JAPAN

French thieves make headlines in Japan

A trio of French youths have given their country some bad press this week. Splashed all over Japanese TV, the tale of their stealing spree in a videogame store has caused something of a stir.

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Three French youths have given their country some bad press this week. Splashed all over Japanese TV, the tale of their thieving spree in a video game store has caused something of a stir.

The Fuji News TV network broadcast a report on the incident this week. The three youths, aged 16, carried out 18 thefts in several shops in the Akihabara area before they were caught. By then, they had run away with 92 video games and seven consoles, supposedly aided by the fact that Japanese shopkeepers are ill-accustomed to shoplifting. The three had found a way of stealing in one shop and then selling their booty next door, even though the stores belonged to the same owner (Sofmap). The youths reportedly sought to explain their crime by claiming that they needed the money to look better in front of their wealthier classmates at the local international school.

"The French have a habit of causing specific problems, more so than other Europeans"

Frenchman Thomas Bertrand has been living in Kyoto since 2003.

Should we be talking about Japanese naivety or the dishonesty of certain French youths? In Japan it's quite common to lose one's wallet and have it returned with all the money inside.  

It's happened to me and to several tourists. There are no doormen in shops, and having stalls out in the street doesn't mean people just help themselves. Sure, there must be some cases of theft, particularly among youngsters and elderly people struggling to make ends meet - but nothing to compare with France. I don't think the French have a particularly bad reputation over here. Having said this, the French have a habit of causing specific problems, more so than other Europeans. A Japanese friend of mine who runs a hostel says the only problems he's ever had involved French customers. For instance they'd book for two and turn up with a third person. I have other stories about French people. I once saw a Frenchman, who claimed to be a journalist, refuse to take his shoes off before entering a temple and threaten to slate the Japanese in an article. Another time I saw five French ladies aged over 50 skipping a two-hour long queue to climb onto a train after a festival."

The report on Japanese TV

Posted on YouTube by feb99999

"Had they been Chinese, no-one would've said a word"

Daniel Pulvermacher is an American skater living in Tokyo. He runs his own blog: "You Will Soon".

I read a comment about this story on a Japanese website. The guy admitted that the incident had been blown out of proportion because the culprits were French. Had they been Chinese, no-one would've said a word."