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Japan’s crime rate hits record low amid plunge in thefts

  • January 18, 2018
  • , Kyodo News , 2:58 p.m.
  • English Press

TOKYO — The number of recorded crimes in Japan continued to fall in 2017, hitting a record low of 915,111 on the back of a sharp drop in thefts, preliminary police data showed Thursday.


The overall number of cases has consistently declined in Japan after hitting a peak of 2.85 million in 2002, with the government stepping up efforts to tackle crime by boosting police numbers and widening the use of security cameras.


In 2016, the figure dropped below the 1 million mark for the first time since the end of World War II to 996,120.


But fraud committed via messages sent through social networking sites and other internet services has been trending upwards, with the police seeing 5,756 crimes last year, a 3.8-fold jump since 2013.


Kidnapping and human trafficking also increased, with the annual number rising 11 cases to 239 in 2017, a 1.3-fold climb since 2013. The majority of victims were young girls, with 50 cases involving elementary school pupils, 40 cases junior high school students and 42 cases senior high school students.


The data suggests the focus of organized crime groups may be shifting to cyber crime and types of fraud that randomly target people via phones and e-mails, an official of the National Police Agency said.


The overall number of serious crimes, such as murder and robbery, stood at 10,889 in 2017, down 657 cases from the previous year.


By type of crime, the number of larceny cases decreased 67,607 to 655,541, down 33.2 percent compared with 2013, with bicycle thefts falling nearly 30,000 cases from 2016 to 205,392.


The number of indecent assaults and robberies fell by 380 and 480 cases since the previous year, respectively, to 5,808 and 1,852 cases, while there were 920 murder cases and 959 involving arson. Compared with 2013, the figure for robberies was down 44.3 percent.


After the definition of rape was broadened under the revised Penal Code last July to include male victims, the number of cases rose 122 from the previous year to 1,111.


Given the rise in online fraud cases, the agency warned the public against communicating through tools that do not involve face-to-face contact.


In relation to billing fraud, the agency said many victims were duped into covering fake charges through prepaid electronic money cards that can be purchased at convenience stores.

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