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Incident at the train station

misternada

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I would like to tell you about an incident I experienced at the train station,
I would appreciate if you could read it and give me your advice.

It was last Friday I had finish work early, I was wearing a suit, I was pretty relax and got off to the train platform.

I line up next to the stairway walls waiting for the train, I notice a Japanese 30~40 something guy
on my left, he was hold a big can of beer and giving me the evil eyes, that was a bit weird so I thought of moving to another door but the train was coming so I just stay there looking in front of me. I moved to get on the train and the guy who was now behind me push me violently, I had the reflex to hit back with my elbow and hit him in the face. I got on the train but the guy call the staff and I had to get off, I notice the guy had gotten rid of his can of beer and he was showing the staff there was a bit of blood on his inner lip, the staff escorted us to the police station where they put us in separate rooms.

I give my Japanese driving license card to the cops, told them my story and answer their questions.Also they told me some people (foreigners?) use fake id so they need to search my things, they went through my wallet looking at all my cards, also asking for my place of work. They also ask me for a business card but I did not have any.

A cop came back told me that the other guy told them he had not drink any beer and that he did nothing, so that I basically hit him out of the blue for no reason, so he told me if I understood it was a crime hitting on people and told me the guy did not intend to press charges so he ask me if I wanted to apology and exchange number. I understood that was my best option and I agree to do so, we went to the other room, I apologized and exchange phone number in case the guy had to go to the hospital, and we went our own way. Today is Sunday, I did not get any call, so I guess that's it.

I wonder if there was a better way to handle the situation, is it better to deny everything ?

I would like to know if the procedure is the same with Japanese people, do they go through your wallet and ask for your place of work ?

What was I risking if the other person had decided to press charges ? Could I expect a fair trail as a foreigner in Japan ?

Please let me know if you had some similar story or advice for me.

Thank you
 
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mdchachi

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The only similar thing I had was an accident. I was on a bicycle and I ran into a jaywalking lady. I was more at fault being on the bicycle but it worked to my favor that I was injured more than her. After getting picked up by an ambulance, and bandaged up at a clinic we had to go to the police station. Separate rooms where we each told our story. They asked me where I worked and all of that. I don't believe they looked at my wallet. But I believe I was also left with the possibility of something coming up after the fact and we exchange numbers. She had a loose tooth or something from the collision but she didn't end up pursuing remuneration.

I think you're lucky. Unless the guy had some police record or something the foreigner is at a big disadvantage. I think you handled it the right away.

Was it in inaka somewhere? I think many train stations these days have cameras so they might have been able to get to the truth if they had to.
 

misternada

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Hi mdchachi, thank you for your feedback, it was in Tokyo, a big station so there must have been cameras.
 

Glenski

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Very weird. Police should have been able to smell the beer on his breath. I wouldn't have apologized. A very Japanese thing to do is deny everything. Not sure what I would have done, but this was too strange. Yes, they should have reviewed the cameras.
 

Mike Cash

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You overreacted. His pushing you doesn't give you license to react by striking him and causing him injury.

You further put yourself in a losing situation by admitting that you had struck him. It doesn't matter that you were shoved, unless you can get a doctor to write that you were physically injured by the shove and how long it will take your injury to heal. He was physically injured and bleeding, and you admit that you caused it. That's a crime and you can go to prison and/or be deported as a result. How long the prison term would be would depend on how long the doctor said it would take for his injury to heal.

You put yourself in a very poor position and under the circumstances the wisest thing you could do was to make it all go away by apologizing. There was nothing to be gained and much to be lost if you had insisted on standing on principle and not apologizing because you thought you were the aggrieved party and that he should have apologized.

You are allowed to defend yourself in Japan. You are not allowed to escalate things and retaliate, though, which is what you did by elbowing the guy in the face. Assuming it really was the same guy and he really did intentionally shove you, then morally he was in the wrong. Viewed as a criminal matter, though, you were both in the wrong. He had the advantage because you had no injuries, you had no witnesses, and he denied having done anything. You were 100% vulnerable because he had visible injuries which you freely admitted that you caused. Once you had done that, you were totally and completely at his mercy. All he had to do was tell the police he wanted to press charges and your life in Japan would have been finished from that second.

Any time you find yourself in any altercation where the police get involved and there is an offer to make everything disappear by apologizing....JUMP on that opportunity, no matter how much it hurts your pride at the moment. You always have more to lose from the situation than the other guy, because he doesn't risk deportation.

Yes, you would get a fair trial. But the outcome would be a foregone conclusion since you had already confessed to the crime.

Going through your wallet was normal and they do exactly the same thing to Japanese people. The police did not discriminate against you in any way that I can see. If anything, it was probably the police who talked him into letting it go in exchange for an apology.
 
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Glenski

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"the guy who was now behind me push me violently, I had the reflex to hit back with my elbow and hit him in the face."

I misread this as you wanted to hit him but didn't. That changes things a bit. The CCTV should show it all, depending on the camera angle. Obviously, he struck first, but how your reaction looks would also play into a proper police response.
 

Seiko

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i tell everyone, if someone is drunk and want to start something, just walk away, even if that person push or hit you. I understand where your coming from, I had a situation myself when I was in a small town, this young kid said something bad to me in Japanese and thought I didn't understand. I was going to say something but I just walk it off and continue on my way. But I did make direct eye contact with him and slow down my walking.

Walking away was the best thing to do when dealing with drunks, maybe you could have said something to him angry or talk loudly to show him how upset you are but, hitting back at a guy who drinking was not a smart move.
 
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