Many visitors to Japan wonder why Japan is such a safe country. In Addition many Japanese people regard Japan being very safe. What makes Japan a safe country? Though Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, it does not mean that there is no crime. The question then becomes; why is Japan safer than other other countries?
Throughout the history in the last few thousands years, majority of Japanese lived in villages. (Most of them are farmers.) In such a “ village culture”, harmony with the others in the community is important. If, for example, one commits a crime in a village, because it is a small community, he or his family would lose face and it would make it difficult to continue to be a member of the community he belonged to. Therefore, committing some kind of a crime was likely to be considered not worthy the risk of doing it. In such a village culture, they treated one other as if they were all families. This led to the feeling as if people in the neighborhood in general were all family members.
Influence of the “Dog Shogun”:
Tsunayoshi Tokugawa is the 5th shogun in Edo Era, when Tokugawa Shogunate Government, based in Tokyo, ruled the country of Japan for nearly 300 years from 1603. Before Edo Era, it was the era of Civil War and a number of clans had battles with one another involving ordinary citizens. First Shogun, Yeyasu Tokugawa, put an end to this civil war era by winning a major battle and started ruling Japan.
Tsunayoshi Tokugawa, the 5th shogun, is well-known in Japan as “Dog Shogun”. The reason is because be enforced an extraordinary law that says that if someone kills an animal such as dog (or any other living creature), he would face death penalty.
It is known as “ the law prohibiting cruelty to animals”. Most Japanese people do not know what he did except enforcing this extraordinary law, however, he actually did all kinds of things to bring peace to the society. He emphasized that everyone must treat their family members with respect and he also could not stand the brutal act of samurai worriers who were actually legally allowed to kill people of other castes even if there was no reason. These unlawful samurai warriors also killed dogs and other animals and sometimes even ate them. The law he enforced also forbid foundling i.e abandoning children. Because of the various laws enforced during the ruling of Tsunayoshi, brutal acts especially killing decreased.
No battles and wars among tribes in history.
People’s minds are often controlled in gene level. How people act today is the accumulation of what their ancestors acted in the last thousands of years or even tens or hundreds of thousands of years. In most places in the world elsewhere, there have already been wars between tribes and countries. When there is such a war, normally the tribe who wins the war conquers the other and make them their slaves or kill them and take away/plunder their processions. In fact, in some countries of the world even today, it is considered as a good thing to steal things from other countries or other ethnic groups. In Japan there has principally been no wars among tribes. The wars have always been between/among clans and such clans who actually ruled the ordinary people were minorities in terms of population. The exceptions are the wars Japan had with other nations in the 19th and 20th century.
Koban (Police Box) System:
Koban is a neighborhood police box found in many populated areas throughout Japan. You often find them in front of major stations or at intersections. They are staffed by one or a few police officers and keep a general watch over the neighborhood.
Gap between the rich and the poor is comparatively small.
In any regions of the world, when there are the rich and the poor and the gap is large, this could often lead to some problems or even crimes. Although nowadays poverty is becoming a social problem, back in the 1970’s majority of Japanese people considered themselves to be “middle-class”.
Japanese are comparatively not very emotional.
When one gets way too emotional and it gets out of hand it could lead to some forms of crimes such as murder or violence. Japanese are comparatively quiet and not emotional and there is lower possibility of resorting to violence when confronting aggravating situation.
Culture of Shame:
Japan is often referred to as “shame culture” where people try to avoid “shame”. Committing a crime, especially minor crime is considered to be a shameful act, therefor people do not take a risk of, for example, committing a minor crime. It is also said that the reason why the products made in Japan are top quality is because of this shame culture. i.e. Japanese people have strong feeling of responsibility in making the products they produce perfect so that they will not have a sense of shame.
Is it true that the crime rate is increasing in Japan?
You see the news of some major crimes such as murders quite often but the rate and the number of major crimes has significantly decreased over the last several decades. The reason why the Japanese people feel as if the crime is increasing is because mass media reports the news of major crimes on TV and newspapers much more than they did a few decades ago.
However, there are other types of crimes can be increasing. Japanese people today would not feel as safe as they used to do back in the 1980’s. People take much more caution when meeting with strangers.