Crime Prevention - 10. "Is Japan a safe country?" | Lectures for Foreign Students on Disaster Control | JPSS, the information site of studying in Japan

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"Is Japan a safe country?"

Even if you live in a relatively safe country or area, common sense rules should be followed for your protection. Don't walk alone down dark streets, and don't stay out late in areas where crime often occurs at night. Keep an eye on your personal belongings, especially on items that contain personal information such as your residence card and phone. Be aware of malicious online sites as well as the people you meet online. If you let your guard down even for just a moment, you may be faced with an unfortunate or dangerous situation. You should exercise caution in your daily life and be aware of potential dangers around you at all times.

Not all of the criminal cases that have happened are the major ones they report on newspapers and television. What may rather have effect on us will be smaller troubles that can happen at any time everywhere. We'd like to produce a safety guide which is useful to you.

1. Beware of Purse-snatching

If you keep your bag in the basket of a bicycle without any cover, it is possible that a motorcycle approaches from behind and snatches your purse. You may be targeted by purse snatchers also when absorbed in a mobile phone. Snatch-and-grab thefts can be prevented with proper and simple precautions as described below.

  • - Carry your bag on the side that is closest to buildings (away from the road) to avoid drive-by purse-snatchers.
  • - Use a shoulder bag with the strap crossed over your body.
  • - Attach a purse-snatching preventative net over the front cage of your bicycle.
  • - Try not to talk on a mobile phone or look at the display for e-mails while you are walking outside.
2. Theft

In daily life we can not always avoid suffering from having a purse, a bag, or a bicycle parked stolen. Once stolen, it would be gone for good. Pay attention to your belongings at any time when outside to stay away from crimes and troubles.

  • - Don't bring the valuables when you go out. Keep the amount of money you carry to a minimum.
  • - Do not leave personal valuables even in spaces you feel comfortable in, such as a classroom or your place of work. Never leave a bag which holds your residence card, train pass, wallet, etc. unattended.
  • - When you purchase a bicycle, register it as a safeguard against theft.
  • - Install two locks to your bicycle.
  • - On the other hand, you should not pick up without permission unattended bicycles, electronic appliances, or furniture abandoned on the streets, or you will be charged with embezzlement.
3. Burglar

Locks originally equipped with might be insufficient to prevent burglars, while it is matter of course to get doors and windows fully locked whenever you go out. Fit additional locks to the windows, or ask your caretaker to replace the lock of external door when it doesn't seem firm enough. You are advised to take care of the following points to prevent burglars.

  • - Lock your room door even if you are going out only for a short time, say, to throw garbage away.
  • - If you have a postbox attached to a external door designated for dropping a mail into, put a cover securely from the inside which prevents thieves from trying to peek at inside or putting their hands through.
  • - Avoid leaving your mails piled up. It encourages thieves to break in if you are considered to be away.
  • - In your room, keep the valuables out of sight and as for cash, put as much as possible in a bank or the likes.
4. Money Transfer Fraud (Furikome-sagi)

The criminal pretends to be a policeman, a lawyer, or official, and calls and tells you to transfer money. In Japan, public institutions will not make a direct call to ask you to make any payment. If a stranger calls you and talk about money transfer, be alert to consider the possibility of money transfer fraud and react calmly.

  • - Don't inform a stranger of personal information such as your name, your family's name, address, nor credit card number even though he is surely from the police or one of the officials.
  • - You should not reply in vague fashion when it is difficult for you to understand or catch what they say in Japanese. Say clearly "I don't know about that."
  • - Hang up to confirm later when you can't manage to judge yourself on the spot.


For the present, the Internet is the most useful device for information and communication. However, you must be fully aware of the risks, say, of not being let known physical information of people you communicate with online. With one clicking, you could get in trouble so easily. Be especially alert to money-related transactions such as online contracts, Internet auction, or online games.

1. If claimed the fees of a website you have never used.

Just ignore them if you have never been the user of a pay website or pay online service. Do not be tempted to respond, or they would be let known your personal information. Consult it with the police and/or consumer affairs centers as they email you persistently.

2. Phishing fraud is the act of sending an email to a user falsely claiming to be an established

legitimate enterprise (public institutions, banks, or some companies) in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information including IDs, a password, or a credit card number.
Always ensure that you're using a secure website by checking its identity or URL before submitting any personal information. If you have any concerns, close the web browser for the time and enter the address yourself without relying on displayed links. Or, make a call to the institution to confirm.

3. The risk that an item you have won on the auction would not arrive after you made a payment for it.

Before you conduct transaction, take the time to read the online guides provided by the auction company for avoiding fraud and what they offer as insurance if something goes wrong. In addition, you are advised to refrain from making a high-priced purchase. If you become a victim, take the following steps before you give up.

  • - All the information concerning your deal should be restored, including email address, names, physical address, and bank account of the person involved, and web pages on which the item had been shown.
  • - Send a content-certified mail which claims the seller to pay back. A content-certified mail can be a proof that you surely submit your request to its receiver.
  • - Report the damage to the auction company and ask them for compensation.
  • - Report to the police.
  • - Inform the bank through which remittance was made. They would cancel and refund the remittance once wrongly made, but it is considered difficult in the case like fraud because you are required to get permission from the addressed ones to be refund money. Yet, it might make more difference than doing nothing.

As soon as you discover that you become a crime victim, make contact immediately with experts like the police, lawyers (they offer free of charge consulting), and/or consumer affairs center, together with Japanese acquaintances of yours (your boss at work place, school teachers, or school clerks). Don't hesitate to ask help from experts for further arrangements.


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