Crime in Japan Surges in First Half of 2023 Amid Eased COVID Restrictions

Crime rates in Japan have surged during the first half of 2023, witnessing an alarming increase of more than 20 percent compared to the same period in the previous year. This significant rise can be attributed, in part, to an increase in street crime and break-ins as the country gradually eases its COVID-19 restrictions. According to the latest police data released on Wednesday, a total of 333,003 cases were reported during this period, marking the first time in 21 years that the numbers have shown such an escalation between January and June.

The National Police Agency revealed that this surge in crime follows a similar trend from the previous year when Japan experienced an increase in criminal activities in 2022 after two decades of decline. Among the concerning figures, there is a notable inclusion of burglaries associated with “dark part-time work” or yami baito, wherein individuals are recruited through social media platforms to commit crimes in exchange for monetary rewards.

The phrase “yami baito” gained prominence when Japanese men, who were arrested for running scams from the Philippines, were suspected of recruiting individuals for this illicit work, leading to a series of robberies across Japan.

Breaking down the numbers further, street crimes, such as bicycle theft, witnessed a staggering 29.7 percent increase compared to the previous year, reaching 110,744 cases. Similarly, break-ins increased by 28.0 percent, totaling 27,741 cases, which further compounds the growing concerns of public safety.

Notably, the rise in sensational crimes and those occurring in familiar locations is likely to generate a sense of declining public safety among the populace. The agency’s spokesperson emphasized that it could potentially be a turning point in terms of safety if the reported crimes continue to surge as people gradually return to a semblance of normalcy.

Examining the crime categories, robberies registered a substantial jump of 23.8 percent from the previous year, amounting to 228,889 cases, constituting three-quarters of the overall increase. Furthermore, heinous crimes, including murder, witnessed a troubling rise of 16.5 percent, accounting for 5,137 cases.

Japan’s recent surge in crime during the first half of 2023 is a matter of great concern for both authorities and citizens alike. The increase in street crime, break-ins, and robberies, along with the recruitment of individuals through social media for illegal activities, are alarming trends that demand immediate attention. As the country gradually emerges from the shadows of COVID-19 restrictions, it becomes crucial for law enforcement agencies and the community to work together to restore public safety and combat this worrisome rise in criminal activities.



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