Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 65, “Police ‘foreign crime wave’ falsehoods fuel racism”, July 8, 2013


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Police ‘foreign crime wave’ falsehoods fuel racism
The Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE JUL 8, 2013
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/07/08/issues/police-foreign-crime-wave-falsehoods-fuel-racism/ Version with links to sources.

These Community pages have reported many times on how the National Police Agency (NPA) has manufactured the illusion of a “foreign crime wave,” depicting non-Japanese (NJ) as a threat to Japan’s public safety (see “Upping the fear factor,” Zeit Gist, Feb. 20, 2007; “Time to come clean on foreign crime,” ZG, Oct. 7, 2003; “Foreigner crime stats cover up a real cop-out,” ZG, Oct. 4, 2002, for just a few examples).

A decade ago, the NPA could make a stronger case because NJ crimes were going up. However, as we pointed out then, Japanese crimes were going up too. And, in terms of absolute numbers and proportion of population, NJ crimes were miniscule.

Then bust followed boom. According to the NPA (see www.npa.go.jp/sosikihanzai/kokusaisousa/kokusai/H23_rainichi.pdf, or the images accompanying this article), “foreign crime” has fallen below 1993 levels (see H5 column, representing the year Heisei 5)!


That’s why the NPA has found it increasingly difficult to maintain its claims of a foreign crime wave. So, to keep up appearances, the agency has resorted to statistical jiggery-pokery.

For example, look again at the NPA chart. The time frame has been expanded to 30 years; in previous annual reports, it covered just a decade. By stretching the parameters, the overall chart depicts a comparative rise rather than a small peak before a precipitous drop.

Not accounted for, however, is the fact that the NJ population has also risen — more than doubling since 1993.

Another method of manipulation has been to focus on partial rises in certain types of NJ crime, despite the overall fall. And I bet you can guess which got more media attention.

The most creative NPA rejig is arguing that NJ crime has been “stopped at a high plateau” (takadomari no jōtai) — even if that “plateau” is downward-sloping.

Every NPA argument leads to the same predictable conclusion: Further crackdowns on “foreign crime” are necessary, because NJ are importing criminality into a once-peaceful Japan.


Yet neither the NPA, nor the Japanese media parroting their semiannual reports, have ever compared Japanese and NJ crime, or put them on the same chart for a sense of scale. If they had, they would see something resembling the 3-D graph that accompanies this column (courtesy of Japan Times).


The other chart in Japanese (that can be found at hakusyo1.moj.go.jp/jp/59/nfm/n_59_2_1_1_1_0.html and in the accompanying images) — on whose data the 3-D graphic is based — breaks down all crime committed in “peaceful” postwar Japan. Note the (less-reported) concurrent “Japanese crime wave” (especially the middle, yellow set of bars, which depict thefts alone).


Since the right-hand scale is in tens of thousands, the graph tells us that there was a spike to well over 2.5 million non-traffic crimes in the peak year of 2002, a number that dropped to just over 1.5 million by 2009. Compared to 2009′s total “foreign crimes” of 30,569 (including visa violations, which Japanese cannot by definition commit), there is a difference of about a factor of 49. Thus “foreign crime” would barely even register on the chart.

So how can the NPA still sex up the stats? They found a new way.

In its 2009 white paper, the NPA talked about how “foreign crime gangs” are increasingly moving into Japan and creating “crime infrastructure” (hanzai infura).

It’s still such an obscure term that NPA websites have to define it for the public as “things and organizations that are the basic foundation of crime,” i.e., cellphones under fake names, fake websites, false marriages, false adoptions and fake IDs (see www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/images/h0/h0001_04.gif)

Although this “crime infrastructure” technically assists thieves of any nationality, the NPA’s online explanations focus on non-Japanese, with five out of eight examples offered specifically depicting NJ misdeeds (complete, of course, with racist caricatures, at www.pref.ibaraki.jp/kenkei/a01_safety/security/infra.html)

You see this “criminal NJ” narrative again and again on NPA posters, such at the one reproduced here (www.debito.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/bouhaninfurabokumetsutaisakuJune2013.jpg), found at an immigration bureau last March, warning potential NJ miscreants against “forgery,” “bogus marriage,” “false affiliation” (i.e., claiming paternity on a foreign child to get it Japanese citizenship) and “false adoption.”

Note at the bottom, where the NPA has secured a special goro awase mnemonic phone number (hanzai infura nakuse — “get rid of crime infrastructure”) to help Japanese remember it better.

Clearly this “crime infra” campaign is not bowing out anytime soon. In fact, the NPA is now citing it to discount the drop in foreign crime! As their 2010 white paper reports, “the extent of how much crime has become globalized cannot be grasped through statistics” (Kyodo News and Mainichi Shimbun, July 23, 2010).

Seriously? So, suddenly, despite all the Nihonjinron mythologies, NJ are now supposedly more likely than Japanese to act in groups?

Swallow this, as well as the argument that foreigners are somehow more “invisible” in Japan (of all places), and voila, the only conclusion you can possibly draw is that all “foreign crime” statistics come from a little black box that only the NPA has access to.

Look, this is getting silly. You can’t ask for a more docile foreign population than Japan’s.

Almost all NJ do their work (no matter how unequal salaries and benefits are compared to those of Japanese), pay their taxes and try to get along without committing any crimes. NJ don’t even cause trouble by clumping into huge ghettos or keeping a high profile (a recent government poll indicated that 46 percent of Japanese surveyed didn’t even know nikkei South Americans are living in Japan!). Nor do they riot every now and again about how horrendously they get exploited; they just hang on by their fingernails hoping for a fair shake in society — one that rarely comes, as protection from discrimination is far from guaranteed by enforceable laws.

That should be enough hardship to contend with, but then in pounces the NPA to make things worse, picking on the weakest members of Japanese society (as it has done for decades, according to scholar Wolfgang Herbert’s “Foreign Workers and Law Enforcement in Japan”) to justify bogus budgets for fighting exaggerated NJ crime.

Of course, foreigners are a soft target anywhere (by definition, they do not have rights equal to citizens in any country), but in Japan they are so disenfranchised that if anyone points a finger at them, there is no way for them to point back.

NPA excesses have gone on long enough to encourage other bullies. We’ve seen a recent spike in the activity of Japan’s hate groups, most famously the “kill all Koreans” march through Tokyo on Feb. 9. Now how about these anonymous posters making the rounds?

One (reproduced in the images accompanying this column) warns of the allegedly “rapid rise” in fake international marriages for illegal overstayers and workers. Another one calls for kicking out foreign crime (murder, mugging, arson, rape and theft, totaling 25,730 cases — again, a drop in the bucket of Japanese crime).

So, the threat to public safety isn’t “crime infrastructure”; it is in fact the “propaganda infrastructure,” reinforced by false NPA arguments, that normalizes public displays of xenophobia and hatred in Japan.

One measure of a society is how it treats its weakest members. Japan’s systemic and unchecked bullying of NJ is going to hurt others, as emboldened haters eventually turn their attention to other weak social minorities.

Message to government: Rein in the NPA, and stop them constantly bashing Japan’s foreign residents. Expose their statistical hogwash for what it is, and redirect budgets to fight crime in general, not “foreign crime” specifically.

Debito Arudou’s updated “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” is now available as a downloadable e-book on Amazon. See www.debito.org/handbook.html . Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community pages of the month. Send comments and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp .

20 comments on “Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 65, “Police ‘foreign crime wave’ falsehoods fuel racism”, July 8, 2013

  • For all of Debito’s detractors, there is an interesting first hand account (with pictures) of the treatment of a foreign resident with a baby at the hands of the Japanese police, which has been posted on “The Japan Rants” blog. This is hardly a professional way for the Japanese police to conduct themselves. The blog entry can be found in its entirety along with pictures of the Japanese police in action at this link: http://www.thejapanrants.com/blog/

    I have copied extracts below:
    What I saw today is one of the most unbelievable and atrocious things I have ever seen in my life. It disgusted me to the core, and showed me a side of Japan even darker than I had seen up until now. It showed me just how far the Abusive Japanese police will go to prove their point.
    The man in the picture on the right started telling the man go back to his own country.
    He repeatedly told the Indian man, “You are not Japanese, so you don’t matter. Go back to your own country”
    I hadn’t noticed until this moment, but the (Indian) man had tears running down his face.
    He was not aggressive or loud at this point, but he was clearly determined to make these officers understand.

    As he persisted with his message, the unbelievable happened. Even though he was standing with a baby in his arms, the Japanese police officer on the left (above) used the flotation device in his arm to very aggressively shove the Indian gentleman. But unfortunately he didn’t just shove the man, the flotation device came in direct contact with the baby, and shoved both of them.

    It was at this point that the Indian gentleman went to shove the officer on the left back, but was grabbed by the officer on the right who told him “if you touch either of us, I will arrest you. Then it’s over for you”

    The man stopped in his tracks. Defeated by his dirty foe.
    I watched in disgust and snapped as many pictures of these two trash bag cops as I could.
    For the sake of everyone’s reference, here is a more clear shot of the violent cop

  • Great article.
    What we need to make now is a chart showing “Percent of NonJapaneseNationals convicted in Japan annually vs. Percent of JapaneseNationals convicted in Japan annually” with visa violations subtracted, of course.

    If I recall correctly, about 1 out of 100,000 (0.001%) NonJapaneseNationals are convicted in Japan annually vs. about 3 out of 100,000 (0.003%) JapaneseNationals are convicted in Japan annually.

    A powerful chart illustrating this fact (that JapaneseNationals in Japan commit THREE TIMES more crimes, person for person, when compared with NonJapaneseNationals in Japan) with the figures coming directly from the NPA would be powerful undeniable proof of what your article is pointing towards.

    Again, wonderful article. I hope a Debito reader will eventually produce the percentage chart described above. I look forward to framing it and putting it up on my wall as a nice conversation piece.

  • Debito, as always, a cogent, rational, unemotional, factual and common-sense exposé. Which is exactly why the powers that be will ignore it, and continue to head at full speed off their socially mis-engineered cliff anyway.

    I will be in Switzerland next week on business. I am going to assemble a short letter, referencing this post, and drop it off at Jacques Rogge’s office at IOC HQ in Lausanne. My take is that this booga-booga ‘gaijin-hanzai’ drive is one step away from the beginnings of a Srebrenica and ‘israeli’-style ethnic cleansing. (Wouldn’t take much to ignite.) This in a country which is hoping to welcome the entire multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multilingual world to an Olympiad in 2020. (They’d only be welcome as long as they depart right after the games, and they could be separated from their money while in country.)

    If the self-appointed militarist, apartheid-leaning, harumphing Oyajis, claiming racial superiority over everyone else want to behave like this, then the entire world should know about it up front. Nothing like the disinfection of bright sunlight to expose and clarify their true position, eh?

    For those wanting to write the IOC, you can find their contact info here: http://www.olympic.org/about-ioc-institution right side of the page under ‘Identity Card’ I suggest that folks write members of the Olympic Committees from their country of origin too. See ‘National Olympic Committees’

    One person, YOU, can make a huge difference! Can’t leave it ALL to Debito, can we?

  • #1 JS – excellent post.

    #2 AM – what is needed is a category by category comparison of “foreign crime” vs. Japanese crime. Why? Most Japanese people consider overstaying your visa to be a crime. Therefore, compare murder to murder, rape to rape, etc., and keep visa crime separate. Then we will all have data we can use (it will be hard for nationalists to fight facts).

    #3 DR – In my opinion, Japan wants the Olympics for the prestige (not the money). They want the world to come to Japan and praise them for what a great job they are doing. How clean, safe and “Japanese” Japan is. With so much grim news in Japan lately (aging population, declining economy, radiation, not important on world stage, etc.), Japanese people want to brag about something to make themselves feel better – but they do not deserve the Olympics. Thank you for the link – I will write the Olympic Committee.

    — It won’t be hard for nationalists to fight facts. Nationalists fight facts all the time. That’s one reason they’re labelled “nationalists”. 🙂

  • So to what extent are the internal/local crime statistics reflected in the published tables,
    and to what degree is the malaise in the society being recognised and addressed,without
    apportioning blame.

    The overseas careworker program (extensively discussed on this blog earlier) could have made
    positive contributions to the continuing active participation of the elderly in society but
    for the intransigence of bureaucracy and entrenched social perceptions.

    I am an advanced qualified carer(in Australia and speak and read(reasonably) Japanese)
    As an experiment I recently approached the local Japanese Consulate as to my employment prospects in Japan in the Aged Care Sector.

    The response implied that it would be difficult due to “problems”with the previous/existing
    programs and also that I am male. Gender differences came to the front.

    So it seems, without ongoing support(Japanese or gaijin) that the shoplifting crime rate amongst the elderly(at least in Tokyo but I suspect more broadly) may increase significantly in future crime statistics… there is a detriment of support and what is being done about it?


  • Jim Di Griz says:

    @ Karjh12 #5

    Your post is interesting.

    It seems that there are bureaucratic hurdles that make the system inflexible and unable to achieve ‘overt’ policy goals (in your case), that is so say, where there is an instance of a qualified carer who wishes to make an application, is it the case that if you aren’t Indonesian or Filipino coming on an initial trainee program, then they don’t want you? Stinks of revolving door as policy, to me, since we all know that almost all ‘trainees’ have been going home when they understand how exploitative the system is.

    The gender difference you mention is also mind blowing.
    I remember when I was at junior high in the 70’s, the principle told us all the following story;

    A father was driving his son to school one morning, when they were involved in a terrible accident. The father was killed on the spot, and the son had to be cut out of the wreckage, and taken to hospital with very serious injuries to his head. Upon arrival at the hospital, the nurses paged the head neuro-surgeon to come and perform life saving brain surgery. The head neuro-surgeon rushed to the operating theater, and looked at the boy on the operating table, and said ‘My god! That’s my son!’

    Now, most westerners would hear that story and ask, ‘so what happened?’, but I guess that just like when I was at JHS, most present day Japanese would say ‘I don’t get it….he had two fathers?’

    Gender stereotyping is pretty much policy here. What did Sick-note say a few weeks ago? Something like ‘We have to mobilize women into the workforce, provided they have 3 years off to take care of the baby, ‘coz that’s women’s work’.

  • #6JDG
    “..is it the case that if you aren’t Indonesian or Filipino coming on an initial trainee program, then they don’t want you?..”

    I suspect there is far more simple than that. By that I mean those from SE Asian countries, are generally regarded as: lower educated, lower income and thus far easier to exploit as “slave” labour and willing to put up with “inconveniences” of Japan in an attempt for a better life. But once here, the bubble bursts. Regardless of the ‘industry’ one is attempting to enter.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ John K #7

    Thanks for the reply. I suspect you may be right. As an Australian, you are accustomed to troublesome western ideas like ‘contract law’, ’employment law’, and ‘workers rights’, along with expecting management to ‘act in compliance’ with such laws, since they would be ‘enforced’. Ahhh, so troublesome….this is Japan!!!!!

  • 6@ Jim Di Griz
    7@John K

    I also got the impression that being older and silver haired made me automatically a doubtful
    prospect,but as I said, I conducted it as an experiment/exercise to ascertain the response, and
    was probably not to far off the mark in my interpretation.

    So..Qualified aged careers from overseas where the methodology would I strongly suspect, stand in contrast with the trainee program

    I posted my comments because of the thread of the crime statistics, and reiterate that elderly crime stats indicate a well predicted severe societal malaise

  • Baudrillard says:

    An earlier thread of Debito (I trust he can supply the link) was about an 18 year old Vietnamese cute girl of little or no medical experience who made the news as she was “scouted” by a local government official who went on record saying he would “much rather be looked after by a nice young lady than a robot” in Vietnam.

    It is that shallow I am afraid. At the time we lampooned a wanted ad along the lines of “Cute single Asian girls wanted by sukebe oyaji in inaka to learn medicine and also make tea. Must love Japan and not just come here for the money (as salary is low).”

    I think they want young people-very young, impressionable people-who look Japanese or at least Asian who they can then mold in their blinkered idea of “the Japanese way”, pay a pittance, and maybe even solve the local inaka demographic crisis by marrying them to a farmer.

    Am I being too cynical? Maybe only a little.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @Karjh12, #5

    >So to what extent are the internal/local crime statistics reflected in the published tables,
    and to what degree is the malaise in the society being recognised and addressed,without apportioning blame

    The visual charts well explain how NPA’s foreign-crime alert is based on junk science. It shows NPA’s foreign-crime alert is phony and misguided. But that does not mean we should dismiss the issue as trivial because the NPA apparently holds the presumption of guilt for people of color and/or foreign-looking appearance to monitor those who are “up to no good”–an unspoken racial principle used for an outrageous George Zimmerman trial this past weekend in Florida. See how such white logic plays out for the justification of trial, and are exploited by the national/state authorities for various purposes.


    Japan may see its worse consequence as of today, yet. But I wouldn’t be surprised that the NPA and its upper body of Team-J would follow the same path, should another Suraj tragedy occur, by justifying their actions to set different standards toward NJ and ethnic minorities for their disenfranchisement.

  • I bet the criminals such as: Hitachi Automotive Systems, Jtekt Co., Mitsuba Co., Mitsubishi Electric Co., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, NSK, T.RAd, Valeo Japan Co., and Yamashita Rubber Co. are listed anywhere!


    “..Nine Japan-based companies and two executives agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to fix the price of car parts sold to US car manufacturers.

    They will pay a combined $740m (£462m) in criminal fines to US authorities.

    According to the US Department of Justice, the firms sought to fix the prices of more than 30 different products..”

    Aaaahh..the Japanese way of doing business, neh 🙂

  • Baudrillard says:

    Zaibatsu ways have returned ““..Nine Japan-based companies and two executives agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to fix the price of car parts sold to US car manufacturers.”

    Well, did they ever fully go away? Zaibatsu is of course a form of Corporatism, a form of business organization favored by Mussolini. Japan (the LDP) is dominated by large business interests.

    Capitalism means a free market, as Theodore Roosevelt would no doubt concur. We have no really had this since the 90s, since large media organizations have merged together to form large conglomerates and thus controlling information.

    Another “arrow” of a fascist society is of course an oppressive police force so to get this thread back on track, police seizure of the “narrative” of NJ crime figures is just one more indication, along with rising corporatism, of the anti democratic this society (and others) are taking.

  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    Just in case you missed the news, a young woman was knifed and subsequently died in Mitaka yesterday. The media reported that the suspect was allegedly wearing a turban!! (No prizes for guessing the assumptions a lot of people would have been jumping to)

    The suspect was arrested last night. A 21 year old Japanese national.
    However, I suspect the accused is a Japanese of mixed heritage and that the media will be looking at it from that angle in the next few days.

    高3女子:自宅前で刺され死亡 21歳男逮捕 東京・三鷹
    毎日新聞 2013年10月08日 21時12分(最終更新 10月09日 02時58分)








  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @Andrew in Saitama, #14

    I was also following the news this morning. The report says that the police are tracking down a suspect who is alleged as a white-looking guy “警察は、白人風の男を容疑者として行方を追っている.” The news updates caught my attention as its headline says that suspect is Japanese “容疑者は日本人.”

    Wearing a turban and ‘white-looking’ appearance are couple of indicators that will lead many people to believe that suspect could be a foreigner. Even left-leaning Mainichi’s headline strokes race-nationality assumption. The newspaper avoided using the word “foreigner,” or “foreign-looking”(“外国人風”), but it didn’t rule out the possibility that suspect could be a foreigner until the word “日本人” was appeared in the headline.

    I wonder how media description of individual–especially in the crime report—influences public perception of race/ethnicity in relation to nationality—; and if it could ever change the public perception of what is being Japanese.

  • It would be interesting to measure the amount and intensity of reporting of this murder case, and compare it to the amount and intensity of the reporting of similar cases where the perpetrator is a Japanese-looking Japanese person. I don’t remember this big of a media outrage about a stalking / murder case in the last couple of years, and I doubt that’s because “nothing happened”.
    My impression is that crimes involving a factor of foreignness in looks, nationality, course of action, etc. will get much more and longer coverage by the media, and this combined with the primitive and uncultured practice of endlessly looping video showing suspects on the back bench of a police car is already enough to get the usual message across, i.e.: “Foreign = dangerous”.

    It’s easy to see how the Japanese have been brainwashed into believing the myth that “there is no crime in Japan”. The dealings of the “yakuza” alone would be enough to fill a 24h news cycle in normal countries where organized crime is not regarded by a majority as a necessary part of society.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    An update on national crime survey:


    “NPA’s Reign of Error”

    5,423 out of 287,021. It’s only 1.89% of foreigners and NJ residents are arrested for criminal offense in Japan as of 2012. And 90% of those offenders are living in the country legally. Only 5.9% of those are illegal immigrants or overstayers. It’s only 320 every year!

    Imagine the US, the UK, and other developed countries have in millions. This shows that Japan’s NPA’s foreign-crime wave is a hoax, and tells us how misleading it is to say foreign crime is dangerous to national security.

  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    I saw on TV yesterday one of the interviews of the Kashiwa murder suspect (from before his arrest, when he was still playing the witness) an he told the media that the culprit had a foreign accent.
    Only the police and even media didn’t fall for it.

    — Somebody keep an eye out for that same claim in print, please.

  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    Sorry Debito, I’m having trouble finding TBS’s transcipts or video images of their program.
    What a simple search has turned up is a few sites sporting claims that Takei is a Zainichi Korean. The haters will continue to hate.


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