Why Japan's Crime Rate Is So Low

After the worst knifing incident since World War Two, Japan still maintains one of the world's lowest crime rates. So why is Japan so safe?

The recent knife attack in Japan that killed 19 people was the largest mass killing in the country's history. The tragedy stunned the country, which has one of the lowest homicide rates in the world. In fact, Japan's crime rate has declined steadily for the last 60 years.

In today's Seeker Daily report, Trace Dominguez examines Japan's record as one of the safest countries on the planet.

Studies suggest that several factors are involved in Japan's low crime rate. Underpinning everything is a strong cultural affinity for passivity and non-violence. Anger and aggression are considered shameful in Japanese society, which puts a premium on personal honor and intricate social protocols. Some experts contend these traditions were further strengthened in the aftermath of World War II, when Japan turned away from violence after suffering the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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Japan has also managed to rid its society of guns to a significant degree. According to reports by the United Nations and the University of Chicago, just one in 175 households in Japan has firearms. Compare to the United States, where the rate is one in three. The types of firearms that are allowed are heavily regulated, and most are flatly illegal. Buying a gun in Japan requires rigorous background checks and safety classes every three years.

Crime rates are also kept low by an astonishingly efficient legal system. In fact, some might call the statistics suspiciously efficient: According to Japanese criminal justice officials, police solve 98 percent of homicide cases and convict more than 99 percent of all suspects brought to court.

Other factors come into play, as well. Compared to the rest of the world, Japan has extremely low rates of poverty, unemployment and drug use. All of these societal factors combine to make Japan one of the safest countries in the world.

-- Glenn McDonald

Learn More:

New York Times: In Low-Crime Japan, Rarity of Mass Killings Only Heightens the Shock

Business Insider: How Japan's Murder Rate Got To Be So Incredibly Low

Japan Times: Number of reported crimes in Japan fell to postwar low in 2015

The Atlantic: A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths