Making the punishment fit the (petty) crime

TOKYO —

In mid-January, female TV personalities Yu Hayami, 50, and singer Iyo Matsumoto, 51, were in Kyoto shooting a travel program with a TV crew when they entered the space between rail lines. Soon afterward the signal at the crossing sounded to warn of an approaching train, and the two fled in mock panic.

Matsumoto later posted a photo on her blog, which can be seen here.

The two underwent questioning at the Kyoto Police station in Ukyo Ward, after which they were charged with violation of the Railway Operation Act, a misdemeanor.

Actually, notes Shukan Gendai (March 4), Japan has all kinds of laws, statutes and ordinances—some, such as public urination, quite well known and others somewhat obscure—the violation of which can land a person in various degrees of trouble.

And speaking of public urination, on Feb 7, the Osaka High Court ruled on the arrest of a man who was caught in the act in a parking lot in December 2015. While justice in this case was certainly not swift, the court reversed the ruling of the lower court and handed down a guilty judgment, fining him 9,900 yen.

The offender had pleaded innocent, insisting that the wording of the law specifically banned the act in “on roads, in parks or other public gathering places.” The court, however, stated that “a parking lot, being a place where people can walk, is akin to a road.”

Another activity that can get you in trouble is the “crime of cutting in line,” say, while waiting for a train or bus. If the authorities judge the act to have been accompanied by rough behavior, such as pushing, they can exercise their option of prosecuting it as an act of violence or intimidation.

There is also a stipulation against the crime of pursuit, such as persistently hounding a woman walking along the sidewalk. Even if it’s not outright stalking, the act is illegal and can lead to arrest and prosecution.

Shukan Gendai’s writer was also surprised to learn that if a store clerk or merchant mistakenly returns too much change from a purchase, the recipient is duty-bound to return the excess. Not to do so (when aware of the difference of course) can be treated as fraud.

Some of the other petty crimes and misdemeanors mentioned in the article include:

- Smacking the head of a subordinate at the office as a form of tough love (think of Mark Harmon in the “NCIS” series). Assault, or possibly causing bodily injury.

- Riding a bicycle one-handed while holding an umbrella. Prosecutable under the traffic law.

- Groping a female co-worker’s buttocks. Imprisonment from six months to 10 years.

- Demanding a store clerk apologize for some infraction by “dogeza” (kneeling and touching his or her head to the floor). Illegal coercion.

- Falsifying receipts in order to inflate expenditures. When treated as forgery or embezzlement, can be punishable by a prison term of between 3 months and 5 years.

- Discarding a cigarette from the window of a car. Violation of the Traffic Control Law. (Same goes for drink cans or other objects.)

- Abandoning a live pet. Fine of up to 1 million yen.

- Carrying a screwdriver in one’s possession. Unless able to provide a convincing reason, it can be assumed to be a tool for housebreaking and prosecuted as a misdemeanor.

- Cheating on an examination for occupational certification.

- Purloining towels from a hotel. If the hotel chooses to pursue it, it would be theft. Likewise for giving away a pen that is company property.

- Tapping into a train station’s electric outlet without permission. Treated as theft. There have been cases of people caught recharging their electronic devices being charged for as short a time as 5 minutes (or the equivalent of about 1 yen worth of electricity)

Japan Today

  • 2

    sensei258

    Tapping into a train station’s electric outlet without permission. Treated as theft

    I had done this on the train a few times, having seen others do it, until some detective flashed his badge and told me to stop. Good that he was in a hurry to get to work and let me go with a warning.

  • 0

    lucabrasi

    And at a pedestrian crossing, if the green man starts flashing before you reach half-way across the road, you're supposed to turn back.

  • 4

    Aly Rustom

    Groping a female co-worker’s buttocks. Imprisonment from six months to 10 years.

    What if you groped a male co-worker’s buttocks?

  • 7

    Alfie Noakes

    Some of the other petty crimes and misdemeanors

    Groping a female co-worker’s buttocks.

    That's sexual assault, hardly a petty crime.

  • 11

    SenseNotSoCommon

    Some of these crimes are far from petty.

  • 1

    Strangerland

    I had no idea that peeing in public was illegal. When I first came here, I used to see cars pulled over with the wife in the car and the husband on the side of the road peeing.

    I don't see it anymore though, so I imagine the law must be having an impact.

  • 1

    Wakarimasen

    And very few of these are routinely enforced. Maybe once in a blue moon which does nothing to deter.

  • 1

    NCIS Reruns

    I had no idea that peeing in public was illegal.

    Yokohama had the first ordinance, back in the Meiji period.

  • -1

    Dan Lewis

    I had done this on the train a few times, having seen others do it, until some detective flashed his badge and told me to stop. Good that he was in a hurry to get to work and let me go with a warning.

    @sensei258 - How!? For research purposes, of course... ・quickly glances left and right・

  • -2

    Alex Einz

    so, male coworkers being groped is fine? quite sexist

  • 0

    Freshmeat

    Groping a female co-worker’s buttocks. Imprisonment from six months to 10 years. what if accidentally or the woman imagined it up? 10 years is quite overdoing it. Prison for 1 week would most likely cost that guy his job on top of the prison sentence. 10 years punishment doesn't seems like petty crime to me.

    When treated as forgery or embezzlement, can be punishable by a prison term of between 3 months and 5 years. while corruption by politicians. Maximum punishment is apologizing in press conference.

    Carrying a screwdriver in one’s possession. Unless able to provide a convincing reason, it can be assumed to be a tool for housebreaking and prosecuted as a misdemeanor. oh so we are now practicing pre-crime?

  • 1

    GW

    Screw drivers.......I wonder what would happen to me if I was pulled over when I had my chainsaw in the back on the way to/from cutting logs.......maybe I better check :)

  • 1

    Yubaru

    Abandoning a live pet. Fine of up to 1 million yen.

    This SHOULD be increased to ten times the amount and a jail term as well! Japan puts way too many pets to sleep yearly, over 5,000 per year here in Okinawa alone! This should be a felony!

    so, male coworkers being groped is fine? quite sexist

    But getting "kanchoed" the fingers up the butt-hole is a sexual offense punishable by a fine of 300,000 or more, and it doesnt matter if it's a child doing it either. If the recipient chooses to press charges the parents or guardians can be forced to pay the fine!

  • -1

    thepersoniamnow

    Kancho is a nationally treasured act. I'll never forget the time I was talking to a group of kindergarten teachers after a demonstration, and Kancho came up. I was making the point about if you cannot teach kidz to respect another persons body, especially the private parts, then maybe that's not so good for them, and also when will they learn it's wrong, if not while young? They all looked at me wide eyed and one declared (in Japanese), "but if there's a butt in front of you and the opportunity, don't you wanna go for it? Its normal!" These were older, pretty stuffy, and serious women too. LOL

  • 5

    Yubaru

    Kancho is a nationally treasured act.

    Right...so sticking fingers up someone's butt is a national treasure! Lol!

  • 2

    Virtuoso

    Ugh -- can we please change the subject?

  • 3

    oftopico

    During the Meiji era, a man was fined the equivalent of 5,000 yen for pooping near a temple. He gave the court 10,000 yen and as the court had no change, took the 10,000 yen and permitted the man to poop again at the temple.

  • 1

    thepersoniamnow

    Lol thanks off topico

  • 2

    lesenfant

    Groping someones butt isnt a petty crime. Its sexual assault.

  • 1

    Mocheake

    All this stuff happens here on a regular basis. Mostly, lazy cops pick and choose and do lax enforcement.

  • -1

    lostrune2

    Groping girl's butt is not a crime when it's part of the act of kancho

    Just figure it out how to incorporate it into the act

  • -1

    Alex Einz

    wht kancho has to do with what i said? if male get prosecuted,so should female.. equality is the key word darling

  • 1

    notagain

    Groping a female co-worker’s buttocks

    Sexual assault is not a petty crime and I'm horrified to discover people don't realise it is a crime at all.

  • 0

    aedfed

    So is the public urination law ever enforced when it involves taxi drivers? I soon learned not to look too closely when there was a taxi parked and the driver standing behind the open door . . .

  • 0

    scoobydoo

    I had done this on the train a few times, having seen others do it, until some detective flashed his badge and told me to stop. Good that he was in a hurry to get to work and let me go with a warning.

    It is part of the service with a power point at every seat for that exact reason on many services so the cop that pinged you may have been bullying. It is likely that many were doing it because they are allowed to. Your not talking about a random power point on the platform for cleaners etc in this case.

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