Aug 24, 2006 Kyodo: “Ex-deputy of Tokyo Gov. Ishihara cries foul over ‘safe town’ campaign”


You may have seen on the news a new slew of programs on “foreigner crime”. It’s periodical–the National Police Agency spoon feeding the media every six months or so with new “foreigner crime” statistics, and special shows doubling as public-service announcements to appraise the public on how to avoid hordes of foreign criminals.

Some historical examples of how the NPA has finagled statistics and manufactured crime waves at

This time around, however, there’s been a snag–in that “Chinese Criminal DNA” proponent Tokyo Governor Ishihara’s former deputy chief has even come forward to call all the grandstanding an exaggeration.


Ex-deputy of Tokyo Gov. Ishihara cries foul over ‘safe town’ campaign
By Kakumi Kobayashi
(Original link unavailable, apologies)

TOKYO, Aug. 24 Kyodo – A former deputy chief of Tokyo Gov. Shintaro
Ishihara’s task force on public safety is questioning some of the projects
the metropolitan government has been promoting to that end.

Hiroshi Kubo, who released a book titled ”Is Public Safety Really
Deteriorating?” in June, said such measures could make people excessively
wary, encourage prejudice against foreigners and benefit those in authority
like the police. The Japanese-language book is titled ”Chian wa Hontouni
Akkashiteirunoka” in Japanese.

Some analysts say these concerns are entirely reasonable and have
urged authorities to work harder to get rid of factors threatening public
order, such as the widening income disparity, instead of simply telling
people to brace themselves for possible crimes.

Kubo, 59, was a senior bureaucrat in the Tokyo government. He led
various crime prevention projects as a division chief in charge of public
safety in the governor’s headquarters from August 2003 to March 2005, when
he quit the municipality.

Kubo said he felt ”embarrassed” when he involved himself in or led
projects he said were aimed at prompting people to think the community was
becoming more and more dangerous and to rely on the authorities, especially
the police, to deal with the situation.

The ”safe town” campaign helps boost various businesses related to
crime prevention and create new entities and government affiliations.

”It means police officers and police bureaucrats can get more
‘amakudari’ posts,” Kubo said, referring to the Japanese business practice
whereby current and retired bureaucrats land jobs in entities the
government oversees or is closely related to.

He said he wrote the book hoping it would cause people to have second
thoughts about what the authorities try to promote ”in a more level-headed

Ensuring public safety was a key pledge Ishihara made before he was
reelected for a fresh four-year term as Tokyo governor in April 2003.

The Tokyo government boosted its budget for crime prevention projects
nearly 30-fold to 8.7 billion yen in the fiscal year which began in April

The money financed projects such as those aimed at watching
non-Japanese more closely and installing security cameras in public spaces.

The local government encourages people to form patrol teams to find
”suspicious persons” in the neighborhood, buy goods to protect children
from possible attackers and receive crime alerts that local authorities
send to individuals’ cell phones.

A 2004 government survey indicated 87 percent of Japanese felt public
safety had deteriorated in the past decade. Behind the concern were reports
of a spate of illegal acts committed by youths and foreigners who
overstayed their visas, the poll suggested.

Analysts say people have become much more wary since the school
rampage in an elementary school in Osaka Prefecture in 2001 when a
knife-wielding man entered the school premises and randomly killed eight
children in front of their friends and teachers in broad daylight.

Kubo also questioned the rhetoric Japanese authorities indulge in when
warning people against crimes committed by non-Japanese.

An annual report by the National Police Agency in fiscal 2005 said the
police in 2004 cracked down on 21,842 foreign visitors to Japan over
alleged illicit acts, up 9.2 percent from a year earlier, in 47,128 cases,
up 16 percent.

The total number of foreigners who entered Japan in the year also rose
18 percent to 6.757 million.

Kubo indicated it is obvious that the ratio of people breaking the law
in any given group increases as the size of that group grows. The figures
in the police report do not mean that non-Japanese are in general more
likely to commit crimes compared with Japanese, he said.

”But the authorities tried to highlight only one side of what such
figures suggest,” Kubo said. ”I’m not saying such crimes are not
increasing…But it is wrong to easily say people in this category are good
and those in that category are bad.”

Criminologist Koichi Hamai doubts that people’s concerns about
suburban crimes really originate from their own experiences.

A recent survey by a team headed by the professor at Ryukoku
University’s Graduate School of Law suggested over 90 percent of people
polled said they feel crimes have increased in the past two years

But when asked if they feel similarly about their own neighborhood,
the ratio of people saying so sank to 27 percent, while 64 percent said

The 2004 government survey also indicated 84 percent of people became
interested in public safety because ”TV and newspapers often cover” the
topic, far outnumbering the second most common answer — that the issue has
become a topic of conversation with relatives and friends — at 30 percent.

Hamai urged the government to boost measures to help people who once
committed offenses but are trying to return to society as part of efforts
to prevent crimes.

Much research has indicated that although Japan’s economy is showing
signs of recovery, the gap in people’s incomes and wealth has widened and a
belief that only the strong survive has spread under Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi, who took office in 2001.

Hamai said, for example, that many youths have more difficulties
landing jobs after leaving reformatory institutions than in the past.

”It leads to an increase in repeat offenders…That’s a sign of
danger. Inaction by the government could really cause public safety to
deteriorate,” he said.

Sociologist Kazuya Serizawa said a change in public reactions to
heinous crimes targeting children, especially after the 2001 school
incident, suggests many Japanese communities have become more guarded than
in the past.

”In the past, people discussed what was behind the emergence of such
a cruel culprit or said ‘We may have to review the problems in our
community’ even though they were shocked,” the tutor at Kyoto University
of Art and Design said.

”But recently, people immediately talk about how they can kick
suspicious people out of the community…It seems difficult to stop this
trend,” he said.


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