Theft of products from restrooms is dragging a famously considerate and honest society down the drain.

If you asked someone to say a few things they’ve heard about Japan, there’s a good chance that the country’s glowing record for honesty and low theft might come up, along with a complimentary nod to the nation’s toilets and perhaps a mention of how kind and thoughtful Japanese people are towards others.

While these things are generally true on an ordinary day, news reports circulating around Japan today suggest it’s everyone for themselves when a coronavirus pandemic is poking its head around the door of the toilet stall, because now people are stealing toilet paper from public toilets.

This photo of a public toilet in Tokyo’s Nakano area alerted many to the problem, with signs above the entrance saying ”Use of toilets suspended due to the continual theft of toilet paper”.

“Has public order in Nakano already collapsed?”

The news comes just days after panic-buying of toilet paper swept through the nation, following a false rumour that stocks were going to run out. As stores sold out of toilet paper, manufacturers released photos showing warehouses full of stock to allay public fears over a toilet tissue shortage.

Despite manufacturers and stores pleading with the public to stop panic-buying toilet paper, some individuals have now resorted to panic-stealing the product from public toilets instead.

▼ In response, some places have resorted to chaining the rolls to the toilet stall.

Signs at stores asking people to refrain from taking toilet paper are now popping up all over the place.

“Taking toilet paper out of customer toilets is prohibited.”

“A request to customers!! Please don’t take the spare toilet paper rolls.” 

This sign says people need to ask to borrow a roll of toilet paper from store staff, reminding them that it must be returned afterwards.

This notice, at a Cainz Home home centre, says those found stealing toilet paper will be reported to police.

One person, whose tweets are now protected, shamelessly shared a photo of their bag stuffed with toilet paper rolls, saying: “Looks like there’s no toilet paper, so I went around and collected these from some convenience store toilets lolol”

▼ This Twitter user took a screenshot of the culprit’s message before it went private.

Reports are also emerging of hand sanitisers being stolen from public restrooms as well.

Needless to say, people around Japan were appalled by the cases of theft at public restrooms, saying:

“Soon we won’t be able to use public toilets if this continues.”
“Stores will be forced to charge us for toilet paper soon.”
“They could start asking us to bring our own toilet paper in future.”
“This makes me feel so sad for the state of our country.”
“Omg this is a nightmare scenario for people with diarrhoea.” 
“Don’t people realise this is actually a crime?”

As we’ve learnt from the case of the 64-year-old man who was arrested and fined 200,000 yen ($1,762.82) for stealing a 30-yen roll of toilet paper from a public stall, taking something that doesn’t belong to you is indeed a crime in this country.

With tensions paper-thin around Japan at the moment, we can only hope that cases of toilet paper theft will soon subside because nobody wants to find themselves in a stall without anything to wipe with at a critical moment.

In case you do find yourself in such a dire situation, may we suggest heading to a branch of ramen chain Ichiran, which often has at least half a dozen toilet paper dispensers spread out across their restroom stalls.

Sources: Hachima Kiko, Jin
Featured image: Wikipedia/Brandon Blinkenberg
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