”This is what I hate about Japan” remarks commenter as regulations prevent kindhearted gift.

U.S. military personal stationed in Japan and Japanese police officers often need to coordinate their activities. This happens most frequently near the gates of U.S. bases, where the two groups’ jurisdictions meet in an atmosphere of professional courtesy and even friendly familiarity.

Recently, a U.S. airman in Japan tried to extend a little hospitality to his Japanese counterparts, bringing the police officers some refreshing beverages as they stood guard near the entrance to one of the U.S. Air Force’s Japanese installations. But as shown in these photos from Twitter user @Type96aoino, the simple and sweet gesture produced a complexly bittersweet reaction.


Apparently neither the airman nor the police officers were capable of speaking the other’s language, but @Type96aoino paraphrases their verbal (but non-beverage) exchange as:

U.S. Airman (in English): “Hey, you guys are really working hard! You guys want some water?”

Japanese policeman (in Japanese):
“Sorry, but we can’t drink anything, because we’re on duty.”

U.S. Airman (in English): “Really? You don’t want anything to drink?”

Japanese policeman (in broken English): “Sorry, I’m OK.”

The unsuccessful attempt had some online commenters remembering a photo that went viral in June of Canadian police officers on patrol with cups of Starbucks coffee in hand. Japanese police regulations are much stricter, and don’t allow officers to partake in liquid refreshment while on duty (except under extremely rare circumstances). Nevertheless, the photos of the U.S. airman trying to make the police officers’ day a little more pleasant tugged at the heartstrings of Japanese Twitter users, even as they gnashed their teeth at Japanese society’s rigidity.

“The airman is such a nice guy.”

“He was so kind to bring them some cold drinks, but they’re not allowed to accept them. I feel so badly for both sides.”

“Even if they couldn’t drink them while on duty, I wish they could have accepted the drinks and had them later. Everyone is happier when we accept and are thankful for each other’s kindness.”

“I’m a civil servant, and I bet that even if they’d just accepted the drinks and not drunk them, they still would have gotten yelled at by their bosses.”

“This is what I hate about Japan.”

“The policemen can’t speak English, and the soldier can’t speak Japanese, but at that moment, they still had a little conversation born out of kindness. It’s so beautiful.”

There’s a lot of truth to the last comment. Even if the officers were unable to accept the gift of a bottle of water and another of orange-flavored Gatorade (a rarity that isn’t even sold in Japanese stores), the sentiment and kindness undoubtedly got through. After all, it’s the thought that counts, even if you’re still thirsty.

Source: Twitter/@Type96aoino via Hachima Kiko
Featured image: Twitter/Type96aoino

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s hoarding the original-flavor Gatorade he got at the U.S. Navy base’s Friendship Day this summer.