|Staying healthy in Japan｜|
|Helpful tips on rules and etiquette for a less-troubled life|
For a long time, Japan has been known as one of the safest countries in the world. The country may still look rather safe to many of you - the possession of guns is still illegal, except in very special cases, and drug control is relatively strict. However, the situation is slightly different today. The number of crimes in Japan, has been increasing. To avoid any trouble and make your life in Japan safe and secure, it is better to learn about crime-related topics.
(1) Traffic information
Unlike most countries of the world, with some exceptions such as the UK, pedestrian traffic is required to stay to the right in Japan. Likewise, cars must keep to the left side of the road. The driver's seat is therefore located on the right side in cars for both Japanese cars and many imported cars.
Although you may be an experienced driver in other countries including your own, you should still drive with caution in Japan. You are allowed to drive in Japan if you have an international driver's license, but it is still important to become familiar with local traffic rules.
If you are not used to driving on the left side of the road, take extra care when you try to make either right or left turns at an intersection where you are restricted to a very limited view of the traffic. Unlike busy streets, it is more likely for you to accidentally enter a wrong lane if there is no car ahead of you to follow.
Needless to say, you are required to obey traffic lights in Japan. Be advised also that cars must always yield to pedestrians. Unless there is a very specific reason, the driver is likely the one to be blamed in case of a traffic accident involving a pedestrian.
To hail a taxi on a street, stand on the left side of your traveling direction. Do not approach too close to the taxi you have stopped as its left rear door opens automatically. The door to the front passenger seat is operated manually.
In principle, bicycles are required to stay to the left side of the road. As an exception, however, it is allowed to ride a bicycle on sidewalks in an area where traffic signs approving bicycle traffic on the sidewalk are posted. Additionally, bicycle traffic is also allowed on the sidewalks in an area where it is considered dangerous to ride bicycles on the roads due to the conditions of the road and traffic. On the sidewalks, the bicycle riders are required to give right to pedestrians and should not speed nor warn pedestrians with bells so as to let themselves through the pedestrian traffic. It is also prohibited to ride bicycles while holding an open umbrella or talking on cell phones. It is illegal to ride the bicycle with two or more people and also to ride at night without a light on. While no license is required to ride a bicycle, riders of the bicycles are subject to liabilities according to the traffic rules just as other vehicles in case of an accident in which they are involved. Please ride bicycles safely while respecting traffic rules and manners.
The number of burglaries that occur while people are away from home is increasing. Make sure to lock your doors even when you leave the house for a small errand, such as to take trash to the pickup site. If you are away from the house for a long period of time, such as for a trip, it is a good idea to stop newspapers and mail so that your absence won't be noticeable.
Piled unread newspapers show that you are not at home.
Make sure to lock the door even when you go out for small errands such as to take out trash or go shopping.
Make it a habit to check if the windows in the bathroom and toilet are also locked.
"1 door, 2 locks" is recommended; install the second lock above the main lock on the door.
Grating may not be perfect to prevent an intruder from entering through the window.
(3) Car/motorcycle/bicycle theft
To avoid becoming a target for a vehicle theft, follow the following advice.
Make sure to lock your car, motorcycle and/or bicycle even when you leave it for a short time. It is recommended to use multiple locks for bicycles.
A registration system for theft prevention purposes is available for motorcycles and bicycles.
Motorcycles and bicycles should be parked at designated parking spaces, not on streets. When you leave your car at a parking site, make sure any alluring items such as your purse won't be seen from outside.
To prevent car theft, it is effective to install a security alarm that reacts when windows are broken/damaged or doors are opened without authorization.
(4) Purse-snatching and pickpocketing
Pickpocketing that targets someone's wallet, valuables and other belongings is often seen at busy places. In addition to shopping/entertainment areas, seasonal event sites such as fireworks displays and festivals in summer and temples and shrines during the New Year season are some of the most common places where pickpocketing is frequently reported. Be extra cautious if you choose to drink alcohol at these places, as you may have shorter attention spans than usual. Purse-snatching could be more heinous than pickpocketing. Your purse may be targeted by a snatcher on a bicycle or motorcycle who approaches from behind your back. You could be dragged by the attacker and seriously injured if you resist. Avoid walking alone on empty streets and hold your purse on the side away from the traffic.
When you are walking:
It is also helpful to avoid becoming a target for purse-snatching if you hold your purse in your arms in front of you or sling the purse across your body.
When you are on a bicycle:
Using a specific technique to open a door lock, a lock-picking burglar attempts a break-in even when you are at home. If you come across such a burglar, not just your belongings but your own safety could be at risk. Installing a second lock in addition to the main one for the door is one thing you can do to reduce the risk of such crime.
Skimming is a crime involving the theft and fraudulent use of someone's credit card/ATM card information. Skimming victims often do not realize the crime has occurred until they check their bank record or receive a credit card statement, possibly suffering a significant financial loss as a result. Some skimming cases have occurred at places like gyms and golf courses where people keep their belongings in a public locker room. At these places, it is recommended that you ask the front desk to keep your valuables or use a special locker provided for valuables. In deciding a PIN number for your ATM card, it is always better to avoid using easy-to-guess numbers such as your birthday or phone number. Remember also that your information could be skimmed via online shopping. When you are asked to enter your credit card number, make sure that you are on a secured website where such information is sent in an encrypted format to the seller.
Although the number of illegal drug dealings has been rather small in Japan, a variety of unapproved drugs can be obtained today, including those sold by successfully getting around the law. Recently, more young people who have only a limited knowledge and judgment of drugs have become a target for such drug dealings. In many cases, the drugs are sold in busy entertainment areas such as Shinjuku or Roppongi. Do not be tempted by dealers who may try to make an offer to you in such areas.
(8) Furikome-sagi (bank transfer scams)
Furikome-sagi or bank transfer scam is a new type of fraud that has recently been a major issue in Japan. In a common case, a victim receives a phone call from someone who disguises himself/herself as one of the victim's family members (or an acquaintance of the family member) and tells the victim that he/she (the family member) is in trouble such as an accident or crime and needs a relatively large amount of money. If you receive such a phone call and are asked to remit money to a certain bank account, the first thing you need to do is to confirm the whereabouts of the concerned family member. It is highly likely to be a fraud if the caller gives you only a mobile phone number as a contact and/or insists upon an immediate remittance. In such cases, hang up immediately and do not take the call seriously.
(9) Computer viruses
Unwanted information leakages from infected computers of users of "Winny," file sharing software developed in Japan, have been one of the major issues related to computer viruses in Japan. It is not always safe to use software unless you have become familiar with it.
|Prepare yourself for possible accidents and problems ｜ Staying healthy in Japan|
|Helpful tips on rules and etiquette for a less-troubled life|