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In terms of crime statistics, Japan has traditionally been a safe place compared with foreign countries. However, the number of reported offenses has dramatically increased in recent years, and there has been growing concern about deterioration in public security.
Whether public security is good or bad is determined by how Japanese people feel. On the premise of such determination, however, it is necessary to objectively analyze the circumstances of crime in Japan both in terms of the quantity and quality of offenses and make calm judgments based on such analysis.
The 2001 White Paper on Crime provides an overview of recent crime trends, and the actual condition of the treatment of offenders, mainly for 2000. It also includes a featured segment entitled "Increasing Offenses and Offenders" and analysis and review of characteristics of offenses and offenders. Such analysis and review reveal the following facts: (1) the number of reported penal code offenses has been increasing with accelerating speed since 1995, and it renewed its pastwar high in 2000; (2) larceny offenses and traffic offenses have increased significantly; (3) the number of juveniles cleared still remained at a high level, despite a slight decrease; (4) there was a remarkable increase in the number of larceny offenses, using violent means such as snatching, theft from unoccupied property by professional offenders, and larceny with an accomplice; (5) there was also a significant increase in the number of general penal code offenses except for larceny, including robbery, bodily injury, indecent assault and destruction of objects, all of which were of violent nature; (6) drug offenses were evident on a larger scale and in a more organized manner; (7) despite the decrease in the total number of offenses committed by foreign nationals, the number of heinous offenses committed by foreign nationals such as robbery and drug offenses has not decreased, and the number of new foreign inmates has increased for four consecutive years ; (8) despite the increase in the number of cases cleared, the total clearance rate registered a postwar low of 42.7% while the clearance rate for larceny did not reach 20%; and (9) the rate of imprisonment (the rate of actual inmates to imprisonment capacity) exceeded 100%, which showed that Japan has entered an age of excess population in penal institutions.
It would be a great pleasure for me if such analysis and review made some contribution to taking effective and appropriate measures in the criminal policy concerning the prevention of offenses and the treatment of offenders.
Though we have made the utmost efforts to write this paper in such a way that it is easily readable and understandable, it may not be perfect in many points. We intend to further improve in this area in the future, by taking on board the complaints and suggestions of readers.
Last but not the least, I would like to express my gratitude to the General Secretariat of the Supreme Court, the National Police Agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, and other related agencies for their substantial cooperation in preparing this paper.
SAKAI Ichiro PresidentResearch and Training Institute Ministry of Justice Japan
This White Paper was undertaken during Mr. Ichiro Sakai's presidency at the Research and Training Institute of the Ministry of Justice, Japan, and thereafter, Mr. Sakai has been promoted to Superintending Prosecutor of the Hiroshima High Public Prosecutors Office. Mr. Rokuro Tsuruta is the current Institute's President.
TSURUTA Rokuro PresidentResearch and Training Institute Ministry of Justice Japan