Japan: no safe country for international females

A Tokyoite reassesses her view of Japan after another violent encounter is ignored by passers-by, authorities

by Holly Lanasolyluna
  • On Line: Oct 23, 2013
  • Last Modified: Oct 24, 2013

I’ve lived in Japan on / off for quite a while, and I’ve always felt safe to my bicycle right right here, especially when I usually see young and women that are old biking after all hours associated with evening. But after an event a couple weeks ago, personally i think as though this sense that is false of was stripped away.

Cycling house at 8:30 p.m. on a well-lit road in Tokyo, I sensed another biker by my side, and so I slowed up to let him pass. When this occurs he suddenly cut over, trapped me against a car that is parked grabbed my tire.

He started yelling at me personally in Japanese, but purchase a wife the thing i possibly could demonstrably comprehend was “You stole this bicycle!” we insisted that I’d maybe maybe not and attempted to take away, however the guy ended up being strong and continued yanking back at my bicycle. I got myself it from the shop brand-new, therefore I knew it wasn’t taken. We additionally didn’t think he wanted that it was my bicycle.

I yelled, in both English and Japanese, “assist! Phone law enforcement!” People observed the fracas but did absolutely nothing to assist. He pulled me personally across a road packed with traffic, quickly cars that are blocking but simply about everyone just did actually ignore it.

It felt like hours of fighting, however a young girl on a bike showed up. At this point i have to have had rips streaming down my face and my sound had been nearly gone. She believed to me calmly: “ this man is known by me. You took this bicycle. I’m calling law enforcement.”

Had been this guy and also this woman working together? Or had been it simply therefore believable that a foreigner might have taken the bicycle that she instinctively thought him? And should they had been a group, just what did they need? A mama chari well worth $100? i did son’t think she ended up being really calling the authorities, but I’d no clue how exactly to explain my precise location to phone them myself, and I also didn’t wish to wait to see just what would take place next. My instinct told us to there get out of as fast as possible.

Observing the person had loosened their hold back at my bicycle, we pulled it out of their arms and shot to popularity, using the noise regarding the set yelling diminishing behind me personally. We biked away therefore quickly which they couldn’t get caught up, to a convenience shop about ten full minutes away. My hands and mind had been pulsating.

Seeing a authorities automobile pull up at a light that is red we waved and yelled at them. Somehow the officers did see me and n’t drove away, and so I met up with my boyfriend, whom were nearby, so we went along to a koban (authorities package) together.

During the koban, law enforcement officer’s reaction went the following: “Wow, that’s strange. Were they Japanese? Well, I can’t actually do just about anything because I’m here by myself and they’re not likely here anymore. You’re a young woman, and possibly you ought ton’t be away on your own alone during the night.”

No information about the event had been recorded. Not merely had every bystander ignored my pleas for assistance, nevertheless the authorities had additionally offered me personally a response that is terribly disappointing basically, “Sho ga nai, ne?” (“What are you able to do, eh?”).

It was maybe perhaps not the time that is first something similar to this had happened certainly to me in Japan. The final time ended up being in Osaka one early early morning, around 10 a.m., when complete stranger picked me up and tried to carry me personally right into a love resort. Then, we kept punching and kicking until he dropped me. I attempted to hightail it, but he had been much taller than me personally and kept catching up.

Our battle continued for at the least ten minutes, and none associated with many onlookers aided as well as appeared worried. Finally, I saw a authorities officer across the street and screamed within my attacker, “Look! Look! It’s the police!” That did actually frighten him, and also at that time he strolled over to a nearby vending device, purchased me a water, said “gomen nasai” (sorry) and strolled away.

During those times I experienced few buddies in Japan, and everybody we told said very very very first, “Was he Japanese?” and 2nd, “Things like that never happen in Japan.” (I’dn’t also seriously considered their ethnicity; he had been Asian and had talked in my experience in Japanese.)

Everybody else managed to get appear enjoy it had been this kind of random experience that we very nearly, in reality, felt ashamed, thinking i have to have inked one thing to provoke this strange behavior. If this 2nd event happened, we began to suspect why these occasions weren’t uncommon. We posted a description of exactly exactly what had happened on Facebook and asked if individuals had had comparable experiences.

The reaction had been overwhelming: tales to be attacked while jogging, being stalked by male and female pupils, being groped regarding the road in broad daylight, guys masturbating on trains, attempted kidnappings. Each one of these stories originated from strong ladies who set up a vicious battle but nevertheless moved away with mental (and quite often real) accidents. In most among these tales, the victims was indeed in a “safe” public spot but no body attempted to assist them to or phone law enforcement. Should this be therefore typical, how does Japan keep a reputation to be so safe? And it is this image of security really assisting these incidents?

Numerous state Tokyo could be the most readily useful destination to host the Olympics since it is safe. Plus in numerous methods it really is: Foreigners are astounded to walk into Starbucks to see iPhones kept unattended on a dining table to reserve a chair, as an example. Once I lived in Barcelona, my phone wasn’t safe even yet in my pocket. Nevertheless, the 2 many attacks that are aggressive my entire life took place in Japan, not in “unsafe” nations I backpacked through alone and at a more youthful age. Hence we don’t think Japan can be as safe because the image propagated concerning the nation shows. It would appear that almost every woman that is foreign understand has an awful tale to inform. We have absolutely no way of once you understand if this quantity can be high for Japanese ladies, because just international females shared their tales beside me.

Many of us do wonder: Are these kind of attacks more predominant among international women? It really is difficult to inform, but maybe for the attacker this type of target might be less dangerous. Numerous international ladies would perhaps not know where and exactly how to report such an event. Even yet in my situation, having A japanese boyfriend to opt for me personally and convert, the authorities nevertheless didn’t record any information or look for the folks included. Moreover, since foreigners in many cases are connected with criminal activity, bystanders could be less inclined to intervene or phone the authorities.

In the end these years, we obviously remember anti-groping cartoon posters into the Fukuoka subway depicting a person with dark skin pressing a white girl. Also during the time, we thought it reflected a view that is still-prevalent Japan: criminal activity and crooks are non-Japanese. Each time a criminal activity takes place, individuals always ask, “Was (s)he Japanese?” Needless to say, Japanese individuals too commit crimes, and “othering” the victims and perpetrators just makes it much simpler for crimes to get unaddressed, hence making culture less safe both for foreigners and Japanese.

As I’ve talked about, for many these types are known by me of assaults are only as common amongst Japanese ladies. In the place of leaping to conclusions, I’m just hoping to begin a discussion which may help result in solutions. I’ve always understood that Japan had perverts — like anywhere — but until recently that they had felt fairly harmless.

As a minority in Japan, international ladies do get a great deal of male attention as they are frequently provided act as hostesses. In addition they complain in my experience about how exactly they feel objectified in Japan. White models and mannequins are noticed every-where, despite the fact that white ladies represent a small percentage associated with populace.

In ways, white women become synthetic here: imports without feelings — strange, exotic dolls. And when our company is dolls, possibly the groping, leering, stalking and attacking is somehow justified within the perpetrator’s head as a game instead of a criminal activity.

I tolerated the staring, following and persistent nampa (pickup artists), but after being assaulted twice in public, they have taken on darker undertones when I first moved to Japan. We now know We can’t count on the goodwill of strangers, I was verbally harassed in countries such as Mexico as I have in the past when. Interest from strangers me the chills that I could have dismissed as innocent curiosity a few years ago now gives.

Despite its stereotypes that are many inconveniences, i really like Japan. Therefore do a complete great deal of this ladies who shared their tales with me. I will be interested in Japan as it’s therefore not the same as my tradition. I do want to keep residing right here and unlocking the secrets We encounter every but I have ideas about how it could be made a safer place day. Simply because Everyone loves this nation, it doesn’t suggest i need to like it unconditionally and ignore those ideas i would disagree with.

Experiencing these incidents and hearing other women’s tales has changed my day-to-day behavior. I’ve vowed to be much more careful as We determine dangers within my everyday life. We carry Mace. During the night, I simply take roadways which have a lot of kobans I know how to explain my route should I have to talk to a police officer on them, and.