Japan’s police agency confirms several cases of racial profiling

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The National Police Agency in Tokyo

Police used racial profiling or other such inappropriate methods in six cases confirmed in the past year through the National Police Agency’s nationwide investigation.

Racial profiling has been a problem in many countries. The U.S. Embassy in Japan in December last year pointed out some suspected cases, leading the NPA to conduct its first such investigation.

The NPA said it reviewed 40 suspicious cases reported by police nationwide and determined that six of them involved racial profiling or other inappropriate methods. The Metropolitan Police Department was among the authorties handling these cases as well as prefectural police in Kanagawa, Miyagi and Osaka.

The investigation found that MPD officers made comments such as “It’s rare to see a foreigner driving a car,” and “Stylish people with dreadlocks used to carry drugs on them.”

Among Osaka and Kanagawa prefectural police, questioning of individuals included asking “What is your nationality?” in ways that made people uncomfortable, or “Are you half?” to ask whether if someone was of mixed heritage with one parent being Japanese.

“We will provide guidance to police nationwide to conduct proper questioning,” a senior NPA official said.