I regularly receive pamphlets from my local koban. A koban is a local police station, usually located in a tiny building somewhere in the neighborhood and staffed with a handful of police officers.

Their main purpose is to provide assistance to the locals, like answering to emergency calls, going on the beat, or being the local lost-and-found. Personally, I have once been there when I moved into my apartment to ask directions to a number of places, and even though they don’t speak English (what do I expect), they were very friendly and helpful.

As I said, I receive regular newsletters from my local Koban, covering various topics that may or may not be interesting. They talk about fire safety for example, and one lengthy issue talked about how to safely ride a bicycle without running anyone down. That particular pamphlet did not tell old people to look at the traffic before stepping onto the street, but maybe there will be another issue to come…

mug shot from my local police kobanIn the latest pamphlet, which I received a few days ago, there was this mug shot of a suspect in a murder case. The Japanese murder rate is very low, the country ranks 212 among 215 countries (to compare: Austria is 208 and the US is 94), so there is no need to feel unsafe here. However, what I found funny about the mug shot is that it looks like any other Japanese guy and I would find it very, very difficult to recognise the man (okay, maybe not the one on the left picture without the nose…) And I am wondering: Is this simply because the picture is not good enough for me to make a connection? Or is it that I am too much European and not integrated in the country enough, where all Japanese still look the same to me?

Anyway, if you come across that guy, call the number in the picture. They say that even insignificant information will be valuable.