Japan is commonly described as one of the safest nations in the world. According to the 2017 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index published by the World Economic Forum, Japan had the third lowest homicide rate out of 136 countries in 2017 (0.3 out of 100,000 people). Moreover, according to the Japan Times, crime rates are decreasing, with the number of murder and robbery cases dropping from 10,889 in 2016 to 10,232 in 2017. At the same time, however, kidnapping cases, most of them involving young girls, have increased by 30% since 2013, and the police has issued a warning cautioning children against following strangers.

In Minato Ward, one of Tokyo's most affluent areas, a heightened sense of caution seems to have influenced the safety information messages on the ward's official website. Just looking at the last 65 messages in the past year (from May 22, 2017 to May 22, 2018), 78% were about suspicious behavior towards women and children. However, while we don't mean to downplay the importance of being alert and the potential threat of crime, some of the messages listed here are arguably bizarre, either in their phrasing, the details they provide or sometimes, even the fact that someone considered contacting the police in the first place.

We've listed a few of the most surprising messages so you can judge for yourself:

Harsh description

A fat guy with thinning hair in short sleeve white t-shirt and shorts directed the camera to an elementary school boy awkwardly.

"For the occurrence of suspected voyeur case"

Police usually prefer objective terms like "heavy build" or "large" over adjectives such as "fat," but that nuance may have been lost in translation. As for the relevance of the man's "awkwardness" when he pointed his camera, your guess is as good as ours...

Go to hell

A man in his 60s, about 160cm tall, skinny, white hair, grey jumper, beige shoulder bag called out to a young boy. [Content] You’re in the way, Get out of my way, You fool, Go to hell.

"Warning, Stranger Approaching and Talking Case."

Maybe it sounded more natural in Japanese, but we can almost imagine this cantankerous killjoy channeling Charlton Heston in his outburst.

Serial High-Fiver

A skinny man in his 60-70’s, who seemed drunk, has approached nursery school girls asking for high five.

"Suspicious Behavior Case."

...Eight days later...

A man in his 40’s, 165cm tall, avg. weight, short hair, wearing blue and white jacket holding black tote bag has approached a young school girl asking for high five.

"Suspicious Behavior Case."

Sometimes descriptions are unreliable. Could it be a serial high-fiver or is it just a coincidence and we have two separate high-five incidents eight days apart? Inquiring minds want to know...

Suspicious sayonara

Japanese man in his 60’s, 170cm tall, black hat and trousers, silver glasses, short hair, brown coat has approached to a young boy. [Notes] The man said, “good bye”.

"Warning, Stranger Approaching and Talking Case."

It's hard to know which is more perplexing, the man's message or the fact that someone thought it deserved a report to the police...

English school recruiting?

A foreigner like man asked a child and a mother “What’s your age, name? Want to learn English?”

"A Strange Man Spoke to People."

It doesn't seem to matter that the child was with his or her mother when it happened... It may be a good idea to avoid going around asking kids you don't know their name and age. Also, some advice for foreigners (or "foreigner-like" people) considering recruiting students to their English school: you probably shouldn't just approach strangers in the streets...

Wastes no time

Strange man in his 20s, 170cm tall, w/glasses, asked kids “get naked?”

"A Strange Man Spoke to Kids."

Let's hope they caught this pervert...

If you'd like to keep up to date with Minato Ward safety messages, visit their page here (scroll down past the Japanese to see the English version, followed by Chinese and Korean). You can also track crime all over Tokyo with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department's Crime Map here.

By - Ben K.