Chinese “rip-off bars” in Ueno and Akabane target middle-aged and older customers
A lot of arrests! Frequent attacks in Ueno and Akabane, where Chinese customers are drunk with high-alcohol Chinese liquor and then taken to ATMs.
Late at night on weekends, middle-aged men in a state of intoxication are sucked into a convenience store in Ueno, Tokyo, one after another. These men operated ATMs with women and withdrew large sums of money. After receiving a wad of cash, the woman quickly leaves the scene.
After leaving the convenience store alone, I spoke to a man who appeared to be around 60 years old, who was slumped on the street like a shell of his former self.
I followed a Chinese tout who offered me an all-you-can-drink deal for 5,000 yen, but she made me drink Chinese shochu over and over again in one gulp and charged me 70,000 yen. I couldn’t even use my card at the store, and she took me to an ATM. ……”
In the downtown area, which had regained its pre-COVID-19 crisis liveliness, there are now frequent cases of rip-offs. According to the Hon-Fuji Police Station, which has jurisdiction over the Yushima district of Ueno, there were 22 consultations about payment-related problems at restaurants by September 10 this year. Similar incidents have also occurred in Akabane, Tokyo, where 20 Chinese women and others touting in the Akabane Station area between June and August of this year were arrested on suspicion of violating the Entertainment Establishments Control Law, theft, and other crimes.
The women touts call out to them on the street and take them to stores, where they make them drink high-alcohol Chinese liquor and get them drunk. She then charges them a hefty fee, saying, “This drink is extra,” and takes them to a nearby ATM. In one case, a total of 900,000 yen was withdrawn from an ATM on three separate occasions.
Mr. X, who provides recruitment services to Chinese-affiliated nightclubs, revealed the inside story: “As far as I know, there are no such cases in Ueno.
As far as I know, there are three groups in Ueno and two groups in Akabane, but all of them are mainly from Fujian Province. They have opened more restaurants by taking over restaurants that went out of business due to the COVID-19 crisis, and there are about 20 rip-off restaurants in both areas. That’s more than double what they were before Corona.
The amount of money ripped off varies depending on the intoxication and pocketbook of the person being ripped off, but “anything over 200,000 yen increases the risk of police action,” says X. “But why is it that the majority of the victims are in the Ueno area? But why are the victims mainly in Ueno and Akabane?
The main reason is the result of “segregation. In Shinjuku, Kabukicho, and Ikebukuro, you have to talk to Japanese gangs and semi-gangs to get into trouble, but in Akabane and Ueno, their territoriality is not so strong. It also has something to do with the “Anti-Bokkari Ordinance” enacted in ’00. Ueno in Taito Ward is a designated area under the ordinance, but many areas in Yushima in the adjacent Bunkyo Ward are not covered. Akabane was also not a designated area under the ordinance until recently. Until recently, rip-off stores in Ueno and Akabane have been caught, but only for violations of the Entertainment Establishments Control Law and touting ordinances,” said Mr. X.
Hirotaro Kato of the Kato & Asakawa Law Office, an expert on malicious business practices, explains.
If it is a violation of the anti-bargaining ordinance, the store can be ordered to suspend business for up to eight months. However, if the store is outside the designated area of the ordinance, it will be found in violation of the Entertainment Establishments Control Law or the touting ordinance, and only the nominal manager of the store can be arrested. In many cases, the stores expect this and reopen for business a few days later with a different manager in place.
So what should you do if you become a victim of rip-offs? Attorney Kato continues.
“Leave the amount of money you think is reasonable and walk away, then go to the police on the same day. You are not obliged to pay any additional fees that have not been explained to you in advance, and if they forcefully keep you, you may be charged with confinement. Of course, it is an ironclad rule not to follow the touts.”
In response to the frequent incidents of damage, Akabane has enacted a so-called “anti-bargaining ordinance. The city is waiting for the elimination of bad stores as soon as possible.
From the October 21, 2022 issue of FRIDAY
Reporting and writing： Writer: Yuuki Okukubo PHOTO： Yuuki Okukubo (2nd photo) Takeo Yuzoku