For those who read and watch the Japanese press, these are scary times. Foreign crime is allegedly on the rise, members of the new Koizumi Cabinet are making clear policy statements against it, and the National Police Agency is ready for a new push.

This is despite incontrovertible evidence that foreign crime rates are actually lower than those of Japanese.

Of course, Japan's overt stoking of public fear of foreigners is not in itself news -- it has been going on for years.