Over the course of my life, crime has barely affected me. The only time that it has reared its ugly head was when a website that I bought DVDs from got hacked and my credit card details were stolen. The thieves nefariously used it to buy £34 of wallpaper. Fortunately the folks at my credit card company were able to cover the charges.
Oh, and when I was in Class 5 at school a classmate nicked issue 2 of Total! magazine out of my bag. Playground rules applied so I stole it right back again, only to find that the cheeky swine had written his name inside the front cover.
Japan certainly hasn’t been a problem for me regarding crime. Back home, in the UK, even in my hometown (especially in my hometown) I don’t feel save walking down dark alleys at night. In Japan however, it can be 4:30 in the morning and I could be walking around completely lost in an unfamiliar town, attempting to find the train station, without a care in the world.
The general naiveté stretches to others too. When I go to a Doutor coffee shop to partake in a little Japanese study or a delicious Milano Sandwich. I am always shocked about the amount of people who leave their bags unattended on seats to reserve their place in the café while they go and order. It seems both impudent and foolhardy all at once. In any other country in the world, this would be open invitation for a purse snatching. I’m glad this technique is not used to save spots in queues too, lest it result in some sort of terrible human dominos disaster.
There is the famous story of a Japanese tourist who left his bag unattended in a German train station. He left his bag attached by a chain to a bench and went off sightseeing. Only to cause a bomb scare which resulted in the evacuation of the station and the cancellation of 2 trains. When he returned he was welcomed by a rather large fine (10,000s of euros).
The lax security I’m most worried about though concerns credit cards. I first happened to use my British credit card in a shop called Tokyu Hands, a kind of Japanese John Lewis. I bought my purchases up to the counter and considering the high price of the goods I handed over my credit card.
Which I promptly got back with my receipt.
I didn’t enter any PIN, didn’t sign anything and I was wondering what just happened. I remember being very confused and the shop assistant just smiled and gestured outside.
This doesn’t happen in all shops but in many department stores and supermarkets a quick swipe is all that is required to pay. God help you if the card in question had already been swiped once before, by a thief!
I guess that this lack of signatures or PIN numbers is a result of Japan still being stuck in the middle ages, they still use family and personal seals for most things. But that is another story…..
The only things that I ever seem to hear of getting stolen are bikes but even that isn’t that common considering the amount of unlocked bikes I see. The general lack of security here astounding and it leaves me wondering, Where are the thieves?