Do you think Japan currently has good public order and is a safe and secure country to live in? graph of japanese statisticsA recent Cabinet Office Japan survey into public order, much to my surprise found that the populace no longer pinned the blame for Japan’s ills on foreigners, even when compared to the same survey three and six years ago.

Demographics

Between the 5th and 15th of July 2012 3,000 randomly-selected Japanese citizens were selected from resident rolls and approached for face-to-face interviews. 1,956 people agreed to take part, but a further demographic breakdown was not provided.

I’m not really sure why the figures for fear of foreigners have changes so dramatically for the better in the last six years, and I’m not sure how I would go about finding out the reason behind it. However, it does also seem clear that the new bogeyman is Reefer Madness, especially as round about the time of the survey there was no end of stories about a current social problem of legal highs, dubious cannabinoid derivatives sold as incence in a multitude of shops in Japan’s big cities.

Research results

Q1: Do you think Japan currently has good public order and is a safe and secure country to live in? (Sample size=1,956)

Think so 14.7%
Somewhat think so 45.0%
Don’t really think so 25.4%
Don’t think so 14.0%
Don’t know 0.9%

Q2: Within the last 10 years do you think that public safety in Japan has improved or got worse? (Sample size=1,956)

Become better 2.5%
Become somewhat better 13.3%
Become somewhat worse (to SQ) 52.6%
Become worse (to SQ) 28.6%
Don’t know 3.1

Q2SQ: What do you think are the causes of worsening public order? (Sample size=1,587, mutliple answer)

Sense of local solidarity has weakened 54.9%
Economic outlook has worsened 47.4%
Various information that people can easily get their hands on has flooded in 44.7%
Child and youth education is insufficient 43.8%
Citizens’ respect for social norms has weakened 42.8%
Punishment for crimes is light 29.1%
Crime by foreigners in Japan has increased 28.2%
Few uniformed officers in police boxes (koban), on patrol, etc 17.6%
Police crackdowns have been insufficient 17.3%
Organised crime (yakusa, etc) has increased 13.5%
Other 2.1%
Don’t know 0.7%

Q3: At which locations do you worry that you or those close to you might fall victim to crime? (Sample size=1,956, multiple answer)

Shopping districts 53.7%
On the street 53.6%
Cyberspace 41.9%
Public parks 36.6%
Car, bicycle parks 27.0%
Railway stations 26.8%
In trains, aircraft or other transport 25.2%
Lifts 23.0%
At home 13.0%
Other 0.4%
Nowhere in particular 6.0%
Don’t know 0.7%

Q4: What sorts of crime do you worry that you or those close to you might fall victim to? (Sample size=1,956, multiple answer)

Housebreaking 51.1%
Pick-pockets, purse snatchers 49.4%
Violent assault 45.3%
Drunk-driving traffic accidents, hit-and-runs and other traffic dangers 45.1%
Fraudulent sales or money-forwarding schemes 43.4%
Internet crime 42.3%
Theft of or from motor vehicles 39.7%
Abduction of children, etc 31.3%
Groping or other sexual assault 31.3%
Murder, violent robbers 31.2%
Stalking 24.8%
Drug sales, drug abuse, drug-fuelled crime 21.9%
Bosozoku bike gang dangerous riding, noise pollution, etc 18.6%
Loan-sharking 16.1%
Other 0.4%
None in particular 4,3%
Don’t know 0.6%

Q5: To what kinds of individuals or organisations do you worry that you or those close to you might fall victim to? (Sample size=1,956, multiple answer)

Emotionally unstable or random slashers, etc 61.0%
Habitual criminals; thieves, etc 42.6%
Bosozoku or juvenile delinquent gangs 34.6%
Yakusa and other organised crime 33.3%
Drug dealers or users 27.7%
Foreign crime gangs and illegal immigrants 25.5%
International terrorist organisations or international terrorists 9.9%
Other 0.3%
None in particular 10.2%
Don’t know 2.0%

Q6: What sorts of crimes should the police focus their effort upon? (Sample size=1,956, multiple answer)

Drunk-driving traffic accidents, hit-and-runs and other dangerous driving 54.3%
Murders, violent robbery 50.1%
Violent assaults 47.3%
Abduction of children, etc 44.3%
Fraudulent sales or money-forwarding schemes 43.2%
Housebreaking 42.9%
Drug pushing, drug abuse 40.2%
Internet crime 35.1%
Pick-pockets, purse snatchers 34.5%
Theft of or from motor vehicles 31.3%
Groping or other sexual assaults 35.7%
Stalking 32.2%
Bosozoku bike gangs’ dangerous riding, noise pollution, etc 31.7%
Loan-sharking 22.9%
Other 1.0%
None in particular 2.8%
Don’t know 0.5%

3 Comments

Caro · August 30, 2012 at 14:53

Seems to me that the questions are different enough that you can’t really conclude that concern about foreigner crime is decreasing. The newer polling question asks people about a RISE in crime (whereas the first just asked about crime that ought to be addressed/investigated). Given that ~30% of people who feel crime is on the rise attribute it (at least in part) to foreign crime – and that works out to about 23% of all poll respondents – it’s still a rather grim statement about attitudes towards foreigners.

Caro · August 30, 2012 at 14:54

Seems to me that the questions are different enough that you can’t really conclude that concern about foreigner crime is decreasing. The newer polling question asks people about a RISE in crime (whereas the first just asked about crime that ought to be addressed/investigated). Given that ~30% of people who feel crime is on the rise attribute it (at least in part) to foreign crime – and that works out to about 23% of all poll respondents – it’s still a rather grim statement about attitudes towards foreigners.

bingobangoboy · August 30, 2012 at 16:07

Seems like a pretty encouraging set of polls to me.
First of all, people *always* think that crime is on the rise, even if it’s actually in significant decline (as it is in present-day Japan), which will always inflate figures somewhat.
Secondly, simply offering the choice and allowing multiple selections is going to produce affirmative answers, especially given the fact that the people answering S2SQ (“What do you think are the causes of worsening public order?”) have already answered that they agree with the premise of the question (crime is rising). Foreigners/immigrants were the second-lowest target of blame in that question, which suggests that far fewer respondents would think to offer that answer unprompted.
It’s still appropriate to speak out against the tendency to attribute crime to foreigners, but realistically, I doubt you could find more foreigner-friendly answers to this poll in (Western country of your choice).
Anyway, the encouraging points, from my point of view:
– awareness of broader issues (economy, loss of “local solidarity”, education) as a possible factor in crime, as opposed to reactionary or fictional partisan gripes.
– “emotionally unstable / random slashers, etc” and habitual petty criminals a much greater risk than international terrorist groups, which are quite reasonably placed at the back of the pack — hallelujah!
– “Drunk-driving traffic accidents, hit-and-runs and other dangerous driving” should be #1 focus of police efforts. I can’t be the only one who agrees law enforcement should be stricter in this area. Psychologically speaking, I would expect a tendency to favour more violent but infrequent crimes (murder, etc) over this, so I’m happily surprised that most Japanese seem to agree with me.

So in summary, while I don’t want to excuse any prejudicial view of foreigners, these polls seem to show a remarkably sane view of crime that I can only dream of seeing in my own home country.

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