An elderly man has been arrested after he complained to his telecommunications operator 24,000 times in the course of two years. Akitoshi Okamoto, 71, repeatedly called his telecom company over alleged contract violations and demanded an apology from the operator over those violations.
According to local media, elderly citizens often call the telecommunications operator for trivial issues like how to send an e-mail and how to install Netflix. This allegedly puts a huge burden on the customer service staff of the country. Okamoto who is from Kasukabe city in the Saitama prefecture was arrested for calling his telephone operator KDDI and its free customer service hotline 411 times in a span of one week. Okamoto has accused the company of unfair business practices and also called to seek an apology for the violation of the contract.
KDDI did not want to initially press charges against the old man but repeated complaints negatively affected the customer care staff and Okomoto was subsequently arrested. It is estimated that Okomoto on average called about 33 times a day to complain. Local police have said that Okomoto was upset because his phone could not pick up radio broadcasts.
Okamoto may be charged with obstruction of business, which is a serious offence in Japan and makes it illegal for a person to interfere with a company or its ability to function normally. While Okamoto has not yet been charged the probe is still ongoing.
Japan is on a major crossroads, with a rapidly ageing population dealing with rapidly advancing technology such as the widespread use of smartphones. It’s been reported that some phone dealers are mulling service charges for visitors due to an influx of elderly customers hanging around and seeking advice from clerks.
“Obstruction of business” is a convenient Japanese criminal definition that makes it illegal to interfere with someone’s ability to do regular business, and can cover a wide range of unconventional crimes such as stabbing oneself to get out of work or paying for beef bowls with blood-soaked money.