Claim they thought graffiti was allowed in one Tokyo neighborhood.

Before I started working for SoraNews24, I was a study abroad recruiter, and I’d often have people come in for counseling and tell me “I’m interested in going to Japan, but I’m really worried about unintentionally offending people. Will I be OK there?” Though it’s usually poor form to answer a question with a question, my usual reaction was to ask them “Do you offend people on a daily basis in your home country? If not, you’ll probably be OK, since Japanese people are, first and foremost, people.”

Granted, there are a few things foreigners need to keep in mind in Japan, like taking off your shoes before entering someone’s home. Nine times out of ten, though, Japanese manners aren’t so different from manners anywhere else in the world, and if something would make you a jerk in your home town, it’ll probably make you a jerk in Tokyo, and trying to overthink the situation isn’t going to end well.

Case in point: Before dawn on the morning of January 16, officers from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s Shibuya Precinct arrested two 19-year-old Australian nationals, who were in the country as tourists. A security guard noticed the two men had made their way up an exterior staircase of a building in Shibuya Ward’s Jinnan district and were spray-painting their nicknames on the outside walls.

The security guard called the police, who promptly arrived on the scene and apprehended the vandals. Upon questioning, they admitted to the charges, as well as spray-painting graffiti on three other buildings in the area. As to why, they said:

“We saw graffiti in other parts of the neighborhood, so we thought it was OK to do that in Shibuya.”

▼ May as well have just said “We’re too dumb to be on the streets, so please take us into custody.”

It’s worth noting that Shibuya, compared to other parts of Tokyo, does have a bit of a rough-around-the-edges vibe, and the influx of young partiers who stream into the neighborhood nightly aren’t always the best at keeping the place clean. That said, this is still Tokyo, which means litter and vandalism standards are higher than most other cities on the planet. And more importantly, Tokyo is still a city populated by human beings, and common sense should tell you that said humans aren’t going to appreciate having their homes or workplaces tagged up.

The excuse is so dumb that it sounds more like a made-up, last-ditch effort to dodge responsibility by taking advantage of Japan’s well-known attitude of hospitality towards foreign visitors. Regardless of its veracity, ignorance of common sense is no better a legal excuse than ignorance of the law, and the immature pair (who are referred to in the police report as “boys,” since Japan’s legal age of adulthood is 20) have been formally arrested.

Source: Livedoor News via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso