Life in Japan

False accusations: Legal knowledge for daily life

Yaaay team April 17, 2024
men standing on a upper floor with red walls
To fully enjoy life in Japan, it is essential that it be safe and secure. Knowledge of the basic laws, ordinances, and rules concerning daily life is very important in order to avoid getting into trouble by unknowingly committing illegal acts or violating manners.
In this column, you can learn about tips to avoid false accusations in your community in Japan.

False accusation of molestation in public transportation

It is a reality that molestation occurs on public transportation in Japan. Especially on crowded commuter trains in the morning and evening, there are cases of molestation. The existence of women-only cars, in addition to robust online campaigns against these acts are direct responses to such crimes. However, due to the commonality of molestation on public transportation in Japan, women in particular are wary of anything touching them in a vehicle. Be careful not to unintentionally touch someone's body with your backpack, briefcase, umbrella, or hand and be mistakenly accused of molestation!
In order to ensure that everyone feels safe and comfortable, these are some common practices in Japan!
・Backpacks should be carried on the front of the body, not on the back.
・Hold the umbrella in your hand and secure it in line with your body
・Hold the overhead train straps. If the train is not crowded and it is possible, grab straps with both hands
・Avoid staring at others for too long. This is actually considered very rude in Japan!

If you are mistakenly accused of molestation and caught by station staff or police, do not panic. Admitting that you have not done something is something you should never do. Stay calm, call someone in your company, explain the situation, and have them come to you!

At convenience stores and supermarkets

In Japan, you are not allowed to open the package of something you bought or start eating food before paying for it.
If you want to check the color or function of a product, be sure to inform the clerk of your intention and ask him to open the package of the product. Be aware that if you open the package before paying for it, you may have to purchase it.
In some countries, it is not wrong to nibble snacks or deli foods before paying at the cash register as long as you will pay for them. But in Japan, this can cause trouble! It is not only extremely bad mannered, but also can be recognized as damaging goods or shoplifting depending on the situation. Even if you are very hungry, be sure to pay the bill before you eat it!

Trash disposal and noise etiquette

In Japan, sorting out trash is a big deal. People have to separate their garbage into different categories like burnable, non-burnable, recyclable, and organic waste. They use clear plastic bags to make it easier, and there are specific days for collecting each type. Recycling is taken seriously, so everyone has to clean and sort their recyclables properly.
The detailed rules for sorting and disposing of trash vary depending on the local government. In many municipalities, English pamphlets explaining the rules for garbage disposal are distributed. It is important to refer to these pamphlets or consult with local residents such as your landlord to understand the rules for garbage disposal in the area where you live.

Being mindful of noise etiquette is also important. While inviting friends over to your home is nothing wrong, hosting large parties or playing loud music in residential or apartment areas can be considered a nuisance to neighbors. Especially at night, it's important to keep the noise down.

Maintain friendly relationships with neighbors

Breaking trash disposal regulations and noise from parties and music are two of the most frequently cited reasons why there is a negative bias towards foreigners not following the rules. Unfortunately, foreigners are usually the first to be blamed because people assume that they are not familiar with Japanese manners and rules. To avoid such misunderstandings, it is important to first check the rules and abide by them the best you can.

Be aware of the local rules and enjoy living in Japan!

There is no need to worry too much, but you should be aware that things that you never considered before could cause some trouble in Japan. As the saying goes, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do", so be aware of the rules of Japanese life and enjoy living in Japan!

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