In an article titled “Free to transfer 2,000 yen a month without limit, the reason crime by foreigners doesn’t decline,” Shukan Jitsuwa (Sept 11) looks into crimes by foreigners.
It particularly focuses on crimes by Chinese who, it’s been recently reported, have devised a new way to defraud middle-aged and elderly Japanese, utilizing cell phones while calling long-distance from China in a creative variation of the “it’s me, send money” scam.
The magazine offers an interesting comparison. In 2004, 610,000 Chinese nationals entered Japan. The number prosecuted for thefts and other crimes that year reached 8,691. The same year, 1.08 million holders of passports issued by the Republic of China (Taiwan) entered Japan. Of these, 58 ran afoul of the law, making the arrest/prosecution rate for citizens of China roughly 266 higher than those of Taiwan.
What’s the explanation for such a huge difference? “It’s because of poverty,” an unnamed newspaper reporter is quoted as saying. “By hosting the Olympics, China was supposed to be flaunting its national power. But the affluent account for just a handful and an overwhelming majority of Chinese are gasping with poverty. The authorities even boarded up impoverished neighborhoods along the route of the Marathon race to conceal them from the foreign media. There’s no mistake that China is now facing a serious economic recession.”
Another factor encouraging crimes by Chinese, the article suggests, is Japan’s hospitable penal system, which may be failing to deter crimes by foreigners.
“Those convicted of crimes are required to work, but they receive a stipend of 2,000 yen a month, paid upon their release,” says a writer familiar with the Japanese penal system. “That’s 24,000 yen a year, not even enough to pay for one month’s rent in Japan. But 24,000 yen is equivalent to a month’s wages in mainland China.”
Japanese taxpayers are not only paying to feed and house the foreign criminals, but as an added extra, are even paying them wages for the work they perform in prison. In most countries, the article asserts, this would be unthinkable. Just another way foreign criminals take advantage of the system.
Hearsay even has it that prison inmates from Western countries are served steak on occasion.
“Japanese inmates receive ‘mugi-meshi’ (an unappetizing but nutritious boiled rice-barley mixture) as the staple food. Westerners get meat and bread. That’s awfully accommodating,” the writer remarks.
It would seem that Japan’s penal institutions may be a bit too hospitable to foreign lawbreakers. Shukan Jitsuwa, nevertheless, leaves this matter to readers to ponder without suggesting any draconian measures.© Japan Today