After Losing At Crane Games, Man Threatens Tokyo Arcade With Poison Gas

After Losing At Crane Games, Man Threatens Tokyo Arcade With Poison Gas
Crane game machines at another Tokyo arcade in November 2020. (Photo: Carl Court, Getty Images)

A college senior has been arrested in Tokyo on suspicion of obstructing a business by force after sending death threats to an arcade in Tokyo’s Tachikawa City.

Between the 4th and the 25th of this month, Gou Kawasaki, a 21-year-old college senior, repeatedly mailed threats to the arcade. As reported on Yahoo! News Japan, he sent 16 in total, mailing them from four different prefectures and writing “The Despair of the Dead” in Japanese as the sender.

“Tomorrow, I will release poison gas,” Kawasaki wrote in one threat. “It’ll exterminate the arcade staff.” Other letters apparently carried similar threats, which caused the arcade staff to be on the lookout for suspicious individuals.

Yahoo! News Japan reports that Kawasaki had been spotted on the arcade’s security camera. He has confessed to the crime, explaining his motivation: “I sunk a lot of money into crane games and got pissed off because I never caught anything.”

Crane games are typically located on the first floor of Japanese arcades, right by the entrance. Generally speaking, they do seem easier to win prizes at than crane games in, say, the U.S., but can definitely still be challenging. Depending on the arcade (and how much money you’ve sunk into the machine), you might be able to ask the staff to either reset the prize or, if they take pity on your poor soul, move it into a slightly more optimal place. Again, this is a case-by-case, arcade-by-arcade, staff-by-staff issue. Sometimes, though, winning can seem impossible.

Last fall, for instance, J-Cast News reported that a Twitter user in Tokyo called the police after losing 200 times at a Sega UFO Catcher crane game. To investigate whether or not a scam was afoot, the cops watched as an arcade staffer failed another 300 times. The staffer finally put the prize in an easier location, making it possible to snag the goodie, and the police left without incident. Sega issued a public statement, saying that crane games were based on luck and skill, but adding that the company instilled into staff the necessity to be aware of the situation.

No doubt in an effort to prevent the aura of scams, Sega added, “A fundamental operation of our company is that if something seems excessively odd, you are welcome to call staff over for some help [getting the prize].”

Considering that real physical violence has occurred following death threats in Japan, such as prior to the deadly Kyoto Animation arson attack , any threats should be taken with the utmost seriousness.


  • The manuals that come with these machines show they’re not based on skill. The owner gets to input the cost per turn, cost per item, and how much profit they want to make. The machine does the rest.

    • That is true for some claw machines, however there are others that are a game of skill. Especially those like the Sega UFO Catchers where you press the button to choose a power level, or others that have different claws/playfields and no change in power.

    • Actually if you’ve ever tried the skill testers in Jp arcades.. they are actually real skill testers. A majority of them aren’t just the usual lift the prize with a claw.. they usually require you to push/position the prize off with the modified claw.. whilst its very rare to get it in one go an expert on those games can usually score a prize within 2-5 tries.

      These places actually want you to win so you keep playing.. as a bonus if you are having a really difficult time (or you get the prize in an unwinnable state) and have tried enough times staff will also help by repositioning the prize so you can win in 1 or 2 goes (unless you’re really bad and reset)

      There is a small bunch of ppl who actually make profit out of these by winning prizes from arcades by reselling them.

  • Good grief.. Jp is the only place in the world where you can get the staff to put the prize on “easy mode” after enough tries from staff..

    I get the feeling either the guy was just too proud to ask for “easy mode” or the staff were doing a bit of a dodgy by not offering to help after enough goes.

    That or he reaaaalllyy was just bad at the skill testers xD

  • Yeah this guy is 100% just shit at the games. The staff at the arcades are super accommodating and the UFO Catchers are as legit as a prize machine is going to get.

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