Crime in Japan - statistics & facts

Criminal offenses committed by Japanese citizens aged 20 years and older are judged and penalized according to the Penal Code enacted in 1907. Other acts regulate punishments for specified crimes, such as the Act on the Punishment of Inflicting Death or Injury on Others by Driving a Motor Vehicle, Stimulants Control Acts, and Act against Child Prostitution and Pornography. After the police apprehend a suspect, prosecutors decide on the indictment of suspects. The Courts of Justice adjudge the conviction and severity of the punishment ranging from minor fines, detention at a penal institution for up to 29 days, fines for more than 10 thousand Japanese yen, imprisonment (with or without penal labor), to the death penalty. As of 2019, 103 male and seven female prison inmates in Japan were awaiting the carrying out of the death sentence.
The National Public Safety Commission and the National Police Agency (NPA) are the central body of the Japanese police organization and reside in Tokyo Prefecture. They administer national safety, national police system, and cooperation among Prefectural Police (PP). Each prefectural government, including Tokyo Metropolitan Government, authorizes the Prefectural Public Safety Commission and PP. Prefectural Commission and PP are responsible for the safety in the respective region.

Crime tendency in Japan

The number of Penal Code offenses reported to the Japanese police rose at the end of the 1990s and peaked in 2002. The case numbers then steadily declined for almost two decades. In 2020, the number of recognized criminal offenses reached approximately 614 thousand, less than a quarter of that two decades earlier. In 2019, after 17 consecutive years of decrease, the crime rate was 593.3 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The most frequently occurring crime in the nation has continued to be theft, making up more than 70 percent of the recorded cases. The overall clearance rate of Penal Code offenses in 2019 was 39 percent, while the larceny case clearance rate reached 34 percent.
Despite the overall improvement of both crime rate and clearance rate in the past decade in general, violations of Special Acts involving, for example, cybercrime, child abuse, special fraud such as phone fraud, have increased in recent years. The NPA also raised concerns about the high recidivism rate and the share of repeat offenders, promoting programs for repeated crime prevention.

Yakuza: organized crime in Japan

24 organizations are currently considered crime syndicates (widely known as yakuza) in Japan according to the Act on Prevention of Unjust Acts by Organized Crime Group Members. The estimated number of members and associates of crime groups drastically decreased from approximately 91 thousand recorded in 1991 to 26 thousand in 2020. The members and associates of five main organizations, including the largest group Yamaguchi-Gumi, compose about 75 percent of the total people engaging in the syndicates in the country. As of 2019, most of the arrested syndicate members were charged with violations of the Stimulants Control Acts, followed by criminal injury. Members are also typically involved with extortion, gambling, money laundering, and other crimes in the industries of finance, construction, worker dispatch, and entertainment and amusement, among others. The Japanese police have particularly focused on destabilizing Yamaguchi-Gumi and its practical management unit Kodo-kai by exercising strict control over the members in recent years.


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