chapter  7
24 Pages

The Investigation of Crime

The amount of crime in Japan, as in the United States, is only partly a function of the efficiency and quality of the justice system. The basic nature of the society yields a more powernd influence. The role of the justice system, however, is perhaps larger in Japan. In many ways, although it is a clicbe, "crime does not pay" for the Japanese. The chances of a criminal being caught are greater than in the United States, due partly to the simple fact that Japan is an island country, only slightly larger than California. A very important additional factor in Japan is that there is no plea bargaining, the negotiating between lawyers and judges that frequently reduces the seriousness of the charge. Occasionally a criminal offense in Japan is seized upon by the media because it touches a sensitive chord in the society or because it reveals a unique aspect. Two examples follow. First, unlike the United States where subjects like poverty, racism, drugs, and family breakdown are often identified in discussions of crime causation, in Japan the focus is often on the "pressure cooker" educational system with its stressful effects. The widespread intensity ofthe experience, in which families and the educational system both playa role, can be so damaging that various problems erupt in its wake, including early school dropouts, assaults by children, the scapegoating of classmates, psychological depression, and even suicide. The last is sometimes the product of "examination hell" or the stressful period at the end of high school in which achievement or a university entrance exam is critical to making or breaking a future. Joining a motorcycle gang (referred to as bösozöku in Japan) or running with low122

rankingyakuza (the earlier romanticized term for organized crime) are examples ofhow adolescents may respond to the pain offailure within the school system.