Is Japan Safe? 3 Things Visitors Should Know About

Japan is often referred to as one of the safest countries in the world. However, like anywhere, it still has its own problems. Our local insider, Pasqualina, shares 3 things travellers should be aware of.

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Travellers in Zen Garden

Japan is generally safe for tourists. People on the street and on public transport will look at you with a sense of curiosity, and are some of the friendliest, warmest people you could meet. Although they might tell you to be quiet on the train if you're talking too loud. 

In saying this, while there is not a huge danger, there are some things you should know about general safety before your Japanese adventure begins.

Yakuza (Gokudō) and Crime in Japan

Despite popular belief, Japan is not immune from organised crime – the Japanese call their version of this organisation, the Yakuza. Known for their discipline and their wide-spread presence, they are not to be underestimated. 

The Yakuza are known to the Japanese people as corrupt and violent criminals – as labelled by the police – and are not respected in Japan. They are responsible for many different criminal syndicates in Japan, ranging from petty gambling and prostitution circles to having power in the Japanese media, politics, and in the financial sector. 

While they have a large presence in Japan, it should be noted that they are unlikely to harm or target tourists. In saying this, you should still exercise the usual amount of caution that you would in your home country.

Drink-spiking in Japan

As previously mentioned, it’s important to not be lulled into a false sense of security by Japan's reputation as a country with low crime rates. 

While Japan has a busy and exciting night scene, particularly in cities like Tokyo and Kyoto which have many cool and quirky bars and clubs, there has been an increase in reported incidents of drink spiking over the past few years. 

These occurrences, in some instances, have led to theft and even physical and sexual assault of the victim.

While this is usually rare, in areas such as the Roppongi district in Tokyo, you should exercise particular caution – don't accept drinks from strangers, and don't leave drinks unattended.

Solo female travellers should be especially careful, as they can be a perfect target for these attacks. In saying this, practicing a bit of common sense and being aware of drink spiking dangers will go a long way.

Pollution Dangers in Japan

Pollution is often talked about in other Asian countries, but not often mentioned when discussing Japan. 

In recent years, air quality has declined. Some blame air masses originating from countries with high levels of air pollution, like neighbouring China, as well as increased vehicle and industrial output.

This is particularly apparent in the winter months, especially on cold, still nights, so it's not advised to go walking outside in smoggy conditions. 

While this is not something that most travellers should be concerned about, it should be advised that if you have ongoing respiratory problems, it may pay off to research the areas you are going to.

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