Japan’s Juvenile Justice System

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Japan is a chain of islands located in the Pacific Ocean with a population of 127,185,332 people. This island nation is the forefront of technology, especially in Tokyo, which is also the largest city in Japan. There are four main islands that are called Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu.

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Most of Japan’s population lives on these main islands. Japan has a very homogenous with about 98.5 percent of the population being Japanese with small minorities of Korean, Chinese, and Brazilians. The largest native ethnic group in Japan is the Yamato people. Japan is the world’s oldest country – that being the percent of the population age 65 or older is about 26.7 percent and is predicted to hit 40 percent by 2050. Japan has the highest life expectancy in the world. Sadly, Japan also has one of the world’s highest suicide rates. Back in 2009, there was a suicide every 15 minutes adding up to 33,000 people taking their own life. Thankfully Japan’s suicide rate has been on a steady decline over the last few years, however, it is still the leading cause of death of individuals age 30 or younger. It is predicted that Japan’s population could fall to just about 96,000,000 by 2050, to combat this the government is now announcing incentives for families to have more than one child. This paper is about the crime and delinquency in japan. The justice agencies that deal with these situations and how they compare with the U.S.

Crime and Delinquency

The age of criminal responsibility is 12 in japan compared to criminal responsibility being 6 in the united states. In 2015 japans criminal levels were 12.8 % to rank (18th) compared to the US at 55.84 (ranked 30th). Murder rate per million people at 3.97in Japan compared to 42.01 U. S Rape per million people at 10.11 Japan compared to 274.04 in the U.S. Gun crime (guns per 100 residents) 0.6 for Japan compared to 88.8 in the U. S (Japan vs United states crime Stats) The total number of juvenile crimes in japan is 856, 130. 850 of these crimes was murder/ Manslaughter. Robbery was 19,200 of these crimes. Aggravated assault was 28, o6o of these crimes. Burglary was 31,990 of these crimes Larcenytheft was the highest with 134,180 crimes committed. Motor Vehicle theft had 15,720 crimes committed. Lastly arson had 2,550 crimes committed. Along with an extensive list of other crimes such as forgery, fraud, embezzlement, vandalism, runaways, etc. As of 2014 the total number of crimes in Japan is about 2.85 million. The percent of annual cannabis use is0.1% of total crime. Opioid use is0.1% of the total crime committed. The murder rate (per 100k) is 1.02. The rape rate (per100k) is 1. Lastly guns (Per 100) is 0.6 %. In 2017 japan the number of japan juveniles that where the subject to police action was 26,797. 478 of those actions was due to money Transfer fraud and 245 was due to bullying that involved injury or assault. These statistics show that japan has a relatively low crime rate compared to the U.S but they still think that they can do better and a lot of people there are still afraid to walk home from work alone at night. US violent crimes (2016), 1,248,185. 4.1% increase from 2015. In The U.S Aggravated assault accounted for 64.3%, robbery offenses accounted for 26.6%, rape accounted for 7.7%, murder accounted for 1.4% of those violent crimes. Drug crimes are next with 84% of all drug arrests in 2015 were simple low-level drug possession. 43% of all drug arrests were for marijuana law violations and 39% of all arrests were for marijuana possession. Property Crimes are next and in 2016, there were 7,919,035 property offenses (1.3% decline from 2015). Larceny-theft accounted for 71.2%, burglary accounted for 19.1%, motor vehicle theft accounted for 9.7%. Property crimes resulted in $15.6 in losses. In the U.S in 2017, an estimated 1,247,321 violent crimes occurred nationwide, a decrease of 0.2 percent from the 2016 estimate. There were an estimated 382.9 violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants in 2017, a rate that fell 0.9 percent when compared with the 2016 estimated violent crime rate and dropped 16.5 percent from the 2008 estimate. Aggravated assaults accounted for 65.0 percent of violent crimes reported to law enforcement in 2017. Robbery offenses accounted for 25.6 percent of violent crime offenses; rape (legacy definition) accounted for 8.0 percent; and murder accounted for 1.4 percent.

Justice Agencies

Despite Japan’s low crime rate, especially when compared to the U.S., Japan still struggles with organized crime. Japan’s policing agencies and government are making headway in the war on organized crime however. In 2017, membership in the various Yakuza groups declined to 34,500 members according to the National Police Agency. In 1964, Yakuza membership numbered more than 184,000. The Yakuza, and other organized crime syndicates use bars, clubs, and massage parlors as fronts for their less legitimate businesses. In some cases, the Yakuza lend money to individuals and then force them into slavery (typically sex work) to pay back their debts and impossible interest rates. In Tokyo, the Yakuza set up shop in neighborhoods like Roppongi, Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Ikebukuro and target foreign tourists and locals alike. Despite what some may believe, the Yakuza is not just one organization, rather it is a term such as the mafia, and is made up of several Yakuza families. The largest Yakuza family is the Yamaguchi-gumi. The Yakuza are also believed to date back to the time of the samurai and have strict codes of conduct and harsh punishments for failure. It is not uncommon to see individuals in the Yakuza missing fingers, as it is a common punishment for failure to chop off your finger in front of, and present said finger to the boss. The Yakuza are also well known for their tattoos often covering most of the body. Some modern Yakuza are straying away from the tattoo tradition as it is a clear indication of their criminal involvement in a time where the government is cracking down on organized crime. So even though japan has a relative low crime rate they still do struggle with crime and a lot of their crime is organized crime.

In Japan’s Juvenile Justice system, they are mainly focused on rehabilitation of their juveniles. Also, in japan a juvenile is some one who is 14 to 19 years old. Also, they have three different behaviors for juveniles. The first one is offenses committed by those who are 14 years or older. They are classified as Juvenile delinquents/offenders. The Next is Offenses committed by offenders who are younger than age 14 and have committed an illegal act. They are classified as Juveniles below 14. The final one is Juveniles who are more inclined to violate the law and/or commit an offense based on their living environment, personality, and/or inability to follow instructions. They are classified as pre-delinquents. Japan still retains their Parents Patri where the state becomes the parent of the child if the state finds the biological parent unfit to be a parent. There are 50 family courts in Japan this is much fewer than in the US. A number of cases that are referred to family courts are summary judgment cases, which do not have hearings. The family court may send juveniles to a classification home for evaluation, protection, and observation. Of the 343 cases sent to family court in 2013, 30 (8.7%) were addressed without a hearing. Of the 313 going through a hearing, 123 (39%) received probation,94 (30%) were held in a training school,41 (13%) were placed in a social welfare institution,27 (9%) were served by a social welfare agency, and28 (9%) had no further action. In practice, the Japanese Juvenile Justice system generally operates on reintegrative shaming and restorative justice principles. The underlying premise of reintegrative shaming rests on the notion that disapproval (or shame) along with forgiveness, respect, and acceptance by society may lead to a lower crime rate, if the disapproval of crime is communicated effectively. The restorative justice aspects reflect the Japanese emphasis on apologies and redemption minus the guilt. In the U. S the Population: 326,766,748 (most recent count for 2018). The focus on how to handle juveniles in the system is: rehabilitation. The top crimes in the U.S. for Juveniles is Larceny-Theft- 134,180 , and Burglary- 31,990.Definition of a Juvenile is a person who has not attained his or her eighteenth birthday. How the us deters crime is by having sociological outlook on things, that with the right environment socially and in the home, juveniles will be less likely to commit crimes. In the U.S crime is something that we have viewed as just inherently wrong rather then it being something we should be ashamed of.

Comparison of Japan and the United States’ Juvenile Justice Systems

Japan’s juvenile justice system is focused more on rehabilitation rather than punishment. The Japanese use rehabilitation because they believe juveniles do not have the capacity to determine right from wrong. When they use punishment on juveniles, it is mostly with shaming tactics, with forgiveness and acceptance too. With 50 family courts in Japan, the system involves the parents in the juvenile justice process. Majority of juveniles who go to family court receive probation or get sent to a training school. When compared to the U.S. Japan has a significantly lower crime rate. Japan has approximately 2.85 million crimes a year, while the U.S. matches that with just violent crimes and drug crimes. In the juvenile system, Japan has about 26,800 juveniles encounter police action. Meanwhile, the U.S. arrests 856,100 juveniles. When it comes to organized crime, Japan is still struggling. While the number has declined significantly, the Yakuza families have an estimated 34,500 members combined. The Yakuzas have been known to lend money to people and keep them in debt, as well as set up shops to target tourists and locals. So, in conclusion Japan has a great juvenile justice system but they still struggle with crimes especially with adult crimes and organized crimes.

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