Japan Data

Crime in Japan: Arrests Hit an All-Time Low in 2018


Japan’s crime rate fell again in 2018, continuing a decline that began in 2002. However, domestic violence cases are increasing.

Crime is at a historic low in Japan. A 2019 white paper by the Japanese Ministry of Justice shows that Japanese reported a little over 817,000 crimes to police in 2018, an 11% decline from the previous year and the lowest amount in the postwar period. Theft accounted for the majority of cases at 582,000. Crime statistics have steadily dropped over the last 16 years from a peak of 2,854,000 cases in 2002.

The number of arrests fell from 215,000 in 2017 to 206,000 in 2018. Of these, just over 105,000 were first-time offenders, down from 110,000 in 2017. The number of repeat offenders also declined, dropping from 104,700 to 100,600.

However, repeat offenders accounted for a record 48.8% of arrests, an increase of one-tenth of a point from 2017. The figure has risen steadily since 1997.

One troubling statistic has been the steady uptick in domestic violence. In 2018, there were 8,200 arrests for crimes such as spousal abuse, a 6.3% increase from the previous year. Women were targets in 90% of cases. Since 1989, Japan has had an almost 12-fold rise in arrests for domestic violence.

There were 1,380 incidents of child abuse in 2018 resulting in 1,419 arrests, up more than 20% from the previous year. As a category, cases of violence are showing a marked increase.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: A forensic investigator with the Osaka Prefectural Police examines a crime scene in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, in June 2019 near where a man stabbed a police officer and stole his sidearm. © Jiji.)

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