Now can you guess why the two cops are interrogating a foreigner in the video?
Because this foreigner refused the check of his bag.
Today I explain this terrible check called “Shokushitsu”, and why you should not refuse it. If you refuse it and touch the police, there is a possibility of being arrested for the guilt of “Obstructing the execution of public affairs”.
Shokushitsu: Patrolling by the Japanese police
The Japanese government allows the authorities to check what you have on the streets. This act is called “Syokushitsu”, and they keep the social security looking for drug dealers or illegal immigrants thanks to it.
Normally the policemen ask you chivalrously to show inside your bag, maybe you don’t feel so bad.
However there are two problems.
①Police judge by appearance.
For example this video became very famous as a controversial act of a policeman. The policeman asked a Japanese who has Dread and said that he called him because he had typical Narco hairstyle.
So if you have an appearance that looks like criminals by common sense in Japanese society, it would raise the possibility of suffering from patrol.
I repeat again but…
If you have Dread hair
If you have tattoos on your arms
If you look like that you don’t want to speak with cop…
You could not run away from Shokushitsu.
It is very unreasonable but the authorities tend to check foreigners more than Japanese because there is always a possibility of being illegal immigrants. Each provincial central police base has to fulfill the task of arresting criminals up to the numbers that the central government decided. So making Shokushitsu to foreigners is a very efficient way.
Tristly the objects of Shokushitsu are decided by racism. Asians like Vietnamese or Muslims, Latinos like Brazilians or Peruvians are targeted more than Westerners. It is a very cruel situation, but international Japanese are not engaged in police work, so changing this situation is not easy.
②It’s a voluntary research, but it’s really not like that.
According to the law this act is a voluntary investigation, so you can refuse even if the agents ask you to do so.
But the principle and the actual case are different.
Can you see again the first video? The foreigner in the video is refusing to say his name but the police officers are questioning him strongly. So if you refuse, the police ask you the same content a thousand times until you approve.
“If you are not a criminal, you could show me your ID card, right? Do you have any reason you can’t tell us?”
You can listen to this sentence until you can repeat perfectly. do you want it?
Your options are two; “Yes” or “Hai”.
My experience: “You don’t speak our dialect. Why are you here, stranger?”
Relatively foreigners suffer from patrol more than Japanese natives, but sometimes we experience it too. When I went to a rural island for my vacation, I experienced it.
This island has many beautiful beaches like the picture above, but being rural there was neither a supermarket nor a Konbini. So at nine o’clock in the evening I borrowed a bicycle from the hotel, I went to a Konbini where we can get there in 30 minutes.
After leaving the store, I noticed that there are two policemen and they looked at me curiously. One said to me like this.
“Excuse me, can I ask you a few things?”
“Sure, what happened?”
“Ah? Aren’t you from here. You speak the different accent. Where did you come here from?”
“Well, I’m from Tokyo. I came for the vacations.”
“From Tokyo, normally Tokyoites don’t come all the way to this island, do you have any ID card?”
I felt very bad because I felt that I was being discriminated against because of my neutral accent, but I gave them my university student card without complaining.
“Hmm… Is it a real one? I don’t know your university.”
I was very surprised because my university was a prestigious one in Tokyo, and I could no longer put up with their ignorance.
“Well, if you don’t know my university, that’s fine. But it’s a real one, and I don’t do anything wrong. I came to this region because my dead grandfather is from here and could not return to his homeland before he died. That’s why I am traveling for him as his grandson. and now any doubt?”
When they heard that my grandfather is from your region, the policemen changed their way of speaking.
“Oh sorry, sir. I didn’t know that you are traveling to comfort the soul of your grandfather who couldn’t come back to this island. you also have our blood and now you came back here! What a fine gentleman you are even though you are very young. You did not forget your homeland. Ah sure sure, enjoy your trip. We only do patrolling because recently there are a lot of thieving outsiders.”
It’s the story of 21st century.
The very fragile position of foreigners in Japan
From my experience you can understand the reality of the Japanese situation. This country is not cosmopolitan at all except the center of Tokyo, and foreigners are in the fragile situation. But also among Japanese there are conflicts like my experience. So it is more for foreigners, isn’t it?
To change this problem will take a very long time. Maybe it will improve in 10 years, but it won’t change anything tomorrow. So now what I can advise you is one.
Don’t refuse Shokushitsu.