Why “NO MORE TRASH CANS” in Public? Policy or Mentality?
During shooting in Japan, we are often asked with the following question from foreign crews:
“Why is it so difficult to find garbage cans on the streets?”
We would respond that it’s due to our government’s policy to prevent terrorist acts, but we understand that this single answer may not explain the whole picture over this topic.
Trash cans placed in front of a convenience store, of which the numbers decreasing recently
People were able to locate garbage cans very easily in public until the Tokyo Subway sarin gas attack in 1995, where the government started to remove them to avoid trash cans to be potential subjects to plant explosives or weapons. Thereafter, it takes some effort to find them in public spaces such as on streets, railway stations, parks, shopping centers, convenience stores, and so forth.
To meet people’s demand for trash cans in public, train stations come up with an idea to place transparent trash cans instead and to place them only near ticket gates, so that station staffs can monitor the content constantly.
Transparent trash cans in a metro station in Tokyo, located close to a ticket gate
Other countries explore different approaches toward this issue by dedicating more on inventing trash cans which spread fewer fragments at the time of explosion or locating trash cans in less crowded places distancing from ticket gates to limit the extent of the damage.
Leaving aside the question of which country’s counter-terrorism measures would be more effective, we sense that Japan is more focused on “prevention” in tackling crime, giving every effort, and sending a strong message to potential criminals to refrain from committing wrong actions.
As Japanese people are brought up to behave themselves and not to cause trouble for other people, it is very effective to impose measures which appeal to people’s better nature.
Through a life without trash bins outside, a habit to take one’s own trash home is beginning to take root in Japan.
Many foreigners visiting Japan are surprised by the cleanliness of its streets, but this would partly explain the reason why.