National / Crime & Legal

Number of crimes reported in Japan in first half drops 8.7%; 2019 figure likely to hit lowest postwar mark

Kyodo, JIJI

The number of crimes recorded in Japan continued to decline in the first half of 2019 and the full-year figure is expected to reach its lowest postwar level for the fifth consecutive year, police said Thursday.

In the first six months of this year, crimes dropped 8.7 percent from a year earlier to 363,846, due mainly to fewer reported cases of theft, which account for over 70 percent of the total, according to a preliminary report from the National Police Agency.

“The decline seems to reflect the spread of surveillance cameras and the effects of public-private efforts to prevent crimes,” an agency official said.

The full-year crime figure has continued to drop from a peak in 2002 when 2,853,739 cases were recorded by police.

In the January-June period, the number of crimes fell in all of the main categories. Felonies including murders and robberies were down 5.1 percent to 2,352 and violent offenses, such as assaults, down 3.2 percent to 27,967.

Theft cases decreased 9.1 percent to 257,183, crimes such as indecent assaults slid 8.5 percent to 3,952 and white-collar crimes including fraud dropped 14.0 percent to 18,132.

Among more serious crimes, the number of robbery and arson cases fell, but the number of murder and rape cases increased.

Those age 65 or older accounted for 16.2 percent of total victims of crime and of those that were targeted in fraud cases 50.5 percent were elderly citizens.

Senior citizens made up 80.6 percent of the total victims of fraud cases in which perpetrators impersonate the person’s children or their grandchildren and ask for urgent money transfers over the phone.

By area, Tokyo saw the most crimes at 50,316, followed by 41,319 in Osaka. Akita Prefecture was the most crime-free of the country’s 47 prefectures, with just 996 crimes reported.

Police took enforcement actions in 141,328 cases against 92,877 offenders, down 7.5 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively, with the number of juveniles between 14 and 19 years old subjected to police action for crimes slipping 17.4 percent to 9,397.

Forty-four prefectures saw a decrease in the number of criminal offenses. Numbers rose in Fukui, Kagawa and Tokushima prefectures.

Surveillance cameras and other images helped identify suspects in 9.9 percent of all cases police dealt with, up 1.1 points, according to the data.

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