JIN-469 -- Violent crime in Japan

J@pan Inc Newsletter
The 'JIN' J@pan Inc Newsletter
A weekly opinion piece on social, economic and political trends
in Japan.
Issue No. 469 Wednesday June 11, 2008, Tokyo

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Violent crime in Japan

The recent horror story of the Akihabara truck rampage/knife
murders is deeply shocking and challenges our most optimistic
and hopeful inclinations. The scenes of bloody limbs and
computer generated simulations of the tragedy impress us with
the reality of what, to most of us, is unthinkable. Looking to
the murderer’s psychological profile, childhood and troubled
relationship with society can give us some clues as to how he
might eventually have cracked, but it will never really solve
the mystery of how and why this tragedy happened. There are
plenty of people with woeful and abusive pasts who would never
perpetrate such a hideous slaughter.

For the media, crimes such as this are times to satisfy the
public’s morbid fascination with such bloodbaths and uncover as
many gory details as possible – many publications also manage to
use the opportunity to provide titillating ‘background
information’ (see http://www.japaninc.com/node/3395). The other
common theme is that many writers and editors will bring up
similar incidents that have occurred recently, for example, one
AP report on the incident catalogues various knife crime
incidents going back until 2001 (http://tinyurl.com/6czwa6).

There is nothing essentially wrong with such reporting, but
during these periods, it is possible to lose a sense of
perspective. It is right that we scratch our heads and examine
social, legal and cultural changes that might prevent such
nightmares re-occurring however, for those searching for some
comfort, it is worth reflecting that homicide in Japan has
generally been following a pattern of decline. According to
recent research published in the journal ‘Homicide Studies’
(David T Johnson, June 2008), ‘there has been such a steep
decline in the propensity to kill among young Japanese men that
their murder rate is now about one tenth what it was 50 years
ago.’ Johnson claims that although demographic factors partly
explain these statistics (there being fewer young males who are
the most common killers), he suggests that Japan has done
comparatively well in restricting the availability of weapons
and that its culture of ‘postwar pacifism’ (or post war
passivism?) has permeated beyond the area of foreign policy.

There is also, sadly, nothing unique about the nature of
Japanese ultra-violent crime. For every decapitation or random
shooting that has happened in Japan, it is possible to find
similar examples in countries all around the world. For regions
that are in the midst of war, similar incidents happen on a
daily basis. It has always been the prerogative of the older
generation, who write the laws and the headlines, to accuse the
younger generation of moral deficiencies in the wake of such
violent outbreaks. However, the evidence Johnson considers
reveals a reality in which the younger generation in Japan is
less likely to murder its peers than the previous one.

In terms of how it compares internationally, according to
Bloomberg, ‘Japan's crime rate remains low by international
standards, with 1.1 homicides per 100,000 people in 2005
compared with 3.5 in France, 3.2 in the UK and 5.6 in the US,
according to official statistics.’ While these statistics do
little to set our minds at ease about the events of last Sunday,
Japanese society should not perhaps entirely lose hope that the
younger generation may be our savior rather than our slayer.

Peter Harris
Editor-in-Chief

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250 Bilingual JET candidates looking for work

The JET Programme Alumni Association of Eastern Japan
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Date/Time: Monday, June 16th, 7:00 pm
Location: Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan
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Website: http://www.ea-tokyo.com

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Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/
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Date: Thursday, June 25, 2008
Time: 6:30 Doors open includes light buffet
Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members)
Open to all-venue is The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan
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Comments

I am really sorry to here about the crime, and for the people who were targeted.
My heartfelt condolence for the person who were killed, and also for their family and relatives.
I would like to bring to your kind notice that, Human mind need relaxation, sometime what happens, human beings get frustrated about the working pattern, about family and their future, and day to day living. Some people are very possessive about their children and wife, they do not like their family going under any stress, problems, tension, so in over possessive and protective emotion, they can go a level to kill others. And there are so many reasons.

I feel so sorry for just everybody - friends, family of those who were hurt and of the murderer. He wasn't born into the world thinking he would one day murder people. The world is harsh and saw no more hope. Only if somebody was there to help him find hope before any of this happened. Only if somebody had knew about his inner feelings before. Only if somebody tried to help. Only if somebody reached out to him...

I hope the ones who lost their loved ones in this tragedy do not lose hope like he did. It shouldn't spread.

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