Laptop users plugging in at stations risk police visit

In US airports, many people can be seen using their laptops plugged in to nearby outlets. If you do that in Japan, you could be arrested by the police.

In February 2004, a man using a power outlet in Nagoya Station was questioned by railroad police. The case was reported to the prosecutor’s office as a theft of one cent worth of electricity. It is not known whether the man was prosecuted or not.

In September 2008, a university student charging her cellphone in Sagamihara Station was questioned by the police. In this case, a passerby had reported the “incident”. The student was reprimanded, but was later released without charge.

A blogger reported [JP] that Haneda Airport uses non-standard power outlets (NEMA L5 receptacles) instead of standard Japanese outlets. He suspects that the airport authority wants to prevent travelers from “stealing” electricity.


Japanese society sometimes enforces minor rules too strictly and resists societal changes, but not everyone is opposed to change. JR Shinkansen bullet trains now offer power outlets to all window seat passengers and all first-class passengers on their new N700 series trains.

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Shunichi Arai

Shunichi Arai is developing a product for his new stealth startup. Arai devotes his life to software business, reading, and salsa dancing. Arai also loves to learn other cultures and languages such as Korean.

2 thoughts on “Laptop users plugging in at stations risk police visit”

  1. Yes. It is pretty strict here. I’d love to hear the logic from the corporate side. I’m sure there must be some logic (other than the few yen cost). I’ve been reprimanded a few times for plugging in in usual places.

    In most Starbucks and Tully’s I’ve seen sockets taped over or with special covers. (A very small number Starbucks do seem to provide some power outlets for guests). Private cafe chains here usually they are quite willing to let you use the power if you ask though. McDonalds also provide sockets specifically for laptops:

    Roppongi Hills also uses strange sized sockets, maybe to stop people plugging in.

    A bit a trivia here. I also found some sockets on the Keio (?) line going out to Narita. Very useful, albeit unofficial. You develop a habit here of quickly being able to hunt down power sockets for emergency computing situations :-)

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