It is important to be aware of the various dangers and hazards that can emerge in student life, and to take appropriate precautions to ensure that you don’t expose yourself to risk. Some of the most common dangers are detailed below.
Precautions When Using SNS
We tend to think that social networking services (SNS) such as Facebook, Twitter, and LINE are “just for friends,” but things that you post can potentially hurt other people, and you yourself might be hurt by online criticism. There has also been a sharp increase in cases where the feeling of security from being in a space that is “just for friends” is used to scam people (e.g., “one-click” scams and phishing scams) or spread viruses. Please keep the following points in mind when using social networking services:
- Don’t disclose personal information about yourself or others unnecessarily.
- Posting photos poses a risk of unintended leakage of location information.
- Be careful not to infringe on privacy, copyrights, and portrait rights.
- Messages should be written with care, and should only include content that you can say publicly to anyone, anywhere.
- Be wary of fake accounts and spam apps.
Beware of Theft
Incidences of theft have occurred at various locations in Kyoto University, including the gymnasium, club rooms, sports grounds, lecture halls, and laboratories. Many people pass through the university campuses and facilities—not only students, faculty, and staff, but also people unrelated to the university. Please keep your valuables on your person at all times, and never leave your belongings unattended—even for a moment. In addition, bicycles that are left unlocked, or which have only one lock are particularly targeted. To prevent theft, lock your bicycle with two or more locks—the lock provided with your bicycle, as well as an additional cable lock, etc. Always lock your bicycle when parking, even if it is only for a short time, and be sure to register your bicycle for bicycle theft prevention in case it is stolen.
Precautions Regarding Alcohol Consumption
In Japan, it is illegal for persons under 20 years old to drink alcohol. It is also illegal to encourage persons under 20 years old to drink alcohol. The consumption of alcohol by minors (persons under 20 years old) is against the law. Please do not encourage minors to drink alcohol, and if you are a minor, please do not drink alcohol, even if you are encouraged to do so.
Those who are 20 years old or older should also be aware of the dangers of acute alcohol intoxication. Consumption of a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time can cause motor impairment to the point of being unable to stand on one’s own, and can even result in coma. In the worst cases, respiratory arrest and acute heart failure can occur, leading to death or serious permanent damage, even if the person is resuscitated.
Prohibition of the Possession and Use of Drugs, Etc.
In Japan, the possession and use of drugs such as marijuana, narcotics, psychotropic substances (excluding prescription drugs), opium, stimulants, solvents that are intended to be inhaled, and MDMA are strictly prohibited by law.
Persons who violate the law will be arrested and prosecuted as criminals and face very serious penalties, including not only the withdrawal of their scholarship payments and expulsion from the university, but also imprisonment or deportation.
Drug use has adverse effects on the mind and body and causes harm not only to the individual themselves, but also to society as a whole, including the breakdown of human relationships. In recent years, there have been numerous incidents and fatalities caused by the use of dangerous drugs.* Dangerous drugs are highly addictive and highly psychotoxic, and their use can lead to violent incidents and traffic accidents due to acute symptoms. They can also cause chronic mental illness. The thoughtless use of such drugs can have a serious impact on not only you, but also those around you, so please do not be tempted to use drugs out of passing curiosity.
* “Dangerous drugs” is a term for drugs that are often falsely described as “herbs,” “incense,” “air fresheners,” etc., or sold under the guise of “legal drugs” or “legal herbs.”
Beware of Extremist Political Groups, Cults, Etc.
Freedom of thought and religion is guaranteed by the Constitution. However, there are anti-social political groups (extremists) and cults that use their own interpretation of that freedom to justify the propagation of lies and illegal conduct.
Recruitment activities by cults:
There have been incidences of illegal solicitation, intimidation, and extortion of donations by cults. They often invite people to participate in group activities such as breathing exercises, self-development seminars, volunteering, international exchange activities, etc., or ask people to complete questionnaires, etc. They become friendly with the target by engaging in small talk or discussing hobbies or interests, then they ask for personal information, such as the person’s address, phone number, SNS account details, etc., and aggressively urge them to attend seminars, training camps, etc.
Once a student joins such an organization, they can become unable to live a regular life as a student. They may be coerced into various activities, wasting their time and energy, damaging their relationships, even causing them to fail to attend classes entirely and be expelled from the university.
Beware of Offers of Well-Paying Part-Time Jobs (Easy Money)
There have been numerous incidents whereby criminal organizations, posing as legitimate organizations, lure international students into criminal activities by describing them as “well-paying part-time jobs.” Some international students have become involved in crimes and been arrested because they carelessly accepted such part-time jobs, which were offered through the internet, on flyers, or through solicitations from acquaintances. Please be very wary of such job offers.
Don’t be Fooled by Dishonest Business Practices or Scams
There have been a number of cases of dishonest business practices targeting students. The dishonest businesses take advantage of students’ lack of social experience, and convince them that they can “have fun making money.” In some cases, students are coerced into the activities by threats. New and increasingly sophisticated scams, etc., are always being invented in addition to those detailed below, so please be careful.
You are stopped on the street and asked to fill out a questionnaire, then taken to a sales office to sign a contract for expensive cosmetics, a membership, or other products. Do not respond ambiguously—refuse the offer clearly.
The salesperson will contact you by telephone and tell you that you can travel abroad or use leisure facilities, etc., at a discounted price. They will ask you to visit the company’s sales office to complete the transaction. In reality, however, you will end up being sold another expensive product (video training materials, etc.) as part of a “set.” Be wary of offers from strangers that sound too good to be true.
You will be lured with a lucrative offer such as, “You can earn more and more money just by introducing people to our company!” Multilevel marketing schemes persuade you to buy a product, become a member of the scheme, and then get your friends and acquaintances to buy the product with the promise that you will receive commission from those that you solicit, and then more commission from the people that they, in turn, will solicit. But if you sign up for these “easy” part-time jobs, you will most likely end up with nothing but the products you bought—and debt. Such good deals are impossible. Beware of money-making schemes.
There have been an increasing number of billing fraud cases, whereby people are cheated out of money in the guise of fees for the use of pay sites that the victim did not actually use. Students are advised to take the following precautions to avoid becoming a victim of this type of fraud.
- Ignore demands for unfamiliar charges (keep the billing postcard or email).
- Never contact the specified contact details.
- Set up your devices to reject spam mail.
- Don’t make decisions on your own, consult with the police, family members, or people around you.