Japan Today



Crime expert: Wrongdoings are a local thing


One corollary to Alexander Pope's observation that "The proper study of mankind is man" might go, "The proper study of Nipponjin is 'Wareware Nipponjin' (we Japanese)." This self-reflection often takes the form of "kenmin-sei" -- comparisons of attributes said particular to the inhabitants of the nation's 47 prefectures.

Shukan Post (June 10) invited Rissho University criminology professor Nobuo Komiya to present his views on characteristics of his compatriots as they relate to crime.

The first thing that stands out statistically is that that crime rates are unmistakably higher in cities than in rural areas.

According to National Police Agency statistics, for the ratio of violations of the criminal code per 100,000 population (year not mentioned), Japan's lowest prefecture was Akita -- at just 104.2. This was followed by Iwate with 129.7 and Yamagata 145.0.

At the opposite end, the three prefectures with the highest of numbers of violations of the code were Osaka, with 542.2 per 100,000, Aichi with 503.4 and Kyoto with 478.1.

What is Komiya's explanation as to why Kyoto, with 478.1, is higher than the considerably larger Tokyo, with 437.5 incidents per 100,000?

"It's a matter of the way the towns are laid out," remarks Komiya. "Criminals favor places that are easy to gain entry, and difficult to be spotted by someone. The gridwork of small streets and alleys in Osaka and Kyoto make it easier for criminals to approach a target, and easier to make a getaway.

"In Osaka, for instance, fewer roads have guard rails, so it is easier for a vehicle to pull up alongside a female pedestrian and snatch a handbag. In Kyoto's case, meanwhile, because of its placing importance on its historic image, streets tend to be dimmer at night. And Aichi, being the center of the auto industry, has the highest rates of auto thefts, many of which are shipped overseas."

Another factor that may affect the differences in crime rates is Japan's geography, which extends from north to south, creating wider climactic variations.

"During the winter, crimes in Tohoku tend to decline," says Komiya. "Due to the heavy snowfalls, people tend to stay indoors, giving criminals fewer opportunities to operate. Further south, the hours of daylight are longer in winter and temperatures higher, which enables more people over a wider age span to engage in activities until late at night."

That aside, Komiya rejects sweeping generalizations, particularly regarding violent felonies. "You can't just say one prefecture stands out with more homicides and another has lots of occurrences of arson," he asserts. "But I do think more importance will be attached to creation of neighborhoods that discourage crime, based on the 'theory of opportunistic crime.'"

The 15-page article goes on to cover the most notorious crimes and criminals in each of 47 prefectures. For Okayama, for example, the most infamous malefactor was Mutsuo Toi, an alienated 22-year-old TB sufferer who, unable to bear being ostracized by his neighbors went on a nocturnal rampage in Kamo, a hamlet since incorporated into Tsuyama City, on May 21, 1938. Using a shotgun and sword, he killed 30 people (including himself), establishing his reputation as Japan's biggest civilian mass murder.

Shukan Post credits an American serviceman on Okinawa with introducing the "streaking" fad to Japan, on March 11, 1974. The same day, seven American male and female students engaged in an undraped dash on the campus of Kubasaki high school in Zukeran. The streak struck the main islands only a day later, when a man bared his all on a shopping street in Hiroshima. Alas his name is unknown because he successfully eluded pursuing officers. On March 15, another incident occurred in Roppongi, and two days later a 17-year-old American female dashed down Ginza's Chuo Dori in the buff. Within one month, 25 streaking incidents were reported in 10 prefectures, with 17 arrests for public indecency.

Tohoku and Hokkaido, where March temperatures still hovered around zero degrees Celsius, appear to have been spared this particular crime wave.

© Japan Today

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And Aichi, being the center of the auto industry, has the highest rates of auto thefts, many of which are shipped overseas.

Sounds a bit fishy, stolen cars need to be replaced, but oh, who will replace my stolen car?

Why Japan's automakers of course!

Aichi police - Keep an eye on the bosses of the likes of Toyota et al; sounds like their trying to stimulate demand.

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managed to crowbar the foreign element in

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managed to crowbar the foreign element in

If the account is true, what's the problem? Anyway streakers on US military bases would not be prosecutable by the Japanese authorities under the terms of the US-Japan Security Treaty.

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Yet another empty article with quotes from yet another lightweight Japanese "professor" penned by yet another clueless Japanese "journalist" whose grasp of the obvious is beyond reproach.

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Agree with ben4short.

Article only recites common knowledge.

Of course there is more car-theft in towns where there are more Cars. Doh'. Ditto for other points.

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I am going to make a copy of this posting and send it to my mother. She will be amazed at the kinds of articles we have presented to us to read. I am learning so much.

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I say, let the streakers streak! The females that is. Males, keep the mouse in the house.

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I guess I have to agree with ninjastar, it would be nice to see more wild native women and non native just run up and down the streets of Tokyo, Osaka etc..bare naked ladies?? Like the rock band but all over Japan.

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Hate to be a killjoy, but if streaking became legal and women started doing it regularly, it would lose its titilation-factor. You'd start paying attention to the details... "Ew! How can she have that much cellulite at such a young age!"


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”a man bared his all on a shopping street in Hiroshima. Alas his name is unknown because he successfully eluded pursing officers"

I would have loved to have watched that, ha ha!

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he successfully eluded pursuing officers

I would have been surprised if he hadn't.

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