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Police in Oita no longer banned from shopping at convenience stores while in uniform

22 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

There’s really no overstating just how important a part of life in Japan convenience stores are. In a country with busy lifestyles, stark seasonal weather differences, and cities largely designed for walking, popping into a convenience store to buy a can of iced coffee, a bottle of hot tea, or a couple of Pokemon Poke Ball rice balls is an almost daily occurrence for a lot of people.

So inside Japanese convenience stores you’ll see shoppers both young and old, students, businesspeople, and and retirees. What you wouldn’t see in a convenience store, though, at least until now, were police officers, at least in Oita Prefecture. As part of their conduct code, officers with the Oita Prefectural Police were prohibited from shopping at convenience stores while in uniform. The worry was that citizens might mistakenly think they were ditching their duties to browse the shop’s wares instead, damaging the police’s reputation and wakening the public’s trust in them.

On November 29, though, the Oita Prefectural Police announced a relaxation of the policy, and officers can now shop in uniform at convenience stores, as shown in the video below.

▼ Up until a few weeks ago, an officer would have been facing disciplinary action for this.

So why the change? A couple of reasons. First off, the old policy was detrimental to operational efficiency. If officers needed something to eat or drink while in the field, perhaps in the middle of an extended neighborhood patrol, they’d have to first return to the station and pick up a jacket (one not designating them as police officers) to wear over their uniforms, then go back to the station again to drop the jacket off after they were done shopping.

That’s a lot of wasted time that could be spent in better ways, especially when Oita’s statistics show an increase in convenience store crimes. Just through October, the prefecture says there have already been 8.2 percent more shoplifting reports filed by convenience stores in Oita than in all of last year, and cases of e-money fraud at convenience stores look to be on pace to end the year up 12.7 percent compared to 2021 too. Decision makers are hoping that the new policy will give the police a more noticeable presence in convenience stores, and help to reduce crime.

It should be noted that the number of reported convenience store shoplifting cases through October in 2022 was just 66, with 77 e-money scams in the same period. That’s not exactly the sort of crime wave that they’d make an ‘80s style action movie or ‘90s beat-em-up arcade game about, but an uptick is still an uptick, and a clerk at the Oita City 7-Eleven shown in the video said “Having police officers shop while in uniform is reassuring, and I think it’ll help prevent crimes,” and online reactions have been largely positive with what many see as a common-sense change in regulations.

With its new rules, Oita becomes the 40th prefecture to allow cops to shop at convenience stores in uniform, leaving just seven holdouts nationwide. The relaxed regulations in Oita do come with the stipulation that shopping is to be limited to essential items such as food, drinks, and medicine, so officers in uniform remain prohibited from buying things like cigarettes, beer, or weekly manga magazines.

Sources: Mainichi Shimbun via Yahoo! Japan News via Itai News

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Saitama man arrested for calling police 2,060 times in 9 days to yell at them

-- How does a Japanese convenience store jacket compare to Uniqlo’s heat-tech jacket?

-- Man rides motorbike into lobby of Fukuoka police station, demands they crack down on rude driving

© SoraNews24

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

22 Comments
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The relaxed regulations in Oita do come with the stipulation that shopping is to be limited to essential items such as food, drinks, and medicine, so officers in uniform remain prohibited from buying things like cigarettes, beer, or weekly manga magazines.

Let me guess the plastic wrapped magazines are ok.

-15 ( +3 / -18 )

Good for them. I always appreciate their effort for standing hours in the blazing sun in their uniform while barely even allow to find a restroom.

And now considering the cold weather this season, getting something warm in your stomach helps greatly.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

With its new rules, Oita becomes the 40th prefecture to allow cops to shop at convenience stores in uniform, leaving just seven holdouts nationwide. 

Does anyone know which 7 prefectures are still not allowing this?

11 ( +13 / -2 )

That's a stupid rule in the first place. Do I hear discrimination?

9 ( +9 / -0 )

that ban is completely non sense as police guys are also human too so what is point to ban them?

insane

8 ( +10 / -2 )

good on them. Being in uniform or being a civil servant should not entail inhuman-level decorum such as not being allowed to drink in hot weather, eat ice cream in convenience stores and the like. The same with office workers who look down on other coworkers who drink colored drinks.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

 The worry was that citizens might mistakenly think they were ditching their duties to browse the shop’s wares instead, damaging the police’s reputation and wakening the public’s trust in them.

Yes, they are so busy sleeping in Kobans, taking up skirt pictures, harassing teenagers on bicycles and having intercourse with each other in the kobans. We wouldn’t want to see them “wasting” time on tax payers money. Not at all……

-11 ( +5 / -16 )

Japan has way many useless rules with no logical purpose at all, but people still follow... becaaause..

"ruuru dakara". Its completely forbidden to eat while shopping for groceries here, but the japanese gladly do this while shopping at Costco (?). There is some sort of taboo about eating while walking, but again, everyone does this while sightseeing in Kyoto, Kamakura, etc.

-2 ( +10 / -12 )

Toshihiro - The same with office workers who look down on other coworkers who drink colored drinks.

Is that really a thing? That can't really be a thing. Is it? No way. Really?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

In most parts of the US, shop owners liked to have uniformed police frequent their shops as a deterrent to crime. They often provide free coffee, etc as an enticement.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I remember after 9/11 when a US embassy staffer came out to give a bottle of water to a Japanese police officer standing guard in the hot summer sun outside the embassy grounds. Security isn’t so great when your personnel are dehydrated and starving. LOL.

Police forces in other countries encourage cops to go into restaurants, cafes, and other public establishments where they can keep better watch on things that inside an office or in Japan’s case, a koban.

“The worry was that citizens might mistakenly think they were ditching their duties…” 

Sounds like those citizens don’t have better things to worry about.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I remember after 9/11 when a US embassy staffer came out to give a bottle of water to a Japanese police officer standing guard in the hot summer sun outside the embassy grounds

and did they actually accept? reminds of that story of thirsty japanese cops refusing water from an US airman for absolutely no reason

(↖ picture in my avatar)

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The worry was that citizens might mistakenly think they were ditching their duties to browse the shop’s wares instead, damaging the police’s reputation and wakening the public’s trust in them.

Yes, they are so busy sleeping in Kobans, taking up skirt pictures, harassing teenagers on bicycles and having intercourse with each other in the kobans. We wouldn’t want to see them “wasting” time on tax payers money. Not at all……

Hit the nail on the head shogun!

Japan has way many useless rules with no logical purpose at all, but people still follow... becaaause..

"ruuru dakara". 

Exactly!

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

The worry was that citizens might mistakenly think they were ditching their duties to browse the shop’s wares instead, damaging the police’s reputation and wakening the public’s trust in them.

Wouldn't wakening the public's trust be a good thing? Or, did the author mean "weakening"?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The worry was that citizens might mistakenly think they were ditching their duties to browse the shops wares instead.

This is flawed thinking. The officers are human too. They get hungry or thirsty at times. What’s wrong going in to buy an onigiri for instance. Only takes a few minutes.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The worry was that citizens might mistakenly think they were ditching their duties to browse the shop’s wares instead, damaging the police’s reputation and wakening the public’s trust in them.

Old folks out on a morning walk keeping an eye on things and complaining loudly about anything they don't like.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Finally some common sense! Let the guys do their shopping in uniforms as it doesn’t harm anyone! Other social events should still require a change in attire but things like shopping, visit to the hospital or clinic or getting takeouts from restaurants should be allowed in uniforms.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

When you get to know the Police, they're mostly just like you and me. Seeing them shopping in the same store, should actually be a bonus for that store ... Who will rob that store, or push you around, indeed store etiquette may be enforced ... such as wearing face masks!!

Sadly, the Stores the Police will shop within, will be mostly convenience stores, and functional stores such as Daiei - but never the less, I'd welcome them to visit, they have needs just like us, and unlike their counterparts in China, are comparatively reasonable people to talk to are deal with.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Everyone who still can afford nowadays with that hyperinflation is surely welcomed to empty the shelves, I guess. Better selling something to tax payed police than selling nothing, isn’t it?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Old folks out on a morning walk keeping an eye on things and complaining loudly about anything they don't like.

That is true. Even minor things. They may even call the police for silly things like there is a foreigner standing on the sidewalk looking at their cell phone. They jump to all silly conclusions something is not right. Not all are like this but some are just mean spirited and complain about any trivial matter. I see some of them giving the poor conbini worker a hard time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have seen police officers in uniform shop at convenience stores in Fukuoka Pref. I found nothing wrong with it. Another senseless rule abolished! Now, let's get to abolishing the senseless rules.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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