Servicemembers going out to Japan’s exciting nightlife districts should always keep in mind that crimes can happen to them, said Keiji Oda, Guardian Angels Asia Regional Director.

Although Japan may seem safer then America, it isn’t a crime-free paradise, Oda said; the risk of getting involved in trouble cannot be denied. Servicemembers, he said, should be aware of several factors:

• People should be careful of drugs. “People should go out with the assumption that the temptation of drugs is out there,” he said. Dealers will try to sell drugs, such as ecstasy and marijuana, to anyone on the streets or in the clubs.

• Don’t get involved with adult entertainment businesses. Although such operations are common in Japan, Oda says they are linked to the crime syndicates. “You should always remember that there are gang groups behind the [adult entertainment] businesses.” Do not, he says, try to ask hostesses out.

Oda said he’s not so concerned with U.S. servicemembers causing trouble. “I don’t know if it is the right word, but the servicemembers are well-behaved,” he said. He says he’s met many servicemembers while patrolling and believes they understand if they cause trouble, they’ll be reported to military authorities. Also, he points out, Military Police patrol bar districts where servicemembers go.

Oda says servicemembers’ most common pitfall is getting into fights. Although rules about alcohol consumption are more lenient in Japan, and public drinking is accepted, says Oda, people shouldn’t take advantage of that. If people display good manners and follow rules, they won’t get in trouble, he said.

Oda advises preparation.

“You should train yourself to be able to deal with different situations and be able to deal with different situations flexibly,” he said.

You should always try to protect yourself, he added — and avoid acting wild just because you’re in a different country.

“One should act as they would when they are in their home.”

author picture
Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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