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Amparo Bertram

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05:35 pm: And now a word about crime in Japan
Overall, Japan is a relatively safe country. Guns are illegal, and drugs are much less prevalent than in the US (particularly in high schools, from my experience). The police are quite capable. You don't want to go walking in the wrong neighborhood in Shinjuku at night, but hey, no big loss. It's true that incidents of serious crime are increasing in frequency, but in general they're still comparatively rare.

In one of the bulletins that gets passed around the apartment complex, there is a report of all the crimes in Moriyama. The most serious I've seen so far has been car theft (mainly cars that were parked with the keys left in them), followed by bike theft, burglary, and purse-snatching.

Then...there are the "pervert" crimes...

Whenever there's a "pervert" alert, the teachers are told about it at the morning meeting so that they can warn the girls to be careful. These "pervert" crimes mainly involve men or teenage boys taking pictures of or touching the bottoms of girls as they walk or ride their bikes to and from school. (One thing that must be kept in mind is that transportation of students to and from school by car is prohibited by school rules. The students are not allowed to drive at all, nor are parents allowed to drop them off or pick them up at school.) The two most common methods of such harrassment are 1) to fondle the girl on the train and 2) to use a bicycle/motorbike to ride up to a girl, touch her rear, and then zoom away. (One boy was recently arrested for the first method, thanks in part to the efforts of one of the girls at my school, and he admitted to fondling 12 different girls before getting caught.)

There is another type of "pervert" crime, and that is underwear theft. Most Japanese households don't have clothes dryers, so they all hang their laundry out to dry. Women who live in first floor apartments are constant victims of having their underwear stolen while it's drying. (They should know better by now than to hang underwear outside, but whatever.) In the most recent crime bulletin, there were two reports of underwear theft.

This morning when I went to school, there was a further crime report of a break-in that happened over the weekend. A 42-year-old man entered the school ground, bought a drink from the vending machine, and then proceeded on to the school gym. There he spent some time sniffing the girls' gym shoes.

Ick. X_X

He set off an alarm when he tried to get to the second floor to go in the girls' restroom, and the police arrived to arrest him. An addendum to the story is that he was found to be wearing women's underwear.

I'm guessing he was a NON-executive transvestite.

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Comments

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From:amilyn
Date:June 6th, 2005 09:32 am (UTC)
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LOL!

Ah...cultural differences.
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From:mangaroo
Date:June 6th, 2005 10:30 am (UTC)
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Women who live in first floor apartments are constant victims of having their underwear stolen while it's drying.

It's like Japan is one giant 1960s frat house.
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From:megory
Date:June 6th, 2005 12:49 pm (UTC)

I don't think we could do one...

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a list of the crimes around here, I mean. It would be too long and scary. Sometimes I can't finish reading the paper it's so disgusting, sad and traumatizing.

Do the people there think it's as funny as it sounds to us that someone steals underwear from clotheslines? Or is this pretty serious stuff for them?

Of course, it would be no laughing matter if it happened to me!

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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:June 6th, 2005 01:55 pm (UTC)

Re: I don't think we could do one...

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Do the people there think it's as funny as it sounds to us that someone steals underwear from clotheslines? Or is this pretty serious stuff for them?

That's hard to say. The women find it annoying and, I'd guess, a little scary. The teachers at school consider it quite serious and are constantly lecturing the girls on what to do if they encounter a pervert. On the other hand, men who do this on anime are often played up as amusing--sort of like, "Sure, it's perverted, but that's just what men do."
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From:wrenwyn
Date:June 6th, 2005 01:23 pm (UTC)
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Thanks, Amparo! This was very timely with the research I've been doing on Japan (in preparation of S and I's trip there next year). What I've read so far is that walking the streets with loads of money is safe, but you can get groped on the trains. The best thing to do if this happens, the guide said, was to grab the man's hand and raise it over your head.

This has me wondering what I can wear to protect my butt from unwanted grabs -- only Xerxes gets to do that.

Has this happened to you? wednesday_10_00 You? What would you do if this happens? I would feel so angry but it seems, from what I read, that if you get angry in Japan you "lose face".

(=^.^=)
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:June 6th, 2005 01:45 pm (UTC)
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Has this happened to you?

Not to me personally. High school girls are the prime targets, but I think any woman who isn't a wrinkled grandmother is probably at risk to some extent.

What would you do if this happens?

Most people are advised to yell "Chikan!" (pervert). I don't know what I would do. Probably stomp on his foot, if I could find it. (Crowded trains are really crowded.)

I would feel so angry but it seems, from what I read, that if you get angry in Japan you "lose face".

And that's the reason these men keep getting away with it. The women are too embarrassed to raise a fuss.

The solution megory learned in another country that has this as a problem is that the women keep a pin in the shoulder of whatever they're wearing. If they feel an unwanted hand, they pull out the pin and stick the hand with it. Whoever yelps is the culprit.

And, by the way, don't worry too much about losing face. Foreigners are exempt from pretty much any unspoken social rule...and a lot of the spoken ones. They expect you to be crazy different.
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From:firesign10
Date:June 6th, 2005 02:02 pm (UTC)
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If they feel an unwanted hand, they pull out the pin and stick the hand with it. Whoever yelps is the culprit.

That's great! Swift and effective, and (one would think) embarassing to the perpetrator! I also liked the foot-stomping!
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From:wednesday_10_00
Date:June 6th, 2005 05:34 pm (UTC)
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Nah, I think I'm too big and scary to get groped. (Remember that in Japan 5'6" is quite tall for a woman; I think I've seen three women taller than me in the two years I've lived here.) I really don't think it's a big problem with foreigners, who are pretty intimidating to most Japanese people. They're too afraid to talk to us, let alone harass us.

From what I understand, if it happens, all you have to do is turn around and LOOK at the guy, and he'll be terribly ashamed and embarrassed, and just leave you alone (and maybe even run away). They expect the girls to just pretend like it's not happening, so they don't know what to do when confronted.

Honestly, it's not going to happen at all unless you're in a really, really crowded train, which will probably only be once or twice during your visit. I wouldn't worry about it.
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From:firesign10
Date:June 6th, 2005 02:08 pm (UTC)
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Wren and S-chan had just talked about this (with the groping) and I was really surprised. I guess I think of eveyrone in Japan being very polite (sorry to fall victim to cultural stereotypes...) and I would never have thought it would be a problem there. You always hear about stuff like that being big in Italy or something (although I've NEVER heard of underwear-snatching being a cultural phenomenon anywhere LOL). It's funnier as A) I'm not there and B) I'm not a young girl (the underwear part).- The groping part is never funny. I DID get groped "on the run" once when I was in high school and I remember how shocked I was afterwards. :-P
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:June 6th, 2005 02:41 pm (UTC)
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I guess I think of eveyrone in Japan being very polite (sorry to fall victim to cultural stereotypes...) and I would never have thought it would be a problem there.

It's a HUGE problem. In fact, a while back they instituted "ladies only" train cars for rush hour to help ease the problem. (I heard once that this didn't go over all that well, but I can still see the "ladies only car" signs on train platforms.)

Another area that's a problem is men taking photographs--generally underwear shots--of unsuspecting women. The main technique is to stand at the bottom of some stairs and take a shot up women's skirts as they walk up the stairs. (Some men satisfy themselves with just holding a mirror in their hands, rather than taking actual photographs.) For this reason, all Japanese cell phones now have quite audible (and not mute-able) sounds play whenever the camera is used. (The technique that always grosses me out is the hidden camera in the public restroom stall, which I both saw on TV and read about in a novel.)

The thing about Japanese politeness is, it's mostly surface-level. It's about appearances. Most Japanese people will be incredibly polite to foreigners, because they're putting on a public face. (Even when they discriminate against you, they'll generally do it politely.) But if someone thinks he can do something and not get caught, or at least not have anyone important find out, he's likely to try it.
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From:firesign10
Date:June 7th, 2005 07:16 am (UTC)
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I was talking to DH about this and he had actually read an article about it a couple of months ago, with the burgeoning cellphone/camera issue. It was all news to me!
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From:melf42
Date:June 6th, 2005 03:41 pm (UTC)
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One thing that must be kept in mind is that transportation of students to and from school by car is prohibited by school rules. The students are not allowed to drive at all, nor are parents allowed to drop them off or pick them up at school

Whoa. Is this just at your school or is this common? Do you know the reason behind it?? I don't know if this is a rule at my school or not, though I think parents can at least pick their kids up. I have seen kids arrive by taxi. (I did wonder why so many kids came by bike / bus when there is probably an available parent.)
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:June 6th, 2005 08:56 pm (UTC)
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Is this just at your school or is this common?

I don't know. I never heard about it before coming to this school, but my Japanese wasn't all that great when I was at my previous schools, so it may have been a rule and I just didn't know about it.

Do you know the reason behind it??

I think it's because there's simply no room for cars. The parking lot is miniscule, the road leading to the parking lot is the typical one-lane-alley-posing-as-a-two-lane-road, and the road in front of the school is so busy during commuting hours that stopping in front of the school would cause major traffic jams.

I have seen some parents stop down the block from the school to let their girls off, though.
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