One of the pressing concerns of Japanese is rising crime. One survey a few years ago found that 85 percent of Japanese believe that crime was getting worse. But where do they get this fear of crime? Never mind that crime in Japan, especially violent crime, is a fraction of what it is in other Industrial countries. Even with crime rates across America at historic lows Japan’s crime rate is infinitely smaller. Japan is by far one of the safest places in the world, when it comes to citizens and their risk of become criminal victims.

But forget the numbers, look at Japanese society! As a foreigner everyday I’m presented with the total naiveté of Japanese people. On the trains Nihonjin think nothing of putting their bag on the overhead rack and then falling asleep in their seats. Anyone could walk away with their bag and no one would be the wiser. Then there are the giant wallets, basically man purses, that men stuff in their back pocket. The brand name wallets are a pickpockets dream. A small bump and woops doopsy a wallet with probably a hundred of dollars in it has been absconded (Japanese still haven’t figured out the debit, credit card system and carry all their cash with them).
back of store
Look at the supermarket near my house (pictured). Out the back, where people walk by from the train everyday, is their storage area. Boxed produce, goods, even alcohol, are all left outside with no security, no camera and totally in the open. You can’t see it from the picture but there is a whole rack filled with cases of beer. How long would a rack of beer last outside in North America?

Another example of low crime are the police procedures. Where in the states overworked D.A.s or police offer offenders deals if they plead guilty; in Japan that isn’t an issue. Each case is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law with no cutting corners because they’ve got the time. Of course the Japanese court system is highly efficient with something like 98% of cases ending with confessions … about the same as Stalinist Russia.

So, safe/not safe? Just don’t end up in court and you’re likely good.