Public Safety Management and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department (TMPD)

Mr Itaru Nagata

Posted: June 9, 2014

Tagged: crowds / policing / safety / security

The Japanese soft approach to crowd management can be an alternative way to control hooliganism, a long-running and serious problem for many countries. Stadiums in Japan are relatively safe and clean so that even the very youngest people can go to stadiums unaccompanied by their parents. However, during the World Cup that can induce patriotism among young people, and many of football fans are expected to release their emotions and excitement on the street.

Shibuya, the famous crossing, is located in city center of Tokyo that allows pedestrians to inundate the entire intersection. This crossing is always hugely crowded after Japanese national team games. Supporters make noise, high five with other people and some even climb on car rooftops or traffic lights, even though police station is just a stone’s throw away. TMPD has therefore been working to prevent incidents being caused by emotional supporters during the World Cup.

After qualifying for the 2014 World Cup by 1-1 against Australia, Japan found a star police officer nicknamed “DJ Cop”. The officer, from a section of the Tokyo riot police squad, was someone who is regularly assigned to control crowds at local events. He addressed supporters from the top of a police vehicle, asking fans not to cause problems.

Following his eloquent and humorous style, he was dubbed “DJ Cop” by a Japanese tabloid newspaper. Most of his words are much more casual than people might normally expect from a police officer. He said: “We policemen don’t want to get upset on such a good day. The Japanese national team is renowned for its teamwork and it always plays by the rules.Please act like the national team. Even scary-faced policemen are happy about Japan’s appearance in the World Cup, just as you are” He gently and calmly talked to the crowd at the Shibuya after the game last year. He continued: “You are the 12th member of the team. I believe that you can do the same as the national team. Please do not get a yellow card from the police.”

As the Japanese police force is essentially authoritative, the reaction to ‘DJ Cop’ from the most part of the general public was positive. Pedestrians even chanted: “Policeman, policeman, policeman!” In an interview conducted afterwards, the policeman revealed that there was no transcript or order from his senior, and he simply thought of what to say at the time he was on duty at Shibuya.

This innovative approach to public safety management resulted in no arrests or violent incidents at the Shibuya crossing after the game. Eventually, the policeman received the TMPD’s Superintendent-General Award. Now many of other prefectural police forces have introduced workshops designed to train officers in replicating a witty, skillful approach to crowd management ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

As such, a humorous, soft approach to crowd management appears to be the best way in Japan to tackle the hooliganism that can sometimes result in violence elsewhere in the world. In a sense therefore, this World Cup has become a showcase for Japanese public safety management.

About Itaru Nagata

Graduate of University of Liverpool MBA Football Industries (FIMBA).
Awarded “Decade of Difference” from the university.
Football business journalist based in Tokyo, covering business side of football.
Mainly contributing to Manchester City official website, and several national football media in Japan.
twitter account: @itarunagata