Japan last for police trust and legitimacy


Central Research Services Inc recently published a survey looking at victims of crime, etc in Japan, and comparing it with similar surveys from Europe.


In 2011 2,000 people over the age of 15 were randomly selected from resident registers to take part in the survey. At the end of May all bar those from two sampling points in Tohoku that were affected by the earthquake were interviewed face-to-face, and the remaining people were interviewed at the end of July. In total 1,251 responded to the questionnaire, with 50.5% of the sample female and 49.5% male. The age breakdown was not given.

These are really very surprising figures for me! I didn’t expect Japan to be so low on police legitimacy, for one thing. Recently there has been a spate of reports of police uselessness when responding to crimes, miscarriages of justice, etc which would have influenced public distrust of the overall criminal justice system, but questions on direct interactions with the system would suggest that even the average bobby on the beat is a bit bent.

Note that the European data was taken from European Social Survey, 2009, “Trust in Justice: European Social Survey”.

Research results

Q1: Which of the following crimes have you been a victim of within the past five years? (Sample size=1,251 in 2011, multiple answer)

Theft of car1.4%0.7%
Theft from car6.5%3.2%
Damage to car18.9%9.4%
Theft of motorcycle, scooter, etc11.3%4.1%
Theft of bicycle25.9%19.0%
Tresspassing, illegal entry5.5%3.2%
Theft from person (pickpocket, etc)3.6%5.0%

Note that vehicular theft is from family-use vehicles, not company cars, etc. For bicycle and motorbike theft, they are based on the percentage of households owning such vehicles. That implies car crime is weighted by ownership too, but no such statement is made.

Next was a table describing the results of the question “The last time you were stopped by police, how dissatisfied or satisfied were you with the interaction?”, comparing Japan with various European countries. The data did not have exact numbers, so I will have to estimate the figures. The countries were ordered by those with the highest number of “Totally satisfied” responses to the question. Note that there were five available ratings, “Totally dissatisfied”, “Dissatisfied”, “Cannot say either way”, Satisfied, and “Totally satisfied”.

First was Denmark, with just over 20% dissatisfied to some extent, almost 35% satisfied, and just under 40% totally satisfied. Sweden came next, with 80% with some degree of satisfaction, then Finland with very similar numbers. UK and Norway both had about 35% totally satisfied and just over 30% satisfied. Germany had 40% satisfied and just over 20% totally satisfied, France had 40% satisfied then just under 20% totally satisfied, and Russia had about 35% dissatisfied to some extent versus just under 40% satisfied to some extend.

However, dead last was Japan. 20% were totally dissatisfied (the highest percentage), another 25% dissatisfied (again the largest figure), only 10% were satisfied, and 5% or less totally satisfied, the lowest figures for all the countries surveyed.

The next table looked at the legitimacy of the criminal justice system, asking “Even if you don’t understand the reason or agree with the reason, what degree of obligation do you have to follow what the police say?” The answer was a score between 0 (no obligation) and 10 (have an obligation), and the ranking order was roughly the same as for the previous question. Denmark scored 7.98 points, followed by the other Scandanavian countries. Japan came last again, with an average of just 3.64 point on the legitimacy scale, nearly one whole point behind Russia.

Next was cooperation with the justice system, asking “To what extent would you actively cooperate with detecting a particular criminal?” Four answers were possible, “Definitely not cooperate”, “Would prefer not to cooperate”, “Would want to cooperate”, and “Would actively cooperate”. Ordered by active cooperation, Germans were first with 70% actively cooperating and another 25% or more cooperating to some extent. France and Norway had just under 60% of active cooperation, followed closely by Denmark, the UK. and Sweden. Finland had about 50% of active cooperation, then Japan with just 30% actively cooperating and 60% passively cooperating. This time Russia came last, with just under 30% actively and 45% passively cooperating.

The last international comparision looked at compliance with the law. Here the question was “In the last five years, when making an insurance claim, how many times have you fiddled the figures or otherwise lied?” Everyone was more honest than I expected, and this time Japan came tops, with 99% never having lied on their insurance forms. In the UK over 98.5% had not, Norway, Sweeded and Finland were around 98%, then France, Germant, Denmark and finally Russia, with just under 96% never having filed a false claim in the last five years. No country reported more than 1% having made multiple false claims.

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  1. January 16, 2012 @ 02:01

    […] Japan last for police trust and legitimacy: A recent poll showed that Japan ranks dead last in the world for its trust and respect of police officers; it’s unclear if those polled were also 2channel users. [via What Japan Thinks] […]