Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Foreign Crime Wave in Japan: A Fraudulent Public Campaign

Click on the People Below for the Japan Times Article: “Time to Come Clean on Foreign Crime Wave” which I Discovered through Reyn’s Webpage (See Sidebar)

Cabinet Ministers Kyoko Ono, Taro Aso, and Daizo Nozawa Who Have All Made Policy Statements Relating to Foreign Crime (Photos Taken from Linked Article)

I was born in Canada, which I consider to be a self-righteous and hypocritical nation. I have lived well over half my life in Japan, which I consider to be a self-righteous and hypocritical nation. Come to think of it, I consider all of the nations I am acquainted with to be self-righteous and hypocritical. In a way, that may be what nationhood is all about. Moreover, before continuing I should admit that in Toronto much is made of Jamaican and Vietnamese gang violence, and that one doesn’t have to descend too many rungs down from polite society before encountering a good deal of slurs against recent immigrants. In fact, one can readily find people in Canada who, in their contempt for immigrants, don’t even distinguish between new arrivals and second or third generation Canadians. So I am not about to claim that the issues I am pointing out today are unique to Japan. I think, though, that one could safely say that in Canada the balance of public opinion and government policy is in favour of new Canadians playing a prominent and equal role in society—in principle. Besides, as a “gaijin” for life (“gaijin” being a very politically incorrect word which is still thrown around quite freely in casual conversation), the consequences of foreign crime hysteria and a public policy shift towards a xenophobic ethic have a direct bearing on my life that I cannot afford to ignore.

These are the main points of the Japan Times article:
1. Foreign crime is becoming a major policy issue in political campaigning—right up there with wasteful public works projects and the faltering economy. The three cabinet members shown above have all made strong policy statements on foreign crime—especially Kyoko Ono.
2. Crime statistics are deliberately manipulated by the national police to periodically demonstrate a rising rate of crimes committed by foreigners.
3. Crimes committed by foreigners make up 1.39% of all crimes committed in Japan.
4. Foreigners make up 1.5% of Japan’s population.
5. Together, points 3 and 4 demonstrate that although the number of crimes committed by foreigners is indeed increasing parallel to the overall rise in crime and an increase in the number of foreigners living in Japan, it is still a statistical fact that a Japanese person is more likely to commit a crime in Japan than a foreigner in Japan is.
6. Moreover, one third (that’s about 33%) of all crimes committed by foreigners are in fact visa infractions (staying beyond the time limit allowed by a visa)—a non-violent crime which is by definition impossible for a Japanese person to commit.
7. The Japan Times article concludes that the media’s periodic but regular fixation on the “foreign crime wave” is fed by the "Policy Committee Against Internationalism" created by the national police agency in 1999, because the said committee is trying to justify its budget and its existence.

Conclusion? Yoko Ono, not Kyoko Ono!!! (Although the high school version of myself would kill me for saying that).

At the same time, it is comforting to realize that activists are making headway.

Note the “before and after” difference. The original poster basically warned people at ATMs to watch out for foreign couples (brown skinned, speaking with accents) who are just waiting to mug unsuspecting Japanese housewives. The new poster which replaced it still communicates the real need to be aware of muggers, but without implying that these muggers will be foreigners. Many “watch out for foreign muggers!!” signs are thankfully being replaced with “be careful not to be robbed!!” signs. However, there should be no celebrations until the current governor of Tokyo is overthrown (for a more sympathetic description of Governor Ishihara, read on).

Check Out Arudou Debito/David Aldwinckle’s Activist Page