Jon Mott is a long-time resident of Japan, part time musician and snowboarding enthusiast. He shares his thoughts about safety in Japan and, “Is Japan REALLY as safe as everyone thinks it is?” The guys compare the different public perceptions of the police between Japan and their home countries (the U.S. and the U.K.), and discuss the respective policing practices.
Jon and our podcasters all agree that Japan is the safest country that they have ever been too, and between them, they have visited a lot of countries. A big sign of the safeness of Japan is the police. There are a lot of police out on the streets, usually in groups, stopping suspected bicycle thieves, and these are not people who have stolen expensive, rare bikes as you would expect, just the ubiquitous mamachari (short for mama chariot), aka cheap happy shopper, which most people do not even care if their’s was stolen.
A big part of safety is the imbedded cultural deterrents like almost 100% literacy, very low unemployment, and a reasonably even distribution of wealth. That, and that the country is 98.5% all Japanese. This homogeneity acts like a glue that is, compared to other cultures, self policing.
Another interesting fact is the high conviction rate in Japan being 99%. This is a controversial issue as it has been found that the Japanese police employ intimidation tactics to get confessions from suspects, which has led to wrongful convictions. The police can hold a suspect for up to 23 days, without charge! But, why do suspects confess to a crime they did not commit? Could this be a cultural issue? In spite of this, Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, with an extremely low crime rate, so you can feel safe that your wallet will not be stolen, even if it is sticking out of your back pocket!
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