legal system will never rule in the plaintiffs favour!

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Imagine J cops getting the memo. No more ‘pro active policing’, ie harassing foreigners on a hunch that they may be up to something because of the way they look. I wonder how that would go down.

“but this is Japan” , will be be the hip flex reaction no doubt. Thinking is hard remember.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

When I was listening to the NEWS on the way home from work yesterday about this case, it was said that the Aichi Police Manual states that foreign looking individuals that do not have a clear grasp of the Japanese language must be engaging in some sort of criminal activity and therefore are to be stopped and questioned. Even after living and working in Japan for over 24 years, this made my jaw drop in disbelief.

S

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Racial Profiling is a normal way of life in Japan.

-7 ( +12 / -19 )

but as a racial group there is a history

As his worshipful would say "the blacks", hmmm... I wonder what history they have in the US...

Stop and frisk was a proven scam.

https://www.nyclu.org/en/stop-and-frisk-data

And as in Japan it is just lazy policing, not proactive and unhelpful to the communities they are supposed to be serving.

Profiled here myself but launching into a reasoned monologue about the dialectics of systemic oppression does wonders for making the Keystones give up in exasperation.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Japanese police are no threat. I would feel really frightening if I lived in U.S. and stopped and questioned by American polices. They are rough.

Go tell that to the families of the countless number of people who have died while being detained by Japanese police.

-2 ( +13 / -15 )

The racial card technique to evade the crimes..... This is next before such ' phobia' tactics ... definitely next is phobia of a particular religion comes..... all a well planned .... Externally it look normal... this court case... But they have a clear agenda behind this court case........

These techniques worked well in USA and Europe... They want to do this in Japan next..

The duty of the police is to question anything they see unnatural ( to the Japanese society ) or strange..

You have to understand and co-operate with the police then no problem

Police should not be defeated in this case.

Japan is the only country left in the free world with out religious fanatics and radical left the terrorist control.

Lets support the police to do their duties.

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

This is going to be a long and slow process.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Tough issue, police need to 'profile' in order to be effective. Old ladies probably far less risky in general.

However, such policing must be ethical and professional, that's the secret sauce, in order to keep society safe. It's the SAME everywhere, certain groups = HIGH RISK.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Japan can do without this kind of litigious, and race baiting culture.

Japan historically has been rather homogeneous - if you look like an outsider, you are more likely to be questioned. Adachi plates on a car in a village in Okayama will more likely be stopped by police if they can find a reason. Get over it.

We don’t need police hesitant to stop people for fear of the r word.

-10 ( +5 / -15 )

One more thought. When I moved into my place, nobody knew me. Nice area, low crime etc. BUT police wanted to meet me. Initially found myself being 'stopped'.

Fortunately, in my case it was smooth, and I had some appreciation for their challenge. It helped that I'm a mansion owner, family, married to Japanese National etc.

Good news, no more police stops and everyone very friendly, especially as my young boy loves police cars!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Been stopped once in 17 years in Japan. It was for being on a girly bike that was unusual for a white male to ride in Japan. And I had picked it up out of a garbage/recycling pile back when we had neighbourhood soudai gomi piles. So I had not registered it. The police asked for my alien registration card (replaced now by the residence card) I told him I didn't have one. He was getting annoyed at my cheeky answers until my colleague told him I was a diplomat and he should ask for my diplomatic card. I produced it when he asked. He apologized for bothering us. I asked why he stopped me and he pointed out that the bike was not typical for a male. I said yes, but it was a nice bike, and he left us. Although in the United States I do not feel white privilege, I am very aware of it in Japan. When I am dressed in a suit like a businessman, many times my opinion seems to be worth more than even my Japanese colleagues. It is an unfortunate fact of life that we are often judged by our appearance, our age or perceived maturity, our gender, our Japanese abilities, the type of bike or car we have, or how much money we appear to have. Japanese police often reflect the values of Japanese society, but the profiling is more pronounced when it is the police who are doing it.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

I see two sides to this. Yes it is very demeaning for one to get constantly stopped and getting the feeling they don't belong. It isn't a great feeling at all and it especially can get annoying when you are trying to blend in to the country's society as much as possible by learning the language and following the same rules.

But it is true that Japan is very homogenous and that anyone who even looks ha-fu will stick out, therefore it is easier to target someone who looks different. Police even go around questioning those who appear to be thug like as well due to the fact that they also stick out amongst everyone else who wears a black suit and has nori like hairstyle. Chances are you will land a case where that person is well over their period of stay or in the case of a thug, he may have procession of illegal substance. You can go around questioning random people, but wouldn't you say it is more efficient to go after those mentioned above? I feel like chances are you will be able to detain more people in a shorter time frame.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

kurisupisu

Today 08:41 am JST

@Simon Foston

I get where you are coming from but you are thinking from a western perspective.

Try to look at it from their perspective.

It would help if they would kindly explain what their perspective is, otherwise I assume it to be something like:

"...neither of whom, as far as I can tell, appear to be complete and utter crooks, although the latter is foreign and is the sort, you may well think, the very sort, to boil up poisonous biriyanis in the middle of the night and keep you awake with his pagan limbo dancing."

1 ( +2 / -1 )

One time I was hanging out with two black dudes in Tokyo and we got stopped three times in one night, and each time they kept saying if we had marijuana lol. Another time I was with my bombshell girlfriend and out of the blue I hear a loud "やめなさい!" coming from two cops gassed out from running just to get to us. They first asked my girlfriend if she was with me and if she was ok when it was clear as daylight that she was since she was holding my arm. It was obvious that the violation was seeing an attractive Japanese model wrapping her arm around a foreigner. They definitely did not like that view. But in the end, they bowed and apologized.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

zulander

Today 09:21 am JST

Adachi plates on a car in a village in Okayama will more likely be stopped by police if they can find a reason.

If they can find a reason of course it's fine. "He's a scruffy -looking foreign person, QED he could be up to something" isn't a valid reason.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Every time I read the " I have never been stopped in X years" I have great doubts!

Why because everyone I have ever met saying that when pushed actually had but has created some "reason" in their mind to dismiss each one as if it really wasn't being stopped.

I got the profiling thing decades ago.

I was stopped while driving, 4 officers in one car slacks tucked in boots automatic pistols not revolver ( National police) the first thing was "gaijin car" not driver's licence and next was "is your winker working" (turn signal) I hadn't turned or changed lanes, this was followed by "can we search your car" (not a request don't be fooled ".

I the car was searched my ID checked and the "winker" thing never mentioned again and I was on my way!

But I have been stopped many times and I started quickly to see the pattern, the line " is your winker working " seems universal as it is what is always used by various police, Tokyo Saitama, Kanagawa, Osaka etc...always followed by *can we search your car". And it us usually the alien registration card asked for first not the driver's license, it has even happened that they didn't even ask for my driver's licence just alien registration card search the car and the "winker" excuse!

The second I here "zairiyu card" (alien registration card) as the first thing and the "winker" excuse, I know I am not being stopped for any traffic violation and I will just be on my way after they finish their little game.

I have not once gotten a ticket in all these stops and never told why they asked about my "winker" or why they search the car!

1 ( +7 / -6 )

I have to admit, I have been a victim of this too. I nabbed a creep for taking photos up the skirt of one of my high s hook students at the train station. The cops held the creep for twenty minutes and let him go. They held me for three hours. They called my employer, the school I worked at and my wife. They did immigration checks on my permanent resident status and generally just rang me through the wringer. After three hours of being detained at the train station one of the Japanese cops said to me in English, “Stay out of Japan business.” and they let me go. A-holes!

12 ( +19 / -7 )

They will lose and the Japanese police will lie and say they have investigated and found no problem. Japan cannot change.

-6 ( +9 / -15 )

I barely take trains or cycle through the city so the number of times I've been stopped in almost 2 decades was... 1 ! While cycling through a pitch dark paddy field area in Toyama.

There was one time I was sitting on a pedestrian guard rail in Osaka when 2 cops approached, before they said anything I pointed to the bike shop in front of me with an unamused face and said "waiting for my bike " and that was enough to make them wave without saying a word.

Driving works as a repellent against these time wasting situations but its not effective if you're stopped for any kind of traffic violation/warning. 4 times in my case and the only time they didnt ask for my Zairyu card was when I was with my japanese wife and son. Coincidence? Or too ashamed to pull that bs in front of a japanese?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

zulander

Today 09:21 am JST

Japan can do without this kind of litigious, and race baiting culture.

> Japan historically has been rather homogeneous - if you look like an outsider, you are more likely to be questioned. Adachi plates on a car in a village in Okayama will more likely be stopped by police if they can find a reason. Get over it.

> We don’t need police hesitant to stop people for fear of the r word

Here is a prime example of making excuses for racism!

The national police's own statistics say that crimes by foreigners makes up just under 1% of crimes in Japan and the vast majority of those "crimes" are visa violations.

Seeing that around 2% of the population of Japan are foreigners that means foreigners are less likely to be involved in crimes compared to the Japanese!

So now defend that!

1 ( +13 / -12 )

As his worshipful would say "the blacks", hmmm... I wonder what history they have in the US...

Regardless! Does that excuse the stats???

Stop and frisk was a proven scam. 

No, it was not. Even the ultra-liberal NYT admitted it which was shocking

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/07/17/does-stop-and-frisk-reduce-crime/stop-and-frisk-has-lowered-crime-in-other-cities

And as in Japan it is just lazy policing, not proactive and unhelpful to the communities they are supposed to be serving. 

There could be some truth to that.

Profiled here myself but launching into a reasoned monologue about the dialectics of systemic oppression does wonders for making the Keystones give up in exasperation.

Depends, if there is validity to the overall discourse then, yes it should be openly, honestly debated, both the good and the bad.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Good for them.

I won’t bore with the details of my own experiences

4 ( +6 / -2 )

finally rich

Today 09:51 am JST

Driving works as a repellent against these time wasting situations but its not effective if you're stopped for any kind of traffic violation/warning. 4 times in my case and the only time they didnt ask for my Zairyu card was when I was with my japanese wife and son. Coincidence? Or too ashamed to pull that bs in front of a japanese?

I have been asked every time infront of my wife and both my now adult children!

But when they then turned around and questioned my wife and asked if she was Japanese and if she had proof, all hell broke loose!

Both my children have been stopped on multiple occasions and they have even been told they should carry their passport to "prove" they are Japanese!

Both have filed complaints multiple times with zero results not even a single call or visit from whatever department is supposed to investigate complaints!

7 ( +13 / -6 )

Profiling is what bored police do. Being nosy is part of their job so there'll be no "ker-ching" for these three. They will at least draw attention to the existence of a problem which many people have experienced with policing.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

If they can find a reason of course it's fine. "He's a scruffy -looking foreign person, QED he could be up to something" isn't a valid reason.

lets be realistic, the police can make a reason - you can argue till you are blue in the face about the perceived validity of said reason.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Every Japanese walking by wondering what I did, because the average Japanese won't encounter a random stop even once in their life so naturally they think I must have done something wrong to be stopped.

To be honest I see every other month a japanese being searched somewhere. And they all seem to be wearing the same baggy pants lol

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@Simon Foston

That ‘biriyani’ post made me laugh.

That was a quote from some copper in the UK?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

good luck. Hope they finally win. Police and human rights are zero here. Which explains 99% conviction rate.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

A more comprehensive report is here:

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20240129/p2a/00m/0na/019000c

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Unusual for cars to park there at night, so I get the suspicion. I told them I was blowing off steam after arguing with my wife. Then they asked if they could search my car. I agreed, but felt a little irritated. What would of happened if I refused?? 

Nothing. 2 cops knocked on my window while I was eating my bento in a quiet street in Asakusa, agreed to give my zairyu card (eye rolling) and the smart guy asked if he could have a check inside my car.

I told him hell no as I'm not full to even move an inch out of my seat. They thanked me and left.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Antiquesavingif they ask to search your car then you should ask them the reason.

I suggest that if there is another similar interaction then it might be wise to film it

Enough of those and it would be a social media side income

However, having seen numerous cases where there are vehicle stops and cars searches we should all be under no illusion that this happens to many more Japanese than foreigners too.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Both my children have been stopped on multiple occasions and they have even been told they should carry their passport to "prove" they are Japanese!

Wow! How ridiculous if it has to come down to this! Doesn't sound like we're living in a free country if we're expected to carry any form of ID when going for a stroll down to the local konbini. I've been asked once (from memory) by a police officer to show ID in all the years I've lived here. And that one time, I felt he was just an overzealous undercover rookie cop, or with the way he showed his badge to me and me being caught off guard, I've always wondered if it was someone who was pretending to be a police officer. In any case, why do some non native-Japanese looking people get called upon multiple times to prove their identity and visa status, while others (caucasian, like me) don't? You would definitely have to agree that racial profiling is a big part of it but also (whether it is considered fair or not) the police must believe that they can find the majority of illegal immigrants this way?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I'm grateful to them. I hope they get a win and it resonates a little within the Police. In 17 years I must have been checked over 15 times and I can clearly see a pattern: I'm white and every time I've been checked is when I was speaking Spanish or Portuguese on the street. Walk around Roppongi being white speaking English? No problem. Do the same thing speaking Portuguese? They'll stop me and demand to check the content of my bag and even wallet! I've also had the experience of being checked 3 times in the same day. I want to think they were looking for someone specific and it was not just some directive to check all foreigners in the district.

At the end of the day, I've learned my rights. As someone commented Japan is about the law, and yes we do have rights in this type of situation. Now, when they come and check me for no reason, they can be sure they'll get a monologue about it.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I have just been stopped once, and at that time I was quite drunk at noon, waiting for a freind outside a station, so I suppose it might have been fair enough that the police wondered what I was up to.

But there have been so many instances where people are frisked or questioned for no reason. And now that Japan is becoming more multicultural I hope this can at least start a conversation and perhaps make the police a little bit more sensitive to the issue.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

30+ years here, out and about constantly in major cities, and have never faced this problem.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@Roten

Been stopped once in 17 years in Japan. It was for being on a girly bike that was unusual for a white male to ride in Japan. And I had picked it up out of a garbage/recycling pile back when we had neighbourhood soudai gomi piles.

I don't recommend taking a bicycle out of these garbage piles. Who's to know the bicycle wasn't stolen and then thrown out?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I feel for these guys. I'm Caucasian, have Permanent Residence, and have lived in Jp for 41 years. I have never once been stopped and questioned on the street by police.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

kurisupisu

Today 10:23 am JST

@Antiquesavingif they ask to search your car then you should ask them the reason.

Have you lived in Japan long?

I ask because anyone that has especially a foreigner knows that as a "gaijin" they don't need a reason and even asking them for one will lead to a far far worse encounter!

I suggest that if there is another similar interaction then it might be wise to film it

Great way to actually get arrested and don't worry your phone will "disappear" before your court date!

Enough of those and it would be a social media side income

> However, having seen numerous cases where there are vehicle stops and cars searches we should all be under no illusion that this happens to many more Japanese than foreigners too.

Actually I don't know any Japanese that has had such things happen to them, and if you look closely at those that we do see stopped on the side of the road having their vehicles searched, one notices a trend, dark windows, dark colour vehicle, their clothing is of a very tell tell style, etc...these are not random stops but a certain "group/type" already on a police watch list, you will notice this because in most cases multiple police cars or several police are present not just one car 2 officers. You can guess what these people are suspected of being part of!

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

I don't recommend taking a bicycle out of these garbage piles. Who's to know the bicycle wasn't stolen and then thrown out?

Once I stayed in this hotel close to Narita✈ to wait for my flight next morning. It was my 1st year in Jpn and as I was too bored I left my room by 10pm, walked a few blocks, grabbed a rusty bicycle left in the bushes and started cycling around the area. That's one stance how the gaijin ignorance can be dangerous.

Who would imagine I could have been detained and get slapped with a criminal accusation (置き引き、占有離脱物横領) simply for picking up a discarded bicycle on the street?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The second I here "zairiyu card" (alien registration card) as the first thing and the "winker" excuse, I know I am not being stopped for any traffic violation and I will just be on my way after they finish their little game.

When they pull you over, are they doing it after seeing your face, or pulling you over from behind without having any chance of identifying you as a foreigner. If it’s the latter, then yeah, asking for your zairyu card instead of license would be wrong, but just pulling you over isn’t racial profiling.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Reading the comments it appears obvious that the issue appears less to be about racial profiling than non caucasian racial profiling. And this is also a big issue in all Western countries.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

If anyone doubts police profiling in Japan.

https://youtu.be/WjyHY0IomVc?si=sUssT-sL3X9S21co

https://observers.france24.com/en/asia-pacific/20210205-japanese-police-officer-admits-to-searching-black-man-because-of-his-dreadlocks

This guy has documented it on multiple occasions!

There are several others, all mixed black all or most are Japanese citizens.

Listen to the cops excuse " in my experience" thus cop has probably never made a single drug arrest in his life especially when we look at the stats, 16,000 drug cases per year 290,000 cops, 126 million people!

The odds are his "experience" is all in his head!

5 ( +9 / -4 )

It’s strange, but I know young Japanese people with long hair and colored hair who’ve been checked by Japanese police. They told me the police mistook them for SE Asians.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Still nowhere near as bad than the USA. 

It's actually worse...bias and racial profiling, and it isn't even close. You're arguing a completely different idea than what is the actions toward foreigners in Japan, which I've seen over and over, shows a ton of ignorance and flat out hate toward gaijin.

Many are not racists, per se, but they are scared and fear gaijin, way too often, without reason. Not being Japanese is reason enough for police to be wary of foreigners. Because the Japanese are so obedient and foreigners are not, the cultural rule obeying of Japan is met with foreigners being less rules oriented, who expect discourse.

This is met with disdain as confrontational communication is not a thing the Japanese can do for various reasons. They aren't critical thinkers, they are force fed their educational environment with the idea that rules must be followed as a priority, whereas foreigners believe in critical thought and making one's owe decisions based on fairness and being open minded.

Schooling is archaic, non communicative and flat out boring in Japan compared to much of the world, but the one thing always emphasized is following rules and often, having teachers and senpais and coaches, etc., bully kids from an early age, believing this is the way to learn. It isn't about discourse with students.

Because of traits of life in Japan, it causes many people to be wary of anything that is not in their auto pilot rules country that does allow for mentally abusive behavior in their education system, as well as the shokunin...trade way of the elder not speaking, being abusive to the apprentice, and expecting the apprentice to learn by observing, and keeping his/her mouth shut.

That manifests itself into bias and, in this case, a lot of racial profiling toward these people who are filing suit.

-5 ( +10 / -15 )

Haaa Nemui

Today 10:52 am JST

The second I here "zairiyu card" (alien registration card) as the first thing and the "winker" excuse, I know I am not being stopped for any traffic violation and I will just be on my way after they finish their little game.

> When they pull you over, are they doing it after seeing your face, or pulling you over from behind without having any chance of identifying you as a foreigner. If it’s the latter, then yeah, asking for your zairyu card instead of license would be wrong, but just pulling you over isn’t racial profiling

Ah another one making up excuses!

Since when does a traffic stop in any country start with "passport" "ID" (proof of visa/citizenship) etc...all "traffic stops start with"driver's license " and on the very few occasions I was actually stopped for a traffic violation (Twice in over 30 years) the police asked only for my driver's license, the end, never even asked for my alien registration card!

That is what a legitimate traffic stop is like!

2 ( +9 / -7 )

I don't recommend taking a bicycle out of these garbage piles

Indeed. Taking things from 粗大ゴミ is illegal. Taking rubbish in general is illegal. I remember hearing stories of a clamp down on homeless people taking recycle-able cans that they would cash in. Also, taking cash dropped on the ground is illegal. Sometimes on stuff a sign might say 自由取ってください which you can take. I always ask if it is ok first. Just in case.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I've been stopped 2-3 time, all while riding my bicycle in Yokohama. On broad daylight I patrol car was coming my way and then I saw them made a U-turn and knew then they were gonna check me. I stopped in front of a Nittori store and questioned about my Gaijin-card and bicycle registration, saying it was a "random" check which I knew was BS. They saw I was on an Engineer visa and let me go after taking some notes.

I also get the customary "Nihonggo jouzu desu ne" as if that would make you feel any better.

Wearing a hat and masks helps nowadays as they dont see my gaijin face.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

One thing foreigners must learn here is that the police are 100% against them.

NEVER try to help in any situation or defend anyone who is not family. Leave the area immediately and do not intervene, no matter what. Remember, no one would ever intervene to help you.

A friend of mine in Kobe saw a child punched on a street but a crazy old drunk...he got between the kid and the attacker until he left. He walked the kid to a koban where HE was detained for hours. The cops never even looked for the perp.

The Japanese have made their choice by their votes and what they allow.

-4 ( +11 / -15 )

Ah another one making up excuses!

No. Excuses for what? I asked a legitimate question. If you are just going to be all accusational then I’ll just put it down to your paranoia. As I said, asking for your zairyu card instead of your license it’s wrong, but the act of pulling you over isn’t racial profiling if they haven’t identified you as foreign first.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Interesting how some equate having never been randomly stopped and questioned by police to it not being a thing. I have never been randomly stopped myself in over 30 years living in the Tokyo area but that might be due to my somewhat intimidating appearance according to my wife. I know others who appear more intimidating than myself whom have never been stopped and isn't it ironic that Japanese are not randomly stopped.

But I have heard from several other foreign-looking, gaijin and Nihon-jin, over the years stories about being stopped repeatedly, in some cases by the same officer which SCREAMS of racial profiling. These individuals feel harassed and intimidated and to them it's not just a thing, it's an injustice! A friend of mines' daughter who was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and foreign father was stopped and hauled off to a koban as she was accused of not having a gaijin card or passport on her person. She repeatedly explained she was Japanese, in PERFECT Japanese as she spoke no other language but the officer refused to listen. Finally another higher ranking office arrived and allowed her to call her mother who rushed to the koban. She was asked to show proof of her nationality but she had no passport or other ID since she is Japanese and is not required and after some questioning was released, and WITHOUT ANY apologies!

Remember, just because you may not have been affected by an injustice does not therefore make it non-existent or fictitious.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

It is definitely worse for non-whites...I've been stopped a half-dozen times in 25 years, all when I lived in Tokyo. But I know a black uni professor who has been stopped BY THE SAME COP 4 times right outside his uni. As if his PR might suddenly expire. He has complained to the police station, and was told that there was no record of the stops.

-6 ( +9 / -15 )

↑valid advice

Speaking fluent japanese, reading and watching tons of documentaries about life in Japan (pre-Youtube era) doesn't prepare you for how things actually work here and this can be dangerous. Keyboard warriors might have a different opinion but truth is you're not allowed to help anyone if the danger/problem involves a third party, you can save people from natural disasters etc. but you can only intervene in a fight/crime if you actually don't mind being detained (over the safety of your own relatives)

7 ( +8 / -1 )

the result will be interesting...

4 ( +6 / -2 )

kurisupisu

Today 10:08 am JST

@Simon Foston

That ‘biriyani’ post made me laugh.

That was a quote from some copper in the UK?

Fortunately it's just satire. Peter Cook's biased judge monologue.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

dmhondz

Today 11:08 am JST

I've been stopped 2-3 time, all while riding my bicycle in Yokohama. On broad daylight I patrol car was coming my way and then I saw them made a U-turn and knew then they were gonna check me. I stopped in front of a Nittori store and questioned about my Gaijin-card and bicycle registration, saying it was a "random" check which I knew was BS.

You are correct! If late night, yes random bicycle checks are conducted!

But in over 30 years and having asked many many Japanese, all have said they have never been stopped for a bicycle check during the day, many have late night but I have never met or heard of a Japanese being stopped and checked during the day on their bicycle!

Now go to Akihabara and it gets weird!

Police will stop and search people's bags.

Now because I live near there and having to go there often, it is interesting to watch!

2 out of 3 being stopped are foreigners the other one is your typical "strange looking" Otaku.

When I was once stopped, I asked why while "cooperating" (to avoid any problems), the answer was interesting!

The police tried telling me about the "knife attack" that happened years ago and they were checking to prevent any more!

So I informed the officer I was there on that day, and said the man was Japanese, used a truck and a knife, so why is he searching foreigners and not truck driving Japanese?

He had no reply and looked pretty angry at my question!

He returned my bag he had just searched and told me to "stay out of trouble" strange thing to say to a man in his 60s that has never been in trouble with the law!

But I don't think I will ask such questions again, it may not end so well next time!

That was the extent of my bravery, his face said it all to me, " watch what you are saying or else" was what I understood!

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Being under orders to pick on foreigners can be stressful for the cops too. In the rare instances I encounter them I try to maintain a friendly demeanor. By engaging them in a positive manner they almost always act favorably. (Being fluent in the language helps.) If it's any consolation, the police perform this kind of shokushitsu (stop and question) on Japanese nationals too, so it's not exclusively a foreigners' problem.

Once on a Shinjuku street I was witness to a traffic accident where a taxi plowed into a bicycle rider. (The cyclist was completely at fault). I hung around and gave my contacts to the cops. I could tell they were blaming the taxi driver when he didn't do anything wrong, and was almost disappointed when nobody contacted me.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Addressing the issue of racial profiling within the NPA requires a comprehensive approach. It involves not only acknowledging the problem but also implementing concrete measures to prevent its reoccurrence. While the acknowledgment of inappropriate cases is a positive step, it is crucial for the NPA to take decisive actions to address the root causes and prevent the reoccurrence of racial profiling. Continuous efforts toward training, oversight, and community engagement are essential for fostering a police environment that upholds principles of equality and justice.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

NCIS Reruns

Today 11:37 am JST

If it's any consolation, the police perform this kind of shokushitsu (stop and question) on Japanese nationals too, so it's not exclusively a foreigners' problem.

Funny I keep hearing this from foreigners (usually trying to downplay police profiling issue) and funny thing, with the exception of what I previously wrote about Akihabara, I have never met a Japanese just randomly stopped and checked not once in well over 30 years!

My ex-wife had never heard of it no one in her family, my present wife had never seen or heard of it until she met me and no one in her family,

Not a single coworker in over 30 years nor anyone in their families and I keep asking and funny "no never" is the reply but somehow some foreigner will keep telling me it happens to Japanese also.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

Good on em. Cops in this country are a disgrace.

-6 ( +12 / -18 )

In over 30 years here, I've only had cops stop me three or four times, and it's plain as day no matter what I'm wearing, that I am not Japanese because I have a helluva natural suntan. I don't think any of those incidents was profiling by the police per se, but I felt that maybe someone alerted the cops to my presence in my neighborhood once or twice. I feel for these gentlemen. In Japan, as a foreigner, especially a darker-skinned one, you cannot NOT be noticed and many times it is quite a lot more than just being noticed.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

They'll most likely lose the case. But it'd be good if they at least get some coverage on the news on TV so people know about this.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

what they did not understand is that judges and the police are in the same family...

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

My Japanese student's Japanese husband gets stopped all the time on his bike because he sports thick facial hair - and he's not happy about that.

The three dudes in the photo have the double-whammy of facial hair and not being very white. Incidents need to be videoed, so wear a body cam just to rack up the evidence and protect yourself.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

I have never met a Japanese just randomly stopped and checked not once in well over 30 years!

Antique@ I have seen it, especially during the six months after AUM gassed the Tokyo subways.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Antiquesaving Today  09:41 am JST

Every time I read the " I have never been stopped in X years" I have great doubts!

I've never been stopped in over 20 years.

Doubt it all you want. But it's the truth.

Despite rising immigration, foreign-born residents account for only 2.3 percent of Japan's population, one of the lowest shares in the OECD.

I don't blame Japan for tightly controlling its immigration. It's largely avoiding a lot of the problems that an artificial drive toward "diversity" is causing in so many other nations.

Matthew who is a permanent resident of Japan, has been questioned about 100 times, according to his lawyers.

No doubt the gaijin-profiling problem is a real thing, but ... 100 times? Sorry, but I'm skeptical of that.

And I'm inclined to wonder, if he's been "questioned about 100 times" or anywhere even close to that, if he's actually doing something or behaving in ways that legitimately attract police attention.

2 ( +12 / -10 )

NCIS Reruns

Today 12:10 pm JST

I have never met a Japanese just randomly stopped and checked not once in well over 30 years!

> Antique@ I have seen it, especially during the six months after AUM gassed the Tokyo subways

And again! The only way anyone can say it happens is to go a pull out a great exception.

Using the AUM time as an example, makes my point.

During normal times it doesn't.

Thanks for proving my point

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

What are they complaining, generously being allowed to live here instead of their mostly probable worse home countries of origin? 

That is a terribly bad argument, people have every right, and even a civil duty to try and improve things even if there are places that are worse. Pretending that people should just let problems remain is not something productive.

Of course there's somewhere an empirical data driven statistical reason for more checking on foreigners or a subgroup out of the foreigners. 

Then why is this supposed data not presented and a valid ethical argument used? assuming something is justified without presenting that justification is not an argument either.

Do they really think only their private time is wasted and police likes this more controlling and wastes their time too with pleasure? 

Irrelevant, if the police is doing something that is not appropriate then it remains so no matter how much or how little they enjoy doing it.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Give it all you got. You'll never get justice in Japan but it means something to everyone else in the world.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Japan law prevails..

GO JAPAN!!!..

This is part of the problem, if somehow any part of Japan is criticized or scrutinized, many people can't separate the problem from Japan itself, and they get all offended like Japan can never do any wrong. Like how dare you criticize my country.

The reality is Japan can, just as any country can sometimes do wrong. Repeatedly stopping and searching people based on racial profiling is a problem in Japan, some areas more so than others. If you're on the receiving end of it, repeatedly, then that is reason enough to complain. The fact that this has been raised over and over and no noticeable change in attitude in some areas by the police means it needs to be taken further.

If this problem can be addressed, Japan will be stronger and better for it. If it doesn't avail itself to any criticism or scrutiny, then the entrenched problems get worse and worse; this is how corruption and stagnation breeds.

Change doesn't preclude Japan from being Japan, but it helps it grow and advance as a nation; but this reflex of any criticism of the country as being bad is just too sensitive. You can love your country whilst acknowledging it's not perfect.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

I am a white, older guy and have lived in Miyazaki for 10 years. I have never been checked by the Japanese police, although I don't always follow the rules exactly. I think racial profiling has to do with big city life. As one of the few western foreigners living in Miyazaki, there are no problems here, even if I were black and young.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Embarrassing for Japan.

-4 ( +10 / -14 )

Smurf

Today 01:18 pm JST

I am a white, older guy and have lived in Miyazaki for 10 years. I have never been checked by the Japanese police, although I don't always follow the rules exactly. I think racial profiling has to do with big city life. As one of the few western foreigners living in Miyazaki, there are no problems here, even if I were black and young.

Really?

I used to work effectively in Miyazaki with the major department store there.

I got off a flight from Tokyo and was with the department store people, other people from Tokyo.

A man in a suit waving a little booklet stops me as I am trying to board the department store bus with everyone involved in the event I was participating in.

He was a police officer demanding to see my "passport" I gave him my them gaijin card, he insisted I needed my passport because I came off a flight!

The department store manager explained that on domestic flights a foreigner with a gaijin card and legal visa does not need to carry their passport.

He refused to listen and great big argument followed between the department store staff and this officer.

It only ended when someone very high up in the department store called someone high up in the Miyazaki police and this guy got a call and was told to back down!

So no it happens in every place and Miyazaki isn't immune.

Had I not been with the group, I suspect I would have missed the event because this guy was 100% going to take me in for not having my passport which I don't need as long as I have my alien registration card!

BTW this has been something many people have had happen, seems the police are often not ware that foreigners with legal residency and their zairiyu card on them do not need to carry their passport!

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Been living here in Japan for 26 years, l'm a brown asian and never ever been stopped nor questioned by police.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

can someone translate this for me just in case I am stopped by a policeman?

'''Stop racial discrimination, Japanese police are the most racist in the world.'''

onegaishimasu

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

can someone translate this for me just in case I am stopped by a policeman?

'''Stop racial discrimination, Japanese police are the most racist in the world.'''

onegaishimasu

Umm - you do realise that would be a great way to escalate what would likely just be a 10-second check of your card?

Going all confrontational is NOT a smart thing to do.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

I have only been stopped twice in Japan, but have been stopped in Spain and Australia as well. I guess I should sue the police in those countries as well.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

I have only been stopped twice in Japan, but have been stopped in Spain and Australia as well. I guess I should sue the police in those countries as well.

I don't wish to be presumptuous, but were you intoxicated and/or acting erratically in those 3 nations? Most citizens at some stages of their lives will be stopped by police.

I was stopped in Hawaii once, stumbling back to my hotel after a big night out. It was a literal 5 second thing, no issues.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@Antiquesaving

I don’t think that I would ever not ask a police officer in any country questions unless there was a gun to my head.

@Paul Spira

You are incorrect

Agree or disagree;

racial discrimination is legal in Japan.

-12 ( +0 / -12 )

Sorry to pour cold water on this but what actual evidence of racial discrimination are they planning to bring? Because a court is not going to infer racial discrimination simply because you happen to be a gaijin who gets stopped more than average, especially given the number of other gaijin who never get stopped.

Do they have recordings of the police admitting that the stop was based solely on their race? If not, they are likely going to lose. The police can always pull up 3 mugshots of wanted criminals or visa overstayers who look nearly identical to these 3 and suggest that this could explain the stops. No evidence = no case.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

Interesting to see that this has made the national news in the US. It has been reported on CNN.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

JeffLeeToday  07:34 am JST

Good they're doing this, but good luck. Racial profiling among the Japanese is a given, ie, seen as practical common sense, not problematic. This ain't the West!

Oh Yes, Racial Profiling never happens in the West. Or in other countries.

"A team of independent researchers will monitor the traffic stops of New Jersey state troopers after a study of more than 6 million cases found “concerning racial and ethnic disparities” in who gets stopped by police on Garden State roadways, state authorities said Tuesday."

https://www.nj.com/news/2023/07/nj-state-police-pull-over-minorities-at-unacceptable-rate-study-finds.html

"Chinese authorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang have instituted racial profiling as part of the registration process for new vehicles,"

https://www.refworld.org/docid/5a94271d4.html

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Japan is not a melting pot like other Western countries where there's a mixture of race and culture. 98% of the Japanese population are Japanese, and half of the remaining 2% are Chinese and Koreans. Meaning that 99% of the population of Japan look very much alike = Far East Asians. The remaining 1% consists of Whites and POCs. Meaning, Japan is a homogenous country where Whites and POCs stand out. Moreover, the crime rate committed by POCs are higher than average Japanese people so it’s only natural that the police would question those kinds of people. It has NOTHING to do with race and EVERYTHING to do with statistics.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

All comments give a global overview to the situation, thanks to all.

I believe whatever color you are, if you are able to speak in a low voice, speak plain Japanese saying moushi wake arimasen, while making a bow profile, everything will go well whatever the situation if done nothing wrong outside specific situation.

If you look diverse, whatever (color of skin, yes you are in Japan mostly white!, or color of natural hair, or way of speaking, or way of walking, putting yout hands, whatsover), if you are not behaving like a Japanese, then you fit that racial profile list.

I was once or twice questioned by police and I knew from the start if complying like exactly would a Japanese do would make it like if it did not happen.

QED.

I know it is not fair but dare to ask what Japanese think in general : they want that profiling way to carry on and hate that foreigners want to tell them how to behave in their own country. Not fair again.

It will take time and education for Japanese police to change. And you will always have as..ho.. in the police, whatever police in the world by the way.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

I have been on the wrong side of the law once while here and considering I was at fault, I must say I was treated with the utmost decency and respect. Mind you I admitted my guilt straight away and offered to pay compensation to the affected party. Matter was Done with in a couple of hours.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I sympathise with those men and understand that as foreigners especially dark skinned foreigners, we stand out unless we're Asian people who look similar to the Japanese. Some East Asians can pass for Japanese, for example.

However, I have to disagree that profiling is inherently discriminatory and that the Japanese police like police in other developed countries have no reason to do it. While it can and does become discriminatory, that's not always the case. So for example in a lot of cities in the US, drug dealers and their runners - talking all ethnicities here - are pretty obvious when they hang around the areas known as drug markets. The police have the right to stop, question and search if necessary people who fit that profile.

In the case of these men I'd like to know where they live. Some areas in Japan, cities or not, have more incidences of unnecessary stopping of foreigners - for example I lived in Shizuoka at one time, no not Hamamatsu with its relatively large South American population and one of my friends had the locals calling the police on him because he used to jog at night. In my opinon and his, that was bullshiz and after the first questioning by police, they didn't do it again and told those responsible for calling them that he was no problem.

A foreigner who hangs out in certain areas like clubland in Roppongi, Shinjuku and Shibuya is going to get some attention under certain circumstances because everybody knows that western countries have a lax attitude to drugs compared to Japan. The circumstances include the location's reputation for drug availability, the kinds of people who have been dealing it including J people and the way people are dressed. The police go on previous experience and they're not going to give that up in case they've mistakenly profiled a foreigner.

There was a black dude who had some drama with the police in Shibuya a couple of years ago on his way to work in the daytime. I'm not saying the police were correct but his dreads matched their profile and they searched him close to his English teaching job. I've seen the police search Japanese males with dreads as well for the same reason.

Interestingly I've seen the same black dude who is a 'streamer' hanging around Shibuya annoying people, drinking whatever canned alcohol is cheapest from the conbini, yelling out when drunk or not and making totally inappropriate comments about young Japanese women and Japanese teenage girls - wish the police would stop him and the other 'streamers' and question them.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

Everyone profiles in reality, called situational awareness, very important when driving a car or riding for example!

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

And as for people saying that Japanese people being stopped randomly by the police 'never happens' or they've 'never seen it in 30 years and neither has their Japanese wife' or whatnot, sorry to burst that bubble.

In 2021 I saw the J police pull over Japanese bicycle riders in Bunkyo Ku, not far from Tokyo Dome. They checked young J males and females for bicycle registration and also asked J people who were riding battery powered bicycles to stop. Their concern with the batter powered bicycles was mostly the speed at which they were travelling as well as checking to see their registration. The age group was from teenagers to around the 60s and both J men and women were stopped.

In Shibuya I've seen the police ask for Japanese young people's ID - the great majority of those were male and a few of them had dreds. I've also seen bicycle checks in Shinagawa Ku and Meguro Ku and the police targeted every age group riding a mami chari, battery powered bicycle and everything in between. Didn't see any foreigners at that time, only Japanese people.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

What constitutes illegal questioning?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Some people feel the need to feel hard done by.

This case about zero chance of being successful, but good of them for fighting the power. lol

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

What is 'POC'? Is this some derogatory term for an ethnic group

It’s an acronym for people of colour, though if you are going to use such to ease writing then the full expression should firs be used with the acronym usually in brackets to indicate you will be using it thereafter. Otherwise it is confusing or misleading.

OssanAmericaToday  03:44 pm JST

JeffLeeToday  07:34 am JST

Good they're doing this, but good luck. Racial profiling among the Japanese is a given, ie, seen as practical common sense, not problematic. This ain't the West!

Oh Yes, Racial Profiling never happens in the West. Or in other countries

OA, forgive me if I am wrong but I think he is highlighting that such behaviour is seen as unproblematic and even commendable and acceptable by many Japanese where as it clearly is not in the west as evidenced by your links. Ergo his comment “this ain’t the West!”.

gokai_wo_maneku

Interesting to see that this has made the national news in the US. It has been reported on CNN

It was reported on the BBC as well, in greater length than on this site.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

One thing foreigners must learn here is that the police are 100% against them.

NEVER try to help in any situation or defend anyone who is not family. Leave the area immediately and do not intervene, no matter what. Remember, no one would ever intervene to help you. 

A friend of mine in Kobe saw a child punched on a street but a crazy old drunk...he got between the kid and the attacker until he left. He walked the kid to a koban where HE was detained for hours. The cops never even looked for the perp.

The Japanese have made their choice by their votes and what they allow.

Hard to disagree with this statement, but I think you are absolutely correct. For the most part I don’t have a problem with the J-police, I try to stay as far away from them as I can. I just heard so many stories and have seen how they deal with foreigners on a few occasions and the police are often very over-reactionary when it comes to dealing with foreigners. About 6 months ago I had an issue with another foreigner who was excruciatingly a giant headache that caused me and another individual a lot of problems. Because he was also a foreigner the cops didn’t take our case seriously or not serious enough. We had to go to the station a couple of times just to make sure they were on the case, but in the end they really didn’t do anything, so it was all a waste time.

So overall, I definitely agree the police could care less about any foreigners plights.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

@marc laden There is a big difference between community policing and community harassment. How would you like to have the police just WALK INTO YOUR HOME without reason to question you?

The racial card technique to evade the crimes..... This is next before such ' phobia' tactics ... definitely next is phobia of a particular religion comes..... all a well planned .... Externally it look normal... this court case... But they have a clear agenda behind this court case........

These techniques worked well in USA and Europe... They want to do this in Japan next..

The duty of the police is to question anything they see unnatural ( to the Japanese society ) or strange..

You have to understand and co-operate with the police then no problem

Police should not be defeated in this case.

Japan is the only country left in the free world with out religious fanatics and radical left the terrorist control.

Lets support the police to do their duties.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I have been here since 2000 and another 3 years from 93-96. Being a lite skinned black man I have felt the Discrimination over the years but I am not had any bad dealings with the police. I have been stopped a total of 3 times. Two were about my Bicycle and one was I guess a profiling thing. You really can remember the times being stopped but the Japanese Police are fine in my Book!

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Paul...

You think J-police profiling and decimating against non-Japanese is unlikely?!

No, they are doing a great job.

I wish the police in the UK would be more proactive.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

PseudonymouseJan. 30  07:06 am JST

Iam very interested to learn of the outcome of this unnecessary abuse and racial profiling.

Will the police be actually held accountable and pay damages ?

Or Will they just be giving a verbal warning.

Probably the latter .

Japan isn't just one ethnicity in itself. I've heard that the residents and natives of the smaller islands inhabited by a more Pacific Islander people get profiled and harassed themselves, like racial minorities in the US are.

Is that so?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

A noble, but lost cause.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

They can't win, but they can draw attention to the issue for a bit. I experienced this just yesterday (again), when police stopped me and asked me what I was doing while walking home. I said, "Walking home". They asked why I had two smart phones. I said one was my old one which I use WiFi tethering for, and the other is my current. They asked for proof it's not stolen. I said let's go to Softbank. They said it's not necessary. They asked for my name and residency card, address, job, job information (phone number), etc. I asked them why they stopped me and one gave no reason while the other said they got a call about someone suspicious in the neighborhood. I asked if that automatically meant a foreigner, or why they decided it must be the foreigner. No comment. I pointed out it happened three times in this neighborhood last year, a neighborhood I've lived and paid taxes in for decades. No comment. I asked them if a person keeps calling and reporting suspicious people (probably targeted at me) and they find none, does the person who keeps calling get in trouble, and finally, since I have a good idea who it is who is calling, can I call the police on them? One officer went back to his car and the other became all smiles and apologized, but didn't answer my question.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This has been going on for far too long. When the Police stop you, they will insist that it is not racist.

They will twist things around if you don't want to cooperate as though you are a criminal.

Legally, they can't stop you without just cause.

The most important thing here is that foreigners work together. If you are being harassed or see somebody being harassed, film it. Post it on Social Media and go to the headquarters and report it.

Stop with this "I am too busy" bit or "Just give it to them". No, STOP!!!

I do this often. Just recently, I once again filmed the Police harassing a guy who was simply coming out of the ticket gate. When they were all finished, I went up to the guy and spoke to him. Even though the Police were finished and standing 3 meters away, they didn't like it that I was speaking to him.

One came up to me and started grabbing me because I was filming him. He then denied it.

I went to the headquarters and reported it.

They called him in, he lied, they showed him the video then he was like a kid with his hand caught in the cookie jar.

STOP letting these people get away with it.

Video them and take the time to report them.

I put them up on my Youtube, Twitter and Tiktok pages.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@smithinjapan

They asked for my name and residency card, address, job, job information (phone number), etc. 

So you just gave all your details to them, just like that?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Todd

They called him in, he lied, they showed him the video then he was like a kid with his hand caught in the cookie jar.

Well done!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@Paul Sapira

"In December 2021, the US embassy in Tokyo warned citizens of "suspected racial profiling" of foreigners by Japanese police.

"The US Embassy has received reports of foreigners stopped and searched by Japanese police in suspected racial profiling incidents. Several were detained, questioned, and searched," it said on Twitter then."

That Twitter still there warning any foreigners in Japan.

https://twitter.com/ACSTokyo/status/1467629914857816065

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

For those saying there are no rules against it, the law on police duties prohibits the police from questioning anyone who is not suspicious. Looking foreign is not grounds for suspicion. The police stopping these people even once is illegal.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I've been quizzed a few times in my 20 years here.

The first time, I was riding my wife's bicycle that was very short so I understood that one.

The second time was after a knife rampage at a station along my line so they were randomly stopping guys with backpacks.

The third time was bizarre. The police officer asked for my ID, we chatted for bit and he admitted that he wanted to practice his English in that scenario because he'd just had a lesson on it.

My non-white foreign friends have been stopped way more than me so it's pretty easy for us to see that racial profiling is a thing here.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I wonder why the non-White "touts" in Roppongi aren't being stopped and questioned by the local Police so much ?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I don't recommend taking a bicycle out of these garbage piles. Who's to know the bicycle wasn't stolen and then thrown out?

Indeed. Taking things from 粗大ゴミ is illegal. Taking rubbish in general is illegal. I remember hearing stories of a clamp down on homeless people taking recycle-able cans that they would cash in. Also, taking cash dropped on the ground is illegal. Sometimes on stuff a sign might say 自由取ってください which you can take. I always ask if it is ok first. Just in case.

These posts are very good points. I picked up the bike and was questioned in 1988. At the time, it was not illegal to take things from soudai gomi piles. All sorts of people pulled things out and put other things into the piles. It was a way we recycled. I now work at a city hall, and was surprised when I was translating garbage regulations into English to find that taking items out of trash is now illegal. From what I read, i believe it is a national law. When I first lived in Japan in the early 1970s, it was a tradition to clean your house before each new year started, and many apartment buildings at the end of the year had large piles of recyclable things , and there were also piles at neighbourhood parks. Bikes , rice cookers, kitchenware and washing machines were often left as people bought newer models, and other people traded up if they found better things in the piles. Just another example of the ways Japan has changed over the years. There were no 2nd Streets or Hard Offs at that time. When I picked up the bike, it had been in the pile for about two days. I might have gone to the residence that was written on the bike and checked to see if it was OK for me to take it, I don't really rememberr. It never occurred to me that it might have been stolen and left in the pile later on.

Profiling of foreigners has been going on a long time in Japan, and it seems to have increased as more non-white foreigners live in Japan. I have lived in Japan several times, and whenever I move within Japan or to Japan from abroad, I make it a point to visit my neighbours and the local police box and introduce myself and let them know where I live and why I am in Japan. While this does not stop random stops when your are out of your neighbourhood, it can slow down police visits to your home or on your street because some neighbour calls in that there is a strange foreigner wandering around. When I visited the police last August when I moved back to Japan for the first time in 9 years, though, the police looked at me like I was crazy when I stopped at the koban. I guess new move-ins don't call on the police much these days. When I first lived in Japan, it was a standard thing to do when moving into a new area.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sorry, you are not living in the U.S. You are living in Japan and the Japanese can do as they please unless their Diet passes a law against it.

Japan has a homogenous society and wishes to remain that way. However, change is coming due to depopulation and aging. A major crisis is just around the corner and their only viable solution involves immigration.

Young Japanese are not getting married and having children. It's become a ticking time bomb for Japanese society.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan has a homogenous society and wishes to remain that way. However, change is coming due to depopulation and aging. A major crisis is just around the corner and their only viable solution involves immigration. 

Those of us living in rural agricultural areas are already seeing the influx of Indonesian, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Philippine, and other South Asian groups coming to work. Most of them are brought in by Japanese companies, and many are on five year visas, some on second sets of visas, and presumably can qualify for permanent status after a few more years. The difficulties we have is working with incoming Japanese and non-Japanese residents to help newcomers totally integrate with the local communities. In my city and many others in the area with declining populations, there is an active push by some in local governments to welcome all newcomers. I am not sure how this process is accepted by the local citizensw. It will take a great deal more work to fiond acceptance for multiculturalism in Japan. In my city in eastern Kagoshima, foreigners make up just a bit over one percent of the population.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I have met many foreigners in Japan and most have gone through some level of formal education.

The result is some level of acceptance into society here and few problems with the law.

The number of westerners coming to live is way down and I’ve met more than a few that have left Japan from the Eikawa teaching industry.

Well, obviously the police are not educated on the latest immigration news so they will have their curiosity aroused when they come across those that they see to be ‘different’

When the numbers grow (and they are) then Japanese police will have to accept the reality that Japan is changing and the norm is too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was curious what the Japanese side of this article commenters were saying and so i went to the same article on ynews https://news.yahoo.co.jp/articles/f2591f786f7e836d7efb5d03293a6c0ce1ca4f18/comments

Of the few I read before posting this comment i was not surprise to see comments like.

外国人に職務質問が多いのならばそれは単純に外国人犯罪が多いから警戒してるだけではないでしょうか。

and

職務質問は外国人だけでなく、日本人も皆平等にされます。

> それを斜めから、俺の見た目で判断してるんだろう、と言う態度を取れば怪しくなるのは必然かと。

Basically if you look out of place whether you're Japanese or not better be prepared to get stopped by the police because it is for the safety of the Japanese people. I myself being half African and Japanese have had many annoying encounters with the police some more severe the others but i have lived in the US and will take a annoying Japanese cop over a trigger happy American cop (who are also racist) any day. But i do hope these guys win.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

englisc aspyrgendJan. 30  09:09 pm JST

JeffLeeToday  07:34 am JST

Good they're doing this, but good luck. Racial profiling among the Japanese is a given, ie, seen as practical common sense, not problematic. This ain't the West!

Oh Yes, Racial Profiling never happens in the West. Or in other countries

OA, forgive me if I am wrong but I think he is highlighting that such behaviour is seen as unproblematic and even commendable and acceptable by many Japanese where as it clearly is not in the west as evidenced by your links. Ergo his comment “this ain’t the West!”.

Please show me where in the article it states that profiling is "unproblematic and even commendable and acceptable by many Japanese" .

I don't see a such a statement or even a single quote from a Japanese person.

I think you are wrong. JL is claiming that profiling is unique to Japan and doesn't occur in the West.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As 25 years plus in this beautiful country, I share the same experiences of racial profiling and racial discrimination in many places. I don’t know if it goes in cycles there are good peaceful periods and also ones that are difficult, I think is easy to blame foreigners for bad economy, or other social issues. And if foreigners do well in Japan even if is because of honest hard work, still they are profiled. On the other hand Police has also been good to me when addressing racist attacks to me, perhaps I have been lucky. I have had Sagawa delivery guys who harassed me, enter my mansion cut off gas, put garbage in my post box and immediately went to police, they took action and may be even saved my life. Not everything can be binary, good or bad. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a human being and I get upset when I see or read these injustices. The guys are not doing it for money in my opinion, money is so marginally small that I’m sure is main purpose is just to help improve society in the sense of hopefully Japan becoming more inclusive of foreigners. Is almost year 2030, and Japan deserves to be one of the top countries in every angle including being highly inclusive and open society, yes of course with laws and rules, but open nonetheless.

To Japanese nationalists on this forum, try to remember how many foreigners came to help during Fukushima Earthquake without agenda, just wanting to help , how many of us to this date still support any crisis in Japan, pay our taxes the very taxes which pay police salary. Try to see the good in an international and global society for the benefit of Japan people including the new youth which has mix races.

hope the efforts of the guys on the article are not misconstrued and is taken with a positive view.

blessings

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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