active maas

The blog of thriller writer Robert Maas

Who are the fuck police?

I envisage a 1970s cover band whose act consists of a singer bellowing a karaoke-quality approximation of “Roxanne” while near naked girls wiggle their string driven things about the stage. Isn’t it time for some more Japanese sex outrage?


And just when things were getting stale, too. It’s been a while since the glory days of no panties pizza restaurants and tentacle porn manga. The Fuck Police could take Japan by storm, and fend off the rising tide of South Korean girl groups who’ve realized one devastating fact that Japanese girl groups have yet to grasp: girls are sexy. There’s more to turning on middle aged men than demure poppets in sailor suits.

But wait. Could it be the opposite? Could it be a reference to snoops with surveillance equipment creeping around back alleys in Tokyo spying on the bedrooms of married couples? Then again, what exactly is banned in Japan? In a land of love hotels, where every hentai fantasy can be fulfilled, who exactly are the fuck police protecting from what?

True, Japan has strict pornography laws. It’s illegal to show uncensored genitals, let alone sex acts. But in the world of the global free internet, do censorship laws actually still mean anything? And besides, Japan has a vast industry in under-the-counter hardcore.

Japanese sex providers labor under a curious restriction. Prostitution is legal here, as long as it doesn’t include vaginal penetration. In theory, this means that a Japanese customer of modest stature is likely to be offered anal. Foreigners make do with blowjobs.

In practice, of course, whatever slips in during a particularly frothy session in the soapland is between you and the provider—unless the fuck police really are monitoring those establishments. Right now, I bet they’re the only ones who aren’t.

Japan is trying to clean up its sex business in time for the Olympics, but I think this is misguided prudery. Japan has long traded on its image as a haven of sexual perversion. This is the land where geishas use muscles that haven’t even got names yet.

As Japan reinvents itself as a tourist destination, with casino resorts for the wealthy and Hello Kitty theme parks for the rest, those hard-pressed whores are going to be providing exactly what the foreign barbarians expect. And lots of it.

And that’s actually the nub of this post: cleaning up Japan. I’ve mentioned before that Tokyo is a place that seems to have no civic pride whatsoever. It’s certainly one of the cleanest cities in the free world (Singapore is cleaner, but it’s debatable whether it’s free), but that’s largely due to its vast army of street cleaners.

Look a little closer, and Tokyo is a run down, shabby, largely unpleasant shanty town, a third world slum with first world pretensions. Its trains run on time, but Tokyo’s subway stations are ugly warrens which in many cases seem to be permanently in a state of disrepair. Nets hang loosely from ceilings, entrances are boarded up, the walls are decaying. I’ve been here a decade, and some stations that look like they’re undergoing renovation haven’t changed in all that time. The boards and green tape and ragged dusty nets are part of the decor.

In that decade, I’ve seen the gradual encroaching on Tokyo of the western virus of graffiti, which is now endemic across the city. It seems to be worse around the areas where foreigners congregate, which led me to a sweeping generalization: foreign kids, such as the teenage offspring of embassy staff, are spray painting their environment.

Two other things might support this view. One, much of the tagging and graffiti is in English. And two, the artistry is so poor you feel it has to be foreign kids since the Japanese are all supposed to be calligraphic masters whose every doodle is a masterpiece.

The graffiti above is just part of a group of new slogans that has appeared in the last month along a footpath I use to go to my office in Hiroo, which is one of those foreigner-clogged places I mentioned. (I know this for sure. I’m one of them.)

Other slogans, in the same hand and by the same person or people, include “Stone island,” which I take to be a reference to marijuana, a drug practically non-existent in Japan, “15,” which I take to be the age of the perpetrators, “Rudy Boy’s,” which may be their gang name, and which is either something to do with ska music or an incompetent corruption of “rude” (surely they’re not fans of Rudy Rucker?), and the particularly enervating “Suck my dick!” with a picture of a penis that is generous even for a foreigner. No chance of that getting soaped to the hilt.

But look at the photo again. I’m wrong. I was misled by the capital F and what might be a capital P. The word “the” has been added afterwards, and what I took to be a stylish splash is actually an arrow showing where it ought to have been inserted.

The phrase is actually “Fuck the police.” And I have to apologize to my fellow foreigners. If you set out to write “Fuck the police,” you’ve very unlikely to accidentally write “Fuck police,” no matter how high you are on slimy Japanese hash. Not unless you’re suggesting they’re so nice we should all cuddle up to them, and I’m not sure you are.

No, you write “Fuck police” if you’re a Japanese kid with a poor grasp of English, and then somebody else in your gang hisses at you that your grammar sucks and you have to spray in the missing pronoun afterwards. Just so you get it right. Because, you know, you’ve got pride in your work, even if you can’t draw a realistic penis because the only ones you see in the public bath are too small to get a good look at.

And here we have another mystery. Fuck the police? Why? As far as I can tell, the main purpose of the Japanese police force, which maintains koban (mini police stations) on every major intersection, is to tell people how to get to the nearest post office.

In general, the police turn a blind eye to illegal acts from grown men riding their bicycles on the sidewalk to the mafia who seem to control just about everything of any importance, including (and this may not be unrelated) the people who make the laws that the graffiti writers seem so incensed about.

This is the country where bank tellers don’t have protective barriers and banks are armed only with plastic balls filled with blue dye to throw at robbers.

Though the Japanese police are as corrupt as everywhere else, and you’re presumed to be guilty the moment you’re arrested so trials seem to be little more than a formality, they don’t seem particularly draconian to me. If anything, they should be strengthened in order to enforce the child protection laws that the country desperately needs.

Fuck the police? What, for giving your country just the right balance of laws and freedom that 15 year olds are able to go out at night in safety and write things like that on the walls of their city? The logic’s as bad as the grammar.

Why didn’t they choose something worthwhile to complain about? “Fuck cyclists,” for example. That’s a sentiment we can all get behind.

Grand Funk Central-S

Robert Maas’s thriller Grand Funk Central is available to buy on Kindle or in paperback at Amazon.


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