Random murders set record in ’08

Kyodo News

2008 has seen 11 random murders and two attempted random murders up till November, passing last year’s combined total of eight and hitting a record, according to a report released Thursday by the National Police Agency.

The figure is the highest since the NPA began to compile data in 1993 on so-called random crimes.

Among the 11 random slayings during the January-November period were the seven people killed in the June vehicle and stabbing rampage in the Akihabara district of Tokyo.

Police nationwide probed 1,674,773 criminal cases during the 11 months, down 4.9 percent from the same period last year, the report says.

Cases covered in the report include violations of the Penal Code, the antiviolence law and the antiorganized crime law, but not traffic violations.

Agency officials said they expect crimes for the whole of 2008, however, to stay below the 2007 level and decline for the sixth straight year. In 2007, police processed 1.9 million criminal cases.

The ratio of crimes solved to crimes probed in the 11 months dipped 0.2 percentage point from a year earlier to 32.0 percent, the report says.

The number of serious crimes — murder, robbery, arson and rape — came to 7,862, down 6.1 percent. Of the four categories, only murder rose, up 7.4 percent to 1,200 cases.

Thefts, which account for the bulk of all cases, totaled 1,262,670, down 4.1 percent.

Crimes including fraud and bribery fell 1.8 percent to 68,598, with 34,475 solved, up 9.1 percent.

Violent crimes, including infliction of injury and extortion, totaled 63,419, down 5.8 percent.

Perpetrators were arrested or rounded up without being arrested in 535,856 of all cases probed, down 5.5 percent. Those arrested or questioned came to 313,111, down 7.5 percent. Of these, people aged 19 or younger dropped 12.3 percent to 82,748.

Annual crimes set a record for seven years in a row between 1996 and 2002. In 2002, the figure reached about 2.85 million, the NPA said.

In 2007, it fell below 2 million for the first time in 10 years.