Thursday, July 06, 2006

Crosswalks: the Kill Zones in Tokyo

One thing I have always known, as does anyone who comes to Japan, is that traffic goes through crosswalks while pedestrians have the green light and are already in them.

I have no idea of the legality of this, but it is what happens. In fact, it happens right in front of the "police" who usually do nothing. (The fact that they do nothing has no relationship to whether or not something is legal.) In nearly 8 years here, I have seen a cop stop someone for going through a crosswalk with peds in it only one time, and that was in Kawasaki near Kajigaya station. In Akasaka-Mitsuke, right next to Goldman Sachs IT and the Oak Apartments, cars routinely do that. There is a police box with a guy inside and I have never seen them react. It happens right in front of their face, so I guess it must be legal in Tokyo. I used to drive here (Toyama) and I was so naive that I used to stop for people in crosswalks. Legal or not, I had no desire to kill or injure someone.

I and another person were almost hit in a crosswalk today by an old man and his wife (?) in a silver car. All I could do, being an evil, bad-mannered, dangerous foreigner, was cuss and give him the finger. I expect that I only gave him ammo to claim that non-Japanese are dangerous crooks. That s.o.b. never signaled an apology, so I am sure he felt he was justified. The Japanese guy beside me cussed too.

It is extremely dangerous to walk along the street near our house now. At least in Kanagawa, we had sidewalks, and cars didn't drive on them like they do in some smaller towns. (Yes, they do. You should have seen Tokyo in the mid-80s when people rode motor scooters down sidewalks in Ginza. Despite what many want everyone to believe, and what we sometimes forget, Japan is an Asian country, and it has a lot of things that we stereotypically associate with Asia.)

I have though of getting my video camera, or SLR and just going around taking pics and movies and sending them to foreign media. Who knows, it might make the news of "weird" Japan. The Japanese police of government certainly would not do anything about the danger, especially if a non-Japanese complained.

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