In mid-afternoon on Thursday, June 12th I was stopped on the street by police for a spot-check, again. Probably completely illegal, too. Officer Nishimura from the Ogikubo Police Station in Suginami Ward, badge number 131623, stopped me on the shopping street leading to Ogikubo subway station at 2:50 p.m. Although it’s happened many times in my life in Canada and Japan, it is uncomfortable to have an armed police officer standing just centimeters from my body. Proximity is a strategy for projecting authority, and for control in case the person being stopped behaves dangerously.
I had just left the Ogikubo public high school where I had been working all day, and about sixty seconds after leaving the school’s door I was nabbed by a police bicycle patrol for no apparent reason. He was appropriately polite. I was the one at risk of being rude because in all fairness, stopping me for no reason, or just as a standard foreigner identification confirmation, is inappropriate. Probably contrary to Japanese law, too.
Afterwards, when I reached the subway station entrance I noticed a police woman standing on the street there. Immediately I wondered if she was going to accost me, too. Maybe they were looking for someone in particular. If they were looking for foreigners, suspicious or not, at that time of day in that neighborhood it would be a long wait between targets. Better to cruise the streets in the evenings when people are on their way home. I’ve seen several foreigners on those streets on Tuesday evenings when I return home from another job in the same area.
But maybe all my worry and speculation about the incident are just unfounded, fanciful and vacuous.