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Crime / Safety in Japan

Japan With Kids - Forums: General Discussions: Crime / Safety in Japan
By Emi on Saturday, July 10, 1999 - 1:32 am:

Our car was broken into yesterday and our brand new highway card and 40 CDs were stolen. Just a heads up to let you know it can happen here.

Emi (in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo)

By Caroline on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 6:06 pm:

Thought I'd share a stunning event that took place earlier today during lunch time at our favorite neighborhood restaurant. My two kids and I were enjoying a peaceful meal (I was feeling really proud of their unusually good behavior). The lady who had been sitting at a nearby table (in her 50's, seemingly normal) got up to leave, and as she passed near my daughter she very deliberately slammed her bill pad onto the back of my daughter's head. I happened to be watching her and saw her do it and my reaction was of immediate indignation. The couple next to us came to my rescue, saying that they had also seen the woman hit my daughter. She hit her so hard, the bill fell from the pad onto my table. I rushed to the cashier's and confronted her. Unfortunately, I did not have the presence of mind to call the police, and neither did the manager of the restaurant. I was in shock, needless to say; my daughter cried but was soon over it. I just hope this never happens again to us or anyone else! There are some really deranged people out there!

By Cornelia on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 11:11 am:

From: Kevin Burns
To: Cornelia Kurz
Subject: Furikome Sagi: Don`t Be a Victim of this Telephone Crime
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2005
Hi Cornelia,
I give you my permission to post it. Thank you for your kind words! My wife has attended two lectures on furikome sagi, and it is just rampant apparently. They are so slick at it and the police are really trying to educate the public about it, it seems.
Cheers! Kevin
Furikome Sagi:
The yen stolen in this way is astronomical. If your spouse is Japanese you need to talk to them about this. Or if you are fluent in Japanese. I don`t know if any non-Japanese have been victimized yet, but it wouldn`t suprise me. I would think non-Japanese in interational marriages have also been victims unfortunately.
Read more at Kevin's webzine:

By Amy Uehara on Friday, February 25, 2005 - 11:27 pm:

This was in the USA Embassy's March Newsletter I received February 26. Please be careful.
Stranger in Hiroo, Tokyo Area
One of the large international schools in Tokyo sent this message out recently to its parents:

"We have received a report from two of our teachers about a mixed race Asian male in his early twenties stopping foreigners in the Hiroo area during the early hours of the evening. This has happened between 6:00-7:30 p.m. over the last two days. He appears to be asking for food. He has been seen around National Azabu, the Bagel shop and outside the Familiar baby shop. He is dressed in a light colored baseball cap and a mock Air Force type jacket and speaks in broken English. Individuals should please be vigilant, be with friends whenever possible, and avoid talking to strangers."<

By Liat Friedman on Saturday, February 26, 2005 - 9:14 am:

This message was sent by the ISSH, my daughters' school, and indeed several people have been approached by this person. He was seen in the Meydia Supermarket, near the Hiroo post office and he turned to me at the 2nd floor of the National Azabu Supermarket. All te people I've talked to had a similar experience with this guy (including myself):
He doesn't look like a homeless - he is clean and so are his clothes. He's not carrying a bag with his belongings. He turns to people asking for money with his broken English and when they decline he apologizes and seems to be truly embarrassed. All the people whom I've spoken too said he seemed harmless, and I felt so too. But it is advisable to stay away from strangers no matter what.

By Mina on Sunday, May 28, 2006 - 12:16 am:

Was your home burgled 3 times? Were you at home? I am curious to know as I want to know what precautions to take? Does anyone know about safelockers? Thanks

By Scott Hancock on Sunday, May 28, 2006 - 5:00 pm:

Yes, we've exprienced 3 burglaries in 19 years and 5 different places.

First one was while we were away for the summer break. Intruder forced open the sliding glass patio door, which was above ground. They ransacked some, looking for cash. Nothing was taken. This was in Hiroo.

Second time was in a duplex in Hachiyama-cho, in Shibuya. Koban less than 100m away. We stupidly left the door unlocked at night and in the morning, found wife's purse contents strewn outside. Took cash from purse.

Third time was in same place. Bedrooms were upstairs, kitchen/living down. Awakened in the night to hear noise downstairs. Shouted at them. Went to investigate after giving some time to leave. Kitchen window above counter forced open; footprints on kitchen counter.

Make a big habit of locking the doors, even while home.

Alarm system if you can, is deterrent. So is real size dog (not toy one). We have both (but the dog is too friendly to depend on).

Lots of lights outside, if you are in a house or have a patio.

Knowing the neighbors seems out of fashion, but there's a big tradition and I think it is helpful. They will be less likely to ignore strange happenings while you're away. Of course, they'll also not ignore happenings while you are there.

What is a safelocker?

By Linda Gondo on Sunday, May 28, 2006 - 8:06 pm:

We were in Yoyogi Park today at the kiosk and came across a notice from the police regarding a murder!! which took place in the no 1 toilet in the park on the afternoon of April 12th. No details about the victim. Police are still looking for a suspect. The message was in Japanese only, so if it hadn`t been for the fact that I was with my Japanese husband I would never have known. It horrifies me to think that no warnings were posted in English!! Did anybody else hear of this terrible crime? I don`t remember seeing it in any of the newspapers, was it reported in the media at all?!!

By Jellund on Sunday, May 28, 2006 - 8:21 pm:

Yes we heard about this murder but only because we had guests visiting who were strolling through the park that day and it was all cordoned off. They also took some photos which they probably shouldnt have done.
I asked a few local friends, apparently the victim was a foreigner in mid-thirties and the really gruesome part of the story is that not only was it a murder, but it was also a beheading. I believe the head was found outside of the toilets, near the cycling path.
My husbands coworker found a website with more info but all in Japanese

By Suzanne on Monday, May 29, 2006 - 2:03 am:

The American Embassy bulletin that came
out in May included a warning about
recent incidents in Yoyogi park. Also,
there was another post about an incident
near an international school bus stop.

Here's what came in their newsletter -
"Recent Incidents in Yoyogi
An American citizen was recently
murdered in Yoyogi Park, the victim of a
stabbing. Several months earlier another
American citizen survived a knife attack by
an assailant near the Yoyogi train station
in what appears to have been a random
act of violence. The two incidences were
not related, but they serve to underscore
the fact that violent crime against
Americans in Japan, although rare, does

As always, the Embassy encourages
Americans in Japan to exercise appropriate
caution and be aware of their
surroundings when traveling around
Tokyo as they would if traveling in any
large city.

Safety Precautions for School Children
One of the international schools located in
Tokyo recently reported that on Tuesday
afternoon, April 18th, an elementary
student was approached by two middle-
aged men who asked the boy to get in
their car. The boy did not get in the car
and the men left. This took place on
Yamate dori near Kamiyama cho, an area
serviced by buses from several
international schools.

Both the police and the school were
notified and are investigating. As a
precaution the Embassy once again
reminds all students and their parents to
be aware of the proper steps to take in the
event of a stranger approaching them.
Bus drivers and monitors will continue to
be vigilant of strangers around the bus
stops and report any concerns to the
police immediately. "

By Suzanne on Monday, May 29, 2006 - 2:11 am:

I also received this message from the US Embassy e-mail newsletter:

"The U.S. Embassy has learned of a possible threat against American facilities in Japan, the credibility of which has yet to be determined. Given the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, we advise American citizens to exercise caution and report any suspicious activities to authorities.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at, where the current Worldwide Caution, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. , or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada , a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays)."

By Cornelia on Monday, May 29, 2006 - 7:04 am:

My other friend who was burgled, that I know of, had a piece of glass cut out of the window so that a hand could slip through and undo the latch. That was a multi-apartment building near Sendagaya/Gaienmae (Tokyo) and 4-5 apartments were burgled on the same day. Obviously professionals with a van.
So, even though my front door has a lock on it where replacement keys cost Y3500, and my kitchen, bath and toilet windows (ground floor) have bars over them making it impossible to wash them from the outside, I am vulnerable with about 7 meters worth of sliding doors on the ground floor as well as a large window. A new glass sliding door costs about Y20,000. (Sliding screen doors are about Y10,000).
I find the security measures on my building to be haphazardly planned.The toilet window is tiny, maybe a very skinny 9 year old might barely slip through and land on his/her head. Yet it got bars!
I figure that non-professional thieves are more likely to not venture past the genkan if they find the door unlocked, thinking there's a good chance that someone is around. And real professionals will watch your place for a few days to figure out your schedules, see if it is worth the effort and easily bypass the front door.
My overall reaction is not to own anything valuable. The robbers would have to work hard to get any money for my 25 year old oven, or TV. I'd be bummed to see my LCD screen go, but even that was only about Y50,000, so for that one new (ish) item, I'd rather live without the keys headache. It's just a case of balancing out the different variables. We do know our neighbors on the sliding glass door side! Their building is newer and has better preventives built in (really skinny windows on the ground floor, etc., though I'd prefer the light as opposed to worrying about my possessions.) We do lock at night though! And I keep a big thick stick at bedside (optimistically thinking I might get a chance to grab it). I think I'm just instinctively more worried about physical predators than thieves. I also keep pet bottles filled with water tucked away in every room for emergency supplies in event of entrapment in an earthquake. (People are always asking me why I keep these bottles around.)

By Karen Dunn on Monday, May 29, 2006 - 7:10 am:

I found this regarding the murder:

By Scott Hancock on Monday, May 29, 2006 - 8:00 am:

Not owning anything valuable does prevent the loss of such things. But, I keep hearing that house thieves are only looking for cash. Has anyone on here ever lost property to a home thief?

Also, aggressive thieves might not know you have no valuables, keeping them just as motivated to look in your place as any other.

Police told me (some years ago, now) "Don't worry, thieves only want money and they won't hurt you." As an American, this sounds silly to me. Especially homes with kids need to keep defenses fully up. Cornelia - I want you to lock your door in the day time, too! It's not about the "stuff". It's about preventing an encounter with a bad guy in your home.

Bars on windows-
This goes another way. Bars also keep you in and firemen out in case of fire. I don't like bars on windows.

One additional thing available for patio doors now is security film. Maybe not as expensive as a new door. Possible to apply oneself. Also a big help for earthquake safety as the film prevents the glass from falling apart if broken.

Or, if there is budget, there is nearly unbreakable plastic for windows, now. Used in hurrican prone areas. Although, here too, they keep firefighters out. Expensive, though.

By Cornelia on Monday, May 29, 2006 - 10:27 am:

I like the idea of the film. Is it supposed to prevent the use of glass cutters? And I agree about the bars having a more negative than positive impact (they also keep out light).

My basic premise has always been that if someone wants to single me or my daughter out for harm, then there is very little we can do to defend ourselves, short of going into some kind of undercover flight, with name changes and all that (ask any battered spouse fleeing with children, or anyone who has been stalked). The statistically more unlikely case (at least in Japan) of random violence against me or my daughter is also very difficult to defend against. We can't stay locked up in our house all the time. There's shopping, school and work, etc.

It's really a choice of how do I want to live, locked in a cage of my own devising, or free. I think the fact that I've chosen Tokyo as a place to settle pretty much answers that. If I wanted to live in a cage, I would be in Latin America somewhere, my first love culturally, and also so many, many times more dangerous.

I will claim that here in Tokyo I feel safer than I have anywhere else in the world (including the USA). For example, this is the one place where screaming works when a man attacks you on the street or gropes you on the train. Not because anyone runs to your aid quickly, but because the perp freaks out at the noise and leaves. I sense that victims tend to stay speechless here, and a screaming victim comes as a big surprise. I guess this is going to beg the question, have I been attacked or accosted here. Three times, and followed, once, all three incidents were late at night after the last train, and long before I became a Mom. Being followed was by a Japanese. Accosted was once by Japanese and twice by Iranians. I'm not going to include the flashers (in broad daylight). Compared to a city in the US, it is heaven here.

There are plenty of murders to read about in the newspapers, but they seem to be about 70% within the family somehow, or between people who know each other (vengence for example). Then there are the nutcases. Then there are the hits on company presidents. I'd even guess that child abuse leading to death is more common than violent robbery. I guess some bonafide statistics would be useful to figure out the real threats.

By Scott Hancock on Monday, May 29, 2006 - 10:51 am:

I doubt the film maker would claim resistance to glass cutters. I forgot to add suggestion of key locks that mount on the bottom of the patio door sliders. Even if the hand reaches in to open the regular door latch, the door cannot be opened with these keyed obstructions. Makes it necessary to break the whole window, which the film does resist.

I get your feeling about not wanting to live in a locked cage, etc. So, I wonder how you deal with the bars on the windows? It's a matter of doing a "reasonable" amount of precaution. I think locking the door during the day is not so extreme. We all have our own take on that, I guess.

I'm glad you got some positive effect by screaming. As you say, bystanders will most likely NOT come to help. We've had that experience, too. Even the police are very slow to react unless they can see someone bleeding in front of them. I find the concept of "bad guy" is not well understood by Japanese police. For them, only people with dyed hair or outlandish clothing can be bad guys. A gaijin in a suit could probably get away with a lot. (Other than parking wrongly.)

It's good for readers to see there are many ways of experiencing and reacting to safety in Japan.

By Karina Miyama on Monday, May 29, 2006 - 11:11 pm:

Im reading about the murder in Yoyogi park and recent threats to Americans on this sight. BUT how come I havent heard about it on the news. Usually when someone is murdered here in Japan ( which is just about every other day it seems) you tend to hear them airing it day after day on the news. Im just wondering why I havent seen this murder on the news a few months ago. Anyone know?

By Bethan Hutton on Tuesday, May 30, 2006 - 10:10 am:

Here's a story from one of the Japanese papers which may explain why the murder didn't really hit the TV news - police think the victim was involved in the drugs trade and was probably killed for reasons relating to that. The murders that make the TV news tend to be the ones with "innocent" ordinary people as victims. Of course, having traces of cannabis in your apartment and hanging out in Roppongi doesn't necessarily make you a drug dealer, so who knows whether that is the true story.

Drug connection eyed in slaying of American

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The death of an immigrant whose body was found in a Yoyogi Park toilet last month was likely linked to drug trafficking, police said Monday.

The Metropolitan Police Department found cannabis resin and stimulant drugs in the man's condominium in Minato Ward, Tokyo, leading them to form the hypothesis.

The 34-year-old victim, whose name is being withheld by The Yomiuri Shimbun, is an American with permanent residency status who has lived in Japan for about 10 years. An autopsy revealed the man had used cocaine, the MPD said.

At about 1:10 p.m. on April 12, a 74-year-old man found the American's body lying on the floor of a public lavatory in the park, located in Shibuya Ward. The senior told the police that, on his way into the toilet, he had passed a man who appeared to be non-Japanese. The MPD says it suspects this person stabbed the American to death.

The American's cell phone and wallet were not on his person.

The victim was stabbed twice with a sharp blade, including once in his throat, the MPD said.

He had been seen often in restaurants and bars in Roppongi, a district popular among foreigners in Tokyo. The police have questioned shopkeepers there in the belief the man might have been involved in drug trafficking.
(May. 23, 2006)

By Sari H. Krassin on Tuesday, May 30, 2006 - 11:35 am:

Hi I lost my wallet on Friday so I went to the Koban to see if someone returned it. It doesn't have my foreign registration card so there's not forwarding address in there. Anyway, I asked about the murder in Yoyogi Park b/c it really was bugging me. The police told me it was a man of Middle Eastern decent who was killed for a specific reason. His throat was cut his head was NOT cut off. The police said the killer knew the vicitm it was not a random hate crime against Americans. It was in the papers but not TV b/c it's not news worthy enough to the Japanese media. Now if the vicitm were Japanese and killer foreign we'd hear about it for months! It's too bad but a life is a life and it should make the news no matter what. A local Japanese mother warned me about public bathrooms. She said a little girl was sexually assalted in one as here mother chatted with other moms on a park bench. This did NOT happen in Tokyo it happened somewhere in a small town but really crime can happen anywhere. Perhaps crime is under reported in Japan. I always exercise precaution whereever I go and will accompany my children everywhere until their legs are long enough to out run an adult. As far as safety goes as large a city this is I feel very safe in comparison to most large cities. I think most of you will agree to that.

By Yuko Kubota on Tuesday, May 30, 2006 - 12:29 pm:

"The murders that make the TV news tend to be the ones with 'innocent' ordinary people as victims. Of course, having traces of cannabis in your apartment and hanging out in
Roppongi doesn't necessarily make you a drug dealer, so who knows whether that is the true story."

But it does make him "not innocent", at least in Japan.

I'm not at all saying that this incident should not gain more attention, but if it did, it can give Americans or Middle Eastern decendants a bad name, just like a lot of crime commited by foreigners does, when there is no need to. Just a thought.

By Steve B on Tuesday, May 30, 2006 - 12:50 pm:

"The senior told the police that, on his way
into the toilet, he had passed a man who
appeared to be non-Japanese. The MPD
says it suspects this person stabbed the
American to death."

If this is all the info they have, then the police
play a role in creating a a negative image of
non-Japanese. If they actually have more
info than this, then it is reporting like this that
fuels the image.

I'm glad I didn't happen to be walking in the
park that day.

By Heidi on Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 4:55 pm:

Little terror,Pay attention to safety,Also know the law,good luck everyone .

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