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The number of offenses committed by juveniles between January and November decreased for the first time in four years, but the number of youngsters involved in felonies increased slightly to more than 2,000 from the same period last year, according to a National Police Agency report released Monday.
The total number of youngsters involved in crimes stood at 130,023, down 9.8 percent from the corresponding period last year, it said.
Despite the decline in total crimes, the NPA report suggests that the high number of more serious incidents shows that juvenile crime in Japan is still experiencing something of a peak.
Felonies committed by groups of more than three juveniles rose to 6.7 percent to total 397 cases.
Robberies involving knives jumped 38.2 percent from last year to 123 cases, while bag-snatching incidents jumped 30.7 percent to 2,330 incidents, the worst level since 1972.
According to the report, juveniles arrested for committing serious crimes rose 0.8 percent from the corresponding period last year to 2,071 individuals.
Of that total, 89 were arrested for murder, 84 for arson and 382 for rape. Each figure showed a slight year-on-year decline. Robbery, however, saw a 4.6 percent increase to 1,516 cases, equaling the 1997 figure, which was the worst year since 1967.
The total number of crimes involving knives decreased 6.4 percent from the same period last year to 324, but the 123 robberies in which knives were involved was three times the level reported in 1990.
In incidents of serious crime, 58 individuals had accomplices and 69.2 percent involved groups of more than three people, an increase of 4.2 percent, it said.
The percentage of juvenile girls involved in crime fell 21.3 percent from last year, decreasing in virtually all categories except robbery, the report said.
The number of cases involving bullying jumped 1.5 times from last year to total 109 cases. Of these cases, 308 youths were either arrested or given guidance. School violence increased 12.7 percent on last year, accounting for 560 cases, it said.

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