THE US Embassy in Tokyo has issued a warning to visitors to the Japanese capital to beware of spiked drinks, credit card fraud, extortion and even assault in two of the city's busiest entertainment districts.
The caution, posted on the embassy web site in early June, identifies Roppongi and Kabuki-cho as "high-risk areas for crime" and offers tips on how to avoid problems, including carrying limited amounts of money, securing valuables in a hotel safe, avoiding offers of a free drink, etc.
But the embassy said that Tokyo generally remains a safe place to visit. "Still, as in other big cities around the world, visitors to Tokyo sometimes become victims of crime, so it's important to exercise caution. Crimes against US citizens in Japan often involve theft or fraud," it warned.
There have been numerous reports in the last 18 months of customers in bars being given a free drink, only to wake up several hours later with their wallets gone or being menaced for an extortionately large bill.
"Roppongi, in particular, is a popular place for foreign visitors for its bars, restaurants and nightclubs," said Motohisa Tachikawa, a JTB spokesman.
"And while I think people who know Tokyo would say that a visitor needs to be a little more careful around Roppongi and Kabuki-cho, I would not say they are dangerous," he said, adding that JTB often gives groups advice on where to go and not go on their own free time.