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Friday, 3 August, 2001, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
Japan's crime rate soars
Crime scene at Ikeda Elementary School
Violent crime is an increasing problem for Japan
The number of reported crimes in Japan has risen to a record high and the rate of arrests has fallen.

Nearly 1.3 million offences were reported to the police in the first six months of the year, a 16% increase on the same period in 2000.

We must increase the number of officers

Setsuo Tanaka
Police chief
The vast majority of cases were less serious crimes - such as car thefts and burglaries.

But correspondents say the figures have nevertheless caused concern in a country which has traditionally had one of the lowest crime rates in the world.

Analysts have suggested the increase may be partly due to the economic downturn in Japan and the breakdown of some family values within society.

Violent crime

It is only the second time since World War II that the figure has exceeded one million, and the director of the National Police Agency, Setsuo Tanaka, said officers needed more resources to cope.

Police officer, Japan
Arrest rates have also fallen
"The [current police] organisation is not adequate," Mr Tanaka told a news conference on Thursday. "We must increase the number of officers."

In the last few years Japan has also been shocked by a wave of violent crimes.

In one of the worst incidents a man walked into a primary school in June and randomly stabbed to death eight children.

And in 1997, a 14-year-old boy in Kobe, western Japan, chopped off another pupil's head and stuck it on the school gates.

The arrest rate for serious crimes such as murder fell below 60% for the first time ever, to 54.5% from 65.1%, the report said. The arrest rate for all crime fell to 19% from 25.3% a year earlier,

The number of crimes committed by teenagers aged 14 to 19 rose by 2.8% to 61,414, the first increase in three years.

See also:

08 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Violent crime stalks Japan's youth
08 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Pupils die in Japan knife massacre
23 Mar 99 | Correspondents
Disorder in Japan's schools
17 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Teen bat rampage shocks Tokyo
21 Apr 99 | UK
Dunblane victims remembered
03 May 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Japan
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