The national news is reporting on a rather unimpressive misuse of official vehicles in the capital of rural Yamanashi prefecture.
A trio of men manning an ambulance decided to make a quick stop on the way back from dropping a patient off at the hospital. Since it was White Day (the gender-inverted version of Valentine’s Day), they wanted to grab some sweets for the ladies. Unfortunately for them, while two of the men ran into the 7-Eleven (yes, those are all over Japan), a bystander took offense at the unofficial use of the flashing lights and tattled on them.
Reenactment of the “crime”
as seen on TV Assahi.
The result was an official reprimand and national media attention ranging from bemused commentary all the way to TV Asahi’s online video report, which includes a graphical reenactment (shown here) and a voice-scrambled, anonomized interview with the tattletale himself.
While it may not have been the best idea to leave the lights running while munchy-shopping, it’s not exactly a high crime, and you’ve got to be a pretty serious stick-in-the-mud to photograph the guys shopping and call in to complain.
For those unfamiliar with White Day: The Japanese Valentine’s Day tradition is for women to give men chocolate—loved ones as well as less significant male acquaintances like co-workers or classmates. A while ago the candy companies decided that they were missing out on half the market, so they cooked up White Day and advertised the heck out of it. Now, every March 14th, men are obligated to return the favor and give chocolate to women, again both sweethearts and female acquaintances. So these poor guys—who stopped for between 2 and 6 minutes, depending on which report you believe, and reportedly spent all of 900 yen (about US$8) on cookies—probably weren’t even going to be giving them to wives or girlfriends.
There’s even a term in the Japanese language for this: “giri-choco,” meaning roughly “obligation chocolate.”