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Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2004
Dodgy landlords and police
I was two weeks late with my rent and the landlord locked me out of my apartment. Is there anything I can do?
Is this legal?
It is completely against the law to lock you out of your apartment.
In Japan you have the right to the privacy of your home and the landlord cannot do anything to your apartment and cannot even enter without your permission except in the case of an emergency.
You are absolutely protected under the law -- even if you are late in paying your rent.
If you do not pay for three months or more there can be legal action taken, but locking you out of your apartment for two weeks is completely unacceptable and against the law.
We have contacted your landlord and they admitted that they were wrong.
He thought he could pull a "fast one" on a dumb foreigner -- he was wrong.
Do any of our readers have a similar experience? Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
I got into a small car accident. I spoke to the other party and agreed that I would make a small payment for the damage and I thought it was all settled.
Suddenly I got a telephone call to go to the police Station.
I was interrogated for four hours and the Japanese friend who I asked to come along and translate for me was shocked, saying to me "I have never heard of this happening."
They asked the names of all my family members, my life history, how much money I had on the bank etc.
These questions came hour after hour, and clearly had nothing to do with the case whatsoever.
I was further told that my case would be passed on to the prosecutor and I could be put in jail or fined up to 100,000 yen . . . for a small car accident!?
Is this possible? What can I do?
We spoke with your local police station. They told us clearly the only time a car accident would be passed on to the prosecutor would be if there was an injury, drunken driving, driving with an expired license or some other extenuating circumstance.
The translator who went along with you is right -- your questioning was not normal. We suggest you immediately contact your closest "bengoshi kai," meet with a lawyer and have them call the errant coppers on your behalf.
From our readers
Regarding the person who was late in having their alien registration card changed, I'm hoping things have changed in the last 36 years.
At that time, I also made a slight mistake in the time needed to report a change to the "ku" office. When I went to report that change in Nerima, I was three days late.
The office was apparently very nice about it, saying only that I had made a mistake but taking no further action.
What happened next was not so nice. A few weeks later, two policemen showed up at my door with a summons to report the next morning to Nerima police station.
I duly appeared with my two little daughters for what turned out to be a day's worth of interrogation, most of which was in Japanese, which I didn't understand at the time.
This all took place in a large and very cold room where we spent the entire day being questioned, bar for one hour at noon when everyone else went to lunch, leaving me shivering with two cold and by now very hungry children.
The police wanted every detail regarding my family, back to the names and birth dates of my grandparents and finally a letter in triplicate that I would never, never, never in my life ever make any mistake again.
Finally around five, I was "released."
I certainly hope the reader with the problem fares a bit better.
-- J. in Tokyo
Ken Joseph Jr. directs The Japan Helpline at 0570-000-911 or www.jhelp.com Send your queries, questions, problems and posers to: email@example.com