Crime in Japan

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Crime in Japan is lower than in all other industrialized countries[citation needed].



The yakuza existed in Japan well before the 1800s and followed codes similar to the bushido of the samurai. Their early operations were usually close-knit, and the leader and gang members had father-son relationships. Although this traditional arrangement continues to exist, yakuza activities are increasingly replaced by modern types of gangs that depend on force and money as organizing concepts. Nonetheless, yakuza often picture themselves as saviors of traditional Japanese virtues in a postwar society, sometimes forming ties with right-wing groups espousing the same views and attracting dissatisfied youths to their ranks.

Yakuza groups in 1990 were estimated to number more than 3,300 and together contained more than 88,000 members. Although concentrated in the largest urban prefectures, yakuza operate in most cities and often receive protection from highranking officials. After concerted police pressure in the 1960s, smaller gangs either disappeared or began to consolidate in syndicate-type organizations. In 1990, three large syndicates (Yamaguchi-gumi, Sumiyoshi-kai, Inagawa-kai) dominated organized crime in the nation and controlled more than 1,600 gangs and 42,000 gangsters. Their number have since swelled and shrunk, often coinciding with economic conditions.

The yakuza tradition also spread to the Okinawa Island in the 20th century. The Kyokuryu-kai and the Okinawa Kyokuryu-kai are the two largest known yakuza groups in Okinawa Prefecture and both have been registered as designated boryokudan groups under the Organized Crime Countermeasures Law since 1992.[1]


In 1990 the police identified over 2.2 million Penal Code violations. Two types of violations — larceny (65.1 percent of total violation) and negligent homicide or injury as a result of accidents (26.2%) — accounted for over 90 percent of criminal offenses.[2] In 1989 Japan experienced 1.3 robberies and 1.1 murders per 100,000 population.[3] Japanese authorities also solve 75.9% of robbery cases and 95.9% of homicide cases.[3]

In recent years, the number of crimes in Japan has decreased. In 2002, the number of crimes recorded was 2,853,739. This number halved by 2012 with 1,382,154 crimes being recorded. In 2013, the overall crime rate in Japan fell for the 11th straight year and the number of murders and attempted murders also fell to a postwar low.[4][5]

Legal deterrents[edit]

Ownership of handguns is forbidden to the public, hunting rifles and ceremonial swords are registered with the police, and the manufacture and sale of firearms are regulated. The production and sale of live and blank ammunition are also controlled, as are the transportation and importation of all weapons. Crimes are seldom committed with firearms, yet knives remain a problem that the government is looking into, especially after the Akihabara massacre.


Of particular concern to the police are crimes associated with modernization. Increased wealth and technological sophistication has brought new white collar crimes, such as computer and credit card fraud, larceny involving coin dispensers, and insurance fraud. Incidence of drug abuse is minuscule, compared with other industrialized nations and limited mainly to stimulants. Japanese law enforcement authorities endeavor to control this problem by extensive coordination with international investigative organizations and stringent punishment of Japanese and foreign offenders. Traffic accidents and fatalities consume substantial law enforcement resources. There is also evidence of foreign criminals travelling from overseas to take advantage of Japan's lax security. In his autobiography Undesirables, British criminal Colin Blaney stated that English thieves have targeted the nation due to the low crime rate and because Japanese people are unprepared for crime.[6] Pakistani, Russian, Sri Lankan and Burmese car theft gangs have also been known to target the nation.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Outline of Boryokudan in Okinawa Prefecture", October 2007, Okinawa Prefectural Police (Japanese)
  2. ^ "Comparative Criminology | Asia - Japan | San-Diego University"
  3. ^ a b The Japanese Industrial System (De Gruyter Studies in Organization, 3rd Edition), Page 46
  4. ^ 刑法犯、10年で半減…昨年の認知は138万件. Yomiuri Shimbun (in Japanese). 2013-01-10. Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  5. ^ "Crime rate in Japan falls for the 11th straight year". The Japan Times. Retrieved March 22, 2014. 
  6. ^ Blaney, Colin (2014). Undesirables. John Blake. pp. 76–78. ISBN 978-1782198970. 
  7. ^ "Car Theft Rings Are Hot Stuff in Japan", Los Angeles Times, 22 October 2008 

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