Surveillance cameras in Japan watch your private places

Security cameras for a safe Japan

madarao kogen hot springs Japan changing room security camera Surveillance camera on top of soft drink vending machine in Japan Surveillance camera on a Saitama bus in Tokyo, Japan
above (left) Security camera in hot springs changing room at a hotel at Madarao Kogen hot springs, Nagano Prefecture Japan. (center) On a vending machine. (right) Surveillance camera in a bus.

No surveillance camera in kokugikan sumo hall September 2009 Surveillance camera in kokugikan sumo hall September 2009
above (left) 2009 – No surveillance camera in Kokugikan sumo hall. (right) 2012 – Surveillance camera in Kokugikan sumo hall.

Security cameras at the sumo hall

The Japan Sumo Association setup ‘‘mob-cams” surveillance cameras in the Aichi-ken Taiikukan arena in Nagoya for the July 2010 sumo tournament. The effort is to prevent gangsters (yakuza) from attending sumo matches.

Organized crime links to sumo were exposed in late 2009 and again in early 2010.

Gangsters were reportedly extorting money from the sumo wrestler Kotomitsuki, the highest ranked Japanese wrestler at the time.


Tickets usually given to corporate sponsors had been obtained by the Yamaguchi-gumi crime syndicate and gang members were seen seated ringside at tournaments. The gangsters wanted to be visible on TV broadcasts to raise the spirits of their colleagues watching sumo tournaments from prison cells.

Surveillance cameras were also installed at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo hall before the 2010 Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament. The JSA is cooperating with the police in the use of the security cameras.

Bus cameras in Kyoto

Surveillance camera on city bus in Kyoto Japan Surveillance camera on city bus in Kyoto Japan watches for illegally parked carsabove Surveillance camera on city bus in Kyoto, Japan

Surveillance cameras are installed on 20 city buses in Kyoto. The bus cameras record video at the bus stops. Later, the video is checked for cars illegally parked at the bus stops. Officials are especially concerned about illegal parking at bus stops around Kyoto station. Repeat offenders are reported to the police.

Three cameras are attached to the outside of the buses and two are installed inside the buses. The camera system is explained in a sticker on the bus exteriors.

Some buses in Saitama, Tokyo, and Fukuoka Prefecture also have cameras installed to record video of bus stops.


Police have a cam-van

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police have a vehicle equipped with security cameras. Three of the cameras are mounted on an extendable arm that can capture video in 360 degrees from a maximum height of 6.7 meters. Those cameras can recognized people’s faces up to 150 meters away. The 2-ton police cam-truck also carries 9 portable security cameras.

Tokyo Metropolitan Police mobile surveillance camera vehicle Police mobile surveillance cameras truck in Tokyo Japan

Video can be transfered to each police station and police headquarters by a satellite communication link on the truck. Video footage is saved for 7 days and then erased The surveillance truck is used in high-crime areas in Tokyo.


Security cameras in cabs

Security camera inside a taxi in Kyoto, JapanSurveillance camera inside a cab in Osaka, Japan Taxi companies are installing video cameras in their fleets in an effort to protect drivers and curb driver-passenger conflicts.

Fuji Taxi Group based in Naka Ward, Nagoya, has put cameras in all of its 540 taxis. The cameras record the interior of the vehicles constantly and the video is overwritten every 30 hours.

Cameras installed on taxis operated by Meitetsu Co and Nagoya Kintetsu Taxi capture video of only the exteriors of their vehicles.

The operators say the outside cameras are for the purpose of traffic accidents. The companies do not have internal taxi cameras due to issues of passenger privacy.

Coke watches you open happiness

Japan coke vending machine with built-in security camera Coca Cola vending machine in Japan has security camera on top
above (left) Fully equipped, in park. (right) With camera only.

A Coca Cola vending machine has a built-in direct phone line to the police department, an alarm buzzer, a 24-hour video-recording surveillance camera, and a revolving red light on top. "The "Help Vending Machine" was provided by Coca Cola in cooperation with the Aichi prefectural police. The machine was installed in October 2008 in Iwata Athletic park in Toyohashi, 250 kilometers south of Nagoya, Japan. Toyohashi was selected because of an increase in crimes in that area.  

The phone in the vending machine automatically dials the police emergency phone number 110 when the special front door of the machine is opened, the handset is picked up, or the button to activate the flashing light is pushed. The warning buzzer triggers when the door is opened and the red light begins rotating. The video camera starts recording as a person approaches the machine.

Cameras watch for molesters on trains

Surveillance camera in Saikyo line train carriage in Tokyo, Japan Surveillance camera on a Shinkansen bullet rain in Japan
above (left) Saikkyo line camera. (right) Shinkansen camera.

Security cameras were installed on some carriages of the East Japan Railway Company Saikyo Line trains in 2009 and in Keio line carriages in February 2011.


Statues guarded by surveillance cameras

Namihei anime Sazae-san family bronze statue in Japan Bronze statue of Namihei Sazae-san head hair vandalized in Japan Replacing hair on bronze statue of Namihei Sazae-san in Japan


A security camera was also installed to watch the head of a bronze statue of a cartoon character. The statue of Namihei and his anime family from the Sazae-san manga and cartoon series is permanently installed on a shopping street in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, to attract more visitors to the area.

Namihei has a single 10-centimeter strand of hair sticking up from the center of his head. The hair was vandalized – the hair snipped off – on May 7, 2012. The strand was replaced. Vandals again clipped off the new hair on May 20.

The wire hair was replaced again on June 3, 2012 and a security camera was installed, aimed at the head.

Conan needs security camera

Bronze statues of cartoon character "the Great Detective Conan" were vandalized and a security camera was then installed to watch over the statues.

Six 60-centimeter-high bronze statues of manga character Conan on the Conan bridge in Tottori prefecture were vandalized. The character’s trademark magnifying glass and snorkel were broken off or bent in mid-May. Security cameras were installed in June.

photos: Hot springs changing room; Saitama bus ceiling; sumo 2009; sumo 2012; police camera vehicle in park; police camera vehicle on street; taxi front seat; taxi back seat; Shinkansen; Saikyo line ceiling camera; Sazae-san family.

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