Suspect stands accused of impersonating the long tie of the law.

I’ve long been a fan of police procedural dramas and always loved it when the detectives would flash their neckties with “POLICE” written on them that identified the wearer as law enforcement before questioning a witness or shaking down an informant. And even after my head injury, those cool scenes have remained a cherished and vivid memory.

Unfortunately, one man in Osaka is suspected of using that cool power of authority for evil in an attempt to extort money from a restaurant worker in a bustling downtown area near Tenma Station in Kita Ward, Osaka City.

It was late at night and a woman in her 20s was standing outside while trying to invite passersby to come into the restaurant she worked at for a drink or five. This practice, known as “kyakuhiki” (“customer drawing”) is commonly done but is also technically a violation of municipal ordinances in many parts of Japan, such as Osaka. This means that there aren’t really any substantial punishments for kyakuhiki on its own, but it allows police to pursue an investigation into the businesses doing it, as they are sometimes illegal themselves.

▼ You can always tell when something has a long history in Japan because there’s a woodblock print of it.

It would seem the suspect was relying on the general legal ambiguity surrounding kyakuhiki when he approached her wearing a suit and a necktie that read “POLICE” and telling her that he was with the Osaka Prefectural Police. He then explained that what she was doing was against the law and could result in a fine of 500,000 yen (US$3,230), but if she just gave him whatever money she had he wouldn’t arrest her.

The woman went into the restaurant to speak with her manager, who immediately called the real police, but by the time they stepped out of the restaurant the suspect had fled the scene. An investigation was launched which led the authorities to 36-year-old Ken Tominaga of Settsu City, Osaka Prefecture.

Upon searching his home, police found a necktie with police markings on it. However, it’s important to note that the tie they found said “Keisatsucho” (警察庁) which is the National Police Agency. If we backtrack to the night of the incident, that’d be like saying you’re NYPD while pointing to a necktie that read “FBI”.

Tominaga is denying the allegations against him and said they got their facts wrong. Police are currently investigating to see if he’s implicated in any other incidents.

Osaka is known as the comedy capital of Japan, so readers of the news were largely delighted to see that the spirit of comedy is everywhere, even in the city’s crime. Others were just dying to know what that tie looked like.

“Life in Osaka is just one big comedy skit.”
“That’s Osaka quality.”
“Where did he buy a tie like that?”
“Did he get the tie custom-made or from a place like Village Vanguard?”
“Maybe she’d have believed him if he tattooed POLICE on his forehead.”
“I wonder if he tried it before and it actually worked.”
“I don’t get this at all. Can someone from Osaka explain it to me?”
“I think we should let this guy free just to see what he tries next.”
“I’d love to know if he embroidered that himself.”

As luck would have it, the police have since revealed the necktie to the media, but sadly it is rather official looking and not nearly as crappy as many may have imagined. He also had badges for the Osaka Prefectural Police but not the same as official ones. I was able to find similar items sold online as movie props.

▼ News report showing the tie and badges

This does raise another interesting point though. The victim specifically noted that he used his tie to identify himself, but in the video, all of the police markings are on the reverse side of it. This would suggest that when introducing himself, he apparently must have pulled his tie all the way up to reveal the “POLICE” embroidery underneath, thus restoring any comedy lost from it not having been poorly handmade.

In the end, hopefully we can all learn that when someone approaches you claiming to be a police officer, be sure to ask to see both their tie and their socks to make sure it’s the real deal and not some imposter.

Source: YTV, Itai News
Featured image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Wikipedia/歌川広重
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