Why Japan Arrests Foreigners

Why Japan Arrests Foreigners

this video is brought to you by squarespace Japan one of the safest countries in the world in fact when it comes to crime in 2017 the Japan crime rate hit record lows with a total of nine hundred and fifteen thousand recorded crimes when compared to the u.s. with almost tripled the population had a total of eight point nine million recorded crimes for me there’s no better place to visit or even live and probably why I’ve been here for more than 15 years so if you’ve never been in Japan then I definitely recommend visiting once at least in your life but before you visit you might want to know why Japan arrests foreigners well the simple answer is when many foreigners come over they simply fail to understand Japanese laws their severity and the overall judicial system until it’s too late and believe me I’ve seen and heard enough stories of foreigners getting arrested that I wanted to make this video for you guys so when you visit Japan you don’t end up arrested because the last thing you want to do especially come in Japan is get arrested I won’t be doing this video by myself but I’ve actually invited a real Japanese trial lawyer to help answer some of our questions today without further ado let’s get this thing started so you guys finally here can you just tell us a little bit about yourself hi I’m you go I’m you guys shahbazi I’m a Japanese lawyer I like to consider myself as a triangle lawyer okay and I’m doing a lot of criminal cases so today I would like to explain you about the Japanese justice system so maybe before we like start about all of the different situations that foreigners could get themselves arrested for maybe you can kind of like share with me how the justice system overall kind of works here in Japan okay so if you get arrested please we’ll get you in custody for 72 hours and within that 72 hours they have to decide whether to detain you or not the prosecutor will file a request and if the judge approves such a request then you’ll get detained for 10 days and this 10 days it could be extended for 10 more days so in total the detainment will last 23 days and if you’re a foreigner and you don’t have a permanent residency it’s likely that you’ll get arrested and get detained for 23 days for one crime of course if you have committed another crime and if they arrest you for that that will be 46 so if you say you like shoplift and then you also assaulted someone yes yes clear the thing about the Japanese justice system is in most of the other countries you can’t request for a bail if you get arrested so probably in the United States you can you will get out of it in 24 hours yeah probably but in Japan we don’t have that system you only can request a bail after you get indicted you can see a lawyer but you cannot get bailed out you cannot get outside the cell you have to stay in custody for 23 days maybe after the 3 days you can meet your family ok 50 minutes each day and if you get indicted you may get detained for a longer or they release you if you get arrested for doing shoplifting for example or a bar fight it’s a minor crime but if you’re foreigner you don’t have to permit a residency there is the risk that you will get detained for 23 days so just let me clarify this gay we feel like you’ve committed a crime then they’ll take you to the police station yes they’ll hold you for 3 days they don’t the charge you with a crime no basically they’ll just interrogate you and within the 3 days if they don’t charge you with a crime then they have to let you go right or they ask you for detainment up to 20 days off 10 days plus 10 days what happens if you don’t speak a language well there’s an interpreter but 23 days it’s I think it’s outrageous some people lose their jobs lose their families what happens during that 23 days yeah the police will do some investigation and you’ll get interrogated no emails no telephone and although you have the right to remain silence in Japan the authorities comes true that you have to be there when the officer questions you so that’s difference because my understanding is other countries if you have the right to remain silent you don’t have to go through the interrogation right so that’s also a big difference so doing get interrogation you you have to you would be in the room with officer and they will throw in questions and they will put pressure on you well they will say like it’s better for you to plead guilty and they are accusing you for a crime and although you have the right to remain silence it’s really difficult hard to exercise it right also one more thing the lawyer is not allowed to be present during the interrogation in other countries usually the lawyers are with you but not in Japan they don’t allow that here in Japan so a lot of pressure and that’s why a lot of people confess even confess what’s not true and thus the the conviction rate of 99.9 percent and this is called hostage justice yeah what’s that called in Japanese oh Jesus you go back they basically coerce a confession yes because if you for shoplifting maybe they would just tell you not to do it anymore or maybe a fine but if you plead not guilty they will keep you for a longer period after they indict you you will be detained and sometimes it could end up a year because they don’t they owe you out the judge won’t approve it they want your confession that’s why it’s called positive justice you’re better off just confessing well a lot of people will think in a way it’s in a way irrational what about an embassy for example can they do anything for you well they can come and they can probably give your message to your family but not much all right so let me just take a quick break right now and thank our sponsors Squarespace without them I wouldn’t be able to make these videos for you guys so I’ve been using Squarespace for the last seven years to start up all the different businesses I’ve had it’s just been so easy to get my online presence out there in fact when we quitted Tokyo zebra I let Michael who’s never managed or built a web site in her life and it was super easy for her to use what’s really nice is that they have all these different templates then you can go choose so if any of you are looking to actually get a web site out there in your online press out there you can go to squarespace.com and try it for free and when you’re ready to launch go to squarespace.com for it slash Paulo from Tokyo and get 10% off your first purchase on your domain or website it’s that easy let’s like kind of talk about theft that’s one of the common reasons why foreigners get arrested here in Japan yes so someone goes into a shop they go and like take an item the shopkeeper sees them they’d get stopped what’s the process there well they will call for police they will take you to a lease office nearby and probably you’ll get arrested detained and the process I explained to you earlier in the 23 days and also if you ask for a lawyer they usually have interpreter but there is a language barrier and usually if it’s that and if she’s pleading guilty and if he has a lawyer we are trying to make a settlement did the victim trying to compensate but recently a lot of stores those big stores yeah clothing stores or merchandise they refused to sell the reason for that is because the damage cost by shoplifting it’s a huge huge amount they don’t want to settle anymore and they want to be more strict on the punishment like it’s a warning sign to everyone else that’s trying to shoplift the difference between the Japanese and the foreigners is the foreigners especially those sightseeing tours yes they don’t have a permanent residency there is a risk of flight if they don’t live in Japan so that gives reason authority to arrest and to detain them if anything if you get convicted yeah for example you you’re guilty but it was a minor offense so or tells you to pay fine but you already spent like a year in jail well the crime you committed was a minor Oh all crime but but still they will put you in jail off year two or even longer until you yes many times people ask me what should I confess even I haven’t done it but as a lawyer it’s it’s really hard to say there’s one thing I wanted to talk about it was two roommates and one of the roommates actually got some drugs sent to their apartment because both of them are living in the same space they both got detained or arrested I think it’s a matter of how strong that evidence is if there’s no evidence they cannot arrest you and there’s no reason to arrest you so there must be some kind of evidence the question is how strong is that evidence for example of what you told me now they found drugs where those two people were living right yeah so there is suspicion but it was only sent to one person the other guy says right of course if the situation’s show for example if they go through the computer they will check your email and if they find like email exchanges with the other person and the person who sent those drugs then probably you can say I didn’t do it and there’s no evidence they will release you or they will decide not to indict you but what happens if you don’t give them your password oh that that’s this interesting case on there for example iPhone if you don’t give them your password that’s number they cannot open it not even the FBI can open it so there are people who refuse to use their password so you can do that in computer as well you don’t have to give them your password no what about your thumbprint you can refuse what happens if they force your thumb onto the phone they are not allowed to do that thumbprint yeah or refusing to give your ID or your eating test not allowing them to search your bags you have the right to do that and if you have a strong will then probably you can go over there but it’s not easy for how there’s a regular people so let me get this straight so if someone gets caught with drugs within those 23 days if they do confess to that crime and then once they’re indicted the court process how long could take well if you’re pleading guilty it will be two month to three months okay so on top of the maybe you know three weeks you’ve spent you can another two months in jail now if you’re in Tokyo it will be Tokyo Detention Center well you can request a veil you can request that at that time they frequently ask if you have somebody who could pay for the bill and if you have a friend somebody who so you have two to three months for the trial and once that’s completed they sent in to you you get sentenced for this a half year six month or a year with is three years of probation yeah but then there’s the visa issue that’s a different matter the immigration standard cancel your visa and then they will ask you to come to the immigration office and there you get contained again how long usually well if you can afford your own to get then not long otherwise you will have to wait until there’s a special and airplane for deportation that’s that’s pretty serious right it’s serious yes actually not the crime in itself that is serious I think it’s the system I’ve seen people foreigner they got arrested for shoplifting anything a rice bowl for one rice ball he was detained for almost a year and after that he was deported deportation so do you think marijuana cocaine is drugs is that something that’s common for foreigners to get arrested well not only foreigners also for Japanese people but it happens often theft and drug even a bar fight for example if you were finding I guess the Japanese and the police comes of course they will listen to this Japanese guy because they can communicate with us yeah person okay well you can’t explain your story they can explain their story the police will just probably here is that one side so what do they do they can arrest you the same with the drugs so if the Japanese person says oh he hit me first he assaulted me the police can just arrest you yes but there’s also cameras around so if you could prove that your story is true so if you do get in a fight and you did hit someone first you’re gonna go down this path there’s a possibility then of course it doesn’t mean necessarily that you get arrested they may let you go yes so let’s talk about graffiti okay I’m in Shibuya I see it all around is it that bad well you can get arrested yeah if you get caught doing that and the st. get thinking happened three days arrests and then 20 days of detention but usually within that 23 days and if he’s pleading guilty yeah we will try to contact those owners in the building and negotiate with them and getting to a settlement if this succeeds they will be released but graffiti is pretty serious yes it’s not just like oh I just painted something no forgive me no and it’s also I’ve seen some cases those people I met were misled by the false information information says Shibuya is a free city they are welcome to do graffiti so graffiti artists they gather to Shibuya and do the paintings and the police comes by randomly hello arrested oh really that’s happened because they think they are welcome because that because you see it everywhere well theft or graffiti fighting drugs yeah well maybe not drugs but other things there are also a crime in other countries not only Japan yeah but what makes it so serious it’s not the crime itself it’s the system someone does commit one of these crimes here in Japan what should they do what you should do it really depends on the situation so I can’t really say like you should do this but you ask the police officer and they have to call for a lawyer first time it’s free is it okay to not say anything until my clients do remain scientists there’s no point in giving information to your opponent right so if you guys have any more questions on this I’ll leave some information in the description of the video thanks for your time I appreciate it thank you thank you so if you guys have any question about what we discussed today then leave it in the comment section and maybe if we get enough comments and interesting questions then maybe you go join me for another video and we can answer all those questions

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. The right to remain silent is pretty weak in a lot of places. For example, if you commit a crime in the Netherlands and get arrested, you do have the right to remain silent in principle, but this does not help you. First, you will be questioned as a "witness", and witnesses don't have this protection. Then they will use everything you said as a "witness" against you. You are required to attend interrogations, which can last for up to 8 hours a day. People will often confess to crimes they could not have reasonably committed. If you then "change your story" in court, you are a "lying suspect" which only further incriminates you, and they will believe the confession you made at the jail or police station over anything you say in court under oath because you are a "lying suspect".

  2. Sounds like this system need an overhaul, cause this make innocent ppl confess to things they didnt do, this is why lawyer is important when interogated, and its important to not jail innocent ppl so japan need to start to change their laws so innocent ppl dont get punished just because they want a high stat on solved crimes.

  3. Don't assault a Japanese national!
    Don't commit any crimes period!
    Just enjoy Japanese food and respect their culture!

  4. I was in Tokyo for 2 Weeks and in Osaka for another. In tokyo the train station we were staing at was right next to a police box, so naturally they saw ud walking in and out every day. On 2 days we got stopped and have been asked what we're doing in japan and how long we're staying, all that normal stuff. They won't arrest you just because they're bored.

  5. Im from New Zealand and our justice system currently gives murderers home detention, will punish the owner in a home invasion if they defend themselves and does nothing about graffiti so I can 100% agree that the Japanese justice system is a far far better way to go about it.
    If people were afraid of the consequences then they would be far less likely to break the law. simple!

  6. It’s easy why we Americans have more crimes…. never invite blacks to live in your country , learn from our mistake

  7. This interview was all over the place. And the title gives wrong impression. It's not about why tourists get arrested it's the flaws in Japanese law. Two very different subjects.

  8. Great video, however, the most common crimes committed on foreign soil is often related to drugs or solicitation, prostitution. Shop lifting is not common

  9. they made it sound like people were charged for shoplifting even when they only picked up an item in a shop to look at it. so not walk out with the item. does anyone know if this is the case?

  10. In Japan it's real simple — they enforce the laws, maintain order, and have an expectation that as a human being you will also want to follow those laws and work with the law, you can't explain yourself out of having done something wrong. Crime rate very very low. In the US, the liberals and democrats try to explain away everything .. oh they had a hard life show leniency or oh they father beat them we have to help them not toss them in jail or oh why should we fight these drug laws lets make them legal. Hell it's so bad in the US entire cities declare themselves as sanctuaries for those in the country illegally and refuse to ask questions and refuse to enforce the laws. In Japan if you stay past your visit time or visa or anything (as getting there illegally by other methods is difficult) again no excuses. That is the real difference in the crime rates .. in Japan the laws are enforced. In the US the liberals explain away everything and it's not your fault so we'll go easy.

  11. And this people, is why crime in Japan is so low. Has zero to do with a polite/respectful/moral society and everything to do with FEAR OF THE COURT SYSTEM. All these things they are talking about in regards to foreigners happens to Japanese as well. Wrongful prosecution is very shameful/embarrassing for Japanese. They won't hesitate to destroy your life before they let you prove your innocence. So my advice to anyone visiting is walk on eggshells my friend.

  12. You come to pay the high travel cost in japan.
    You can go by private car to travel to Canada from the United States.

    You can't go to come to Japan by private car.

    A crime shouldn't also be permitted at an own country.

  13. You spend so much money as a foreigner just to go there and you go shoplifting ? That's sounds very awkward to me. I can't find any real reason except that the person might be either extremely dump or falsely accused. From my last visit to Japan I also found some amount of racism (as there is to any country in the world) and I personaly found that the security personnel (private or not) are a bit more strict toward foreigners especially Americans(I am not). Despite of that I think that Japan is a great place to travel or even live.

  14. Here's a question: If someone was falsely accused and they decided to spend as much time as necessary to fight the accusation and they win in however many years it takes, can they sue the government for the time they spent incarcerated?

  15. Huh, me and my mother were pulled aside during a short layover for a while for not traveling with my dad who stayed at home. Apparently they didn't like single mothers was what my mom told me

  16. I have been stopped several times at Akihabara Station (2nd flr) by undercover police officers and it is getting very annoying. I believe they are catching illegal immigrants and my facial appearance fit their suspicions. Once they realized I am an American, they let me go. No sorry, no explanation of why they stopped me. I once told them I have been stopped several times in that exact location. One officers said, was it me who stopped you? They should give us a wrist band or some sort to distinguish that I have been stopped and proof a legal resident.

  17. The justice system is, if the police arrest you… you're fucked. You are presumed guilty… until proven innocent.. has a 1% chance of happening. You know those Phoenix Wright games? Phoenix Wright is pure fantasy.. otherwise he'd be THE most successful defense lawyer in Japan.

  18. But what happens with facial unlocking? They just have to place your phone in front of your face to unlock it, without even touching you!

  19. Appeals in Japan, even if based on very clear new exonerating evidence, are very rarely successful. In the last 100 years, 162 innocent people have gotten out of Japanese prisons after their sentences were quashed on appeal (between 1910 and 2010) i.e. about 1 or 2 per year. However, research comparing Japan with other countries rates of successful appeals, indicates the true figure should be 1500 wrongful convictions (enzai) per year. So it is claimed that as many as 99.86% of innocent people stay in prison.

    "A prominent defense lawyer has also estimated that Japan's true total of wrongful convictions is vastly larger than the tiny total of recognized wrongful convictions suggests. In his view, Japan may produce about 1500 wrongful convictions (enzai) each year, almost none of which are officially recognized (Takano, 2007)."

     Johnson, D.T., 2015. Wrongful convictions and the culture of denial in Japanese criminal justice. ASIA-PACIFIC JOURNAL-JAPAN FOCUS, 13(6).

  20. Q: What should we do?

    They arrest not foreigners but criminals

  21. I have a question: I was lately in Tokyo ( I had a great time) and my son wanted to buy an Anime picture in a shop. When my son showed me the price (40$) I told him that it wasn’t worth it. And he kept looking for something else while he was still holding the first Anime. He asked the lady that works in the shop to help him. Suddenly she looks to the anime in his hand and told him: you see, you put a small dent on it and now you have to buy it. He said no, maybe it was like that as I just kept it in my hand. Finally she threatened us to call the police! (Keep in mind that she didn’t have clear proof and that it could of have already been there since the dent was so small it was hardly noticeable) And since we didn’t want any problems, we decided to pay for it and then left.
    What do you think would have happened if we have left without buying it?

  22. Thanks for the Video Paolo. I am very interested in Japan and I would love to go visit the country. I find it baffling that foreigners shoplift, yet when I think about it, people do it here in the US all the time. This makes me wonder if the Shopping in Japan is different? do you take the item and put it into a kart and go up or is this something you ask the register that I wish to purchase this item and don't touch until you get the OK? Hearing you can get detained even though your not guilty, and stuck in prison even though you did nothing wrong really irks me. I just hope when I go there will be lots of cameras. Thanks again for the Video. Thank you too Mr. Ishibashi for that wonderful explanation and that fluent English.

  23. Osaka police were found to be covering up thousands of crimes and not arresting people to keep figures low, I wouldn't put too much stock in those figures you quote.

  24. This is weird. I'm pretty sure majority of countries would arrest foreigners. Is there a country that doesn't do this? Let's go there and wreak havoc.

  25. They can't arrest me if my dicks smaller than theirs. Japanese cops run off of 100% penis shame. They'll usually just rape you for a bit amd go away.

  26. I love learning about Japan, one day I will visit and eat all the ramen! They will have to roll me onto the plane to go home.

  27. Kinda makes you wonder how many false confessions and cases of entrapment actually happen in Japan. Japan has the elements of a sort of crapsaccharine vibe in some respects

  28. wait don't they have a high rate of crime because you are putting people in jail for say being drunk then they are in with harden crimales like someone that murders so now they went from drunk to someone who has to steal in order not to get knifed in jail?

  29. “So I have this ‘friend’ who was caught with drugs. That his ‘roommate’ bought. What would happen, cause the ‘friend’ wasn’t actually involved…Can ‘he’ hide ‘his’ password?”
    (Listens to reply) “uh huh, oh yeah, umm” (makes notes)

  30. The one question I would have asked is "What do you do if you've been arrested for something you didn't actually do?"

  31. So basically everything is the same as other country but you have 99% chance of getting convicted of something you didn't do ? Doesn't sound very save or chill to me

  32. Japanese respect respect. To be watchful of your habits and neighbor is important. You can be a baka but an honest one is acceptable. Individual sovereignty is important.

  33. Something to consider when visiting a foreign country: its criminal justice system. I would not visit Japan in spite of my interest in the country and its people after what I have learned from this video. If I were not an American, I would think twice about visiting the US. We have many constitutional rights, but these are often ignored in our teeming cities and in our very parochial small towns. Lawyers are very expensive, and court appointed lawyers are very busy.

  34. So even if I was innocent, I must go to jail just because I mistakenly got arrested? What kind of justice system is that? 😱

  35. So many people in the comments section is getting the wrong message. This whole video focuses on the possible scenario of a foreigner doing something illegal and getting arrested, and doesn't talk about the foreigners that mind their business just fine. As long as you don't do anything outrageous you should be fine.
    If you're worried about running the risk of possibly being arrested for a crime you didn't do from a lack of competence in the Japanese language, maybe you should consider becoming proficient to a level you feel comfortable beforehand, or not coming at all.
    Another thing I saw as a concern is racism against foreigners. There are some people like this, that dislike foreign people for whatever reason, but it isn't very common. The majority of people should be at least neutral, if not friendly. What you might see as hostility towards foreigners may just be a language barrier, since Japanese people tend to be very doubtful of their English.
    I've been living in Japan my whole life and I have many friends that come from overseas. Being arrested is not something they generally fear. It really boils down to "don't do anything illegal if you don't want to be arrested".


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