For most of this summer, Kyoto Prefectural Police have been carrying out an aggressive campaign of going to people’s homes and asking them to voluntarily give up their shoes with built-in hidden cameras. These house calls have resulted in hundreds of pairs of these “tosatsu shoes” (voyeur shoes) winding up in police custody.

This plan to deter the use of tosatsu shoes to illegally film in private areas such as up women’s skirts had proved so successful that police in Kyoto are spreading the word to other departments and will continue the same tactics in the future.

This strategy started back in mid-July when Kyoto Prefectural Police decided that rather than chase down individual peepers on the streets, they could hit the suppliers instead. On 1 July they raided a camera supply company that sells tosatsu shoes on the side.

They arrested the 26-year-old manager for “aiding voyeurism” which is a violation of the Nuisance Prevention Ordinance and fined him 500,000 yen (US$4,500). While putting the supplier out of the shoe camera business and confiscating their supply was a victory for the police, it later proved to be a mere drop in the bucket.

Several other tosatsu shoe vendors were still selling online with impunity and later that month an Okayama man was arrested while attempting to film up young girls’ skirts at the Kaiyukan Aquarium in Osaka. The shoes he used were from the same company the police had previously raided.

 ▼ The shoes contain a hidden camera in the toe behind some mesh which is operated by a remote control

According to police, that company had sold about 2,500 pairs of tosatsu shoes from 2012 to 2014 for a total revenue of around 60 million yen ($550,000). Setting the money aside for a moment, consider that two and a half thousand pairs of camera shoes were in circulation in a two-year period. Considering this is only from one company, think about how much pervy recording must be going on out there and get ready for a good boggling of the mind.

Luckily for the police, also seized during the search was a list of about 1,500 customers with their delivery addresses. By mid-August they came up with the plan to pay these former customers a visit one by one. This was tricky as simply owning a pair of camera shoes isn’t illegal and the owners technically didn’t have to relinquish them.

Nevertheless, the Kyoto Prefectural Police relying heavily on the fact that they are police and therefore intimidating, asked each customer to hand over their tosatsu shoes and fill out a “disposal request” on which they have to state why they purchased the shoes in the first place. I have to figure “birdwatching” showed up prominently in the field.

They went on, house by house, until, as reported by a police spokesperson, almost all of the shoes in Kyoto were collected – with the exception of a few who “threw them away.” They are also passing along addresses of customers outside of the jurisdiction to the appropriate authorities.

So if you happen to own a pair of tosatsu shoes, you may want to consider disposing of them before the police come a’knocking. But chances are if you were dense enough to buy them online and leave a record of the transaction with your correct name and address, you aren’t going to listen to me anyway.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun (Japanese)
Video and Image: YouTube – you asu