See also our Brutal Realities of Prison in Japan.
Disclaimer: No legal counsel have been consulted in the production of this article and this should not be considered legal advice. Instead it is a look at the realities involving arrest, interrogation and confinement in Japan regardless of ones guilt or innocence.
Being arrested is not too terribly different from being captured by an enemy force in a military engagement and by that I mean you’re fucked.
This becomes exponentially more true when one is arrested in a foreign country and even more so when that country’s laws are dramatically different from those of your home country.
Japan is a highly advanced nation with a powerful economy and a fair amount of “western” ideals and culture. That having been said, the criminal justice system in Japan is uniquely Japanese and varies considerably from anything one has likely encountered in any other place. The following are realities you need to be prepared for if you are arrested in Japan….
7. You are Guilty until proven Innocent
In Japan if you’re arrested, it’s seen by the police and the prosecutor and even by society at large as a sign of your guilt.
Circular logic anyone?
This is due largely to the existence of Japan’s supremely high conviction rate, 99 percent, and a blind trust and commitment to the institutions wielding power.
After all, how could anyone ever get arrested unless they were guilty, right?
Subsequently, if you claim innocence you will immediately receive harsher treatment both during interrogation, court proceedings and particularly in sentencing. A confession of guilt is not only considered the king of all evidence (shoko no o) in Japanese courts but is also thought to be a clear sign of remorse. This remorse is considered by the judge as an indicator of how likely the arrested individual is to actually rehabilitate and smoothly re-enter society.
What you can do:
Relax. You have been arrested and initially all the police will want from you is information. Slow down. Be confused. Be disoriented, at least appear to be. Consider speaking only English, avoid using Japanese. Ask about seeing someone from your Embassy. Do not sign anything.
6. You have very few rights
Everything that occurs from the moment you first meet the police to conviction in court is designed to ensure that the state wins and you lose. Your “rights” as they are conventionally accepted in the west simply are not a high priority. A good example here is the lack of an attorney during the lengthy interrogation periods with police.
You can be detained for questioning for up to 48 hours, then the prosecutor can grant the police a 10 day detention permission which can and will be (almost without exception) extended for up to 21 days, with a possible two-day extension after this .
This means you can be held for up to 23 days in almost all cases without being charged with any crime.
It cannot be expressed enough in this article or by the police who will interrogate you how critical this initial 24-48 hour period is. When you are arrested it will be a shocking experience. The police will likely handcuff you, search you and confiscate your belongings. You will then be taken to a police station and the initial interrogations will begin.
What you can do:
Again-Relax. Looking distressed and confused for everyone else is fine but inside you need to control yourself, slow things down and make logical decisions. You can just assume that you will be detained for the full 23 days. You will not get bail. Accept this and begin thinking about the long-term. Who can you contact that you trust and can responsibly help you? Nobody within the institutions holding you are interested in your well-being, you have to organize a support network and hopefully your friends or family in the country can help.
5. You will be heavily/aggressively interrogated
Your interrogation will begin as soon as you are in police custody. Likely, this will begin in the van or car while you are being transported to the station and will continue in a cramped little room at the station later. This initial interrogation will last late into the night and will involve several different officers, if resources allow. You will most likely get to sleep an hour or so before you have to wake up and your second round of interrogation will begin that morning after a cold rice and boiled egg breakfast. Expect this to go all day and into the next night.
At this point, the police are trying to maximize your shock and discomfort and will utilize these factors in getting you to sign an initial statement that will be as close to a confession as they can possibly make it. They will make you promises and assurances that you can go home once they have “cleared everything up” and they “fully understand the case”. These are lies, a tactic to trick you and nothing else. This document will be what allows the prosecutor to issue the initial detention permission. However, the act of you NOT signing it can be given as suspicion to hold you further.
Catch 22: Enjoy.
Just like military interrogation, expect this initial phase to be very loud, late into the night and prepare to be bullied and even physically coerced. A common tactic which they can easily get away with, is grabbing your shirt collar and shaking you whilst screaming in your face. It leaves no marks, does not cause pain but it is an excellent shock technique. It lets you know they are in control and hints at the possibility of more serious physical measures yet to come. This can be very unpleasant for someone who has never dealt with the combination of physical and psychological intimidation before. Since Japanese interrogations are conducted in cramped, bare windowless rooms and are not video taped, these physical techniques are completely deniable.
What you can do:
Accept that you are going to be heavily interrogated, often for up to 12 hours per day or even more if your case is very serious, first by a group of police, then by a pair of officers dedicated to your case that play good cop/bad cop and then by the prosecutor. All will employ varying systems and techniques to try to get into your mind and illicit a confession to their satisfaction, true or not.
They are going to use various methods to make you talk and to gain your trust and compliance. They do not care about the details, what they want is simply to get you talking to them and to form a kind of relationship based on your compliance with their demands for information.
Remember, every time you comply with their demands you are giving away a little piece of control.
You will find that as the interrogations go on and you provide information, they will make small allowances in your favor. A coffee. Moving the interrogation to a larger room with a big window. Removing your hand cuffs. Flattering you. This is all part of the system to make you comply and support them.
You should be a very neutral man. You are not fighting them, but you are not passively obeying all commands. Always look miserable, sick and tired but in your mind you have to maintain a strong position and realize one way or another this will all end.
Whether you are innocent and being falsely accused, lying to protect a friend or loved one, or simply a criminal trying to get off (My advice is to not get on the wrong side of the law anywhere, period), you have to stay mentally sharp in these situations because the people questioning you are professionals.
Finally and this is critical, avoid showing anyone how much Japanese you speak, read or write. Insist on an interpreter. This slows down proceedings and the police officer doing the interpreting is more easily engaged as a friendly asset than the other two cops building a case against you. If you succeed in building rapport with the police interpreter, they can even subconsciously begin defending you and deflecting overtly aggressive questions from the other officers interrogating you by softening the translations and even giving you subliminal gestures and ques regarding what you should and should not say.
4. Your lawyer is a Moron/Liar
Defense attorneys everywhere have a very bad reputation and this is not so different in Japan. When a lawyer is finally contacted and you are allowed to meet them, do not expect much.
Attorneys in Japan generally work on a case fee basis. So they charge a flat fee for taking your case and there are additional fees for every subsequent task you ask them to perform.
For example after retaining a lawyer, you arrange for a friend to pay a 5,000 dollar deposit to the Lawyer. Then, your lawyer asks you if you want to file for bail. This is an additional 3,000 dollars in fees, not including the actual bail money which they will tell you needs to be produced before filing. The thing your lawyer will not tell you, and will likely in fact lie to you about, is that bail is rarely granted even to Japanese citizens and is almost never granted to foreign nationals arrested in Japan. You will not get bail, but the fee to the lawyer will be gone and he/she will now know you have access to other funds.
Also, despite what your lawyer might tell you, he/she is constantly in communication with the prosecutor and the police. They have all been sharing facts and figures in order to attempt to seal the potential charges as much as possible and help things proceed forward. This is not to say that your legal counsel is trying to screw you, at least legally, but rather their concept of what is good for you is vastly different from what you think it is and you are unlikely to get any real sound legal advice from them at any point during the proceedings anyway. Often times, situations are so ambiguous your lawyer will be unable to even tell you if you are being charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.
What you can do:
There are really only three primary concerns here that you have any control over.
One: Make sure that the attorney you retain is a CRIMINAL attorney and has actual experience with your type of case. Having a great tax attorney helping you with your Assault charge is counter-productive.
Two: Never let your attorney know how much money you have at your disposal. This is a massive mistake made by people who are under pressure. If you let the attorney know that you have funds at your disposal they will try to separate those funds from you. Reparation payments to “victims” often have clauses that you are unaware of guaranteeing certain funds to your attorney. In addition to that, if there is money to be gotten, you might get ill advice urging you to attempt legal maneuvers simply so that your counselor can get paid more. Be smart, make it clear you are poor.
In the end, if a payment to a victim is necessary, say for example 3,000,000 yen, you could pay 1,000,000 and produce a letter ensuring you will pay the remaining 2,000,000 at a later time. Something that is impossible to enforce if you say, just left the country after your release.
Three: Ensure that your attorney is an English-speaking MAN. This has nothing to do with a woman’s ability or lack there of to perform the duties of a lawyer but rather the realities of a legal institution still largely dominated by men; Men that do not like female attorneys. He needs to speak English to make his meeting with you more smooth and easy. If a translator is always necessary this would reduce the amount of meetings you could have. If your Japanese is excellent it should be no problem but even the best Japanese speakers will likely have trouble with complex legal jargon.
3. Your Embassy cannot Help you
Although it is highly recommended that you do contact your Embassy, it is also highly unlikely that they will be able to help you at all.
You are in the custody of a “friendly” foreign government that has sovereign rights and their own laws. Like it or not the institutions of power view you as a threat and you have been arrested. You are now beyond the reach of your government. They can provide legal advice and likely let your loved ones at home know about your situation but beyond that they can do very little.
What you can do:
The Embassy cannot get you out, but they can do a few things.
First, they can visit you, make sure you are healthy and not being subjected to clear physical abuse. This is a very powerful deterrent to someone who might otherwise resort to these activities. Knowing that someone is coming to check on you, someone who could cause trouble, is a deterrent.
Your embassy can also bring English literature, or whatever language you speak, and as stated above can contact your loved ones at home. Finally, it can be very refreshing to have an unmonitored conversation in your native tongue and to know that at least someone knows where you are and what has happened to you. The Japanese police are obliged by international treaties to allow you to contact and be visited by your embassy. Insist that this occurs. It is an easy way to keep your motivation high and make people aware that you have options even if you really don’t.
Also, it should be said that all embassies are not created equal. American, Britain, Germany, Canada and Australia are generally respected and the visits you receive will be regular. Mexico, Bangladesh and the Philippines, not so much.
2. Japan’s love of rules and order extends to confinement accommodations
The conditions of confinement both at the police stations and at the regional detention centers are designed to foster two reactions: Control and Cooperation.
The conditions at the police stations can vary wildly depending on which station one finds ones self at and the level of attention both positive and negative that one gets from the guards.
All police officers spend some time working as detention center guards at some point. They cycle through for 2 or 3 years and then go back out working the streets or other special duties. Conversely many fresh new officers also pull detention duty early on. Your relationship with these guards can make things much worse or much less uncomfortable.
Generally, you will be in a cell with 3-6 other men. You spend the days sitting on the floor or standing in the cell. You are not allowed to lay down, and the futons are stowed in a closet every morning and retrieved for sleep every night. They are not comfortable. You may read books if friends have brought them for you or if you have an interest in the police stations extremely shabby library which consists of books left by former guests, complete with messages and mental notes including anecdotes considering suicide. Do not expect to find English Literature abundant or even present.
The meals are all Japanese and are of poor quality. The average daily caloric intake is around 1800 kcal or a bit higher if you have money in your account to order a proper lunch box on the days that is allowed. There are no such things as snacks or drinks at the police station detention centers however this changes once you are moved to the regional detention center, this transfer indicating you are absolutely being prosecuted.
Plan to lose weight, almost all foreigners do, up to 5 kilograms within the first week and 15 within 6 weeks.
Bathing is done once every 5 days as a group with your cell mates and it too is Japanese style. You are watched by an officer while bathing.
Visitors are allowed during the weekdays however if you plan to speak a language other than Japanese, an interpreter must be present at your expense. During all visitations except those of your lawyer or your embassy an officer will be present transcribing what is being said. At the police stations these visits are a maximum of 10 minutes and can be shorter if they are busy. Again, ones relationship with the guards is important in this case.
What you can do:
If you are simply visiting Japan, or if you live here but have very western life style habits, then being incarcerated in Japan will be more difficult for you.
Everything is Japanese. Other languages are not permitted even if another foreigner is nearby. The daily routine is strictly observed and kept. It is a humiliating experience. What you can do to make it more bearable is to relax. Follow the rules and stay with the group. Being in solitary confinement, in your own room, is no more physically uncomfortable however mentally it is more taxing and isolating. A great deal of information and advice can be gotten from other inmates and guards so build rapport and be polite.
Respect the guards and take every opportunity to build rapport without seeming needing. Japanese jail is not like its counter part in America; the gangsters generally respect the police, and the police them.
Never ask for favors, you wont get them. However, it is likely that they will be interested in you. If you have been arrested for drugs or sexual assault, do everything you can to appear sorry for your actions and ready to rehabilitate but be prepared for a more cynical reaction from the guards.
Conversely, if you are arrested on assault charges, particularly against another foreigner, it is likely that you will get some sort of grudging respect from the police. Forget any kind of bravado, simply be humble and quiet and it’s likely the guards will take care of you.
1. Money Talks
Most cases in Japan, both civil and criminal and the corresponding punishments are largely effected by paying some sort of restitution or fine.
A relatively simple assault charge, a fist fight with some broken noses in a commercial establishment, can avoid prosecution by offering a payment to the victim, perhaps 10,000 US or 1,000,000 million yen and a formal, written apology.
More extreme situations involving larger amounts lost to theft or a more severe beating/attacks will also require a monetary payment and apologies to avoid a prison sentence, or a reduced sentence. Money here says much more than it does in the western criminal justice system.
In Japan, money is the ultimate apology, the ultimate thank you, and the ultimate expression of love.
What you can do:
“You don’t count your money, when your sittin’ at the table.”
The immortal words of Mr. Kenny Rogers. It’s true in gambling and its true here. If you tell your lawyer or the prosecutor how much money you have to work with, then they will take that from you.
It’s not because these are bad people, they are simply components within an institution and this is their function. IF they didn’t do this, they would be replaced. You have to be aware of this, and play your hand carefully. You have to tell your loved ones or friends that might be contacted by your lawyer or anyone else to make it clear that you have very little money if any at all while still keeping the attorney involved. Being arrested, charged with something you may or may not deserve and being humiliated is bad enough.
There is no good reason to add 3 or 4 years of debt onto everything unless it is absolutely necessary.
More info on Criminal Justice in Japan
How long can I be detained by the Japanese police without charges being filed?
Basically, the answer here is 3 weeks. If you are detained after this point it is because the prosecutor has sufficient confidence that he can convict you and is bringing you up on charges. However, up to the three-week point they can hold you “just because”, question your friends, your company, search your home etc. Essentially ruin your life and then simple decide to let you go without so much as a “oh…sorry”.
I have a friend who has been arrested. Can I go visit him?
Yes. Usually. In some very sensitive cases visitation might be limited but usually you will be allowed to visit someone being detained at a police station. Be prepared to fill out some paper work when you visit though. Also, bring ID and if you or your friend cannot speak Japanese unless you are very lucky you will have to pay to arrange a translator. This is expensive and time-consuming. Also, the time allotted for your visit will be short, 20 minutes is a best case scenario and anything you say can be used as evidence in the ongoing investigation.
I am being told to pay a large amount of money to the victim and I think it is excessive. What can I do?
You can have your lawyer, private or public either one, draft a document which is like a letter of promise; you agree to pay a percentage of the restitution upfront, say 20%, and promise to pay the rest at intervals in the future. These documents are taken seriously by the court and are a close second to simply paying the full amount upfront. Once you are out however you can simply defer payment of the final amount indefinitely. There is little recourse for the other party beyond a civil suit which is costly and incredibly time-consuming. For any amount under fifty million yen it is unlikely that they would pursue this as long as you avoid flagrantly telling them to fuck off.
My friend/relative has been arrested in Japan and we haven’t heard from them. What can we do?
You can and should contact your embassy, as many times as it takes, until they have met with your friend/relative. Japan is obligated to allow these visits based on International law, even if they delay such meetings early on.
If you have specific questions or need immediate advice, please contact us below.
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|How to become big in Japan||Visa Jail: Immigration Strikes Back||Getting around the Japanese health care system||Making Friends in Japan||How not to be a hostess|
now awaiting a post on your actual experience of being arrested and prison?
No I think not. Arrested, I have said all I need to say about it and I have never actually been to Prison, nor do I cover that in this article. Feel free to go get in trouble, get convicted and do some time and I will gladly support you as a guest post once you are out.
I’ve been wrongfully arrested in this godforsaken country… The worst part is that my arrest wasn’t an actual arrest at all, it was an abduction.
That sounds about right.
I’ve never been thrown in the can in Japan… but I hear it’s no fun. I’m glad I don’t live there anymore – I’m grateful for my rights and I do believe that a man is innocent until proven guilty.
I had no idea you had left.
I agree, there is something to be said for actual legal rights be it here, in the USA or anyplace else.
Quite the measuring stick of a civilizations progress or lack there of.
Interesting and informative. However, much of what you wrote is only true based on the “severity” of what you did. Get nicked for “borrowing” a discarded bike with flat tires in order to speed your return to your station to catch the last train home – generally, having your spouse vouch for you is sufficient to put an end to things.
Now, if you’ve assaulted a drunken salaryman on the Yamanote-sen platform in full view of several witnesses, that’s a different story. However, the “buy out” sum you reference is about ten times too high. $20K is more in the serious vehicular injury territory.
If you are busted for drugs or sexual assault, you are, deservedly, fucked.
I guess then in this true life incident, it isn’t too terribly different than being hit by a hunk of steel traveling at very high speeds then. It was 50K.
No local support system, huh?
Lesson learned? No wonder Chris likes you.
I had a fantastic support system. It is a fact that you learn vividly who your friends actually are when the hard times come.
Yes, the moneys you mention are to high for a common assault. If you punch a guy think maybe 300,000 yen or about 3000 US dollars. PUlling a guys shirt will cost you about 100,000
Nobody said this article is restricted to common assault. And the amounts quoted are actual figures from an actual case and the subsequent settlement.
I was under the apparently mistaken impression that Japan was an entirely civilized nation. This “justice” system is an embarrassment in front of the entire world.
Japan is a land of paradoxes. The “justice” system is part of that. One moment you have a robot serving you sushi and the next your embroiled in a legal war with cops that employ literally draconian interrogation tactics that were frowned upon at Guantanamo bay.
Look at there lack of crime. I have been to Chicago and ended up in the wrong parts, I traveled around D.C. and found out it is not like on the television. I think in Japan, though, I would feel strangely safe. Someone gets within five feet of you in most places and you have to make sure your wallet is still there, but in the Tokyo subway people get so close its like clothed intercourse (from the pictures and videos I have seen of the crowded tokyo subways. Never been outside of America.) and yet no need to check for the presence of one’s wallet.
potzo79, you’re probably never going to see this, but that is simply bullshit. Firsly, Japan does not lack for crime, it’s underreported, covered up, or allowed to occur in the case of organized crime. For example, a salaryman was beaten to death by three Japanese teens on a Friday night at 10pm in front of Parco, the biggest department store in this prefecture, and it got half a day in the news before they found some viral fight video from the States they could use to distract this robotic populace from the realities of their country.
Second, you are American, obviously you are culturally-aware of what areas seem like the “wrong parts.” You’re not Japanese, you’re COMPLETELY oblivious to the likely fact that you have been up and down, inside and out areas that Japanese people are hesitant to visit. Example, there’s a mountain I can see from the window of where I live, about a twenty minute bike ride away, and takes about thirty minutes to walk to the top. I had regularly been to visit it over the past year and a half, never with anyone, sometimes even late at night, unaware of any shadiness in the surrounding neighborhoods near the base of the mountain. Until about two months ago, when I found out the place is teeming with yakuza, and that people generally avoid the area when the sun starts to set.
(Which to me is all the more reason to continue going.)
Conversely, my dad grew up in one of the worst parts of New Orleans, and we often visited family out there and not once had we ever had any problems. I’ve also been through the Southside of Chi-town, lived and visited “dangerous” areas of other cities as well, and I can’t recall any situation in which I’ve ever felt uncomfortable in an environment.
Actually, the only situations in America I can recall in which I feel slightly nervous are those that involve cops being near by, or when I’ve been pulled over. That nervousness is compounded further when I see Japanese pigs, knowing that the people of this country still live in the 1870s post-feudal area, and Japan’s “sophistication” is only a thin veneer of facade.
I think some of this is on point but a lot of it is bullshit. Even with fixing numbers, back door deals and cover ups, the crime rate here is just much, much lower than the USA. In ten years in Tokyo I have never experienced a random act of violence although I am hard wired to always look out for them. I was jumped in South Carolina, Nevada and multiple times in California. Some of it I had coming, some not, but my point is in ten years here, the only violence I have been a part of was what I churned up myself. Of course there is crime here, but the draconian police laws that most of us expats lament about so uproariously are one of the primary things keeping the flood back. Yes, cops tolerate the Yaks, but in return the Yaks largely know there are rules they have to follow. It’s working out a hell of a lot better than what the USA has been attempting.
Even with crime being under reported my comment still stands. Strangely is a key word. I am f’n strange. not by choice its in my … well I ooze strange from every poor really. The way I view Japanese people I would feel safe even with a random act of violence going on committed by a Japanese individual against me… You just don’t get to decide how I would feel. Sorry you don’t have that kind of control. So you can’t really go saying how I would feel is bullshit. I find road kill hilarious. Call that bullshit all you want I just do. Setting fires I feel strangely good. Pissing in the snow barefoot in below zero weather I feel close to orgasm. I get all tingly (not in a sexual manner…no arousal at all, something better really) when someone is about to get physically hurt and I am the reason. I feel absolutely terrified when a child touches me (we are talking fight or flight reaction with my mind reeling unable to put together human thoughts as animal instinct takes over and screams in absolute terror for its life). I want to burst into tears when I hear x mas music. Gospel music makes me feel molested. I don’t get to decide how I feel all the time either. Especially since my thoughts never seem to match my emotions which never seem to match my physical reactions.
I think I am easily predictable. I think I can be easily manipulated. BUT what is bullshit here is you telling me what I get to feel.
Excuse me now I need to make a corned beef hash samitch. Mix some beer, moonshine (apple pie style baby!), and cheap whiskey… and take a handful of pills. I am absolutely drenched in diesel fuel and want to get rid of this migraine (from the damn fumes) and replace it with passing the F out.
if even pushing a guy can land me to jail in Japan, is there a way I can stay legal and not cause trouble? This has seriously scared me and definitely changed the way in which I saw Japan
Be careful. That is my only advice.
there are some sick ones out there
Hey whats up man. I read your post and In Dec 2010 I was arrested in Japan and held for about three months. I would like to talk with you if you get the chance.
Whats up? Are you all good now?
Hello i been arrested in japan twice in japan. Once for a DUI and obstruction. both times i was allowed to post bail. the experience was equally scary on both occasions. i’d be happy to share my experience!
Share away on here. People come here looking for info.
People would like to here clear details I imagine.
yeah I’m good! it was just very funny to read your post gave me a few memories. It does need some slight changes but not too important though. My story is pretty amazing though. I was naturally always two steps ahead of them, all the guards is the station were kool with me and did me favors, and i should have been deported cause i had two charges against me, uttering counterfeit securities and violation of cannabis control law. Very serious! not only did i NOT get deported, I was released right from Trial with only a 3 year probation. No fines and I paid absolutely nothing for the lawyer! Given the circumstances I beat their system cause not only was I smart but I was a good actor and always kept my kool! Honestly Tough but great experience! everyday was documented so maybe I will write a book! lol
Hey Kudos man.
My circumstances were a bit different, more on the physical side, so it’s a different situation. I wrote about the things that I saw, experienced and know for a fact other people did as well. Same thing, I’m all documented up and actually registered with Interpol. So cheers to that, Japan. But on the sunny side, I received a suspended sentence and despite some drastic efforts was not deported. I also have a badass network of friends, acquaintances etc that showed their colors. Hard to complain.
i stopped reading at: “speak only in english, avoid speaking in japanese“
I don`t know if you say that because you`re inept at Japanese, despite living here, or if you`re the kind of idiot that loves deepening the stereotype that foreigners can`t speak japanese.
so here`s a big FUCK YOU from all of us who actually consider Japan our home and worked hard to be fluent.
OK. I think you missed the point, in fact I know you have.
You retarded? Why don’t you read the the article before you make an ass out of yourself, moron.
It’s a technique when you’re arrested. I speak fluent Japanese but I was always careful in my questioning to use English. I would agree with gaijinass not to use Japanese. The translator can really slow down the process and you can use him or her to build rapport with either a detective or the kenji. Both the detective and the Kenji could see that I spoke Japanese and understood everything they were talking about but I think it’s better to use English. in my case the detective had very good English listening skills and my use of English and respect for his ability help me in my case. There’s just a lot at stake your life your family and you don’t want to make a mistake so I think the advice given here he’s very good. After you’re arrested you would likely be in shock for 4 or 5 days but you must get through that and get your faculties about you because you are fighting inside the justice system for your life and your freedom.
I would really like to thank the writer here for making a very useful post. it is very accurate.
Definitely WTF missed the point…Lol
I guess that ruins my dreams of smoking pot in Japan. Sigh…
I was curious I had a incident, after moving
To Japan from ameria and then getting married there, and getting a spouse visa, later I was punched assaulted by a man, at the time just shortly after it happened a police man approached me and I tried to report it to him in English because my Japanese was just conversational, so he didn’t understand I was angry left was drinking and drunk and ended up getting into a phisicall fight at a club called gas panic, located in shibuya not far from the station. I tried to enter the club and the worker stopes me phisically I was already upset from the prior assault and I let loose on him after he grabed me we fought for a hour at least, and I punched him a few times in the face and head he got me a few times in the head. I ended up holding him down and whaling on him. Later we just walked off but he went to the hospital and I went to the police station . He was fine and released one hour after his check up, and I was in a holding cells later after explaining to the police what happened. Anyway later thu wante me to apologize an I didn’t want to because after what happened to me in the first place.
So I got a lawyer and was sitting in a holding cell he wanted me To say sorry, and compensate finally I did after weeks because I wasn’t sorry at first. After my assault in te first place and everything . Well I ended up paying 10,000 dollars and I got a three year suspended sentence of unsupervised probation my record was clean tell that. I was so mad that I left the country during the probation time and came back to America and divorced my whife after she came back to the U.S. it’s been two years and in one more year I. Can return. I’d line to just go visit my girlfriend currently Dating and thinking of getting married. Before I left the immigration Said that I should wait for my sentence to be up before I can return and even maybe longer like five years. The fight was pretty extensive and hospital bills. I was also injured pretty bad rib etc. Who should I call to see if I can come back to Japan? What number ? And or if I can return or when? That’s what I would like to know. Anyone know this ?
You fought for an hour, at least? Really? Who the heck are you, Ryan… John L. Sullivan?
come on, 1 hour….been in or witness lot of fights, it hardly lasts longer than 30sec-1 minute when it’s 1 on 1. Even professional fighters only stands 2,3 minutes rounds depending the sport and their weight, with rest between, and manage their cardio, cause fighting is too damn f***** exhausting!! Even UFC finals are 5x5mins.
I am no lawyer. That having been said I will simply say GOOD LUCK. I doubt you will be allowed back into the country. Perhaps after you remarry to a Japanese national and if you can find solid Japanese sponsors, aside from your future wife, for example her parents, you might have a shot but I suspect it will be difficult.
Ah, well, but it’s Japan. It’s not like people all across Asia haven’t seen and felt their JUSTICE when they the Japanese turned Korea into a sex-slave playground and China into a all-you-can-raid buffet, not to mention the Okinawa residents used by their own kinsmen as suicide bombers in WWII and the Filipinos showered with lead. AND now we got this resplendent legal system of Japan, I now have another reason to further develop my plan to sink Japan.
But really, brilliant article and I loved your opening thing, man. Also informative enough to give me a good idea of what it’s all like.
…. but how is it like to live in Japan, really? I don’t know how it’s like coz deep down I always subconsciously know they are just descendants of lunatics who killed each other while stuck in their stupid island and killed everyone else when got out of their stupid island.
……?!??! all this fire comes from the emotions instigated by your descriptions of the Jap system, not because I’m a Korean and my culture hates Japan.
AND btw saw you on Cracked. Good job.
Thanks for the comment.
I don’t really mind Koreans as a people, but the country was incredibly dismal and depressing. Obviously, I prefer living in Japan.
Oh yes, it was from 1910-1950 (and a good part of that was whilst being occupied by Russians and Chinese) and I think the official count in Korea is 1300 times being occupied over the past 300 years, everything in Korea is due to being occupied.
I give any country a ‘three times your out’ rule. If you have been occupied three times in 100 years you are losers. That means the PI and Korea pretty much.
You go to Korea now and all they do is complain about the Chinese, I say awesome to the Chinese. They work hard and work for a living. If you don’t like Chinese tourists in Korea, go ahead, kick them out.
Then if they ask the average American in a vote, ‘should we allow the Chinese to annex Korea?’ You know what the average American voter will say?
Yeah, annex them. At least that way we won’t have to worry about North Korea because the ‘reunification’ will take place ‘peacefully.’
My dad laid down his life in Heilowjian to kill japs and communists and nationalists and march them down peacefully into boats in Korea only to have Chinese and Korean nationalists kill innocent civilians and babies get onto boats back to Japan.
You think your history is so innocent, then ask you dad or grandpa how innocent it was.
Just be honest. We all have blood on our hands.
I lived in Japan for six years and Korea for 2 years, I like Korean and Japanese people in general, in the US and Australia there is a well known stereotype of Asians being shitty drivers. In the six years I was in Japan I had no idea why anyone thought Asians were bad drivers. My first day in Korea I suddenly understood.
Oh, I hate Koreans. I thought “what” when I read “Korea into sex slave playground” and then it was another Korean.
Please make sure to not come near me within 500 meters.
They feed you breakfast? That is WAY better than DC. You don’t get anything to eat (or drink, except the “toilet water”) unless they decide to keep you, It’s common to go 24 hours without food there. I was there from 11pm to 6pm the next day. They don’t even care if you’re diabetic, if you collapse they just take you to the hospital. Oh, & if they let you go it will be AFTER the police station’s property desk closes, so you have to figure out what to do with no money, no house keys, etc. until you can get there the next day. Unless you’re released on Friday, then you’re screwed for the wknd. The federal government runs it. I was attacked by my (now ex) bf, & even though I was dripping blood & my clothes were torn & he didn’t have a mark on him they believed his “witness”/bf who he financially supports quite a bit & arrested me, not him. There is no justice in the justice system, whether here or abroad.
I was not talking about being held in the fish tank etc. they don’t have that here. If you are in processing to be “booked” which involves interrogation then obviously, you don’t eat and there isn’t even a toilet in the little room you are in to drink out of.
Jail- in this article is like getting to county in the states.
Out of curiosity, do you know how this is different for women? I know in the US it’s different for women and men and this seems to be talking about men, so I am wondering if there is something analogous there. I do not live in Japan so this will probably (thankfully) never be practical advice for me, but I do find this very interesting and I want to know more.
Seriously, this ain’t looking that bad, except for the 21 days lockout without any charge.
You’d feel very confortable there regarding what you can get through in the rest of the world, for example in Africa, South America, Eastern Europe or South East Asia. Of course I would prefer to avoid any problem with law, but if it occurs (for self defense) Japan would be in my top 5 prefered place, with monaco standing rank 1, followed by iceland, finland or switzerland.
That’s definitely normal for a cop to be some kind intimidating, shouting at you or even throwing some punches in your face while handcuffed, when you end up down there. Actually it already happened to me, and I’m not the only one, this is not big deal. All you can do is strengthen your neck and hit his fist first when you see it coming with your forehead, so if lucky you can make him some pain and hope he will stop. Of course avoid this if he’s profiled like an heavyweight boxer!
I can understand it’s scarying for someone who is weak and not used to such things, but still Japan remains 5 stars accomodation.
For example in Morrocco you have to pay for toilet paper, mixed in a 8sq meter (80sq.ft)with 6-7 others fellows no matter they’re convicted rapists or murderers. In Brazil, Colombia or Phillippinos you might end in a 1000 sq ft cage with 200 others great friends, 2 guys per square meter (or 10 sq ft) cause it’s set on 3 levels, where’s the most respected (understand most ill dangerous) prisoners got hammocks up on the second and third artificial storey. I let you imagine what happens when they’re too stoned to make any effort and want to pee or shit out. Did I mention in some countries even guards don’t risk them inside the jail, but deleguate the rules to the toughest prisoners, who carries knifes freely?
In Colombia heard of (true story) a kind of soccer tournament where the ball was a beheaded human head.
And I prefer not to talk about hygiene, at least I imagine in Japan you won’t catch strange diseases in a matter of days, they look way more clean than anywhere else. Neither would you fear not to wake up the day after.
It’s always the same story, be calm, without no offense, don’t say or sign anything, wait for the lawyer, between 2 interrogations try to sleep, do some push ups, then sleep again..so the time pass by quickly. Of course it doesn’t remove any charge against you, but at least doesn’t add any extra, once you’re caught between 4 walls, it’s over and you’ll be responsible of what you done, it’s too late for remorse, you must face it I guess.
The bad part I recognize is it doesn’t take a lot to get in trouble!! 1 fight at a bar, and you’re in, where’s the problem when no serious injury done and no weapon involved?? that’s a shame ! 10k usd for a fist, whooo you’d better control yourself, or be rich! And I can imagine they take a lot of pleasure to humiliate you and act without humanity, some kind of japanese way.
Otherwise thanks for your posts, appreciated the reading!
The point, which you have clearly missed, is that Japan is not fucking Brazil. It’s one the top three major economic powers in the world. You also got a lot wrong. People do catch strange diseases within in days and you can’t just sleep between interrogations as they won’t let you. Look at the crime rate in the countries you mentioned, including the USA, obviously Japan is doing something unique aside from faking their numbers, and this unique thing is the nightmare reality of their criminal justice system. It’s tough and it works.
Never said Japan is Brazil, in my mind every country is different. Please don’t make me say what I did not, and clearly I can’t see what its economic weight has to do with its justice : just look at your own country the US, 1st economic power which still has death penalty in several states, and where you can end up jailed for years for 2 miserable grams of weed.
This is 2 separate things which are not supposed to be related the way you bring it. It’s not because a country is wealthy that it has to be laxist on laws.
However you’re right about rest time, I was making a general advice you’d better apply when possible, obviously you can’t in Japan.
The only logical point is that there must be less crime temptation in a rich country with low unemployement, I fully agree on that.
Again I trust you about official manipulated rates, and I’m not saying jail is holidays, but again, this is what it’s supposed to be. All prisons are hygienic hells, that’s for sure.
And If I got compassion for the innocent guy or those who do not diserve disproportioned sentences, don’t take me wrong I won’t give a cry for rapists, child molesters or this kind of people. I just think this is a bit harsh for the guy who get in a fight after a bit of drinking out of a club, neither saying this is the right behaviour, simply that this happens on regular basis.
But I maintain Japan is way better place to end up locked up comparing to the rest of the world, sorry but if you do not agree you clearly have no idea of middle east, africa, south america nor eastern europe cell fellows…they are really tough people down there in jail with so much vice that you’ll see japan’s as disneyworld afterward, if you’re still alive of course.
Please don’t take my message as any offense, just saying and enjoy the talk. And pardon my non native english; have good day dude.
It depends on how you define “way better”. All the shit hole countries you mentioned allow for a lot of freedom than a standard Japanese Jail. USA is included in that. That is why I bring up economy. An economic power is generally expected to abide by certain geosociological norms. Japan, in the case of prison time and general incarceration does not. Hence, it is unique. Economy DOES play into it. Shit hole counties, and yes, I consider Brazil, african countries etc as shit hole countries have a COMPLETELY different system than japan. In those places MONEY can buy all. ALL. This is not the case here in the prison system. Once one is in it, it sucks across the board. This is another reason Japan is still on AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL watch list. It’s a MAJOR economic power that has a less than third world judicial system. This is a fact. Fuck the shit dump places you named; find me a WORLD economic power that can get away with a prison system on par with the middle ages and I will buy you a hot chocolate.
If you guys really want to know the real deal just ask me. I was arrested in 2010 held for 3 months and released 3 days before the big earthquake. I also wrote a diary everyday for the three months I was there about everything that was happening.
Or they could just ask me as I was incarcerated longer than 3 months and was actually convicted.
Wow, it’s like battle of the scumbag losers on this comments page.
And you do realize that by commenting on THIS comments page you have just joined the elite ranks of “the scumbag losers” right? I am sure that you will fit right in nicely, alongside your fellows here. You have chosen a rare breed to become associated with.
With that it is time for some malt liquor and a handful of pills. Got to wind down after a long shift. Maybe some whiskey too… scratch the maybe.
It makes sense then that you have joined the party. Cheers.
I know I’m late to the party, but nice article! I was in for 3 weeks several years ago because of an empty bag of blow. Fortunately, I’m white, rich, married to a Japanese, and an upstanding member of the community (except for the cocaine part). I actually found a good lawyer and did get released on bail. Was convicted and got the normal 3 year suspended sentence. The only thing I would add to your article is that, if you plan on staying in Japan, you have to go through another ordeal with immigration later. This might include detention, definitely includes interrogation (with the desk pounding and screaming), and requires more lawyering. Despite the fact that, as far as the police are concerned, onece your suspended ssentence time is up, all is clean. Immigration never forgets (and they are both part of the Justice ministry). This was several years ago and I still have to be waved into a special line at immigration every time I land so they can check my file.
The best advice is to not get arrested. The second best is to say absolutely nothing. This can be very hard because the interrogation techniques and psychological abuse is very effective.
I have the same thing with immigration when I leave or arrive.
Matthew, most of the advice I’ve seen here is for guys who have done some serious crime and have to worry. Like I said, I was hauled in for a serious felony and was held incommunicado, but I was innocent and just put up a fight and got out after my 23. No big deal. Just wear it like a tattoo.
You can do the same.
If not, in Japan, you have to do the time. Just admit to the least and sign it. These guys you see bitching on the internet are so lucky if they are guilty. In their home country they would be raped or dead. If you are guilty admit it.
If not, fight it until you are dead.
Hi i have been arrested a year ago. I have live here in japan for 10 years now. I also got the usual 3 year suspended sentence. I just want to ask help about my visa renewal which is coming up sometime next year. Can you guys give me some advice on what I need to do or if there is any chance you can introduce me to a good lawyer to process my visa? I am really worried and have no one else to seek advice from. Thanks!
When is your renewal exactly? What are your conditions here? I mean, why do you live here?
My visa is until July next year. I have been working here in japan for 10 years now as an IT. I also have a son here though were not married. Hope you could give me some advice as i really dont know where to ask for help. Thanks!
Where is your passport from?
Do you pay child support and can you prove this?
Also decide what lengths you are willing to go to to stay in Tokyo. How far are you willing to go to not leave? Important questions, all.
My Girlfriend and I have been leaving together for 7 years now and my son as 4 years old.
I am willing to fight for my stay here and willing to do whatever it takes to stay here in japan. Hope you can give me some advice on how I can renew my visa. Thanks!
Just go in with all the paper work you have an start trying to figure it out with the immigration authorities. There are no tricks, they have seen them all before. Just remember, no matter what you can simply refuse to leave. They might lock you up for a month but so what? It depends how bad you want it.
Advice is very good. But if you speak good Japanese, get a good Japanese lawyer.
Argue and fight back with your adversaries in Japanese.
Tell them you will look at the documents they want you want you to sign. Then ask for translations, which will be by official translators from the cops. Refuse to sign them and state (almost certainly correctly) that the translations are not correct.
Next, say you are going to write a statement from your own words. They will get all excited and say yes. Write your own statement and ask for a translation. Also ask them to pass both copies to your lawyer. They will refuse.
This process will buy you three or four days of relative peace.
Look at the original and translation they bring you. They will both essentially be ‘confessions.’ Refuse to sign and repeat over and over again for 23 days.
Unless you are really guilty you will be free in 23 days.
There is absolutely no corruption, just an incentive to make sure they get within that 99% conviction rate. The jailers are generally very nice people, and jail is okay, no rape or physical abuse on that side except upon fellow gang members. The only physical abuse is from police questioners, and it can get far worse than described in the post above. I was certainly beaten in the top floor dojo by really tough cops.
I would just suggest, as above, to make them think you are going to write a confession, but never really write one and make them go through the process of translating and re-translating it.
Get a good lawyer if you can. If you can’t and you can’t pay ‘blood money’ and if you are not innocent, I’d tell you to plead guilty and sign a confession that you can live with.
Saying there is “absolutely no corruption” is obviously and demonstrably false. But I agree that the conditions of incarceration, generally speaking, although very strict and preferable to doing time in a gladiator academy in the USA. That having been said the best option is to not break the law. If this one fails, try not getting caught.
My husband was arrested for graffiti. He has now just passed his 48 hrs. If he doesn’t confess do you or anyone know how strict laws against this. He is big and tattooed. Not sure that helps his situation in the least.
I appreciate any response. I am a mess
If your husband admits to the crime and apologizes, he will be out by 10 days, I THINK. But he has to admit to it and write an apology. Please relax though, it is not nice in jail but it is basically safe and he will probably not go to court if the graffiti was not too huge or expensive to repair.
And Matthew, if you are writing this you have not been taken on the ‘little ride to the station’ yet, so don’t worry. If they have not taken your cell phone yet you are okay. If they are about to then take my advice and that above. Otherwise relax. You only get the first class treatment for a felony.
Matthew, most of the advice I’ve seen here is for guys who have done some serious crime and have to worry. Like I said, I was hauled in for a serious felony and was held incommunicado, but I was innocent and just put up a fight and got out after my 23. No big deal. Just wear it like a tattoo.
You can do the same.
If not, in Japan, you have to do the time. Just admit to the least and sign it. These guys you see bitching on the internet are so lucky if they are guilty. In their home country they would be raped or dead. If you are guilty admit it.
If not, fight it until you are dead.
Thanks rich. Luckily I have my had to endure much due to SOFA status. Court does keep getting rescheduled tho. Going on 1 year now.
Our man here says he will but me a hot chocolate if I can give him some better ideas than I have already had in Japan. How about jail in Peru? I’m not talking modern Peru like all you pussies have experienced but Peru in 1979, Gobiero Militar.
Like being kidnapped by the Sindero Luminoso, like being stripped searched every 20km? Like being put in a cell 20 times over 6 months. Hell, you guys have not lived.
Have you ever had your camera stolen only to have the secret police tell you they can get it back for you if you pay $20 (in 1979) and then have you watch them beat the suspect to death in front of you?
Hell you silly kids who think you have lived have no idea what it really means to travel and live on the edge.
I’m not really proud about my life, but you young kids have no idea what it means to ‘do time’ in a developing country or even what a developing country is compared to the 70’s and 80’s, or what it was like to travel back then.
Ever heard of ‘km88′ and the old Inca Trail? Ever been to Ankash and treckked over 19000’ with just you and your backpack? Of course not, you have to have a permit now and $25000 for a guide. Ever spent a week in Huarash drinking calientites and going to the doctor every day for altitude sikness and some kind of alpaca disease in your ear because you slept next to them in their enclousure? Of course not. Inkal su titi? Used to mean ‘what is your name in the mountain language in Peru, now nobody speaks it.
I spent three days hiking with two native ladies to get to a mine dump truck that would take us within 16km of the nearest village that would lead me to my trek. They were amazed that I had a butane stove that would allow us to eat boiled rotten animal flesh in addition to native plants to have a good meal.
Yeah those were some good memories, and a hell of a lot more pleasant than 23 in the can in Japan.
I had a friend get arrested in Japan in 1995 for fighting with cops and overstaying his visa. He got one year in Fuchu. 2 meals of rice and water and one of rice water and fish per day. Six months in isolation sitting on his knees on a concrete floor, a guard pacing between 2 cells. If he moved and the guard saw it he was beaten with a boken (wooden sword) He was then deported to the US after his 1 year sentence. Last year a different friend got arrested in Japan for possession of 5 grams of Marijuana (small plant in his house) for such a small amount a Japanese person would receive 6 months of probation for a first offence. My friend got 2 years in Fuchu with no prior criminal record because he is foreign. He has lived in Japan legally for 25 years and has a teenage son who is a Japanese citizen and a Japanese ex-wife. I love Japan and want to return someday, but the racism has gotten worse not better in the past 20 years. Olympic Committee should consider not using Japan as a venue in light of discrimination.
The Olympics is Japan’s swan song. After 2020 things are going to go down hill relatively quickly for people trying to live the same way they have for the last couple of decades, so, for most of Japan.
Be careful, Japan’s tourism is greatly affected by how safe it is to visit Japan. I remember going to Mexico before the rumors started about the bad criminal justice system. You could not find an open space at the beach in Puerto Vallarta to lie down. But after the rumors started the beaches literally became empty. Americans are scarred to death of an unfair system and will stop visiting Japan. The internet is a powerful force. And rumors can destroy an economy. If they are being unfair to Americans, it won’t last long. In fact I think I am cancelling my trip next month. I’ll just go visit Canada again, it is a great place.
I think that’s a wise decision. Better safe than sorry.
ive been to jail in tokyo before for several months, i was convicted for 1 year for bodily harm. it was a complicated situation, and indefensible here even though i feel it was completely justified and i have no regret about my own actions. today i actually just spent all evening in the police station; because of no fault of my own, attributable to a problem with my pasmo card and being labelled a fare-jumper.
id like to say that i have read other posts of this nature before, but i consider yours to have been the most accurate and complete that i have seen. i consider everything you say to be completely true from my own experiences over my time served, and what you say is exactly what i needed to know before i got myself on the wrong side of the law here in the first place. its a shame that one never expects that things are this way until its too late. given the case-by-case differences, i think you have provided as complete a guide as one could give. kudos.
i might also attest that after ones criminal history here becomes a thing, immigration also sharpen their claws on you too. im a pretty rare case in that i have managed to stay in japan where most people would just be deported, but they try everything in their power to ruin your life in japan if you havent yet secured a longer term visa. i was surprised though when the police grabbed me today and took me off in a squad car, i was just remarking recently about how they seem to have cooled off on illegal body searches and stopping foreigners for petty misdemeanors and such. i guess i have just had a lucky run up until now. i managed to get out today without being held overnight or charged, only because the stations they accused me of jumping were included on my monthly commuter pass. it took all afternoon to establish that…they still tried to get me to sign the document though, and never a translator in sight.
again, good work champ. i think japan needs more like you; the sort that dont live in the japan fantasy camp most foreigners here do, im sure this will help someone in need. you have my regards.
Thanks for the comment. Yeah, nothing in this is fluff or BS. I wrote it honestly hoping to pass on the intel. That’s it. I can also attest to the sharpening of immigration claws you mentioned.
Hi r w,
Would you mind giving me advice on how I can renew my visa if I have a criminal record? My Visa is up for renewal this year. I have receive a 3year working visa that is up for renewal this year. Thanks!
I may not be the most qualified to answer this, but there are a couple possible options. Prepare yourself to lose your residence status and live here on tourist papers, expatriate, or become an illegal. This is your worst case contingency, Japanese immigration does not have to explain their refusal of your papers, nor is constrained by any law about fairness to foreigners in this matter. Second is marry a Jap for a spouse visa. Third is to self sponsor, 50,000dollars demonstrated in a bank accout, register a business for 200 dollars with a written business prospectus, or secure a press or entertainment visa, etc. this one is pretty tricky, and prickly even for people that are doing these things completely legit. If you have a criminal record in japan i imagine whoever youre working for now isnt visa sponsor material too, pardon me if im mistaken. Obviously a work sponsor will make the criminal record problem redundant for visa purposes, but finding someone who can and will do that is a chance slim to none. Another possibility would be to take full custody of a japanese child (yours, not by taking someone elses). Failing that, if you are seperated and show you are paying more than 30,000 yen per month then im told it can secure you a visa. Normally when you get charged here they just kick you out and ban you from coming back, if you have people supporting you here then get support letters or whatever you can and pay the big money for a good lawyer, and that’s about it my friend. Worth mentioning, you can take immigration to court over a decision you want to overturn – but during that time you will have no working privileges so be ready for the long haul. Best of luck to you.
I wrote this while I was actually LOCKED IN IMMIGRATION for over a month. It might be appropriate. https://gaijinass.com/2011/09/15/update-from-the-penthouse-prison/
Yo gaijinass! Not just a drop-in, follow your posts when i get time to read up on your exploits interviewing strippers and such, and take your council on legal and immigration matters.
Did you know if the special permission you applied for (and i assume were given) is only granted to people who are gonna get deported? When you applied, were you able to work while it was under assessment (like on the designated purposes end of the visa process)? Theyre breaking my balls again, help me out!
I was detained, locked up, so the process is not handled by the standard people downstairs and is expedited. That having been said…through sheer idiocy and a confusing phone call a year later I over stayed by special permission of residency by 24 hours. So, back up to the 5th floor I went. I was not locked up this time and they said the following “Yes, this is our fault but ultimately it is now your fault. You are illegally in Japan.” End of story. I was told in no uncertain terms I was not allowed to work while my new special permission was processed however in his next breath the immigration official told me something like the following in Japanese “But obviously one has to work to eat and you have a kid to support.” And it was left at that. Again, like so much here, no concrete answers. You just have to smile, have your shit together and keep trying till you hear something you like.
Can anyone tell me what happens if you get caught stealing $30 of groceries? A Canadian male age 24, over in Japan with a teaching English agency.
Did he get arrested? If so he will likely do a couple days- 1 week in jail. Pay some money, write an apology letter and be out with no record. Or it could all be taken care of in one evening. Depends on the shop owner and the 24 year old’s circumstances surrounding the arrest.
Yes he got arrested. He pleaded guilty, the girlfriend(also Canadian) went back to the store and apologized. She is free but questioned every day. They won’t let her see him. He grabbed the guards wrist that caught him in the stroke and their calling it an assault. They contacted the guy and he’s not sure yet if he will drop those charges. How do we let the 24 year old in jail to apologize and show remorse when he can’t talk to his girlfriend or anyone.
They are just sweating him. Although it may seem barbaric to some people, the Japanese consider the initial period of incarceration, the first ten days or the three weeks, part of the punishment. So 3 weeks is the maximum amount of time they can hold him with out prosecuting him. As this seems to be a very small offense, if I have been told all the details accurately, the worst case scenario for him will likely be 3 weeks detention, a fine not more than 300-500 USD and his apology. What police station is he being held at if I may ask? Is he in Kanto or Kansai? City area or country? All this can changes things a bit but basically, worst case is 3 weeks and he is out.
Thanks for writing this up!
I was separated from my now ex-wife, and fucked up big by getting black-out drunk and having a bout with my gf at the time. I was arrested and detained for 10 days, but we settled out of court and I wasn’t convicted.
I got my divorce in June, and now my Spouse visa will be up for review. I was married for 4.5 years in japan, and I’ll apply for a Long-Term Resident Visa, failing that… A work Visa, and finally my gf will marry me if that doesn’t go though.
Do you have any insight or comments on my visa situation? I’m feeling like both Visa’s aren’t going to get approved because at the time of the incident I was not living with my wife (our addresses were almost across the street, but not the same as what was reported to immigration).
I fucked up bad, and I’m pretty worried that following a string of visa denials that they might not take a new marriage seriously.
Immigration issues are not black and white. They are complex. Immigration uses a kind of checklist, assigning points to candidates, and based on your total points generally approve or deny your request for a status of residency (We say “Visa” but that is just a permit to allow you to enter. What we are discussing is Status of residency).
Although various factors are considered by immigration, nationality/criminal history/salary/savings/current tax situation in Japan/motivation for stay/children in Japan/Japanese language ability and so on, the number one factor is being married to a Japanese national or not. This is especially the case if you have a criminal record. It seems based on what you wrote, that you have no criminal record. You were never prosecuted and you settled out of court. So this should not be an issue with immigration. Your best option, in my opinion and I am not a lawyer obviously nor an immigration expert, is to apply for a work visa if you have the necessary company support. If you have a company willing to sponsor you this should work. Also, marrying in order to leverage immigration, even if you feel strongly for your partner, is something that could go very south in the future and I do not recommend it. Shoot for the Work Visa if you have company support. Obviously, if you are denied two separate attempts and then suddenly get married, expect for the investigation to be more rigorous. Assume that your new partner’s family will be expected to sign documents legally making them your guarantors in Japan. They will likely interview your partner and perhaps visit your residence as well. Just be prepared for the worst case scenario and instead of subjecting your loved one to this, try to get with a company motivated to sponsor you. Good Luck.
On the shoplifting thing, I would have advised not pleading guilty, spending the 23 days and paying for the groceries. Having a conviction on the record is never good, and in the case outlined was completely avoidable. Restitution is almost always possible in Japan, NEVER plead guilty.
It won’t be on the record if he doesn’t go to trial. Something small like this, say sorry, pay the restitution and that’s it. There is no record worth mentioning.
I can’t help but leave a comment on this post. While some of the aspects are correct, maybe even all of them, your treatment will differ greatly depending on a few aspects: Your crime, Your age, Your nationality, Your Gender and any previous events that you may have in your past. This treatment doesn’t really come in to full fruition until you get to the detention center from the police station after charges are filed by the prosecutor. But we will get back to that later. The order of events will usually role out as follows:
Your initial arrest:
You will be questioned at the scene (if you are still there), in the car on the way to the station and at the station itself. If your crime is fairly small, you most likely will be spending the next 3 weeks at the police station in a room with 2 – 3 other people and you probably won’t be prosecuted if you remember a couple of very important rules: Do not speak to the police about your crime, you have the right to remain silent and you definitely should use it, don’t sign any papers handed to you, even if there is a translator there with you. Refusing to sign means that this piece of evidence cannot be used in court, this is very important. No signing, no finger printing, no writing, no matter how much they mentally bully you.
The next rule is to get a touban bengoshi (Police station lawyer) as soon as you can. If you do not have the funds to pay a lawyer, you may ask for assistance from the local government in paying the fees, your assigned lawyer will give you a paper to fill in about income and savings, which you then hand back him/her and they take it from there. You now have a full time legal rep. However, if your savings and income are above a certain level then the Touban Bengoshi will only visit you once. You won’t see another lawyer until you are prosecuted (Japanese – Kisosareru).
For the entire 3 weeks stay at the police station, never sign any documents and try to divert any sort of conversation they are trying to have with you on to another subject.
You will be taken before the prosecutor during these 3 weeks too. This is usually 2 or 3 times. Same rules apply: no signing, avoid any talk about your case. At the end of the 3 weeks, the prosecutor will have very little to go on if you didn’t sign anything and committed a small crime. If the prosecutor feels that he/she can’t win in an open and shut manner, they will probably drop the charges. That is you ultimate goal in the 3 weeks in the station. Don’t give in and spill the beans. Make the police do their own jobs and don’t help them do it. I will continue later. For now, goodbye and good luck!
Well said. Great comment.
This is a very good comment. better to say nothing. These people do this for a living they do it every day. The goal has nothing to do with your innocence. it’s all about the 不起訴. The first thing my lawyer told me was to say nothing. He called the prosecution the enemy. I never want to take a case that they can’t win so don’t help them. Their standards is what they call a total black case in Japanese満黒. do not help them.
John S again here. It’s finally the weekend so I can use the the internet anytime I want.
Thank you for the reply gaijinass!
Continuing from where I left off.
People will probably be wondering or even worried about the 3 weeks you will spend, without charge at the police station. I will explain what the conditions are like for these three weeks, it may elevate your anxiety now but knowing what to expect will at least have you mentally prepared.
So, you have been arrested and you are at the station. First, you will be taken to be questioned by a detective and, probably a translator if your first language is English. These translators vary in their English skill level and are usually “friends” with the police. Sometimes they can even be a retired police officer from the same station (like I had). Don’t be fooled by the translator, they too, are there to assist the police in getting information and pushing you to sign a confession. Stick to the golden rule : Do not speak about your case or sign (or fingerprint) anything!. Ask for the translator to give a line by line translation of the document typed up by the officer, then refuse to sign or finger print it anyway. You don’t even need to answer questions about your name and date of birth, their goal is to bully you into a confession so bully them back by remaining silent for the whole 3 weeks. Make the police work!
What about the conditions in the holding cells and how will you be treated?
You will usually stripped of all clothing and searched upon transfer from the initial questioning, the officers will take everything you have apart from your clothes. Again, don’t panic, remain calm and do what they tell you without trying to hinder them, as long as they aren’t asking you questions about your case or what you did. After you have been stripped, searched and you have your clothes back on, you will be moved to a cell. The station I was at had 8 cells holding male inmates, 3 to each cell. To describe the cell: It’s a carpeted room, with a toilet in the corner (in the stations, the toilets have doors too). the front of cell consists of the stereotypical prison bars seen in the movies, with a small trapdoor for passing you food at meal time and any letters you may receive as well as a book if you request one when they are doing their rounds with the book case. The English books are very limited in number and you have at least a 3 week stay, so you will probably be able to get through their entire library. During your stay at the police station, you may also talk to your room mates (remember the aforementioned golden rule! do not speak about your case to your room mates). What type of room mates will you be staying with? It is completely random, you could be lucky end up with an English speaking room mate or 2.
You will be required to clean the room daily with your room mates. This consists of a quick cleaning of the toilet and a run around with the vacuum cleaner, Rotate your job with your room mates, don’t always grab the vacuum and not give anyone else a chance. After the cleaning is done, you will be allowed out of your cell to wash you hands and face and brush your teeth with items supplied by the station. From there, you are put back in your cell and will remain there until the evening, before bed time, when you can once again wash your face and brush your teeth. During the day you will receive 3 meals at designated times unless you miss a meal due to being taken to the prosecutors office. In which case you will be given your meal when you get back. Don’t worry about the food all being cold, it’s the norm.
Showers and baths are taken 2 or 3 times a week and at the police station and they are communal. You have 15 minuets to shower and bath so be as quick as you can. Don’t get in to the bath until you have washed, otherwise you risk upsetting other detainees. Soap (and sometimes shampoo) will be provided by the station and you have to dry yourself off with the same hand towel you used for the morning face wash and tooth brushing. From there, you will be allowed to your locker to retrieve anything you need such as writing materials or your own clothing. Then it’s back to your cell. 2 or 3 times a week you will also be allowed out of your cell for “Undou” (exercise), don’t be fooled by the title, there is no room for exercise even if you wanted to. Undou time is more like nail clipping and shaving time. You can not speak to other inmates during this time.
Lastly, sleeping: You will be able to pick up your futon and pillow at a designated time in the evening and you will put it back in to storage in the mornings. Throughout the waking hours, your cell has no contents other that the inmates and their items.
You will occasionally be taken for questioning by the detective working your case. This is called “Torishirabe”. Remember the golden rule! I cannot express how important it is that you do NOT fingerprint or sign anything at all!. These questioning times depend on your level of co-operation, if you are known to waste their time by not signing or fingerprinting anything, you will very rarely be taken from your cell and even if you are, it will will be over within an hour.
Finally, you will be transported to the prosecutors office with a bus full of other inmates. Stopping at other stations on the way to pick up inmates from other jails. You will be roped together with the other inmate using a loop on your hand cuffs and guided to the prosecutors building, where you will be put into a cramped little room with up to 6 or 7 other people and a door-less toilet in the corner. You will be spending from 9am until whenever everyone else has been questioned in that cramped cell. This can easily take up until 7 or 8pm. After which time you are all roped back together and transported back to your station.
This is how your first 3 weeks will go.
The prosecutor has 2 options at the end of the 3 weeks: File charges or not. If you have not signed anything, especially a confession, and your case is for something very small, which you know they have no evidence for (or you know you are innocent) then you will recieve “Fukisou”. This means the charges are dropped and will not be recorded as a criminal offense on your record. Or, if the prosecutor has evidence or a confession from you, and believes that he/she can win the case with ease, You will be charged “Kiso”. From now on, you can be held indefinitely until your case concludes through court. You may also be transferred to a detention center but I will leave that for another post. If you receive “Kiso”, expect the next 6 months to be spent behind bars.
If the prosecutor expects that they will drop your charges, you will be transported to the prosecutor with a bag of your belonging and set free once it is finalized. You have to make your own way home from here and will not be going back to the police station.
That is how your first 3 weeks will go. Of course if you have committed a serious crime like murder or rape, different rules apply.
My best advice: DON’T commit a crime in Japan! trust me, the consequences are extremely severe.
That’s all for the police station section. In my next post I will explain what happens after “kiso” and after you get to the detention center for the duration of your trail.
I have some definite changes to add based on my experience and that of friends. In the cell, the senior member was the person who had been there the longest. Chores for cleaning etc went down the line from him to the newest member. The one individual I encountered who didn’t want to accept his place was put in solitary. This also applied at the regional detention center. There was a strict policy of only speaking Japanese to other inmates. Showers went once every 6 days. “undou” time was smoking and nail clipping and shaving in what amounted to a small concrete room with no roof. When visiting the prosecutors office everyone, literally bus loads of people, would come in on schedule together, go through roll call and then be put in the cells described. Lunch was 2 slices of white bread, a small tube of mayonaisse and a cup of hot water. Everyone was reloaded on to their respective buses and shipped back to their police stations from 1730. You eat a cold bento when you are finally back.
Gaijinass, thank you again for the reply. I guess your problem was before 2009 as they have abolished smoking in stations since then. “Undo” is literally “Nail clipping and Shave time”. Usually observed by 3 or 4 guards, the time you are allowed is restricted but the guards don’t usually count down on a clock in the police stations, unlike bathing time. You can spend a bit of time shaving and looking at the sky. It sounds stupid but being locked up in a police cell in Japan with no windows, you begin to miss things like the sky and trees.
Your time in the station is not as bad as it seems at first. The detention centers are where the semi-military routines come in.
Once charges are filed against you by the prosecutor, you may stay in the police station, if the detention center has no space, or you will go to the detention center at the nearest possible date.
This is where the semi-military regimes come in to play. You will be put in your room (your new home), sometimes 2 or more people to 1 room, depending on the size of the room, but mostly 1 per 180cm x 250cm room (around that anyway). Your room consists of : A toilet, Your Futon (which you do not need to take out of your cell every morning) a small writing desk, a small book shelf, A window with a view consisting of metal barriers and nothing else, no light gets in, a tap and sink and, finally you get all your clothing back to keep in your room.
Washing will be collected on a weekly basis (a maximum number of items applies). Bathing is done cell by cell, the place at which I stayed had 2 bathrooms, each holding 1 person at a time. You will also have a strict time limit of 15 minuets to bathe and dry. You’ll get used to rushing through thought. Same rules apply as they do at the police station: Do not enter the water until you have washed. Believe me, when it rolls around to the last 3 months of the year, you will appreciate that hot water a lot.
The “undo” rules can be seen as somewhat kinder than at the police station, sometimes. When you have your outdoor time you can clip your nails, walk around a restricted area (enough to jog around in a rectangular area) or talk to the other inmates. A couple of staff will usually be assigned for 15 – 20 people. Going to an from the outdoor area is done in regimental form. You must shout out the number you are in the line of people. So if you are the person at the front you shout “Ichi” then the one behind you shouts “ni” and so on. You are then all counted again when you get the courtyard, then you may go and do what you want. The people are usually pretty nice guys and they do tend to stick to groups. In my experience (and this could be different in each center), the gang affiliated people usually sit and talk for the full 30 minuets, where are the non-gang related will usually speak to random people about random things, some while walking in pairs, some sat down. There was never any violence during my time in the center.
The one thing which is very bad for your health being in a detention center for that long is that you loose contact with anyone apart from letters and your “undo” time.. The guards will sometimes stop and talk to you but other than that, you can be in your cell between 23hr 30min and 24 hours a day. Solitary. That amount of solitary is bound to have a negative impact on you which you will notice, especially when you leave. It somehow… “programs” you to become afraid of others or social events … anything that you would usually do in public. I was greeted by my wife upon my release as well as a few friends from the church. My wife alone, I could probably handle but a gathering a people scared me. I’ve been out over 1 year now and it still bothers me to this day.
The most prominent physical effect you will definitely come out with is; enormous weight loss. You are fed extremely strict diets which are made to keep costs down and barely give you enough energy for the day.
During the last couple of months of my detention, I had developed an automatic swaying forward and backward motion while sitting. Even on the outside it continued. My doctor said it could be caused by anxiety and put me on some medications.
On to seeing a doctor during your detention period (before you are found guilty). You can make requests but only verbally. There are no written request forms in detention. A nurse comes around every 3 days or so and dispenses your medicine, sometimes checking your blood pressure and weight. But when you really need a doctor you will just have to wait. Make a request to the nurse and put a letter out to your embassy, explaining your physical condition and what is causing concern. Your embassy can demand that you are seen by a doctor as soon as possible. Otherwise : Wait.
Books are your salvation in detention, they can take you away from that misery you feeling and transport you to a far off place, like the book “Treasure Island” (which I read a few times over). My embassy sent me multiple books to read as well as outside sources. In the end I had a pile of 30 or so books in my cell.
Shouting to other inmates or guards is not allowed during detention. You press a button and the guard will come in their own time. Unless it is a dire emergency.
There are 2 indoor workout times during the day. Afternoon and Evening. In this time you can get up and walk around your cell. Walking up and down less than 3 meters of a room might sound like it’s dull or boring but it really does help with the constant anxiety.
Your cells are to be kept clean by yourself at all times. Although, through all the cell checks that occurred during my stay, nothing was ever said to me about my collection of books or the state of my cell.
2008. Also, I found the time at the detention center much easier than that at the police station. The conditions at the police station were extremely Spartan and strict. The bedding was literally tattered old blankets whereas the futons, tables and all general conditions, including food and bathing conditions, were wildly better at the Tokyo detention center. Strict, yes, and you are very clearly in JAIL, but it was far better than the months I spent in the desolate and freezing box at the police station. Also, it seems you were in solitary in detention, I was not. I was in a room with 3 Yakuza from completely different gangs, all of whom were complete gentlemen to me and to each other, amazingly.
Thanks for the reply gaijinass and thank you for the website. I think it will help to deter people from crime in Japan but also help them out if they are arrested. To comment on the solitary aspect of my time in detention. The detention center I was at not only held people that haven’t been found guilty yet but it also functioned as a prison (on the other side of the building.) and all but a 1 room in the line of 30 in my block were solitary. That one extra room had a TV in it and kotatsu kind of table, I guess it was for the guards.
My crime certainly wouldn’t warrant permanent solitary in one of the actual solitary rooms. It was a regular room with all the amenities I described above. I could sit against the wall and read or I could make a pillow out of my clothing and lay down if I wanted to. The only real rule was that you don’t walk around the room aimlessly (IE. for exercise reasons) until the music started playing.
The first couple of months in detention are the easiest. This is because you have not yet given up on the idea of going home soon. It’s only when you realize that you are going to be in detention for a total of 6 months , that the effects on your mental well being start to take effect. You will find out how long you will be in detention through your lawyer or through speaking to other inmates. The length of the average trial for small crimes is around 6 months. However, more complicated cases can take over 2 years. There was guy in our block who had been there for 2 years and hadn’t yet concluded his trial yet, but his crimes (he had several) did not fall into the category that warrants the saiban-in system. In extremely severe cases such as murder, attempted murder or rape, a different type of trial is used. A regular trial, with only 1 judge, will take much longer than a saiban-in trial with several judges. Generally: If you have committed a serious offense then your trial can be over in 1 week through the saiban-in system and you certainly will not be given probation. In smaller cases, you will only have 1 judge presiding over the case and he/she will decide your punishment. How long the trial drags on for can be manipulated by the prosecutor. At the end of each trial day, the date of your next court appearance will be decided. The judge will ask all those involved with the trial if they are available on X date at X time. The prosecutor wants you to remain locked up so he/she will purposely say that they aren’t available if the next date is too close. That’s an aspect you will just have to accept. In my case the judge asked everyone if they are available on Thursday of this week. My lawyer said yes, my translator said yes, the judge had obviously said yes but the prosecutor said no. The judge will then ask if they are available on a different date, again: if the prosecutor says that they aren’t available on that date either, then the judge will ask again. Once it gets up to a bout 2-3 weeks, the prosecutor will accept it.
The average court hearing typically lasts around 1 hour. But Your first hearing will be over in 10 – 15 minuets as the only activity will be the confirmation of your name, address and so on. (you will not be asked directly if you want to plead guilty or not, your lawyer will decide this.). Small crime cases will average a total of 5 appearances over 5 months and if your offense is something small like theft and this is your first ever offense in Japan, you can be assured that you will get probation of 3 years or more. On the concluding day of your trial, the sentencing hearing, You will be handcuffed and taken to court as usual. But once the judge issues you a probationary period the handcuffs are removed immediately and you will be returned to the detention center to pick up your belongings. I have never felt such relief in my life, to be able to walk back to the minibus. For the past 6 months I had been sitting in my cell and suddenly I am free. The feeling is very hard to describe. Liberated?
So you go back to the detention center, get your belongings and go home. The feeling of freedom is overwhelming. Just don’t commit crime again in Japan. Believe me , the consequences are extremely bad. You too will have to go through everything I went through and I don’t wish that on anyone, not even my worst enemy.
My experiences differ slightly to yours John. I was not allowed to lie down in my cell from first wake-up call in the morning until lights-out at night (7am-9pm? I forget). I was also not allowed to do anything that constituted exercise in my cell, either. I might add, the radio played through the PA was left on all the day, which I found disturbed my peace of mind. At night, the lights would dim but always remained on, disturbing my rest. I was only allowed out of my cell for 15 minutes, 3 times a week for exercise, this was sometimes cancelled subject to rain. This was done in a solitary cell outside, about 1.5m*3m, about the same as the normal cell. I would run in circles barefoot until my feet became bloodied under the sole and blackened over time. You were allowed to wash your feet after exercise, you were able to request skipping rope or nail clippers during. I was malnourished after I left, I had lost about 15kg, and that was from a weight already lowered living in japan, considering how much weight you can lose on the next to zero protein Japanese diet/scarcely eating with a high expense western diet and limited budget. Standing at over 6ft and then weighing in at only 60kg on my departure from jail made for a noticeable change. In terms of food, it simply was not enough. They did an surprise inspection of my room several times to remove mustard packets and things I had saved from meals so I had something for outside of mealtimes when I was hungry. Because people could order food for themselves to pay from their account with the jail and keep it in their rooms, I can only think this seizure was meant to demoralize me. They also would make it impossible to order food or coffee by telling you something like “you can only order that on wednesday”, and then when wedneday came they would say “you needed to order that monday, try again next week”. Lots of my hair fell out, I grew a cyst on my eye which needed to be cut off under local anasthetic by the prison surgeon. I hardly ever saw the sun or any scenery outside the prison, my experience of a powerful earthquake while locked in my cell which resulted in a complete blackout is about the only thing that broke from the ceaseless monotony of sitting-still, reading whatever books I could get; best as I could with all the pages that were missing, all day every day. Visitors were only allowed to see me for 5-10 minutes, I can’t remember exactly how long but that’s my closest estimate. I was allowed a maximum of 1 visit per day. About once a week my girlfriend would travel 2hours return on the train to see me for 5 minutes, with a policeman writing everything that was said to the best of his ability. If I remember rightly, I had to speak in Japanese, English was forbidden (I still don’t speak Japanese well enough to have a conversation, so at that time I could say almost nothing). Sometimes a lawyer or consul or someone had come already that day, in which case my girlfriend was sent away without being able to visit. I could send her letters, these had to be given to the guards unsealed and all contents were recorded by them, at no time could I say anything in confidence. I was called by a number whenever anyone spoke to me, it became strange to me to hear my name. I am not one for following celebrities, but I could liken the feeling to hearing a name of a celebrity you like, or you know but can’t place your finger on, only to realise that person was you. I had forgotton that until now. I did forget my number, though I am not inclined to remember.
My number was 1,474.
Thank you again for taking your time out to reply and for the website
Reading your story makes me think that it must vary according to the center you get put in to. However, there do seem to be a few universal rules: Walking around the cell, shower and “undo” times, buying snacks from the prisons list of available items.Usually, these snacks aren’t extremely expensive, comparable to a convenience store. There was a rule where I stayed that only allowed you to buy up to 4 paper cups of coffee (instant coffee, you will have to request some hot water from the staff).
The coffee was my salvation. The detention centers are there to make your life as miserable as possible, I believe this includes the doctor and what he/she prescribes. My doctor put me on an anti-psychotic called “Rispedal”. Basically, I was already feeling low so he gave me a medication to worsen the effects of anxiety. Everyone on my row of 30 cells (29 with inmates in them) was on the same sedative for sleep.
I think it was halcion 0.25g.
I began to get very shaky, due to very severe anxiety attacks. Taking the anti-psychotic only doubled the anxiety. The best medication is the ability to talk to others outside (and yes, our “undo” was cancelled if it was raining) The most helpful was the guy I mentioned previously, with his 2 year trial still on going. He asked me about my case, what I had done, had I done anything else before hand. Once I explained the details to him, this was 3-4 months before sentencing, he immediately said that I will get a 1 year sentence with 3 years of probation. He was absolutely correct.
Those experienced inmates will give you far better and more detailed information, delivered in a softer tone than any defense lawyer in Japan. The guards are a good source too. There was a friendly guard on my block who was always telling me that I won’t be going to prison. He said that he had seen hundreds like me, some even worse, and none of them have been sent directly to prison without probation for such a small crime as their first offense.
The inmates seem to link your prisoner number to the sentence you will get. I forget exactly but numbers 1-100 would be leaving after trial. Prisoner numbers 1000+ Definitely going to prison and those in-between are unpredictable. Like I said: I was number 46. I don’t know if that’s true or just some made up story though.
Will post again soon! Thanks again for the site.
For your time in Detention (which is more or less a certainty once you are arrested and charges filed) I can only offer information about my own experience. Each and every case will be handled in it’s own unique way.
I will continue with the detention center experience, while your trial is taking place. (which reminds me: you are not under obligation to attend your hearings, you can say you don’t want to go, but for me it was a chance to see the outside world in transit to the court hearings. Also, unwillingness to attend your hearings will definitely impact your sentencing. It could, for example, land you straight in to prison for your first crime for a very small crime. I urge you to attend your hearings and be on your best behavior, do exactly what the guards tell you to do and don’t do anything you know would cause a delay and certainly don’t have a bad attitude when you are questioned by the prosecutor or judge. The prosecutor will do his/her utmost to provoke a reaction but remember to just take a few deep breaths and calm yourself down. She/He’s just doing their job and he does not have a personal grudge against you. To the judge, you are just a case number. And judges carry out several cases day in and day out. In fact, he/she will probably not even remember your name after each hearing.
Anyway, back to the detention center conditions.
In my case I found that the regimental way the detention center is run would certainly be appropriate for those who have been found guilty but not for the 100’s of other inmates who’s trial hasn’t even started yet. It’s my belief that, for smaller crimes, the suspect should be charged within 3 days of arrest and the trial should be over in a couple of weeks. (again, depending on what crime you commit).
Bail in Japan is extremely rare for foreign nationals and even natives. But if you are going to attempt a request for bail, do it through your lawyer. You can get bail but you have to have some very specific reasons (for example: death of a loved one, you own a business that can’t run without you or if you have a medical problem which would worsen if locked away. Along with this reason, you may be asked to hand in your passport until you receive your sentence. An Indian guy in my police cell with me, managed to get bail after the charges had been filed (he didn’t go to the detention center as there was no room) based on his ownership of a business and having a Japanese wife with children. He handed over his passport and paid nearly 2 million yen (if I remember correctly). His crime was something to do with taxes and nonpayment, so it wasn’t a violent crime and could be seen as victim-less crime. He wasn’t likely to get out of the cell and fly away back to India with so many responsibilities here in Japan.
I will touch briefly on the immigration authorities actions if you are arrested.
The may come to interview you at the police station and talk to you about your plans for after you are released. Depending how much time is left on your visa and much of a strong bond you have to Japan (for example : a Japanese spouse. If you have only 5 months remaining and your trial is expected to be at least 6 months, your visa will simply expire without any special need for revocation. If you have no ties to Japan, once your trial is over and if the sentence is 1 year or more (not including time on probation) then they may pick you up from the detention center and throw you into an immigration detention center.
However, if you have strong ties to Japan and your crime is something small and you only get 1 year prison with 3 years probation. Even though that 1 year of prison time was issued, because of your ties, they may allow you to continue to live in Japan. If your visa expired while you were locked away and you have strong ties to Japan, they can allow you to remain while you apply for a renewal. Usually they give you 3 months after release to gather evidence for your ties to Japan. Keep all of your letters between you and your spouse that were exchanged during detention, they will go a long way to showing you are emotionally attached to your spouse.
Food in the detention center compared to the police station.
For your first 3 weeks after arrest, you will probably be in the police station nearest to the place you committed the crime. Here you will be served cold bento boxes. It’s not of awful quality but it’s just the fact that it’s cold that gives a reason to complain. You will usually have a deep fried item such as fish as well as rice, pickles and vegetables. You can also request some sort of sauce at this time. The station I was at simply called one of them “Sauce” and the other one was soy sauce. I learned after a while that the “Sauce” is actually Wooster sauce. You might get a drink other than water or green tea sometimes. We had a few during those 3 weeks. Milkshakes mainly.
When you get moved to the detention center the food will be served hot. The rice is also replaced by some sort of barley, it tastes similar to rice but definitely not the same texture. You will also get a concoction which they called Miso soup (actually it’s just a handful of pepper mixed in with a very dilute miso taste. When I first got there, I simply threw the soup down the toilet but when the winter months kick in, you will want more to compensate for the complete lack of air conditioning or heating.
I cant think of any other parts of my experience in detention that would be useful for others. The key to surviving is to keep your mind busy and don’t upset the guards. But before any of that ever happens to you, just don’t commit the crime!
Apart from the “lunch” served while at court, a few slices of white bread and a tube of mayonnaise, the breakfast at the police station was easily the most demoralizing thing I have ever routinely eaten. Served very early, all of us huddled around a straw mat which acted as our dining table, the meal was a bowl of miso soup, some kind of instant egg puck, a pickle and some other random ingredient. Everyone ate it all the same way: mix it all with the soup, the only thing which was warm, and just drink it. Breakfast was over in 3 minutes generally and provided, I’m guessing, about 500kcal. I was on diet rations in Marine Boot camp and I ate significantly better than I did in the police station. All told I lost about 14 kilograms in two months and then my weight leveled off for the remainder of my time.
It sounds as if you got unlucky with the station you were sent to. I can see now that it varies wildly and perhaps it’s changed a lot since 2008. The station I was in had “bento” boxes delivered everyday by some sort of 3rd party company (at the station, I could see outside from a window which overlooked the car park. Every morning, very early (at around 5am or so) a little van would turn up and hand over the lunch boxes. I think the entire day’s worth was handed in at this time because by the time dinner rolls around, the lunch boxes are cold. I too had a straw mat “posted” through the hole on the cell door (at the police station) which was to be used as a dining table (at least that seems to be a constant with all stations). I had 2 inmates with me during my time at the police station. One of the, a guy perhaps in his 50’s, had very specific ways to arrange everything. I did try to help in the beginning but he would often get angry so I stopped helping him. He was in for a long stretch so I guess he was just stressed out, probably didn’t mean to be upset. I think his arrest was from driving a truck (one of those very large trucks) while drunk, killing somebody in the process.
I got extreme anxiety episodes in the station so I requested to see a doctor. The doctor only comes once every 2 weeks so the guard said I won’t be seeing a doctor until I move to the detention center. This is utter BS, if you feel unwell, they have a law stating that they must provide medical assistance. If you find yourself in this situation, you can write to your embassy explaining your health situation and your embassy will then force the police to take you to see a doctor as soon as possible. I went to the doctors office, just a regular doctor nearby my place, hand cuffed and with that pointless blue bag over my hands and the lead attached to my waist. I was lead in to the station looking like this in front of 5 or 6 normal patients who were waiting. All the blue bag over my handcuffs achieved is to bring even more attention to me. Anyway, the doctor and I talked for a few minuets, prescribed a very strong course of anti-anxiety medicine. Too strong I think.
never the less I was OK from then on. Until the detention center doctor decided that I don’t need medicine of anxiety and he would prescribe an anti-psychotic instead. Anti-psychotic medications only worsen the anxiety.
So I wrote to the embassy again and this time they had my medical history from back home to show the doctor. So I was taken to the detention center doctor within a week of writing to them. He changed my prescription to chlordiazepoxide, 100mg 4 times a day. And that’s how he left me. 100mg is a hell of a lot, usually used for addicts to help withdrawal symptoms, and you are supposed to taper off the medication within 10 days. I was left on it for 6 months. So when I got out, I was a benzo addict. Yay, thanks for the farewell present doc.
On the day of my release, I had just taken this medicine before court so I was OK. It wasn’t until later that day that the benzo withdrawals started. Anyway, i’m off those now, it wasn’t easy to go cold turkey but it was worth it in the long run. I think the sleep aid that every inmate in detention had to take was also a benzodiazepine too. Crazy doctor!. If you are arrested carrying cash or if you have somebody on the outside who is willing to help, the BEST medication you can take is, without a doubt, caffeine in the form of coffee. You use your money and a couple of times a week and the deliveries are made to your cell. You can order however much food you want as long as you have the money but I think the guards would disagree with you filling your cell with boxes of biscuits, chocolate, bread and so on. On the other hand, the amount of coffee you can order is limited.
Detention center aside. My advice for dealing with the police if your are stopped is:
Ask them why they have stopped you – It is a legal requirement that the police provide a good reason for stopping you. Not just your skin color.
If the police officer wants to check your pockets. Simply refuse to allow it without a good reason.
Absolutely refuse to go to their police box (koban) unless you are officially arrested. Once you step inside the “koban” the police can search you forcefully and they can throw you in a little room
If you are at home, lock the door and speak to the police via the intercom (if you have one) or through the closed door. Don’t open the door to them and certainly don’t invite them in to your house. They need a court order to enter your property or permission from you. Tell them you will not allow them to enter your property without a court order. They will go away for a few hours to get one. So you have a little time to prepare for being arrested. A bag of clothes and toiletries. Call someone you know and let them know you are about to be arrested and so on. Once they have the court order in hand, and they have shown it to you, you must open the door and do exactly what you are told.
my boy friend has been arrested in japan for drugs. i have since sent him a letter once, to give him my postal address after he was sentenced. he has been sending me letters and all. i decided to send him a letter and pictures. but they returned them with a sticker that said: 1. unidentified. 2. released. and was ticked on 3. the others.
can you please explain to me, what is it that they mean by “the others”? and why they couldnt give him the letter.
Sorry for your trouble.
I am not 100% sure, but, one possible explanation is that he has been moved to a different place. If possible, contact his lawyer for information.
Also, if he has been sentenced and has been moved to prison, initially prisoners are only allowed to correspond with immediate family.
He jilted you. Period. Druggie scum!
probably comes from ;sono hoka’ meaning ‘other’ or ‘not one of those previously mentioned’.
PS. Everything in your original is correct.
Damn right it is!
I would say this article is mostly spot on… I had a lovely two day layover in Japan that unexpectedly turned into a 3 month vacation. Japanese prison suuuucks. Definitely one of the more horrible things I’ve been subjected too.
Oh- I did have one question… Does anybody know if being arrested and sentenced in Japan can effect your legal standing in America?
Convictions with enough gravity are reporter to Interpol.
Japanese media claim that Japan and US have signed a pact to share all 10 million fingerprint records of crimes committed in Japan. I could not get any reliable source though. If true, your record will show at US airport immigration. US does not have entire database, they can only check fingerprints on arrival at airports and your photo will show up if there is a crime record.
I could not find if it record shows up even after the suspended sentence period is over.
Nice post dude. Last year I was in Japan on work visa when got arrested for cannabis control law. They made a huge deal out of a joint and gave me 3 years of suspended sentence. All of a sudden, got fired from the job and friends became strangers. I left Japan after that.
I want to travel to Japan and visit unexplored places. My lawyer had said that I cannot enter Japan once I leave. Do you know if I can enter or asked to return back? Any way to maximize my chances?
Nothing’s impossible but I think it would be very difficult.
They take the “drug” stuff here super seriously.
I was convicted of “level 2” violence or whatever and basically if I let my immigration status falter, for example if I move out of Japan, let my visa expire and then try to come back, what with my other immigration complications, it would be very difficult. You can always try, but I wouldn’t expect for it to happen.
I had 5 years work visa which for normal people expires if they leave Japan for more than 1 year. I left Japan in November last year. So, should I try to return before that? If I am denied entry, it would be a waste of flight tickets. So, wanted to make sure if I can enter.
I’m not an immigration attorney. That having been said, when I spoke to a lawyer, their advice was WRONG. Anyway, If you have a VALID VISA you should be able to come back.
A conviction with a suspended sentence doesn’t automatically mean you have lost your status. I have so much trouble at the airport every time not due to my criminal record but due to my immigration violations.
In the end, if you want to be HERE then just buy the fucking ticket and roll the dice. Try and come back.
You’re a bum so get the hell out of Japan, you two-bit low-life punk. Begone!
I have decided not to goto Japan. I find them closed minded and stubborn. Their crooked teeths and deceptive attitude is too much for me. Apparently two nuclear bombs were not enough for their bullshit.
You will be missed, deeply.
My brother just recently got arrested for breaking the Cannabis control law as well. If it’s possible, I would like to ask your some questions. Email: email@example.com
VISITATION IN JAPANESE PRISON MENS!
if I visit a friend who was recently, will I be profiled or draw unneeded scrutiny to myself?
Wouldn’t want the cops tailing me or being on a watch list. Does that happen?
What time of the day do Japanese Police make arrests?
I had a girl over after a visit to the bar, she asked me if I had a gf and I said I had a few… She asked where my toilet was and then left.
I’ve noticed the police standing around my corner, but I’m living across from a government building. I live in a nice building, and this girl is in her late 30’s, said her family was all dead, and generally on the emotional side. I’m wondering if she wasn’t thinking she could get some money from me…
Anyway, I might just be being paranoid, but … I can’t help it with all of these police around
First time August 2006: (Japanese Firearms and Sword Law) [Convicted]
I moved to Japan back in 2004 when I got married with a Japanese man and was expecting our first child, Due to the tremendous amount of differences between us (plus living together with his fucking family didn’t help the situation) and the fact that I was left alone with a baby at home in a foreign country left me seriously depressed and isolated. He became irrational and obnoxious. Promises to look for our own place didn’t matter anymore and reading manga comics and playing video games became more important than spending time raising our kid. That’s when I finally decided to tell him I want a divorce. He didn’t really react to it, or that’s what I thought at first. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I had my baby boy abducted while I was at work. Yeh, My beloved baby boy was abducted from the daycare, even when I warned then of our current situation, they apparently didn’t take me seriously. I called the cops several times but they didn’t even bother to call him, they just told me they couldn’t do anything. Having my child abducted while married wasn’t a crime in Japan at all…(it changes later after you’re divorced, IF you try getting him/her back though!). That said, I went apeshit, took a large kitchen knife with me and off to the grandparent’s. I simply stated to them, with knife stuck under neck, that I would slit my throat in front of them unless they tell me where they keep my child hidden. (I knew they were aiding him with the abduction from the start). Grandpa was visibly scared and wouldn’t move an inch, he probably thought I was right to be enraged…but Grandma here was real scum and I knew she’d call the cops, and so she did. They showed up about 20 minutes later and hauled me to the police station. There after days and days of interrogation, I’m moved to the regional detention center where I’d spend the rest of the 3 months I was detained for a first time offense. In Solitary. It would later be revealed that being a first time offense, I wouldn’t go to prison but still I was given a 6 month prison sentence suspended for 3 years. Yep! My very first conviction in what would become a very long criminal history….lol
Second time April 2009: (Email Harassment?) [Charges Dropped]
My filthy pig of ex-husband (yes, the Child Abductor!) falsely accused me of sending him cellphone email death threats (Harassment Law of whatever they call it?) This time the cops fucked up as they just went with his word and didn’t even have hard evidence to keep me locked in the can so after the 12th day, they had to release me, charge dropped and off you go….without so much as an apology, of course.
To be honest with you, this one time, I was truly innocent…my arrest was probably to the fact that my first probation was still going on.
Third Time October 2010: (The lowest grade for Physical Assault?) [Charges Dropped]
I was driving home from work and at a red light some drunk ass guy stumbled upon my car and kicked the door. Mind you, I was shocked and called the cops right away, unfortunately, because of how late it was (around 2;30am) they probably thought I was working in some hostess bar or something like that. It angered me that the old cop wasn’t taking me seriously and started suggesting I take an alcohol breathing test..WTF right? As you can imagine, I was visibly upset with them. This old guy cop started touching my arm for some reason and I launched a punch to his nose, straight up. That was enough reason to haul me in and arrest me right away. Ironically, it was more or less taken as self defense as they knew I warned the cop to stay the fuck away from me as I was the victim in this case, clearly!!! Whatever happened to the drunk guy that left a dent in my car, don’t know. They probably didn’t even question him…remember, this being my third arrest, I’m the CRIMINAL in their eyes….A VERY DANGEROUS CRIMINAL!….They threw me in the can for 2 weeks and some change then they dropped the “assaulting a cop” charge but this time, instead of immediate release, instead they recommended a month long stay at a private mental clinic…yeh WTF again.
At least the meals were decent (hot) and I was with bunch of people from different backgrounds..most of them nice and friendly. This time, I had my Fiancee visiting me almost every 3 or 4 days…2 hours or so…he would bring lots of snacks and toiletries. I could use the phone and buy stuff at their small baiten in the first floor. The place was really nice and modern, overall. It wasn’t detention but I was held there for a whole month…hmmmm Then after my release, imagine the mental and physical shock of going off paxil cold turkey..those first few nights were a living nightmare. I was literally crawling the walls of my room…ugh
Fourth time February 2014: (Defamation Law) [Convicted]
It was 8 years already since I had my son abducted and no matter how many times I fought in the filthy corrupt family court, Visitation would be denied by the Abductor. Remember that Japan has zero child visitation laws and dual custody is non-existent. I wouldn’t go to his place and beat him to death because that’s not the person I am but I would write a blog about this crime (Even when they say it’s not a crime in Japan before divorce) and denounce this CHILD ABDUCTOR on the internet and so I did…but maybe half a year?
Then once early morning they came knocking my door and showed me that dreadful yellow mustard envelope with the arrest warrant, I knew they were taking me away so I quickly called my partner and told me to wait for him, keep them out till gets there and I did what I was told.We let them in and started questioning me about the blog, which was public by the way, then asked me about the computer I used and hard drive, cellphone, etc. They seized everything, took me to the van and cuffed me. This time they brought me straight to the detention center (WTF yet again??) because of the amount of evidence ‘offered’ voluntarily by myself, they were almost certain to have a clear-cut case beyond doubt. So I was lucky to skip all those cold bentos with the occasional fly stuck to them. But I missed having someone with me in my cell….detention centers are almost always Solitary for non-threatening females with misdemeanors. But Solitary is BRUTAL due to the soul crushing monotony, boredom and overall isolation. It’s beyond ridiculous. Meals are better but that’s perhaps the only good aspect compared to the Police station routine. The First time arrested and spent in detention was ALSO in Solitary….so yes, I spend almost 6 months in Solitary in between the 2 stints. Horrible stuff…Mind numbing BOREDOM. Same shit everyday. I didn’t even call the Embassy until my last couple of weeks just to assure them I was OK. I knew I’d be there locked for the entire 3 months so yeah…I spent the days reading…My Partner brought about a dozen of books…The books saved me from dying out of extreme anxiety and boredom.
Punishment: 1 year 2 months suspended for 4 whooping years this time.
Note: Immigration will stick a Entry Permit in your passport which I find very stressful and demeaning as I was dangerous criminal wanted by the Interpol.
To this day, I suffer depression, anxiety and chronic insomnia. I take nothing for the depression but only melatonin as a sleeping aid. I find myself slicing my wrists with box cutters every now and then. I married my wonderful loving Partner and we have 2 beautiful little girls together, and I love him with all my heart..he’s been there in 2 of my 4 arrests and supported me through the worse.(Yes, he’s Japanese) In fact, during my fourth and last arrest, he got me a private criminal lawyer but because it was a little too late as I was in my third month already…it didn’t make sense to pay 2 million yen to bail me out just when the trial date was set a week later… I was like, it doesn’t matter, I’m already used to this surroundings…meh
Moral of the story? DON’T GET ARRESTED IN JAPAN. Because even if 2 of my 4 cases were dropped, obviously lack of hard evidence, they still ruin your life by sticking a piece of paper in your passport that you must show to immigration every time you leave the country, they let you back in depending on your visa and strong ties in Japan. I have 3 children, 2 in my custody.
I’m still wondering if I’ll ever have the chance to naturalize for the sake of my beloved family. I asked someone at the Justice Ministry and he told me that every time I got convicted of a small crime/misdemeanor it resets back the clock and everything starts over. So my 2nd. and last conviction was in April 22 of 2014…10 years will have to pass to apply for naturalization. So I’d have to wait till 2024…great. And even then…would I be willing to spend so much time arranging mountains of paper…just to be rejected over my extensive “DANGEROUS CRIMINAL” history….everything because I wanted to be able to interact with my baby boy, kiss and hug him tight. .Did I mention that my 2 youngest little girls are born and raised in Japan too. Can they keep me on Spouse Visa permanently even if I plan to live here for the next 50 years or so?
Please forgive my grammar, English isn’t my first language although I’m an American citizen.
For those of you still wondering, yes, I’m a female…arrested 4 times, convicted twice and I’m also mother to 3 children born in Japan. I guess I’m considered scum by the local authorities and the occasional ignorant and obnoxious Gaijin, but other than that, I don’t regret one bit and if I could go back in time, I would have done it again…..How far would you go to prove child abduction in this country?
I’m still happily married with the one who supported through everything, with our two young girls, 5 adopted cats and my RX-8 (rotary enthusiast!)
I know where my son lives, obviously, but I can’t go there without having the cops coming over if called. I know where he studies, but I’m not allowed to set foot on that school either …only the abductor possess full custody. Ironically, it was the very cops that arrested the last time that let me know I can go anywhere I want near my son as soon as he’s 16 as he can decide by himself whether he wants to see me or not. After he’s 16, the cops can’t and won’t do anything to me, unless of course, I stomp my Ex to death or something, umm, no thank you. He’s a cockroach not worth going to prison for. So all I can do now is wait…wait 4 more years and see what happens…
About me wanting to naturalize..well…that’s the saddest part I think,,Now I have to wait about 7.5 years before I apply. Since I have very strong ties to Japan, it’d be a waste not to apply but then again, I’m a “dangerous criminal” with an extensive rap sheet….haha…. The Justice System is here a joke. Did I mention that now I have a fucking piece of paper attached (Special Entry Permission) to my passport and every time I leave the country to Rome or Russia for vacation, they fucking take me to another line to check my file before letting me board the plane…and that takes extra time, each time…apparently the paper will stay there even after my probation is over!! WTF? I guess my last 1year2month prison sentence although suspended meant that I will always display some reminder to Immigration that I’m a criminal and will never be erased…ever.
And yes, ladies and gentleman…what a FELON I am…I tried cutting myself with a kitchen knife under extreme duress after finding out my son was abducted and then I called my Ex “A Child Abductor Criminal” on an internet blog 8 years after that..,yeh….I’m a dangerous Convicted FELON!! =)
My advise? DON’T GET ARRESTED IN THIS DRACONIAN HELLHOLE.
Don’t take me wrong, I love Japan as a country, love the people and most certainly love my husband and kids…but BEWARE of their stone-age “justice system”….Beware!!!
Can I clean your comment up, grammar and put it up as a post?
Please feel free to correct me if you find any mistake on my posts. It would be really appreciated. Thanks a lot.
Hey I was recently traveling in Japan and was convicted of the Cannabis Control Law, I received a 3 year suspended sentence and no deportation. I left back to the USA where I am a citizen. does anyone know how does this affect me now that I’m back in the USA and have no us criminal background here. How will this affect me seeking employment and such? Thanks for any help!
My brother was just recently arrested for breaking the Cannabis Control Law. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions about your experience? my email: firstname.lastname@example.org