KOBAN - a unique feature of Japan's national security system - Waku Waku

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KOBAN - a unique feature of Japan's national security system


KOBAN - a unique feature of Japan's national security system

Japan is known as one of the most peaceful and safest countries in the world. It is impossible to talk about the factors contributing to the formation of such a Japan without mentioning the Koban police station network.



Published on 17 Apr 2021, 12:00

So, let's find out what is special about Koban that Japanese people are so proud of?

The history of "KOBAN"

Koban is the name given to the neighbourhood police stations in Japan, the smallest organizational unit in the Japanese police system today.

"Kobanjo", an early form of Koban, was established in 1874 when the Metropolitan Police Department founded. Stations were then built on the sites of those "Kobanjo", which are now known as Koban.

A Koban station with unique architecture in Yokohama city
A Koban station with unique architecture in Yokohama city
As of May 1, 2019, there are around 826 Kobans across Tokyo - an astonishing number that leads me to understand why Japan has such strong public security.

Koban – the smallest organizational unit in the Japanese police system

Police stations in Japan divide their areas into separate patrol zones, and the Koban of each zone is a base for assigned police officers to operate.

Another special thing is that Koban opens 24/24 to ensure the safety of its residents. When in difficulty, you can call 119 or reach out to the nearest Koban for support.

Koban on a Tokyo’s street corner
Koban on a Tokyo’s street corner

Don't worry much about your Japanese since a lot of police in Koban can speak English.

Police in Koban is trained to be polite in everything they do including bowing, raising their voice, and smiling to create a feeling of being safe and comfortable for civilians – the customers who pay them.

A police box - Koban in Tokyo
A police box - Koban in Tokyo

The Koban's Duties

As far as I observe, the daily tasks and duties of police officers in Koban include the following:

  • Going on patrol around residential areas

While in Japan, you easily catch a glimpse of Japanese police officers patrolling the area riding modest bicycles, motorbikes, or even walking.

On a random beautiful day, when you are wandering around Japan's streets and suddenly "questioned" by the police, do not shock or worry, they are just on a routine check to be able to promptly detect and prevent criminals ^^

  • Giving directions

In Japan, as there are usually many small and one-way streets, sometimes without names, then even local people have difficulty in finding their way.

In that case, they often ask Koban police, who knows the terrain more than any other police force (because it took Koban police officers two years to familiarize and remember every corner of the area that is under their management).

My memories about Koban

During my time in Japan, I also received help from Koban many times, such as asking for directions when I got lost or seeking shelter from the rain in Koban every time I forgot to bring my umbrella...

Remember the first days coming to Japan, I went to the market and I dropped my wallet on the way back. The police officer in Koban near my house spent to whole night helping me find it.

To be honest, for a girl with such a "goldenfish brain" like me, the enthusiasm of the policemen was really heart-warming, especially when I had just started to live my life away from home.

Signature signboard of Koban
Signature signboard of Koban

The Koban system – a strong expansion into the world

Due to its outstanding advantages, the Koban system in Japan is highly appreciated and has been "exported" to many countries worldwide. Some of them are New York, Brazil, and Indonesia, who have successfully adopted this system and eventually improved their public security more significantly than before.

There is some useful information about Koban that I want to share with you. If you have any difficulty when in Japan, go ahead and seek help from Koban, rest assured that you will be dedicatedly supported ^^


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