Last Friday, I went to Shimachu, the only halfway decent large hardware store in a 10km radius. Shimachu is at Hwy 1, the road that follows the old Tokaido from Tokyo to Kyoto. As I cross the six lane highway, I see a policeman in hot pursuit of a small van. No flasher, so siren, the cop is on a bicycle.
The van had made a sweeping turn, all the way from the far opposite lane into a small side street, and the light was red. We are in Japan, where pedestrians patiently wait for green in a small alley, at 3am, in a deserted neighborhood. Crossing all six lanes of the old Tokaido on red would have meant instant decapitation by samurai sword in the olden days. The punishment is not quite as harsh these days, but still. The skinny cop on his bicycle gives chase, pedaling furiously. Instead of flashing read lights, there are puffed cheeks, blowing a whistle.
He didn’t have to pedal much. On the other side of Hwy 1, the van obediently pulls over, the cop pulls out his big black book, and justice is being served. As I enter Shimachu’s 2×4 emporium, I think of what I had read the day before about a Japanese family that was chased by three Utah Highway Patrol cruisers down Interstate 15, while others laid spike strips, blocked highway exit ramps and entrances. The crime of the tourists, fresh off the plane from Japan? They were doing 40 mph, and you obviously must be drunk if you go that slow.
With three blown tires, the car came to a halt. When the cops realized that the presumptuous perps were both stone sober and unable to speak English, police drove them to a motel.
Of course, the Asian driver story was picked up immediately by all American auto blogs. The absolutely shocking part were the comments of their readers. Did they complain about another case of overreach by an increasingly militarized police force? Did they want to know why in the devil’s name was there a hot pursuit, and a blocking of a major interstate, for a car that was going slow?
The bottom line of their comments was that the Japanese tourists were lucky that they were not shot on sight. Which, if you go by the comments, happens in all other states.
At Leftlanenews.com, reader MentorRes opened the sushi-feeding-frenzy with a “In DC they would be dead.” Not just in DC, assisted Leftlanenew reader justinthyme3: “In Arizona they would have bullets in the brain, courtesy of Sheriff Arpaio.”
Three cars in hot pursuit of a slow car? Not enough for reader Sam123 of Autoblog.com: “If this was in California, 20 cop cars would be chasing them. Don’t even talk about the pit manouver they would get.”
Over at Thetruthaboutcars.com, the organ’s best and allegedly brightest joined the chorus singing the Police State song. Reader Advance_92: “Lucky for the tourists it was in Utah and not Arizona.” Reader JimC2: “… or New Mexico. Ba-dum!”
Scary, very scary.