When a nationwide organization set up to prevent shoplifting surveyed department stores and supermarkets concerning incidents of shoplifting over the past year, 38.5 percent indicated that thefts had increased. The figure registered 27 percent as recently as last November.
Among people caught pilfering, 29 percent were unemployed, followed by housewives, at 20.4 percent.
This trend, reports Nikkan Gendai (July 3), suggests more people are stealing to obtain food.
According to National Police Agency statistics, while murders and other violent crimes showed year-on declines in the January-May period of this year, purse snatchings and robberies increased by 14.2 and 14 percent respectively.
“Law and order in Japan is breaking down, to the degree not seen since the chaotic times in aftermath of the war,” asserts Masayuki Umemoto, director of the Japan Security School, an NPO. “The cause is the bottoming out of the economy.
“Up to now, shoplifting and purse snatchings were done mostly by juveniles,” Umemoto continues. “But more recently the percentages have risen among people in their 30s and 40s. We’ve noticed more crimes by the elderly as well. Part-time workers who have been laid off take a ‘what the hell’ attitude, seeing themselves with no options except dying or turning to crime. And they rationalize by thinking that if they are sent to prison, they’ll at least have a roof and three meals.
“Japan has become quite a scary place,” he frowns.
Another factor, Nikkan Gendai points out, is that revisions in money-lending laws are preventing people with multiple debts to borrow further, which may be driving more to desperation.
Being in Japan, the tabloid tells readers, is no different from being abroad.
Source: “Manbiki, goto, hitakkuri ga kyuzo,” Nikkan Gendai (July 3, page 3)