What's new

Taken to the police station for not carrying documents... please, help!

Joined
Sep 2, 2014
Messages
69
Ratings
8
Hi everyone. This story might be a bit long, but if any of you has any knowledge about Japanese law, please read my post and if you can, give me advice. I would be very grateful!
This is what happened:

A few days ago I was stopped by police while I was riding a bike in Tokyo. I was with my brother (just arrived to Japan) and we were stopped because the light on his bike was not working.
I am a student at a Japanese university, while my brother came here to visit Japan for holiday.
After asking us a few questions about the bikes, they also asked us to show them our documents (in my case the resident card while the passport for my brother).
Unfortunately I only had my ナ?wツ青カツ湘 (Student ID card, a card with my name, a picture of me and the period of study written on it) while my brother had absolutely nothing.
When they found out we had nothing else, the two policemen called other policemen, which arrived almost right away by cars. After asking us a few questions, they said they could not let us come back home and that they had to take us to the police station!
It seemed my student card alone was not enough, and despite the fact we are living near from the place they stopped us (about 4 KM) we were not even allowed to go take our documents and bring them there (I tried asking but it seems it was not possible).
At the police station they made some copies of my student card and asked me some other questions in a room, alone. Another policeman told me clearly that what we had done is very bad and that we had broken a Japanese law.
Honestly I was speechless. I couldn't believe that only having forgotten a document would be such a serious matter (and it's not that I had absolutely nothing, the card I had with me did prove that I am a student at a specific Japanese university).
Anyway, after this, they told us that they would have come with us to my dormitory room to see if we actually had our documents (my brother is staying at my room and so his passport was here).
When we arrived here, the policeman took pictures of the dormitory, of the door of my room and even of me while opening the door.
Next we found our documents and we handed them to him, who then called the police station to inform the others.
Unfortunately that wasn't the end. The policeman said that I had to come back to the station again while my brother was allowed to stay at my room.
Now the best part: at the station they told me I had to write down on a paper what had happened during the day (to know what to write in details, they let me talk with an English native speaker on the phone, since I'm not fluent in Japanese), I had to sign several documents and lastly they even took picture of me from every angle, like the ones police takes of criminals. Now this was getting humiliating other than ridiculous.
After spending two hours at the station, they told me that I had to come over again the next Sunday in order to be questioned again with the help of an interpreter (I'm not even an English native speaker so an interpreter will be available only on the weekend).

This is the story until now. Today I read a similar story on the internet and the events were exactly the same. At the end, the guy who forgot the documents had to appear in front of a court but was dismissed without any penalties since he bowed low and was very sorry for what happened (he appeared at the court even with an apologizing letter). However, they told him that for what he did they could have put him in jail or that he could even be kicked out of the country (for anyone interested, here is the full story, from this forum: https://jref.com/forum/all-things-j...-don-t-leave-home-without-20256/#.VAS1IBKHeHm)

Now I am getting more and more scared about this. And appearing in front of the court is not the only thing I'm worried about.
Firstly, when I had to write on that paper what happened during the day, they asked me to write also that I was aware of the fact that not carrying my resident card was illegal. However, since I thought that this might worsen my condition, I refused to write it and I told them that I thought that my student card alone was enough (which I have to admit is actually the truth, since that card has my name, a photo and the name of the unversity I am enrolled in - if I have that card how am I supposed not to have a resident card? It doesn't make any sense).
However now I am afraid I made a mistake. Maybe it was better to say that I knew it was illegal and that I just forgot the resident card on the dormitory. I'm planning to tell them this on sunday...
Secondly, another problem: the bikes we have are not registered with our names (in Japan it seems that having a bike is like having a car). One of the bikes was given to me by a friend who left Japan two weeks ago (I have no documents of it) while I bought the other one from another person on June, when he left Japan (this person was not Japanese, and he bought the bike used from a Japanese guy - I have documents of this bike, but it is registered to this aforementioned Japanese guy which I don't know).
Being things as they are, I am afraid that that the fact that the bikes are not registered to us might worsen my current condition. Furthermore, at the beginning the first two policemen that stopped us found out that the bikes were not registered with our names, but then the topic seemed to have been simply dropped when they asked for our documents.
Lastly, the biggest problem: this friend of mine who is staying in my room is not actually supposed to be here. In my dormitory even visitors are not allowed.
However, many people here invited friends/relatives from their homecountry and did exactly the same thing, without having any problem whatsoever. No one ever found out.
Despite this I'm very scared about this because, as I read from the story I talked about before, the questioning I'm going to have on Sunday will be very detailed: it will take from 2 to 6 hours and maybe a second one will follow; I will be asked any kind of questions, including questions about my relatives, their names, ages etc., basically everyting. If that's the case they are likely to find out about him living here even though it is not allowed.
Now I don't know that to do... do you think he should leave? In that case, he should leave now or it would be better to wait? Maybe I can say that he came here not permanently, but just for a few days, while looking for a better place to stay.
But I'm also thinking that maybe police doesn't care about this dormitory thing, since it regards only the university. Do you think it would be possible?
Another unclear matter is why I was the only one asked to go again to the police station and to be questioned on Sunday... haven't we done exactly the same thing, breaking the law?

I'm very scared about all of this. I'm afraid I might be kicked out of the country with no chances of ever coming back. I have still 6 months to spend here and I was already planning on coming back in the future.
I know that my problem is very specific and probably you can do little for me, but please if you have any advices I would really love to read them.
I just don't know what to do.
 
Joined
Dec 23, 2010
Messages
974
Ratings
148
Based on this having happened to me once back in the 80s, I don't think anything will come of it. After Sunday, it'll be behind you.

But the bikes & their registration, I'm not sure. If they had not been reported missing/stolen, then that should be something in your favor.

Dorm policy is very probably the responsibility of your school, not the police.
 

nice gaijin

Resident Realist
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Aug 8, 2005
Messages
5,189
Ratings
345
The only thing we can offer you is encouragement. Unfortunately, Japanese police can be huge paper pushers, adhering strictly to the letter of the law, and aren't particularly adept at making a distinction between a real crime and an honest mistake. Technically legal is the best kind of legal. Keep documenting your experience both for your own sake and the sake of others. You never know, your own experience may become evidence in why and how the enforcement of the stop-and-identify laws evolves in the future.

I hope it all works out well for you, just stay courteous and apologetic and it'll probably work out fine in the end.
 
Joined
Aug 20, 2003
Messages
4,727
Ratings
267
It seemed my student card alone was not enough, and despite the fact we are living near from the place they stopped us (about 4 KM) we were not even allowed to go take our documents and bring them there (I tried asking but it seems it was not possible).
Legally, you have 24 hours to produce the papers. Friend of mine was stopped for a parking problem, and he was actually taken to his home to show his passport. You were profiled.

Your brother should have been carrying his passport, though.

Be sincere but apologize.

I repeat, you were profiled. Get used to it in Japan. This may not be the only time it happens. It stinks, but it happens.
 

Mike Cash

骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう
Joined
Mar 15, 2002
Messages
16,454
Ratings
1,568
When you received your alien card, somebody either TOLD you that you must carry it with you at all times or they gave you a piece of paper that told you that. It is useless to try to tell them you didn't know. At any rate, ignorance of the law is not accepted as an excuse.

Riding the bicycles is only a problem if you didn't have permission to use the bicycles. They weren't stolen, so no problem.

You knew nobody was allowed in your dorm. You chose to break the rule, so you chose to accept the consequences if found out. It doesn't matter what everybody else does. Fortunately, this is not a police matter.

There are three things you need to do IMMEDIATELY regarding the police matter:

1. Contact your university administration and tell them EVERYTHING. They will be annoyed and angry, but they will try to help you as much as they can anyway. They can't help you if you hide the situation from them...and they're going to find out at some point anyway, so don't wait until after it is too late for them to help you.

2. Contact a lawyer. You need professional legal help....not opinions from people on an Internet forum. Your university can help with this or the next time the police have you you can ask them to contact the on-call attorney (当番弁護士)(touban bengoshi).

3. Contact your embassy. They may be able to help you. At the least, they can monitor your situation, which puts some pressure on the police to handle things more delicately. You can contact them yourself, or the next time the police have you you can request them to notify your embassy. (They MUST do so if requested; they have no choice).

What you need are knowledgable advocates...which is what the university staff, lawyers, and embassy personnel are. Trying to handle this alone in hopes that it will go away without the school finding out is a BAD idea.

Don't sign anything that you haven't read fully and had completely explained/translated to you by a competent person. Don't rely on "the police told me it said xxxx", because they are under no obligation to tell you the truth or even the full story. What they are doing now is making the 調書 (chousho), which is the document that will be sent to the prosecutor and to court. This next part is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, so pay attention....this document is a CONFESSION and the court will treat it as a confession, giving it weight and precedence over any verbal testimony you may plan to give in court. The whole goal of the police is to get you to sign a confession and they will use any means to do so. Ignorance of this system is part of the reason Japanese courts have a conviction rate around 99%....by the time your case enters the court, you have already confessed in writing that you are GUILTY.

Get a lawyer.

Get a lawyer.

Get a lawyer.
 
Joined
Feb 25, 2014
Messages
319
Ratings
54
Got a feeling that you have been profiled or were unfortunate to be stopped by an overzealous policeman. There were two of them so was it perhaps a new recruit, wanting to do everything by the book? The fact that a squad car was called straight away also sounds odd.

Either way, it should have all ended when you showed them your Registration Card at your room.
This happened to me years ago ... the policeman took my name and address... I brought my card to the station the next day as requested, apologised profusely, bowed, received a stern warning and that was that. I remembered to take it with me after that; the police did what they had to do ... a sensible outcome.
Times are obviously different now!

As Mike said, you should contact the University and your Embassy who should both be able to refer you to a suitable lawyer.

I just had an argument with my wife, when I told her your story ... she is at times, a (frustratingly) typical 'by the rules' Japanese in many ways and did not see it as profiling ... just someone doing their job properly. I don't see it so simply ... for whatever reason it looks like you were treated differently, and you have or look like your going to have, the book thrown at you for a minor misdemeanor.

It could and would have been handled better if you encountered a good law enforcement officer!! You were stopped by the wrong one(s) unfortunately.

Good luck and get in touch with a legal professional immediately.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2014
Messages
69
Ratings
8
Thanks everyone, your replies are extremely helpful and encouraging, I am very grateful to each of you.
Don't sign anything that you haven't read fully and had completely explained/translated to you by a competent person. Don't rely on "the police told me it said xxxx", because they are under no obligation to tell you the truth or even the full story. What they are doing now is making the 調書 (chousho), which is the document that will be sent to the prosecutor and to court. This next part is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, so pay attention....this document is a CONFESSION and the court will treat it as a confession, giving it weight and precedence over any verbal testimony you may plan to give in court. The whole goal of the police is to get you to sign a confession and they will use any means to do so. Ignorance of this system is part of the reason Japanese courts have a conviction rate around 99%....by the time your case enters the court, you have already confessed in writing that you are GUILTY.
Oh God. That chousho is probably what I had to write down on that paper, describing the events. I didn't know it was that important and I just wrote in rough details what happened, that is, that the police stopped us asking for the documents and that I left home without my resident card, and lastly my promise to come back on Sunday for an "interview" (which is how the policeman called it but what I now know it's a full-fledged questioning for a crime).
I'm calling the embassy today.
However, about the school and lawyer...
For the first one, by telling them "everything" you mean even the fact that my brother is staying at my dorm room with me?
If I do so he will be asked to leave right away and I don't know if there will be consequences for me too. If this is not a police matter and no one will probably find out, are you sure is a good idea?
As for the lawyer... actually my Japanese is quite poor and I probabily can't afford the money to pay for it.
The stories I reported above seemed to end without bad consequences even if lawyers were not involved... what I'm scared of is that the bikes/dorm matters could worsen my condition...

Anyway, I will be speaking with the embassy in a few hours and I will ask them if what you suggested me is in their opinion necessary. If contacting a lawyer and informing the school is necessary, I will do so.
Do you think it will be a good idea telling the embassy everyting, including the fact that my brother is staying with me at my dorm room even though he is actuallly not allowed to?
 

Mike Cash

骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう
Joined
Mar 15, 2002
Messages
16,454
Ratings
1,568
The penalty for not having your card with you is a fine of up to 200,000 yen.

Follow your embassy's advice.

If you're worried about the consequences of having your brother in your room....you shouldn't have him in your room.

I suggested telling your university because there is a possibility that having someone connected with the school come down and do a little bowing and scraping with you could make the whole thing be dropped with nothing more from you than writing an "I'm sorry I broke the law" letter. They have societal "weight"....you have none.

One thing you haven't talked about here is how you reacted to the police when you were stopped. Were you quiet and cooperative? Or were you a bit confrontational? It isn't always the case, of course, but attitude can make the difference between being allowed to go back to your place to get your card and being put through the whole tiresome process that you are experiencing.

By the way, I disagree with the comments about you being profiled. I see Japanese getting randomly stopped on their bicycles quite a bit. The cops do this in areas where there aren't even any foreigners around. But every time they stop a foreigner, the foreigners immediately start yelling about being persecuted.
 
Joined
Oct 4, 2012
Messages
1,824
Ratings
175
But every time they stop a foreigner, the foreigners immediately start yelling about being persecuted.
Well you can't blame them. Its the only logical reason they can think of why they were stopped while riding a bike. Japanese police are insane and irrational. When people with one ounce of logic try to understand them, all they can come up with is racial profiling and simple harassment. Of course even if its the latter, then they think, why are the cops harassing ME? And it brings them straight back to racial profiling.

And lets not forget that they were then asked for documents that Japanese would not be asked for. It adds to the suspicion of discriminatory profiling. After all, were they suspected of overstaying? Hell no. They were just suspected of being foreign. No crime was reasonably suspected. But there are the cops acting like the kempeitai or gestapo, stopping people and asking for documents with zero suspicion a crime has been committed. I thought WWII was over.

They may harass Japanese on bikes too, But that just means its hard to tell if the cops are profiling or just making a good show really. Can't read minds.

I speak Japanese and I would shame the crap out of them for wasting our tax yen harassing people like this, whether its about the bikes or the documents. I like to remind them that this sort of stupidity is why they lost the war and will surely lose the next one too. They need to smarten up.

About the dorm, you are not breaking the law. Its just a rule of the school, and a pretty stupid one. But you should get your brother out of there asap and into a hotel or hostel. You should try to avoid discussing this with police and avoid getting your school involved. But since you don't speak Japanese its going to be difficult.

You should ask them point blank if they have any reason to think the bikes stolen. I don't think its the law to register a bike here. Its just convenient for the police if you do. Its not up to you to prove a bike isn't stolen. You cannot prove a negative. The cops have to prove it is, or shut up. But like I say, simple logic is not possible with Japanese police.

What everyone says about kowtowing is true. If you respond to their harassment with anything but kowtowing you risk more harassment. You might consider being as nice and cooperative as possible, until its all done and you are going out the door, then flip those pigs the bird.

Also, ask them for their documentation and take a picture of it with your camera or cell phone. Turn the tables on the slime.

Frankly, I don't think getting a lawyer is realistic. I think the odds of getting one worth a frak at random are near zero, but his charge sure won't be.

Can anyone here recommending a lawyer actually recommend a specific lawyer THEY hired?

And I don't know if you heard of him, but you might read up on Debito Arudo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debito_Arudou

HIs site might have good advice for you. In fact, you might even get in touch with him.
 
Joined
Dec 23, 2010
Messages
974
Ratings
148
minader--you've gotten many good suggestions, but please don't follow this passive-aggressive advice:

Well you can't blame them. Its the only logical reason they can think of why they were stopped while riding a bike. Japanese police are insane and irrational. When people with one ounce of logic try to understand them, all they can come up with is racial profiling and simple harassment. Of course even if its the latter, then they think, why are the cops harassing ME? And it brings them straight back to racial profiling.

And lets not forget that they were then asked for documents that Japanese would not be asked for. It adds to the suspicion of discriminatory profiling. After all, were they suspected of overstaying? Hell no. They were just suspected of being foreign. No crime was reasonably suspected. But there are the cops acting like the kempeitai or gestapo, stopping people and asking for documents with zero suspicion a crime has been committed. I thought WWII was over.

They may harass Japanese on bikes too, But that just means its hard to tell if the cops are profiling or just making a good show really. Can't read minds.

I speak Japanese and I would shame the crap out of them for wasting our tax yen harassing people like this, whether its about the bikes or the documents. I like to remind them that this sort of stupidity is why they lost the war and will surely lose the next one too. They need to smarten up.

About the dorm, you are not breaking the law. Its just a rule of the school, and a pretty stupid one. But you should get your brother out of there asap and into a hotel or hostel. You should try to avoid discussing this with police and avoid getting your school involved. But since you don't speak Japanese its going to be difficult.

You should ask them point blank if they have any reason to think the bikes stolen. I don't think its the law to register a bike here. Its just convenient for the police if you do. Its not up to you to prove a bike isn't stolen. You cannot prove a negative. The cops have to prove it is, or shut up. But like I say, simple logic is not possible with Japanese police.

What everyone says about kowtowing is true. If you respond to their harassment with anything but kowtowing you risk more harassment. You might consider being as nice and cooperative as possible, until its all done and you are going out the door, then flip those pigs the bird.

Also, ask them for their documentation and take a picture of it with your camera or cell phone. Turn the tables on the slime.

Frankly, I don't think getting a lawyer is realistic. I think the odds of getting one worth a frak at random are near zero, but his charge sure won't be.

Can anyone here recommending a lawyer actually recommend a specific lawyer THEY hired?

And I don't know if you heard of him, but you might read up on Debito Arudo Debito Arudou - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

HIs site might have good advice for you. In fact, you might even get in touch with him.
 

thomas

Unswerving cyclist
Admin
Joined
Mar 14, 2002
Messages
8,771
Ratings
1 762
Minader, good luck to you, please keep us posted. This thread contains a lot of useful info and I too don't want to see it degrade into police bashing.

MZ, please open a new thread if you feel the irresistible need to take this issue further.
 
Joined
Aug 20, 2003
Messages
4,727
Ratings
267
Definitely talk to your school about the problem with the police. (Get your brother out in the meantime.)
Definitely talk to your embassy/consulate just to give them a heads up.

I'm not that sure engaging in any lawyer right now is necessary. Perhaps your school or embassy could advise better.

Start carrying your alien card with you. Yes, there is a fine if you are caught without it, but I am almost sure that you have 24 hours to produce it before getting fined. Police can be sticklers for certain rules and laws all depending on their moods, what arrest campaigns they are engaged in at the moment, and how the foreigner responds.

Definitely continue to apologize and show remorse, even though they were total jerks in my opinion to have stopped you for a light out on a bike. Why? Because 80-90% of Japanese that I know ride around with their bike lights OFF!

They had a TECHNICAL right to ask you questions AS IF you MIGHT have been guilty of stealing the bike, but it's a VERY WEAK case, and I agree with an earlier poster that they did it probably because the younger cop needed to show he knew how to follow policy (and maybe even because there was a bike-watching campaign going on). The problem with both of those things is that they DO tend to racially profile people. I know of a guy who got stopped a dozen times by the same police officers in his neighborhood!

Taking pics of you and your dorm room is really going overboard, and they know it. They would NEVER do that to a Japanese student! They are just trying to bully you.

Definitely follow the advice about not signing anything without knowing what it is. Sign apologies, not admissions.
Maybe it was better to say that I knew it was illegal and that I just forgot the resident card on the dormitory.
No! Do NOT admit to knowing it was illegal !! You were confused about which card was necessary to have. That's all.

Another unclear matter is why I was the only one asked to go again to the police station and to be questioned on Sunday... haven't we done exactly the same thing, breaking the law?
My answer? Because they know your brother is leaving, and they can't force him to stay. Plus, harassing you (and yes, despite what Dotanbatan's wife and Mike Cash said), this was direct profiling and harassment. Yeah, sometimes Japanese get talked to, but not to this serious an extent. Foreigners are often considered far more likely to be criminals. Police stats are doctored or just plain distorted when explained, too. Japanese have a higher rate of committing crimes, but police won't admit to that. Bike theft is a very common occurrence here, so the cops love to prey on people for that.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2014
Messages
69
Ratings
8
Thanks again to everyone. I'm glad to see all these replies, I feel like I'm not alone in this.
Today I called my embassy and I explained more or less everything. The guy I talked to reassured us and said that probably nothing will happen and that on Sunday they are probably just going to make me understand how bad was what we did. I also told him the problem about the dorm and my brother, but he said that he could not give any advice about this, only that the police has every right to contact the unversity and inform them of this. He didn't suggest me to get a lawyer or to inform the school myself.
However I don't know whether I should do nothing as he suggested me to or get myself ready for the worst anyway. Maybe it was just an impression but he didn't look like he cared that much about my situation, he dismissed me pretty fast...
I'm still thinking about informing the school and having my brother stay at an hostel for a couple of days.
Definitely follow the advice about not signing anything without knowing what it is. Sign apologies, not admissions.
No! Do NOT admit to knowing it was illegal !! You were confused about which card was necessary to have. That's all.
I don't really know what to do about this... some suggested me to admit knowing it was illegal (even though in my opinion the gakuseishou alone was enough... and for what it matters, even another student at the dorm said the same when I told him the story) while others the opposite. Hmm. Anyway it is a fact that I have been informed in the past and that it was 100% my fault for not carrying my student card, I understand this.

As for our behaviour against the policemen, no, neither me or my brother reacted rudely when they stopped us. We did exactly what they told us without complaining (actually, we even told jokes and had some small talks with those policemen, talking about anime/manga and other stuffs). Only when we were taken to the police station my brother started to show his annoyance, but he never complained, let alone refused to follow the orders.
I will definitely keep you posted, I'm glad that all of this might at least be useful to someone in the future. I just hope nothing bad wil come out of it.
 
Joined
Oct 4, 2012
Messages
1,824
Ratings
175
I find that some of the very best advice is not specific, but rather, explaining the bull$#!T that lies underneath. Why?

It helps you react to things you were not given specific advice about.

The police harass people, Japanese or otherwise. They think its their job. Knowing that can be helpful. As can calling them on it. I am not police bashing. I am talking from experience. One way or the other, you don't want to encourage their foul behavior.

As for our behaviour against the policemen, no, neither me or my brother reacted rudely when they stopped us. We did exactly what they told us without complaining (actually, we even told jokes and had some small talks with those policemen, talking about anime/manga and other stuffs).
My advice is to never be friendly or rude with police who pester you. Be totally stonewalling (although kowtowing as said earlier can be part of that even if it seems contradictory). Question them on everything. Call them on everything. Harass them back, just don't be loud or rude about it. Ask for their ID. Copy it. It also helps to know the laws because the cops will lie about what the laws are if you don't know. They ask you about personal stuff? Request they stop wasting your time and their own. Again, experience.

Good cop or bad cop, don't give them anything to work with that you don't have to.
 
Joined
Oct 4, 2012
Messages
1,824
Ratings
175
I don't really know what to do about this... some suggested me to admit knowing it was illegal (even though in my opinion the gakuseishou alone was enough... and for what it matters, even another student at the dorm said the same when I told him the story) while others the opposite. Hmm. Anyway it is a fact that I have been informed in the past and that it was 100% my fault for not carrying my student card, I understand this.
No one can know the best course of action without knowing the cops involved. Each cop has their own little rules about lots of things. All you can count on is that they won't be rational or fair. The trick is to know the cop and tell him what he wants to hear.

But know this: A million things happen each and every day and a million people tell you a million things. You cannot remember them all. It only gets worse when the rules are whack job irrational. No one should get in so much trouble for not carrying ID. How often do you actually need it? Of course people forget! And a passport is not exactly pocket size! And by carrying it all the time you risk losing it. I myself would bring all that up. You know those cops themselves have forgotten their ID at some point too.

But for you I say again, figure out what this particular empty blue suit wants to hear. But if you can't, err on the side of the truth. And the truth is, you were told, but you forgot, cause your life does not revolve around cops' convenience.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2014
Messages
69
Ratings
8
No one should get in so much trouble for not carrying ID. How often do you actually need it? Of course people forget! And a passport is not exactly pocket size! And by carrying it all the time you risk losing it. I myself would bring all that up. You know those cops themselves have forgotten their ID at some point too.
Yeah that's why I often don't carry my documents with me! Doing so I only risk losing them (and I can't say losing things is a rare event for me).

Anyway, yesterday I had this questioning, it seems everyting is over with no particular consequences. The questioning lasted 1 hour and 40 minutes (considering that there was also an interpreter, it took less than I thought) and they asked me many things (address, birth place etc. and the exact description of what my brother and I did that day, including the exact time for everything). They also asked me about my brother and where he is living now (I told them the truth, they didn't seem to care so there won't be any problem as long as they don't contact my university).
After the questioning they took other pictures of me, they took my fingerprints (each hand and every finger of both hands) and lastly even a DNA sample (I had to brush the internal parts of my cheeks with a tool similar to a toothpaste...).
In the end I signed some papers and I was free to go! No consequences for the bicycle and my brother in my room.

A funny thing about that day: while I was going to the station with my bicycle I was stopped again by a policemen, he asked me to check the registration, but... well, he turned out to be the same policemen who stopped me that day. After he recognized me he understood that I was going to the police station and let me go (actually he guided me for a bit since I didn't exactly know where to go).

I won't forget anymore that damned card in the future, that's for sure
 

Mike Cash

骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう
Joined
Mar 15, 2002
Messages
16,454
Ratings
1,568
I get more than just a little sick and tired of foreigners whining about "profiling" every time there's an interaction with the police.
 
Joined
Aug 20, 2003
Messages
4,727
Ratings
267
No one should get in so much trouble for not carrying ID. How often do you actually need it? Of course people forget! And a passport is not exactly pocket size! And by carrying it all the time you risk losing it. I myself would bring all that up. You know those cops themselves have forgotten their ID at some point too.
I would really advise against saying anything like this. Police don't care, and they shouldn't. The law is clear. Carry ID at all times, whether a passport or your alien card. Period. IMO, if you try Zorro's ploy above, it will only get you into trouble further. Too bulky? Boo, freaking, hoo, is what they will think.

I get more than just a little sick and tired of foreigners whining about "profiling" every time there's an interaction with the police.
Mike, I tend to agree with you, but look at this case. Granted, we don't know what other people they stopped or didn't, but the same foreigner was stopped by the same policeman! And, don't you think a DNA sample for a non-functional bicycle light is just a wee bit too much? I certainly do. (Personally, I don't think they did a thing with the swab other than make the OP think he was going to process it for DNA. More bullying. Way over the top.)
 

Mike Cash

骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう
Joined
Mar 15, 2002
Messages
16,454
Ratings
1,568
In regard to MZ's speculation, cops don't go out without their ID because they get individually inspected for all their gear each and every time they start a shift.

Same cop? So what? You really expect every cop in Tokyo to remember the face of everybody he has talked to? Anyway, even if he did see the OP and think he looks like a guy who might be committing a violation of some sort, he would be right, as there is past history for it as proof. Do you think the same thing could not or would not possibly happen to a Japanese person? I believe our own epigene has told us of her husband being stopped about seven times on a bicycle....sometimes by the same cop....and he is Japanese.

Yes, I think DNA is a bit much. Did you notice that they had him take the swab himself? Believe it or not, he voluntarily submitted his DNA to the police. Do you think they took it just because he is a foreigner? Think again; the Tokyo police are on a tear to get DNA from EVERYBODY.

Here's the catch:

You can refuse the DNA swab. But if you do, they will ask the court for a warrant to take a blood sample. Japanese courts abdicate their duty to serve as one of the checks against abuse of police power and essentially rubber stamp any and all warrant requests...about 98% are granted.

If they have to get a warrant, then the case is going to proceed to court. Without a warrant, they still have the option of choosing not to prosecute (which is what happened to the OP).

Currently, regardless of whether it doesn't go to trial, goes to trial and is found guilty, innocent, whatever the outcome....the DNA remains in the police database.

So there is a systemic civil rights conundrum here where there is a surface appearance of the choice to exercise a right to refuse the DNA, while the actual truth of the matter is that in the final analysis a right which can't effectively be exercised doesn't really exist.

However, this isn't something they have come up with to mess with foreigners. This is the exact same bullcrap that Japanese people have to put up with. Problem is, foreigners don't give a damn what the system is like or what problems it may have or that it may affect Japanese people adversely. All they care about is that foreigners not be bothered by it.

Any time you hear a foreigner b!tching about the system here and the awful treatment they got due to being discriminated against as foreigners and receiving worse treatment because of it....what they're ACTUALLY b!tching about....though their I-know-nothing-of-Japanese-civics selves don't realize it....is receiving the exact same treatment that our Japanese hosts receive at the hands of officialdom. The police don't have one set of procedures for foreigners and another set for Japanese; IT SUCKS EQUALLY FOR EVERYBODY.

Foreigners don't really want EQUAL treatment with the Japanese; they want PREFERENTIAL treatment. Everytime they complain, "I was stopped because I'm a foreigner" what they're really saying is "I am a foreigner and should NOT be stopped".

In my time here I have heard numerous foreigners gripe about the things they have had happen to them at the hands of the police, and they pretty much universally say that certain of the things were done to them just because they're foreigners. I have yet to hear any element of what was done to any of them that isn't exactly the same as what is done to Japanese people. I also have yet to encounter one who didn't resent being told that, as it is irrelevant. They don't give a damn what happens to Japanese people or that the system is being equally applied....they just think they themselves should be treated better, because they're foreigners.

The OP has said he KNEW he was supposed to carry the card. He chose not to. Fear of losing it is not an excuse. There are procedures for reporting it lost and having it reissued. If you report your card lost and get stopped by the cops on the way to get your new one, do you really think you would be rousted for not having the card? Not likely.

He has shown what is a far too common trait among many foreigners: that of being a scofflaw. Apparently he wasn't afraid of losing his student ID, as he carried that with him. So the "I was afraid I might lose the gaijin card" thing doesn't hold water any way you look at it. He just chose not to carry it, despite knowing it was required of him. He chose to have his brother live with him, despite there being a strict prohibition against even visitors. He follows whatever rules he feels like, when he feels like it, if he feels like it, and only worries about the consequences when things have already gone wrong. This is all 自業自得 (brought on himself, by his own actions), so it is hard to work up a whole lot of sympathy for him. He had to learn the hard way.
 
Joined
Oct 4, 2012
Messages
1,824
Ratings
175
In regard to MZ's speculation, cops don't go out without their ID because they get individually inspected for all their gear each and every time they start a shift.
Yeah, and if they left it at home.....

But I meant in civilian life as well.

Anyway, how nice they have someone to check them. We don't have that luxury.

Same cop? So what?
So that story is like a broken record. Keeps repeating.

You really expect every cop in Tokyo to remember the face of everybody he has talked to?
When they have taken up so much of these people's time and it was only like a week ago....YES!


Foreigners don't really want EQUAL treatment with the Japanese; they want PREFERENTIAL treatment.
Unfair generalization. Sure some are like that. But I think most of us just want to be treated like a HUMAN in a free country and want the same for the Japanese as well. Most of this story still reads like harassment. DNA swabs? How much more obvious can it be at that point?

Apparently he wasn't afraid of losing his student ID, as he carried that with him.
BINGO! He wasn't. You know why? Losing your student ID card is not remotely comparable to losing your gaijin card!

And another thing, I bet he actually uses his student ID regularly.

He follows whatever rules he feels like, when he feels like it, if he feels like it, and only worries about the consequences when things have already gone wrong.
You are claiming to know the length of a chain by examining just two links! Lots of us people out here ignore stupid rules but take the meaningful ones very seriously.

brought on himself, by his own actions
Nope. I see no legit reason why he was stopped by police. I see no legit reason for all this trouble from police. Pictures of him and his room? Hours of talk at the cop shop? Twice? DNA? You got to be freaking kidding me! The cops brought this on. They could have solved it in the time it took to go to his dorm, or, hell, instantly by not harassing people on bikes!

I get more than just a little sick and tired of foreigners whining about "profiling" every time there's an interaction with the police.
Get used to it. Just because the same things are sometimes done to Japanese does not mean foreigners were NOT profiled. You know why? Cause even Japanese can be profiled by Japanese cops!
 
Joined
Oct 4, 2012
Messages
1,824
Ratings
175
I would really advise against saying anything like this. Police don't care, and they shouldn't. The law is clear. Carry ID at all times, whether a passport or your alien card. Period. IMO, if you try Zorro's ploy above, it will only get you into trouble further. Too bulky? Boo, freaking, hoo, is what they will think.
It was not meant as a ploy. It was meant as a point of truth.

That said, I do hope people think before they speak and don't follow anyone's advice blindly, not even my own.

But yes, the police are supposed to care. Many things have changed in other countries at least as the police did come to see reason.

But yeah, I don't have such high hopes for Japanese police to be sure. Still, you can shame some of them sometimes by showing them their blindness and hypocrisy. Its a matter of choosing your targets. Police may wear uniforms, but they are not uniform!
 
Joined
May 12, 2013
Messages
1,333
Ratings
178
Yeah that's why I often don't carry my documents with me! Doing so I only risk losing them (and I can't say losing things is a rare event for me).
What exactly are you doing with your documents that risks losing them?

My license sits in my wallet, which sits in my pocket.

Even my ID card, which is constantly in use for my job, is never at real risk for getting lost. I just don't get what you're using the documents for during your day aside from leaving them in your pocket.
 
Joined
Aug 20, 2003
Messages
4,727
Ratings
267
Zorro,
Point of truth or ploy. It makes no real difference. The simple fact is, I don't think the OP is capable of enough Japanese to shame any police officer. That's my main reason for advising against taking your advice. Hope you can understand.
 
Joined
Oct 4, 2012
Messages
1,824
Ratings
175
What exactly are you doing with your documents that risks losing them?

My license sits in my wallet, which sits in my pocket.

Even my ID card, which is constantly in use for my job, is never at real risk for getting lost. I just don't get what you're using the documents for during your day aside from leaving them in your pocket.
Its a wonder anybody loses anything, isn't it? Apparently its just not possible. People lose things on purpose!

Okay, I will explain how doing nothing with something gets it lost. Lets say you put it in your pocket. Then you are looking for something else. You put your hand in that pocket and when you pull out your hand, the thing comes out too and hits the ground, but you don't notice. Or you take something else out of that pocket and same thing. You take it out, but the document comes too.

Or it slides out as you are sitting on a bus or train.

Or you get pick pocketed.

Or you put it in your wallet and any of the above happens to the wallet. People get wallets lost and stolen all the time.

And you know what makes it all worse? The fact that you don't actually use it. You could lose it in the morning and not realize until evening and good luck retracing your steps.

I actually keep my ID in a separate wallet and my money in another wallet, because it is true I am less likely to lose my ID if I never take it out of my pocket. However, I still have to be careful as all the above could still happen.

But my passport does not fit in my wallet. It also does not really fit in most pants pockets.

I have not lost anything in a really long time. You know why? Cause I am getting old. Experience has taught me how not to lose stuff. But I lost plenty of stuff when I was young, and a big reason was: because I thought there was no way I could lose it!
 
Top