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Roppongi gets tough on street touts

Roppongi gets tough on street touts
Roppongi Crossing
Following reports of illegal activities at clubs in Tokyo’s entertainment district of Roppongi, local officials are now instituting measures to crack down on the street touts who roam the area each evening in search of customers, according to the Sankei Shimbun (May 26).

About 180 people from local patrol committees and crime-prevention groups gathered on May 25 for what was called the “Roppongi Clean Town Rise to Action Meeting.” The event, which promoted safety and enjoyment in the area, was led by the Metropolitan Police Department and the Minato Ward municipal government.

The group is targeting the solicitors who incessantly promote their clubs to passersby. Recent complaints have been filed by foreigners who have been aggressively accosted on the sidewalk and had excessive charges placed upon their credit cards — some of the latter occurring after incidents of drink-spiking. Based on these reports, the U.S. Embassy issued a warning to Americans on March 17.

The head of the Azabu Police Department, Rikio Watanabe, and the mayor of Minato Ward, Masaaki Takei, believe that now is the time for change. “It is about going back to the basics, to ensure that each resident has a feeling of safety while living in this town,” said Watanabe. The mayor added, “I wish to further make Roppongi a lively and fun place to be.”

From April of this year, legislation was passed that prohibits employees of bars and clubs from excessively promoting their establishments on the streets and physically hassling pedestrians. Posters that warn against calling out and stopping potential customers have been affixed at 29 areas throughout the district. Thus far, 22 people have been charged.