Saturday, June 14, 2014

Brazil: Update--Japanese Diplomat, Staff Excel in Helping Japanese Avoid Crimes of Opportunity

According to The Japan Times, the Foreign Ministry is taking extra measures to ensure the safety of Japanese soccer fans who are visiting the Brazilian city of Recife, which has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, to in order to watch Japan’s team open its World Cup campaign Saturday night (June 14).

Some 7,000 fans from Japan are expected to attend the Samurai Blue’s match against Cote d’Ivoire at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife. Kickoff is scheduled for 2200 hours. 

Since the stadium is a considerable distance from the city’s main hub, fans will be returning to their hotels and other lodgings well  after midnight, which is when thugs and criminals looking for victims will be at their peak.

Recife is Brazil’s fifth-biggest city and has a population of roughly 3.7 million. It is one of at least a dozen Brazilian cities reportedly on a list of the world’s top 50 homicide rates in urban centers.

COMMENT: Having worked with Japanese all over the world over the course of my 30+-year career, both in the US Department of State and as a security consultant, I would have to characterize the Japanese as one of the most enjoyable and hospitable nationalities with which I have had the opportunity to interact with.

Japanese are so engaging and fun to be with and are respected the world over in terms of their ability to immerse themselves into foreign cultures and respect their customs.

The one security vulnerability that all Japanese share is that they invariably are too trusting of strangers, considering that they live in one of the safest countries in the world, despite their country's population density. 

According to Hitomi Sekiguchi, head of the Japanese Embassy’s liaison office in Recife, staff will be on 24-hour standby to respond to emergency calls, with officials stationed inside and outside the stadium to help Japanese citizens.  

“We plan to be proactive in reaching out, but we also hope Japanese spectators feel comfortable reaching out to us,” Sekiguchi said.

Fortunately, Japanese arriving at the local airport on Friday were greeted by embassy staff who handed out pamphlets listing contact numbers and subway maps.

At least one Japanese tourist has already been robbed. 

The Japanese Consulate General in São Paulo said Friday (June 13) that a man who arrived Thursday (June 12) for the World Cup had a bag containing match tickets and cash stolen.

According to the Consulate General, someone lifted the victim's tote bag after he momentarily left it unattended at a coffee shop in the airport while greeting a newly arrived friend on Thursday night. The bag held three match tickets, 8,000 Brazilian real (US$3,581.60) and other valuables.

The consulate general has warned Japanese travelers to keep all personal belongings close at hand and to avoid carrying large sums of cash.