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Police Brutality of a Different Sort

Japanese police have an image of being polite that is not always deserved. On Sunday the 18th of March a police officer who apparently had nothing better to do spent his day off yelling at a store clerk.

The incident occurred in Kushiro City on the northern island of Hokkaido. The off-duty officer, in his 30s, arrived at a cell phone store at 11:00am to exchange his old phone for a new one and get his data moved from his old phone to the new one. Unfortunately (for everyone involved), the store wasn’t able to get all of the data transferred.

What happened next, according to the store, puts a new twist on “police brutality.” The customer became so irate about the immobile mobile phone data that he began loudly berating the store’s staff. His threats, according to news reports, included phrases to the effect of “Don’t think I’m going to let you off with just an apology! If I asked you for 1 million yen, would you give it to me?!”

His rage was so great that it frightened off other customers, and his tirade was apparently audible even from the office one floor above the showroom. The Japanese have a saying that “the customer is god,” and the store did it’s darndest to fulfill it, putting up with the irate man all the way until 7:00pm, when the store usually closed. Finally, in desperation, the owner called the police.

The harried owner
during an interview with JNN

Three officers arrived shortly thereafter, but the result wasn’t quite what the owner had in mind—instead of questioning the outraged customer, they began a friendly conversation with him. The owner—who did not know that the man was an off-duty cop, but now had suspicions—asked if the officers knew him. They responded by pretending they had just met the man and, adding insult to injury, asking the owner to settle the situation without even listening to his side of the story.

This impasse continued until 9:00pm, when the owner got so frustrated he called the police again, this time to report the first group of officers on the scene. Different officers arrived, and the new patrol managed to convince the troublemakers to leave, albeit without any sort of apology. By the time the owner locked up for the night, it was 11:00pm—a full half day after the customer arrived.

The next day the police leadership apologized to the store for the misbehaving officers denying that they knew the co-worker who was causing trouble. That’s all they’ve apologized for so far, however—they claim to be waiting until an investigation is complete to comment on the incident.

The owner—now almost certainly even angrier than the customer—wants to file an official complaint against the officer who disturbed his business and inflicted emotional trauma to his staff. He told JNN that he thinks the police officer should resign, and is too frustrated to stand at the thought off his own taxes going to pay that sort of people.

Sources: ZakZak, JNN, via TBS

EMTs Busted For Buying Cookies

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.

Goofy reenactment

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.”