Copyright GLOBIS

In Japan, the crime-arrest ratio for homicides is 96%, which is much higher than in many other countries, yet the number of crimes occurring around us in the rise. Such crimes include ore-ore fraud (in which the fraudster tricks the victim into transferring money to a bank account by pretending to be a relative in trouble), the use of illicit drugs, stalking, and domestic violence. Recently, the crime-arrest ratio for crime as a whole has dropped to around 30%. Safety is the cornerstone of life, and also constitutes part of the value of the nation of Japan. The ability of the police to use technology to maintain safety while also safeguarding the rights of citizens therefore needs to be improved.

1. Introduce “high-tech kobans” that are adapted to advances in IT and changes in the structure of society

We would like to propose the concept of “high-tech kobans” as a means of responding to changes in the structure of society resulting from the proliferation of IT:

1. Cyberspace

Make it possible to identify a person’s internet usage history, trace logs etc., monitor illegal and harmful information, warn about crime, prevent crime stemming from community sites and dating sites, and so on. When someone is a victim of bullying or stalking, they should be able to run to a “high-tech koban.” It should also be possible to provide these high-tech kobans with information about suspicious persons.

2. Telephones

Regarding the tapping of phones, Japan enacted a wiretapping law in 1999, but compared with those in Western countries, the law is very seldom used (in Italy there are around 127,000 cases, in Germany 24,000, and in the U.S. 3,000. In Japan, meanwhile, there are 64 cases.). Given the nature of crimes such as money-transfer fraud, equipping telephones with a “high-tech koban” function should bring huge benefits in terms of detecting and preventing crime.

3. CCTV (to expand the functions of real kobans)

As is the case in London, numerous CCTV cameras should be installed in the streets to supplement the functions of kobans.

2. To strengthen action on terrorism, improve the information-gathering capabilities of the police and step up international cooperation. Have the Japan Coast Guard, Immigration Bureau of Japan (Ministry of Justice), and the police establish a “Border Security Headquarters”

Western countries have domestic intelligence agencies that collect information on terrorism, and they are given special powers to gather intelligence. It is also normally the case that the police can use a far wider variety of means to gather information than they can in Japan (e.g. they can tap phones and enter homes etc. secretly). To boost Japan’s counterterrorism capabilities, the following three measures are necessary:

1. Establish an independent domestic intelligence agency. Remove restrictions on the information-gathering means that can be used by the police in order to strengthen the independent information-gathering capabilities of the police.

2. Step up cooperation between domestic and overseas information organizations

3. To strengthen measures along the coast, have the Japan Coast Guard and the Ministry of Justice’s Bureau of Immigration work more closely together and establish a “Border Security Headquarters.”

3. Implement a “select-and-focus” strategy for managing police resources. Spin off transport-related departments from the police and make them external departments, and modernize and strengthen the capabilities of investigative departments

In Western countries there are 200-300 people per police officer, but in Japan there are around 500. Moreover, the human resources and the budget of the police are limited. As a result, a strategy of “select and focus” and spinning off departments is required:

1. Transport-related departments do not require high-level investigative capabilities, so all their functions, not just checking for abandoned vehicles, should be spun off from the police and turned into external departments.

2. The budgets, personnel, and resources of these departments should be concentrated in investigative departments.

In addition to the above reforms, to protect the rights of citizens and for the benefit of the police, it will also be crucial to “make questioning transparent.” This is already the case in the U.K., most U.S. states, Australia, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Thailand, and Japan should follow suit soon.

Get monthly Insights

Sign up for our newsletter! Privacy Policy