- 教育社会学研究 (ISSN:03873145)
- vol.80, pp.143-162, 2007-05-31
Although Japan traditionally enjoyed a reputation for being one of the most crime-free economically advanced countries in the world, since the late 1990s its crime rates have increased and clear up rate have dropped. It now appears that the Japanese public has lost confidence in the effectiveness of the criminal justice system and is more anxious about safety. The Japanese public now believes that young offenders are becoming increasingly violent and that more and more adolescents are committing serious offenses. This view stems from a belief that there has been a breakdown in family life and that as a consequence, young people have become more amoral. In response, the Japanese government is trying to overhaul the national education curriculum, with a major focus on imposing and improving public morality. However, a careful examination of crime statistics shows that the perception of ever-increasing youth crime is groundless. There has been no decline in the age of youngest offenders. On the contrary, the average age of young offenders has risen, partly because the job market for young people, especially those without skills and/or a high school diploma, has become tight. The delinquency rate in Japan used to peak at age of 15 and then drop sharply. Most juvenile delinquents had ceased to offend by the age of 20. There is a large gap between what the public believes about youth offenses and the reality. The measures adopted by the government to prevent youth offenses, mainly focusing on morality, are based on a kind of stereotypical young offender. If the government continues to ignore the real problem, i. e., the shrinking job market for unskilled young people, it will create a self-fulfilling prophecy of future violent offenses by young people.