Fuzz prod frazzled 'Electric Town' nerds
"Three burly cops suddenly surrounded me, told me I had nothing to worry about if I'd done nothing wrong and demanded I open my bag. I could hardly refuse," a self-professed otaku described only as Mr. A tells Spa! (2/1).
Cops found a paper cutter in Mr. A's bag and arrested him for the equivalent of possession of a lethal weapon. He's only one of the growing number of victims of "otakugari," or otaku hunting, to have been arrested or questioned over trifling incidents in recent months, according to the men's weekly.
"You often see cops questioning the weak-looking otaku carrying around their big backs strapped to their backs. Many of the otaku are being arrested for breaking the Swords and Firearms Control Law or Minor Offenses Law simply for carrying around paper cutters or scissors," the operator of a dojinshi manga shop in Tokyo's otaku playground Akihabara tells Spa! "It's terrifying to think that a paper cutter carried around to open the packaging on a saucy video game is sufficient grounds to have somebody arrested, their photo and fingerprints taken and they get a criminal record."
Yoshiyuki Watanabe, operator of the Kyuen Renraku Center, an organization that aids anybody claiming to have been arrested unfairly, says there's no reason why innocent people should bow to police intimidation.
"Ever since former Hiroshima Prefectural Police Chief Yutaka Takehana became Tokyo's deputy governor (in 2003), any suspicious looking person on the streets has been collared even before they've done anything wrong. It looks like cops have been given a bigger questioning quota. Cops want to increase arrest rates and their pulling people off the streets simply on mere urges," Watanabe tells Spa! "Under Article Two of the Police Questioning Powers Law, people pulled over have no responsibility to respond to police questioning unless they are legitimately suspected of committing a crime or knowing about an offense. If the cops pull you over and you've done nothing wrong, ask them why they've collared you and tell them you won't say a word unless they can give you a decent reason for doing so."
Mr. A, the otaku whose paper cutter turned him into a convicted criminal, is incredulous when describing the way otaku hunting cops behave.
"When they grabbed me for my cutter, I asked them why they weren't going after the foreigners selling illegal software from street side stalls, one said it was because it was too hard to communicate and another said it was too much of a bother to write a report on it," he says.
Watanabe, however, says the otaku are more the victims of bad luck than bad policing.
"Cops aren't deliberately going after otaku. It's just that Akihabara has been designated as one of Tokyo's crime crackdown areas. Otaku make easy targets because they're often quiet types and usually get around alone. The keyword in Tokyo's crime crackdowns at the moment is 'cleansing.' Crackdowns are being carried out in (adult entertainment district) Kabukicho, where the governor wants to build a casino, Shibuya, where loads of teens hang out, and Akihabara, site of the metropolitan government's planned IT Center," the support worker says. "Cops aren't only pulling over loads of people for questioning in Akihabara, they've also forced a lot of otaku-oriented stores to pull down their street side advertisements. I guess they're doing this to be able to point out how much safer Akihabara has become before the IT Center opens for business."
Tokyo's IT monument is slated to open in March next year, suggesting the hard line tactics currently being employed against Akihabara's otaku will continue, much to the chagrin of the likes of education journalist Nobuhito Hosaka.
"Otaku Power has made Akihabara into the tourist attraction that it has become. Otaku culture like anime has been recognized around the globe and is currently one of Japan's few export growth industries," Hosaka tells Spa! "Getting rid of the people who built up Akihabara to replace them with an IT center is killing the goose that laid the golden egg." taken from WAIWAI