Walking home last last week having missed the last train I was stopped by a policeman. Drunk and disorderly I wasn’t. Instead I was stopped for the terrible crime of crossing a deserted minor road (no it wasn’t Letsby Avenue!) when the green man wasn’t flashing.
Before he even said anything I knew he was gonna tell me off for taking the five steps it took to cross a road that one would otherwise have to wait three minutes to cross. He started muttering something about “aka shingo” (red light) which I refused to react to in Japanese as that can sometimes make things worse and they are more likely to just give up if they can’t communicate with you.
Instead, I just said “no cars” in English and pointed to the road but he just continued to come out with the same words in Japanese. Not wanting to waste any more time I decided to swallow my pride, said “gomen” (Sorry) and just walked off. He never stopped me but it is just one example of how most police have nothing better to do in Japan.
Now I don’t know if its illegal to j-walk in this country (maybe it is) as the Japanese tend to stick to all rules. Nothing wrong with that but the circumstances in which I was stopped seemed a bit extreme given the time and place. Its not as if I was crossing a busy road whilst dodging cars!
The police in this relatively safe country only really seem to give directions and stop cyclists to make sure their bike has been registered under the users name (a law in Japan) which is no doubt a better situation than having them chasing and shooting criminals in the streets! On the other hand, ask them to catch the person who killed a foreign teacher working in Japan and they seem so reluctant to do it!