Recent news articles detailing the arrest of two men, aged 30 and 52, for displaying their private parts to middle and high school girls, have indicated the important role the “Sakura Police” played in nabbing the perpetrators. To satisfy curiosities, evening tabloid Nikkan Gendai (Jan. 30) takes a peek inside this special division, tasked with tackling crimes associated with obscene sexual behavior.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Police tells the paper that the Sakura Police was established within the general affairs division presiding over public safety in April of last year. It is dedicated to acting quickly to the excessive solicitation of women and children and any subsequent forced interactions. There are 56 personnel belonging to the team, with 16 of them being women.
“They are deployed upon request by police stations within Tokyo and reach the location of incidents wearing street clothes to conduct investigations,” says a police representative of the conduct, which presumably is the source of the name — sakura can mean fake.
Between April and September of last year, the corps arrested 24 individuals. Among them include seven cases of public indecency, two involving forced foul play and two others that resulted from minor offenses, such as stalking. They also cited a man who delivered a sexually explicit photograph to a mailbox.
Retired police officer Akio Kuroki, who is now a journalist, tells Nikkan Gendai that when incidents occur in a repeated manner or the level of a crime reaches a certain degree of seriousness, it appears that the sakura police are called to the scene. “When the victims are students, these officers also dress up as students,” he adds. “I am sure there are cases in which they cite individuals who wind up putting their hands on the officers. But these officers are trained in aikido and carry handguns in case the assailants resist.”
Compared to other sections, Kuroki continues, the female members’ role is more valued, especially when handling female victims. “It is also more effective to have female officers working with female victims in shock because they are of the same gender,” he says. “They are utilizing female officers who are competent both physically and mentally. Male partners act as a safeguard and further provide assistance during the investigation in a back-up role.”
Sort of a sex-crime FBI? Nikkan Gendai hopes they can be relied upon to serve and protect.
Source: “Keishi-cho Sakura Police tte nani?” Nikkan Gendai (Jan. 30, page 5)
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