What's new

REPORT: "Beware of Foreigners" Tokyo Police Notices

Joined
Apr 25, 2002
Messages
22
REPORT
"BEWARE OF BAD FOREIGNER" SIGNS
IN NAKANO PUBLIC AREAS
ISSUED BY NAKANO POLICE
By Arudou Debito
October 1, 2002

This is a brief about notices in Tokyo Nakano-ku, warning specifically against foreign criminals, issued by Japanese police for display in financial institutions and other public areas. Report runs as follows:

//////////////////////////////////////////////
1) THE NOTICES AND THEIR WHEREABOUTS
2) INVESTIGATIONS AND REQUESTS FOR THEIR REMOVAL
a) Discussion with the Nakano Police
b) Discussions with banks and public transportation areas
3) RESULTS: JR AND SUBWAY STATIONS IMMEDIATELY REMOVE NOTICES,
FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS REFUSE TO, PENDING FURTHER CONSIDERATION
4) UPDATE: NAKANO POLICE UNABLE TO PROVIDE STATISTICS ON LOCAL FOREIGNER CRIME, meaning their whole campaign is based upon supposition, not specifics.
//////////////////////////////////////////////

1) THE NOTICES AND THEIR WHEREABOUTS

The Tokyo Nakano Police have issued several signs depicting foreigners in specific as instigators of crime. Several two-color police notices were found by the wickets of Marunouchi and Oedo Lines of Nakano Sakaue Subway station, reading (translation by Arudou Debito):

----------------------------------------------------------
NEWS FLASH (sokuhou)
STRANGE! (henda) SUSPICIOUS! (ayashii)
DON'T HESITATE. CALL 110 IMMEDIATELY
Nakano Keisatsusho, 3366-0110

"BEWARE OF BAGSNATCHING BAD-FOREIGNER GROUPS
PROWLING FOR PEOPLE ON THE WAY BACK FROM BANKS!

"These criminal groups aim for customers who have just withdrawn cash from inside banks. Their methods include dropping small amounts of money nearby, or distracting people by spraying shaving cream on their backs, saying "your clothes are dirtied", and then snatching away your money."

(Drawing of an alert woman walking in front of "Tozai Bank" grasping her handbag with both hands, another alert taxi driver taking notice, and a wicked-looking character lurking behind a utility pole.)

(Advice mostly in red ink:)
"--TAKE STOCK OF WHAT'S GOING ON INSIDE THE BANK BEFORE CARRYING OUT YOUR TRANSACTION
--DO THE SAME EVEN AFTER YOU'VE GOTTEN YOUR CASH
--IF YOU THINK "THAT PERSON'S KINDA ODD", CONTACT THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE OF THE BANK
--IF A SUSPICIOUS FOREIGNER (fushin na gaikokujin) CALLS OUT TO YOU, DO NOT TAKE YOUR EYES OR HANDS OFF YOUR MONEY OR YOUR BAG
--TAKE OUT LARGER AMOUNTS OF MONEY BY MAKING SEVERAL TRIPS
--WATCH OUT WHEN GETTING INTO CARS"
----------------------------------------------------------
(visible in the original Japanese at
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/nakanohittakuri.html#sokuhou)

As I reported earlier, other police notices were brought to the attention of The Community (http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity) by Member Julian, a Nakano resident, on Thursday, Sept 26. A large plastic three-color banner, with suckers on either end for easier adhesion to walls, read (translation by Arudou Debito):

----------------------------------------------------------
WATCH OUT!
BAGSNATCHINGS BY "BAD FOREIGNERS WHO HAVE COME TO JAPAN" (rainichi furyou gaikokujin) FREQUENTLY OCCUR (tahatsu)
NAKANO POLICE STATION
----------------------------------------------------------
(visible in the original Japanese at http://www.cyborg.ne.jp/~julian-w/en/bank.html)

Since I was going down to Tokyo that weekend for an academic conference, some friends and I decided to investigate the situation further.

//////////////////////////////////////////////

2) INVESTIGATIONS AND REQUESTS FOR THEIR REMOVAL
a) DISCUSSION WITH THE NAKANO POLICE
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2002, 10AM

I made an appointment in advance with a Mr Miyahara, Police Superintendent, for 10 AM at the Nakano Police Headquarters (03-3366-0110). In attendance was a Mr Takano Fumio, of NPO Tokyo Alien Eyes (http://www.annie.ne.jp/~ishn), and a reporter from the Asahi Shinbun. We talked for 45 minutes thus:

NAKANO POLICE STANCE
The Nakano Police acknowledged the fact that they are producing and distributing these Bagsnatcher Banners. He said this is in response to widespread reportage of the rise in foreign crime and the need to take measures against it. When asked about exact crime statistics within the Nakano area, Mr Miyahara was unable to respond in specific, but acknowledged that bagsnatchings have actually decreased in number within his precinct. He was also unable to confirm that foreigners in specific were responsible for these crimes in the Nakano area or not. "The person in charge, Mr Ihira of the 'Lifestyle Safety Section' (Seikatsu Anzen Ka), is out for the weekend. Please get in touch with him tomorrow."

OUR STANCE
We stressed that this way of signposting moneysnatchings invited misuinderstandings. Japanese also snatch bags, and singling out of foreigners--even "bad foreigners"--is problematic because it is hard for the general public to determine intent or "badness" on sight. Distinguishing by what can amount to physical appearance may encourage a general fear in the public of foreign-looking peoples--the vast majority of whom are of course innocent--and thus does not help the latter's ability to fit in any better with their communities (let alone shop or ask directions without suspicion). If the police must warn against crimes, we suggested they advise about the crime, not the alleged perpetrator (i.e. write simply "watch for bagsnatchers", as is done in other areas, such as near Osaka Castle, where purse snatchings do occur). We asked Mr Miyahara to collect their banners from all the places they distributed them to and dispose of them in the appropriate trash recepticle.

Mr Miyahara said that he understood the problem and would pass it on to the appropriate authorities.

//////////////////////////////////////////////

b) DISCUSSIONS WITH BANKS AND PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AREAS
AND 3) THEIR RESULTS

SEPTEMBER 29, 2002, 12:15PM
NAKANO SAKAUE SUBWAY STATION
Taking the nearest subway station from the Nakano Police Station that very day, Mr Takano and I found several flyers in grids of four stuck onto several support columns near the ticket wickets. We notified the managers of both the Marunouchi Line subway station (a Mr Suzuki, 03-3372-2752) and the connect Oedo Line station. After some initial resistance, ("The police asked for our cooperation in putting them up, so we did. We have to talk this over with the police."), we told them we had just notified the police ourselves. After giving them the same arguments as above, we confirmed that posting them was entirely at the discretion of the station, and asked station managers to take them down. They complied immediately.

SEPTEMBER 30, 2002, 11:30AM
CHUO MITSUI SHINTAKU GINKOU
(Nakano-ku Nakano 5-62-5, right next to JR Nakano Station. Ph 03-3389-1231)
I happened to arrive early and notified the Jichou of the bank, a Mr Kawai, about our impending attendance (and the fact that reporters would be appearing). He arranged for a room for a quieter conversation.

Attending at 12PM were TAE's Mr Takano, The Community's Julian and Mark, Ms Yano Manami from the National Network in Solidarity with Migrant Workers (fmwj@jca.apc.org), and one reporter each from the Asahi and Mainichi Shinbuns. After a half-hour delay in the meeting room while the bank decided what to do with our reporters, Mr Kawai and his compadre Mr Kimura came by to give the bank's stance. He asked the reporters to leave the room (they could contact the CMSB's HQ's Public Relation Desk for official statements) and addressed us directly:

CMSB'S STANCE
I had given Mr Kawai a brief on our arguments beforehand for a more reasoned response. He said, "We are not intentionally discriminating against foreigners." It's just that the police asked the bank for their cooperation in notifying the public about foreign bagsnatchings and gave them the banners to do so. As a financial institution, he saw it as their concern to protect their customers and their money from miscreancy. These signs were not produced by the bank--they are the police's--and thus CMSB was just cooperating with local law enforcement.

Mr Kawai confirmed that he did not see foreign or Japanese customers differently, and acknowledged that the notice's wording might make some non-Japanese customers uncomfortable or unduly singled out. He also confirmed that putting up the signs was entirely at the bank's discretion (although, according to my pocket recorder, he alluded to me earlier individually that if the bank did not cooperate, the police might be slower to respond if something happens in future). Nevertheless, to our request for removal of the banners, Mr Kawai made it clear that he had to consult with CMS's head office before doing anything. The banners, for the time being, would stay up.

Julian also noted the same banners were displayed around other banks in the Nakano area: Mitsui Sumitomo, Tokyo Mitsubishi, and Asahi. As I had a plane to catch, we only had time for one more financial institution, and we chose, because their notices were different:

DAIWA SECURITIES
(Nakano-ku Nakano 2-30-5, Ph 03-5385-1311)

We talked with the Jichou of the place, a Mr Tsuzaki, for about five minutes about two police-issued flyers posted by the ATM. One had illustrations of foreigners distracting people by speaking katakana or dropping money (the same one used in Nagano banks and other public buildings, reported in the Mainichi Shinbun on Feb 22, 2001, visible at http://www.mainichi.co.jp/english/news/archive/200102/22/news03.html), and another smaller one in four languages (English, Japanese, Arabic, and one other) warning that, inter alia, that crimes are being committed and are being watched out for.

Although Mr Tsuzaki acknowledged his position as the person in charge of putting up flyers in this public place, he said that he would have to contact the Nagano Police for more instructions about what to do. He refused to take down the signs, but would take our stance into advisement.

JR NAKANO STATION
also had, we noticed on our way back, three copies posted of the same anti-foreigner-crime notice found in the subway stations above. They were soon taken down after our request.

//////////////////////////////////////////////
4) UPDATE: NAKANO POLICE UNABLE TO PROVIDE STATISTICS ON LOCAL FOREIGNER CRIME

On September 30, 2002, around 2PM, Mr Takano contacted Mr Ihira, Section Chief of the Nakano Police Seikatsu Anzen Ka, and recorded their telephone conversation. The whole conversation is visible in Japanese and English translation at http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/nakanohittakuri.html#TAE, but sections I will include here have the person in charge of distributing the notices saying,

"Due to secrecy involving investigations..., I can't tell you in detail the numbers of how many foreigners have committed bagsnatchings... in the Nakano area....Please look at the Government White Paper (hakusho) data."

"When using the word 'frequent occurrence' (of bagsnatchings), we used data for all of Tokyo....and Nakano-ku is part of Tokyo.... Doing something quick is crime prevention (hayame ni te o utsu no ga bouhan)."

"I haven't seen recent data, but at least I think I can say the numbers are not falling. I don't know by what standards (kijun) to base my reply on.... We can say 'frequent occurrence', and we have numbers. We can't tell you them out front (aete moushi agemasen). But it is no mistake to say that they are a 'frequent occurrence'...I don't know exactly (the proportion committed by foreigners) in the Tokyo area."

//////////////////////////////////////////////

FINAL WORD:

The Chuo Mitsui Shintaku Bank Nakano Branch has taken told me (Mr Kimura, in a conversation at Oct 1, 2002, 10:30 AM) that the notices have been removed, pending final approval.

The Daiwa Securities Nakano Branch (Mr Tsuzaki, in a conversation at Oct 1, 2002, 10:35 AM) has also removed the poster featuring the katakana-speaking distracting foreigners. The smaller one warning against crime in several languages, remains up.

Unfortuately, word has it that other police precincts are taking similar measures against the perceived rise in foreign crime.

Arudou Debito
Sapporo

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Related pages:
The Community on police targeting of foreigners
(one possible reason for a rise in foreigner crime)
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#police

See national foreigner crime stats for yourself (NPA, March 2002) at
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/crimestats.html
ENDS
 

thomas

Unswerving cyclist
Admin
Joined
Mar 14, 2002
Messages
8,776
Ratings
1 764
I'm impressed by your efforts, Debito!

These police measures are outrageous indeed, I just tried to figure what would happen if police took similar steps in the US or Europe. Also, it would be interesting to see actual crime stats for these areas.

I hope you don't mind if I post that evil-looking foreign criminal below.
 

Attachments

Top