“KOBAN,” the Japanese policing system spreading across the globe

Japan is known for its low crime rates, and one of the reasons for that is “Koban,” or neighborhood police outposts, which have been developed for many years in Japan.
Originating in Japan, “Koban” have been internationally recognized as an effective policing system that is deep-rooted in the local communities.

Suitengumae Koban, Hisamatsu Police Station

Nihonbashi Koban, Chuo Police Station

Kabukicho Koban, Shinjuku Police Station

The “KOBAN” System

Police stations divide their precincts into beats, and a Koban is the operating base for police officers assigned to each beat.
As of May 1st, 2019, there are 826 Koban across Tokyo.
At Koban, police officers work around the clock in shifts to ensure your safety through various services including:

  • Responding to incidents and accidents
  • Giving directions
  • Handling lost items
  • Giving advice on security and other concerns
  • Patrolling
  • Making door-to-door visits

History of “KOBAN”

“Kobanjo,” the predecessor of Koban, were set up when the Metropolitan Police Department was established in 1874.
Back then, there was no building for Kobanjo, which only referred to a point where police officers were supposed to stand watch in rotation while patrolling on foot from their police station.
Buildings were later constructed on those Kobanjo, which are now called “Koban.”

Koban in early Showa era

Koban in mid-Showa era

Today’s Koban

Operation of Model Koban with Foreign Language Assistance

Language Assistance Now Available at “Model Koban”
The MPD has designated two Koban, the Kabukicho Koban in Shinjuku and the Shibuya Ekimae Koban, as Model Koban, where there are always officer(s) with foreign language skills assigned for your assistance.


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