Crime in Japan is down but Child Abuse and Domestic Violence continues to rise
Chika Mori and Noriko Watanabe
Modern Tokyo Times
Criminal offenses in Japan have decreased by 10.7 percent according to the National Police Agency. This is in line with decreasing crime rates for the last sixteen years that have fallen each year. However, child abuse and domestic violence continue to show a worrying trend – even if the facts behind this are more complex.
The disparity in arrests made between child abuse and domestic violence belies the lack of seriousness being taken by the police and the courts when it comes to children. Hence, with roughly 80,000 reports of child abuse taking place, compared with approximately 77,000 for domestic violence last year, then the disparity of arrests between these two serious problems is alarming. This applies to roughly 1,400 arrests for child abuse compared with about 9,000 for domestic violence – but why such a disparity?
It should be stressed that while child abuse and domestic violence have hit record highs in Japan the statistics alone don’t tell the bigger picture. After all, until recent times the police and social services – and other vested parties like schools – sought to refrain from getting involved unless forced to based on individual factors. Likewise, the victims of domestic violence weren’t encouraged to be pro-active in recording violence. Therefore, a wall of silence often prevailed but in recent times the government – and some local governments – have been more pro-active in encouraging people to come forward.
Yet, like certain shocking cases involving children that have come to light, the passive nature of agencies, schools, and others, is all too familiar. Sadly, in certain cases, this results in children being killed despite the appropriate agencies and the police knowing that a serious problem already exists.
In recent times, another shocking case came to light whereby a young child, Mia Kurihara, was let down by the system. The BBC reports, “Officials in Japan have apologised for sharing a girl’s plea for help from her abusive father with him, a year before she died at home covered in bruises.”
The same source continues, “Mia Kurihara, 10, was found dead last week in Noda city, near Tokyo. Her father, Yuichiro Kurihara, was later held on suspicion of assaulting her.”
Lee Jay Walker, Modern Tokyo Times, says, “Of course, more soul searching will be announced but this is often stated after each new case that should have been prevented. In truth, the lack of being pro-active is a genuine concern that seems to hinder new laws that are meant to be protecting children. Similarly, the legal system doesn’t allow independent advocates. Therefore, another year follows another year and the same cases keep on popping up, where children have been failed by the system.”
Reuters reports, “Despite rights enshrined in child welfare law, children in Japan have no independent advocate or representation, unlike other developed countries such as Britain and the United States, leaving their well-being in the hands of welfare workers.”
Overall, an outcry isn’t good enough because genuine mindsets are needed within the system based on being pro-active. Similarly, new laws are needed to provide representation and advocacy – and the same applies to tighten laws and providing adequate funding. Likewise, more needs to be done in protecting people from domestic violence. Hence, Japan needs to protect the vulnerable based on a fresh approach that is aimed at erasing such failings in the system.
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