The situation with crime in Japan was facing a crisis as the number of reported cases for non-traffic penal code offenses reached being the largest since WWII in 2002. The united efforts of the public and the government have resulted in improving the situation, however, with a halt having been put to the growing crime problem.

However, public safety will remain difficult to stay forward, with social unrest over public safety also having not been improved upon due to the occurrence of serious offenses such as homicide, robbery, and rape, etc., all of which have a serious impact on the public. The number of reported cases involving serious offences has been on a decreasing trend from around 2003, but it has not actually decreased over the last 20 years. That for robbery, in particular, remains at the high level of approximately three times of that in the early 1990s. Responding to serious offenses is therefore an extremely important issue to solve in maintaining public safety and securing peaceful living of the public.

The Ministry of Justice has been implementing various measures in preventing offenders from repeating offenses, including the development of treatment methods that utilize specialized knowledge and enhanced support for their reintegration back into society. Measures against crime, including facilitating the reformation/rehabilitation of serious offenders that have various problems which are rooted in their dispositions, however, require the actual situation and cause of offenses be first identified. In addition, the Saiban-in Lay Judge System commenced in May 2009, with serious offenders now receiving punishments that reflect the good sense of the public through them participating in criminal trials. In determining punishment the actual situation with the occurrence of offenses and the actual conditions of the correction/probation of offenders also have to be taken into consideration. The necessity of criminal policies being explained and disseminated is therefore also becoming more important nowadays.

Because of this point of view this edition of the White Paper on Crime provides an overview of recent trends in crime and the actual situation with the treatment of offenders, mainly with regard to 2009, and features an article entitled the “Actual Situation and Treatment concerning Serious Offenders.” This featured article examines various statistical data, etc. in detail and analyzes the actual situation with the occurrence of serious offenses, the actual conditions of their treatment, and their repeat offense status, etc. through conducting special research on offenders imprisoned for serious offenses and then released. In addition, it presents the characteristics of treatment of serious offenders currently being implemented and discusses the prospects of improving measures in responding to serious offenses in the future.

It is our hope that this White Paper on Crime will help deepen people's understanding of criminal policies, including the actual conditions of treatment of offenders, including serious offenders, and that it will thus contribute to the implementation of various measures, including improving the treatment of serious offenders.

Lastly, we wish to express our sincere gratitude to the General Secretariat of the Supreme Court of Japan, the Cabinet Office, National Police Agency, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, and other concerned institutions for their enormous cooperation in compiling this White Paper.

October, 2011

Osamu Shimizu

Research and Training Institute
Ministry of Justice