This Is How Safe It Really Is In Japan, According to a Foreigner Living in Japan
It's not ranked #9 on the Global Peace Index 2019 for nothing.
According to the 2019 Global Peace Index, Japan ranks 9th in the world in terms of “state of peace,” with the Philippines at 134th. For the safety and security domain, Japan is consistent in being in the top five among the countries in the world. As a foreigner living in Japan for years, I can attest to Japan’s safety is on another level compared to my home country or at least I feel safer here. Here are some things that amaze me about Japan’s safety.
You can go to the convenience store by yourself—even at midnight.
Living here, I was surprised at how few 24-hour deliveries are available. What do you do when you want those midnight munchies? You go out and buy from the nearby convenience store (there are so many of them there is one bound to be near you). Even for women, it is safe to go to the convenience store in the middle of the night.
The majority of people obey traffic rules.
Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo Station. No one crossing the red light here.
Of course, you still need to look left and right when crossing the street, but at least you don’t have to run for your life every time. In Japan, people generally don’t cross the street unless there is a pedestrian crossing mark available (and there will be), and cars always stop at red lights. Not only that, Japanese people themselves do not cross the street when the pedestrian light is still red, even when there are no cars around—a true mark of discipline. Naturally, this practice is done at any time of the day.
You can leave your bag to reserve your seat at restaurants.
When you get in a crowded restaurant, it is generally safe to put your bag on the table or chair to reserve your seat, without worrying that someone might steal them. Not only that, even if you fall asleep on the train with your bag open, no one would steal from you. Speaking of trains…
Wallets and personal belongings get returned to you.
I remember the first time I lost my wallet in Japan. It was at a train station, and all my cards—my student ID, commuter pass, credit card, basically my life—were in that wallet. And I lost it in Japan, where I hardly knew the language. After much panicking, I remembered, Hey, I’m in Japan, one of the safest countries in the world! I asked the train station staff about it (in broken Japanese) and it was returned to me within an hour with everything inside as it is.
Some shops or stations are left unmanned.
There are shops in Japan where their goods are displayed out front, without any staff, but no one will dare take them! There are also train stations that work on the honesty system. What amazed me the most was myself, that I have changed my way of thinking, from “someone could simply steal that” to just accept it as a part of daily life.
Japan is a wonderfully safe country and combined with an excellent transportation system, makes it easier to live and work in. However, it goes without saying that this does not apply to everyone in Japan, and you should still always be observant of your surroundings.
(27 August 2019)