How 'the Myth of Collapsing Safe Society' Has Been Created in Japan (Symposium: Rising Fear of Crime and Re-building Safe Society in Japan: Moral Panic or Evidence-Based Crime Control)

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  • 日本の治安悪化神話はいかに作られたか(I 課題研究 日本の治安と犯罪対策-犯罪学からの提言)
  • 日本の治安悪化神話はいかに作られたか--治安悪化の実態と背景要因(モラル・パニックを超えて)
  • ニホン ノ チアン アッカ シンワ ワ イカニ ツクラレタ カ チアン アッカ ノ ジッタイ ト ハイケイ ヨウイン モラル パニック オ コエテ
  • 治安悪化の実態と背景要因 (モラル・パニックを超えて)
  • Beyond the Moral Panic and Victim Industry

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Japan has enjoyed the reputation for being one of the most crime-free economically advanced countries. However, since the late 1990s, with constantly increasing recorded crime rate and dropping clearance rate in police statistics, it appears that the Japanese public has lost confidence in its safety and the effectiveness of the criminal justice system. In the general election of 2003, the crime problem was a central issue. For, the first time since WWII, major political parties proposed various measures to control crime, such as installing more CCTV, putting more police officers on the streets, and longer sentences for offenders. A Cabinet Office survey of public attitudes also showed that the proportion of the public who thought crime was getting worse had increased from 18.8% in 1998 to 39.5% in 2004. This paper consists of two parts. In the first part, I examine crime and related statistics, to investigate whether public perceptions are based on sound evidence. I found that in terms of crime statistics, in the late 1990s, there was a series of police scandals in Japan that fundamentally changed the way the press reported policing issues. Such changes provoked key policy changes toward the reporting and recording of crime. This in turn resulted in a sudden increase in the number of crimes recorded, and a sudden decrease in the clear up rates. The moral panic, which I call here as 'the myth of a collapsing safe society', created by the press coverage of crime statistics. In the second part of the paper, I examine how the myth of a collapsing safe society has been created and maintained by analyzing the disparity between press coverage of murder and actual number of murder, and the role of victim support movements.


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