The English-Speaking Robber in Tokyo

would you comment or do a piece around this story – not the credit card bit but the English speaking robber in the streets of Tokyo ? (


When I received the above request from TH and read the article, I found it interesting that while the main point of the article is on how Standard Chartered handled the issue, TH requested my comment on the English-speaking robber. I’m not certain if I should focus on the English-speaking robber, or the robbery in Tokyo, but nevertheless, I’ll offer my 2-yencents worth.

I’ve been in Japan 4 years now, 1.5 of which was spent in Aichi, 6 months in Kanagawa, and the remaining 2 years in Tokyo. My workplace in Tokyo was in Yotsuya, not too far from Shinjuku station. But as I’ve never lived in Shinjuku ward, I always had to transfer train at Shinjuku. And as Japanese companies typically cover transportation costs to and from work, I had a commuter pass to work via Shinjuku, which only made it logical to spend my off days around Shinjuku since I can get there without additional costs. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m familiar with Shinjuku, but having hung around there most of my 2 years here, I should have something worth 2 cents.

Let’s deal with the English-speaking bit. First, the author mentioned an English-speaking robber but didn’t identify if he was Japanese, Taiwanese (which he said was the nationality of the other 2 accomplices), or any other nationality. Some couple of years ago, while I passed the red-light area of Shinjuku on Christmas Eve with my cousin, we were approached by an African-looking man who showed us a pamphlet of women’s pictures (Asian and Caucasian) and told us to enjoy ourselves since it’s Christmas Eve. He even went so far as to say that threesome is ok. No, I wouldn’t want to see my cousin having sex, much less participate in the same sexual activity as he is. In any case, it is not uncommon to spot foreign pimps in the area, much less foreigners. Further, if you walk along Kabuki-cho, regardless of whether you are alone, or in a group, as long as there isn’t a female in the pack, Japanese men working in the vice industry will typically approach you whether it’s for sex, breast-grabbing buffet, voyeurism, hostess club, pornography, or the multiple creative forms of adult activities prevalent here. Some of these men speak English too.

While I’ve been invited to these shops many a time, seen fights right in front of the police box, dead-drunk hosts not waking up to pay their taxi fare, wasted hostesses struggling to get to the next wall without collapsing, customers who refuse to pay, and men walking out of brothels in the afternoon, etc. I’ve not seen, heard, nor experienced robbery in the area. It could be that I don’t stray into the dark quiet alleys that much.

I did a quick search on “Cenote,” that appeared on the “pink slip” in the article and found it to be a hostess club, or in simpler terms, a nightclub. But then again, there seems to be daytime services at Club Cenote as well, so it’s hard to call it a “nightclub.” As I’m not familiar with hostess clubs, I am not so sure how things work, though I find it a little odd “someone” went out to a hostess club for “a while” and came back with a $1700+ bill.

First, people usually spend a long time and not “a while” in hostess clubs because the main point about clubs is the accompaniment of hostesses. If the robbers were aiming to buy expensive alcohol with the card, they could’ve done it anywhere else. Second, I also do not understand why a group of robbers would rob for the enjoyment of one person to spend time at a hostess club unless he’s the leader, but then again, why would the leader participate in the robbery? He would probably just wait somewhere else for his minions to bring him his treat. Last, I do not think it is possible to take a credit card slip out of a yakuza-run hostess club for someone else to sign, because as long as the slip is not signed, no payment is made. Why would the mafia allow the possibility, however minute, of someone running off without payment? And it was $1700+, no small figure. Also, the robbery couldn’t have been arranged by the mafias to be used at their own clubs because let’s face it, they make so much more money out of vice trade. Why would they want to risk arrest by robbing a random foreigner who may not even be carrying much.

With all these doubts, it may sound like I am accusing the author of lying or claiming that the story is not true. But that is not what I am saying. I am just confused by all the question marks in my head. If it were in fact a lie, Standard Chartered would’ve hit back with a defamation suit already, so it probably is true. No clue.

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