Imagine cycling into work in central Tokyo in light traffic on a pleasantly warm spring morning. You approach a red traffic light at an intersection you pass through every day. You slow to a crawl, standing to balance your bicycle as you check left and right, but as experience has taught you from the countless times you've cycled this route, the way is clear.
Despite the intersection being clear, you know you're in the wrong, you're busted and now its time to face the music.
You've heard the police announce countless times over the past months that they will be targeting law breaking cyclists, handing out hefty fines to repeat offenders. You dismissed it offhand as previous announcements from the police had amounted to nothing. You pull to the side of the road, checking your watch estimating how long it will take the officer to take down your details and calculating how late you'll be arriving to work.
You're free to go and you've won a prize!
Later, when in need of a tissue you notice a bicycle safety leaflet inside and it all falls into place. Once again, rather than enforcing cycling laws Tokyo's police continue to let everyone off with a warning and a reminder of the same cycling laws that they never enforce. As always you were never in any danger of being fined or worse.
"There are no traffic laws in Japan, just suggestions", you think as you clean your glasses with a complementary tissue, remembering to pocket the bicycle safety leaflet so you can blog about it later.
By "you" in this article I actually mean me.