Reading about Singular Perturbations Inc., Mami Kajita’s data analysis company (“Japan explores using AI system to predict crime” in the June 25 edition), gave me a chuckle.

Can it be done? I wondered. Is it possible to deal with street crime by predicting where it will occur and showing how to prevent it?

Criminality of the kind depicted in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s award-winning movie “Shoplifters” would require very big data to uncover. It would require an understanding of the social history of Heisei Japan and how behavioral zingers can emerge mysteriously from perturbations of the human heart.

If law enforcement agencies really want to profile criminality, they should go for the low-hanging fruit at the top of Japan’s social pyramid.

Kajita’s company should be asked to crunch data relating to notions of superiority and merit. Necessary information and data would include family social position, wealth and criminal history; school, university and ministry classmates (Japan’s “chumocracy”); spouse’s background and social aspirations; meetings at upscale restaurants with lobbyists; golfing buddies; and membership in and support from secretive organizations.

If Kajita’s company gathered enough data and devised a moderately clever algorithm, it could create the Nagatacho Entitlement and Corruption Index. The higher the number, the greater likelihood that certain Diet members and elite bureaucrats will engage in favoritism, rule-breaking, corrupting sontaku and outright illegal behavior.

The index could be put to good use by Japan’s vigilant news media. Failure to use it would indicate that someone was napping on the job or exercising self-censorship.

Once the index demonstrated its predictive power, it could be exported to the United States, where a Beltway Entitlement and Corruption Index would be greeted as a much needed and long overdue component of American democracy.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.