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Statistics for crimes committed by foreigners February 8, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in crime, Japan.

Continuing on the topic of the foreigner crime “surge”….

The National Police Agency apparently released statistics for crimes committed by foreigners in 2006. (No sign of the statistics on the NPA page however. I guess they give some numbers to the press to circulate, and get around to posting the statstics later, once the news has done the rounds. We don’t want people dissecting the raw numbers and calling out inaccurate or biased journalism, do we?)

Anyway, the headline number is that foreigner crime is down 16.2%.

For a taste of Japanese journalism, I point you to the reporting of the statistics by the Mainichi newspaper.

The Japanese version.

The English version.

The Japanese headline reads: Foreigner Crime: Increasing in the regions (ie outside Tokyo) – Up 35-fold in the Chubu Region in 15 years
The English headline: Number of crimes committed by nonpermanent foreigners declines in Tokyo (I see they can’t even concede that it decreased on a national aggregate level)
The problem with this parroting of NPA statistics is that it doesn’t really help us understand who is causing the trouble.

Whilst foreigners are overrepresented as a source of crime (about 2% of crimes are attributed to foreigners whilst they comprise a little over 1% of the resident population – 2.2% for H1 2006, compared with 1.7% 10 years ago), so are organised crime syndicates (who are responsible for approximately 5% of crimes – I’m guessing that one in twenty people are members of organised crime syndicates) or juveniles, who are responsible for around 30% of all crimes (even that is down from just under 50% 10 years ago). Juveniles comprise round 20% of the population, but I’m guessing the 0-9 year olds don’t commit that much crime, so the majority of the 123,715 cases for 2005 are attributable to the 10-19 year olds, who comprise 9.7% of Japanese population according to latest census numbers. (Percentages are all from NPA statistics)

I’m scratching my head at the growth in foreigner crime which apparently is reported, 35-fold increase in Chubu and 21.5-fold in Shikoku. According to the statistics in this NPA report (top table on page 7) which only go back 10 years, Chubu foreigner crime has increased 3.3-fold, and Shikoku foreigner crime has increased  4.5-fold.  A significant increase, but still a far cry from the 35-fold and 21.5-fold numbers cited in the articles.  It should be noted that no other regions registered more than a doubling of foreigner crime compared to 10 years ago. This during a period where foreign residents and foreign visitors have grown significantly.


1. David - February 9, 2007

It’s unfortunate, but the reality is that the Japanese media is to blame for so many Japanese buying into this whole “foreign crime” issue.

Instead of helping the country deal with the many challenges associated with the increasing population of foreigners, it focuses on the small amount of crime actually committed by non-Japanese, and makes it out to be a much bigger issue than what it is in reality.

Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the latest Yakuza gang-war (02/07/2007 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN) is somehow connected to foreigners, and all the bad crimes they commit. (

2. Scott - February 11, 2007


As they say, there’s “lies, damned lies and statistics” 😉 While I don’t read too much into these crime statistics, one thing to note is that visa-related crimes make up a significant portion of the foreigner “crimes”. If I read the figures in the report right, it’s about 13-15%? As these crimes obviously can’t be committed by Japanese, they introduce some bias in the overall figures that needs to be remembered when analysing them.

3. fukumimi - February 11, 2007


The numbers I used above related to offenses under the criminal code only, immigration visa violations are processed under another code and I am satisfied that the numbers quoted in the press recently are also limited to the criminal code only, having looked at the historical numbers.

4. John - February 13, 2007

The story is misleading in at least one other big area; it refers to crimes committed by foreigners, when it is really referring to crimes investigated by police.

“The NUMBER OF CRIMES COMMITTED by nonpermanent foreign nationals in 2006 declined in Tokyo, the National Police Agency (NPA) said on Thursday.

Police investigated 27,459 cases nationwide of suspected crimes ALLEGEDLY COMMITTED by nonpermanent foreign nationals in 2006. The number is 16.9 percent down from the previous year.

It seems the report is referring to arrests, not convictions. I wrote more about an earlier set of crime stats in Japan, which shows how miniscule the arrests of foreigners really was (in 2003) compared to the number of foreigners total, at:


Probably the same general misconceptions are happening with this batch of numbers.

5. M@Blog » Creepy crawlies comin’ out o’ the woods - February 22, 2007

[…] weeks ago some anti-foreigner / Japanese racism news caused a bit of a stir.  I hope – I truly hope – these annoying acts were […]

6. Shut Up - February 23, 2007

Oh please, like American media portrays everyone equally.

7. fukumimi - February 23, 2007

Just because the American media has problems doesn’t excuse the Japanese media, does it?

I certainly don’t regard the American media as a group as being some sort of model for the Japanese media.

Having spent some time living in both the US and Europe and being an avid consumer of overseas media, I must admit that, generally speaking, certain European media outlets are more to my taste, at least as far as the quality of journalism and strength of convictions are concerned.

8. Argort - February 23, 2007

I find it interesting that none of the statistics cited refer to foreign crime RATES as opposed to sheer numbers. Of course if the number of foreigners is increasing (as it is) the number of crimes will likely go up. For instance the large increase in actual crimes committed by foreigners in the Chubu region can probably be attributed (at least in large part) to the increase in South Americans from the early 90s on (around 175,000). That influx was as a result of easing of visa restrictions for niseis because of labor shortages in the 3K jobs.

I could easily see the foreign crime rate being higher than the Japanese rate (particularly for non-permanent residents). Mostly because this group will tend to be much younger that the average age of Japanese (around 40) and male, as pointed out before, younger people (actually younger males) commit crimes a lot more than the general population.

9. ƒTƒvƒŠ‚̃IƒXƒXƒ’ʔ̏î•ñ‚ÅŒ’Nˆê’¼üI - March 3, 2007



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11. Osawa Shinichi - March 1, 2009

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