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Getting away with it

September 18, 2008

Japan’s done a great PR job in convincing the world of its Very Low Crime Rate™. But like all words that come from the mouths of those in marketing and PR, it’s a partial truth at best.

What Japan has, in fact, is a Very Low Crime Detection Rate.  Sure, the citizens feel relatively safe on the streets at night. But, let’s be honest, so do the criminals.

And we’re not just talking about individual, high-profile cases, though examples are police screw-ups are commonplace.  Prime suspect in the murder of Lindsay Hawker, Tatsuya Ichihashi, evaded 9 police officers because they “didn’t expect” him to run away.  Child murderer Suzuka Hatakeyama was finally rumbled on evidence uncovered by reporters, rather than by police, who favoured a strong belief in an accident over any actual investigation.  The fact is that the law is being broken up and down the country, but people are getting away with it.

But the best way to evade the police may not be to cover your tracks. It might be better to be completely open and brazen.  It works for some.

The Japanese police and the yakuza organised crime gangs have a strange relationship.  Well, they have a relationship.  And that is strange.

The yakuza have extended their reach throughout Japanese society largely unmolested by the forces of justice, despite not being in the slightest bit secretive. The police know who they are. They know where to find them; larger gangs have fairly obvious HQs in larger towns and cities.  But the police only seem to get involved when they absolutely have to, like when rival yakuza start topping each other in public.

There’s something wrong with this picture. But it gets ever more blurred. This week, police popped into yakuza HQs around the country to ask a favour.

Police have ordered 28 gang bosses across the country not to reward their members who have shot or attacked rival yakuza in gang wars, National Police Agency (NPA) officials said.

So, just to summarise – NOT raids, or arrests, or even some vague promise of a crackdown on known organised crime. Just a request for a change of club rules.

The orders are aimed at banning such practices and helping prevent gang wars.

The orders issued this time were provisional ones. After questioning the gang bosses, the police departments will issue full-scale orders, the NPA officials said.

Ah. So not actually an order. Just a polite request. I imagine it went something like this (it might help to imagine John Le Mesurier as the policeman and Terry-Thomas as the yak).

Plod:  I – I say… You wouldn’t be so awfully kind as to stop dishing out medals to your hitmen, would you?

Yak:  Of course, old boy.  Whatever you say.  Anything one can do to help one’s community.

Plod:  Oh I say, that’s awfully decent of you. I’m so terribly grateful. Two sugars, if you would.

You see?  Dealing with organised crime doesn’t have to be messy.   And a job in the Japanese police needn’t mean actually doing any work.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Ian permalink
    September 18, 2008 9:44 pm

    Where can I apply?

    I too seem to have a natural talent at doing very little. I think I could go far…

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