Not long ago, I was talking to a guy, whose girlfriend came to visit him in Tokyo. One night, she went out around midnight to get ice cream at the conbini and didn’t come back for four hours. Completely freaked out, he asked where she was. She told him, “I just walked around the streets all night, luxuriating in the safety of Japan.” True story.
Seriously? 1) That’s not super smart and 2) For four hours?
Back in January, Vivian wrote an article on safety in Japan for women, giving some great information for English teachers on how to work with privates, and just managing daily life. I recently went to a women’s workshop and wanted to share some of the practical tips. As someone who has had a scary run-in with a creeper here, I think sharing ideas on staying safe is important.This isn’t an alarmist post… no need to freak out– but here are a few facts, and some tips on how to stay safe.
- In 2000, there were 2280 reported cases of stalking in Japan
- Last year, there were 19,920 reported cases
- In 2000, the national law against stalking was put into effect after the murder of Shiori Ino
- Here’s the law: http://www.keishicho.metro.tokyo.jp/seian/stoka/stoka.htm
- Recently, cyberstalking has been added to the law to protect women from internet harassment.
- Mace and pepper spray are illegal in Japan. There is a loophole for women with pepper spray, but as a foreigner, I’m not sure I’d risk carrying it. Article 1-2 of the Minor Offense Act states that “a person who secretly carries around, without justifiable reason, knives, iron rods, or items that are used to harm another person’s life or body” shall be fined or punished by temporary imprisonment. If a woman carries pepper spray with a rational purpose such as to defend herself, such act shall be justified. However, it still may be punishable under the Minor Offense Act if she carries it without any necessity. So, you can carry it, then be arrested or fined for carrying it if you can’t prove you need it? Hmm.
- Taser guns are illegal. Even this cute one.
Like the U.S., Japan takes stalking very seriously. Yes of course you should always report cases to the cops, but avoiding sketchy situations to begin with is always your best line of defense, but here are some other useful bits, submitted by women who have lived here for years:
- Get an apartment on the second floor or higher.
- If you have to be on the first floor, hang men’s clothing/boxers on your laundry line. Also conceal your underwear by hanging towels or larger clothing around them.
- If you get groped on the train, grab his hand and raise it in the air, yelling “Chikan!” (pervert). I talked to a Japanese man about this practice and he said it’s true, but sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s doing the groping. Because of this, he keeps both hands up on handles in crowded trains. He doesn’t want to be wrongly accused.
- If you get groped on the train by a salaryman (and you know it’s him) grab his company lapel pin. These ubiquitous pins are required by most companies and can act as an identifier should your groper flee. Japanese companies take train groping very seriously, and will distance themselves from these employees immediately.
- Put one these little personal alarms on your key ring. You can get them at Donki.
Vivian’s piece covered trains, ladies’ cars, and walking home. Sound advice. Right now I live pretty far from my home station, so I take a cab home on late nights. It’s expensive and worth it.
“Hoittoite!” Back off!
“Chikan da!” groper/pervert!
“Keisatsu o yonde!” Call the police!
“Yamero!” Stop it!
It’s true that Japan has low crime compared to say, the U.S., but low crime doesn’t mean no crime. Just a few smart choices can keep you from being a target.