Teiichi Hazu, a fiend and business associate, invited me for dinner; but this would be different. Instead of going to a restaurant, it would be at his home. I was deeply honored, for it is a rare compliment for a foreigner to be invited to dine where a Japanese lives.

I knew his address, but herein lies a problem. In Japan, the first house built on a street is given the number one. The second, perhaps many blocks away, is numbered two. I knew the general area, but I had no idea how to find his home on this long street. He'd forgotten to tell me.

I found a koban -- a neighborhood police post -- and asked directions. One of the policemen on duty explained Hazu's house might be difficult for me to find, so he graciously escorted me there.

With my shoes replaced by comfortable slippers and formal greetings by his family completed, we settled down with a refreshing drink of Scotch whisky produced in Japan. The children, they'd eaten earlier, had gone to their rooms with homework to do. Mrs. Hazu was busy in the kitchen.

"Hazu-san," I said, "that was certainly an accommodating policeman who led me to your door."

He smiled in agreement. "With a few exceptions, the whole staff of the koban is made up of nice fellows. We know them all quite well. They visit us twice a year."

"That's interesting," I said. "I don't know any policemen. Come to think of it, I rarely see one where I live."

Hazu replied, "That's because your police system is different than ours. We have close-by protection twenty-four hours a day. Not just here where I live, but all over Japan. Every square meter of my country is covered. They're called chuzaisho in the rural areas. There are about 5,800 koban in Japan and over 10,000 chuzaisho.

"This must be terribly costly. Can you imagine what the police payroll would be in the United States if we used your system?"

Hazu thought for a moment. "I guess that's true, but there are so many considerations like reduced crime, fewer jails, higher property values and improved self-esteem in your inner cities. These are just a few offsets to higher police payroll. I think, when you got all through, it might even be an economy to use our system."

I asked, "Don't the people resent such close police presence?"

I guess some do, but most don't. My son appreciates it. Sometimes, they let him practice on their computer. My wife and daughter can't imagine how it would be to be afraid to walk alone at night."

"I guess those old fellows I saw at the koban just a while ago enjoy it. They were playing go at a table outside of the entrance, and a little girl came in all by herself asking for candy. It was a pleasant scene."

Hazu said, "This is enough of police talk. Your glass is empty. Time for another Scotch."