On our way to the department store tonight we saw that an accident had occurred on a narrow stretch of road at an intersection. There were two police cars, a few police, and a bike was being taped off by the police. A car was embedded in a stone wall, and the rescue squad was trying to get a passenger out. It didn’t look good. There were a few Bõsõzoku (violent running gang) members crowded around a few blocks away as we left the scene, so we immediately thought it may have had something to do with them.
When we returned along that same road after some shopping we expected that the accident would have been cleared and the traffic restored. What greeted us as we rounded the corner looked like a scene straight out of a movie!
The was a line of twenty police cars and a riot squad bus. The riot squad was there in their full gear with shields and batons drawn. As we were waved by a policeman wielding a glowing baton to take a side street, we could see that a huge group of Bõsõzoku had formed and were taunting police with insults. They were waving bokken (wooden swords), baseball bats and knives. They looked very aggravated and threatening with their gang jackets and face masks. The riot squad was forming a line and trying to hem them in, but there were bikes all over the place and it looked to me that the Bõsõzoku far outnumbered the police.
Heading down the side street we saw that the locals had been gathered by the police at a shrine a little way down the street and they didn’t look at all happy at having to leave their houses for these arseholes who all so often wreak havoc in our neighbourhoods.
Tomorrows papers will fill us in on the details, or maybe then again they may not. The police do their best to make sure these types of incidents don’t make the news.
I renewed my Japanese drivers licence two months ago, and it was ready to be picked up today. Yes, it takes that long! But before I could receive it, I had to sit and watch a two hour lecture/video on Japanese road rules given by an upstanding member of Kanagawa’s constabulary at our local entertainment centre. All I can say is that the Japanese really love their graphs, charts and statistics!
After a one hour video starring very poor actors and simulated crash scenes, we were subjected to statistical charts, graphs, and a question and answer segment on road rules. We were given two books on road rules and general safety and told to study them at our leisure.
The police instructor even resorted to using toy cars to illustrate some scenarios in true Japanese fashion! It almost felt like an NHK news production!
As the only foreigner there I was asked a few times if driving laws were the same in “Your country.” I answered that they were very much the same apart from the narrow roads and the stopping distance at the end of roads/streets. He seemed pleased to hear that.
Attendees were warned at the beginning about using mobile phones or falling asleep during the lecture. One poor sod fell asleep at the back and was told he had to come back at a later date to watch the whole thing again before they would give him his licence.
All in all a waste of two hours.
Just now I went to my local Seven Eleven to get a coffee. There were police everywhere and the store was closed. I counted 23 police, with 6 cars and three bikes.
They had three shady looking, gangster-types spreadeagled on the ground while two police were searching a big black car with their little white gloves on. The car was parked in the Seven Eleven car park with all the doors open, some items were on the ground, and police were taking pictures of the items.
The police were removing the jackets and shirts of the men on the ground, I guess looking for tattoos. I’ve been told that the Ametoku rengõ-kai is a Yakuza group that is big in this area - running most of the pachinko parlours.
The police hardly do anything about the Yakuza in these parts, so all the neighbours have been going to gawk at the spectacle. I came home to get my camera, but my wife warned that it was probably not a good idea.
“The Vietnamese did it,” said one Japanese neighbour.
Last night somebody broke into a car parked outside the karaoke bar near my house. The navigation system was taken and ¥15,000,000. (why leave that much money in a car?).
Now this kind of thing is extremely rare here in Japan. Breaking into cars is almost unheard of, so when it happens it is big news and gets quite a lot of tongues wagging. Naturally the police don’t like to have these sorts of things scaring the people, so they go out of their way to put on a show of force and at least look as though they are investigating.
The bar is across from our local “Asian” grocery store - run by our local Vietnamese community. Besides being a store where one can buy Vietnamese/Cambodian food it also serves as a hub for the local Vietnamese community who meet there for social get-togethers and such. At almost any time of day there are some Vietnamese people sitting outside having a chinwag.
How did the Japanese police begin their investigation? Naturally, by targeting the Vietnamese! ALL of the Vietnamese were told to attend the police station and give a report of where they were during the night between 9pm and 4am. No local Japanese were investigated. Is that fair? To single out ONE ethnic community and to imply that they are suspects is, to my multicultural upbringing, racist and insulting. But that is nothing new in Japan. To most Japanese EVERYONE who is not Japanese is not to be trusted as they are “outsiders.” The division here is clear cut - Japanese & gaijin.
I asked a neighbour what happened. Her response, “The Vietnamese broke into a car.”
“So they caught them and have witnesses,” I asked. “No, but it was them, they don’t belong here.” was her reply.
The Japanese have already decided who committed the crime, without witnesses and without evidence.