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2009年11月20日 (金)

社説:犯罪白書 「規範意識」が低下した

(Mainichi Japan) November 19, 2009
社説:犯罪白書 「規範意識」が低下した

Crime report suggests people's law-abiding spirit has declined
A knifing rampage, in which a man rammed a truck into a crowded intersection in Tokyo's Akihabara district in June last year and then stabbed pedestrians, leaving seven people dead and 10 injured, is still fresh in people's memories.

The government's while (white?) paper on crime released recently, which details the trends of crimes in 2008, shows that there were 14 cases of random attacks, including the Akihabara incident. The figure is far above the three cases in 2004, six in 2005, four in 2006, and eight in 2007.

In a related development, the National Police Agency (NPA) has reported that the number of cases of robbery, business break-ins and bag-snatching has been growing since the beginning of this year. NPA officials believe that this trend is attributable partly to the economic downturn and the worsening of the employment situation following the collapse of U.S. financial giant Lehman Brothers in September last year.

When asked about the motives for his crime, the defendant in the Akihabara case remarked, "I was sick and tired of living." He had moved from area to area as a temporary worker. His remark illustrates the tough social situation of today, in which the economic downturn has triggered heinous crimes.

The arrest rate shown by the white paper has raised some concerns. During the post-war period of the Showa Era, the arrest rate, excluding that for traffic accidents, had stood above 50 percent. It had declined to 19.8 percent by 2001, but turned upward to reach 31.8 percent in 2007. However, it fell 0.2 of a point last year to 31.6 percent.

Tatsuya Ichihashi, who had been wanted by police in connection with the slaying of a British English teacher, was recently arrested after spending two years and seven months as a fugitive. Information provided by a cosmetic clinic that conducted plastic surgery on him led to his arrest. This has raised questions primarily about the police's investigation abilities, but also demonstrated that it is difficult for the police alone to raise the arrest rate and maintain law and order as crimes have diversified.

Police are required to rely on citizens to a certain extent in their efforts to maintain law and order and apprehend crime suspects.

In a speech at the Japan National Press Club on Nov. 6, NPA Commissioner General Takaharu Ando expressed concern that a decline in the public's law-abiding spirit and loosening social bonds has contributed to the increase in crimes. "It appears that Japanese people's high law-abiding spirit and social bonds such as those in schools and regional communities, which had supported the country's high standards of public order, are declining."
In his speech, the police chief lamented the decline in law-abiding spirit particularly among teenagers and their parents, citing examples he heard from officers across the country.

Many teenagers caught shoplifting say, "Others do the same thing. What's wrong?" Many of them are isolated in their families and at school and some of them do not even know the age and occupation of their parents or their own address.

Some parents of shoplifting minors complain to shops that reported the incidents to police saying, "It would have been all right if I had paid for it. Why did you alert the police?"

These examples show parents bear responsibility for the decline in law-abiding spirit among youths. This reminds us of the need for further education on crime-prevention.

Anybody who commits a crime is subject to punishment. Those who commit theft could face up to 10 years in prison. Moreover, questions remain as to how citizens can protect themselves from falling victim to crimes. Police are cooperating with some schools to provide crime-prevention education, but recent crime trends underline the need to step up efforts.

毎日新聞 2009年11月19日 東京朝刊


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