Causes of Juvenile Crime

Moriyama (2011) points out that the culture and traditions of Japan play the most important roles in maintaining the low crime rate in modern Japan. The following characteristics are salient in Japanese culture and help account for the low crime rate: (1) certain types of cultural impacts from other countries do not take hold in Japan because it is an isolated, island country; (2) Japan is a country that is overwhelmingly composed of one race, and people’s values are very similar; (3) there are traditionally strong bonds in each district; (4) people accept the existence of informal controls; (5) the government strictly controls weapons; and (6) the criminal justice system is efficient in suppressing crime. Japanese society emphasizes solidarity rather than liberty, cooperation rather than competition, collectivism over individualism, process over results, stability over change, dependence over independence, and harmony over difference. This set of societal preferences has a crucial impact on the juvenile crime phenomena in Japan. Contingency, the holding of grudges, greed, and excessive consumption of alcohol are representative causes of crimes for juvenile offenders. These cultural and traditional factors might account for the relatively strong control of crime that Japanese society exhibits.

In Japan, the most frequently committed crime is larceny, accounting for about 60 % of the total number of crimes in 2014; embezzlement, the second most-frequent crime, accounted for 14 % of crimes. Juveniles have been found to mainly steal abandoned bicycles. For this reason, about 74 % of juvenile crime might not be serious crime, and people do not strongly fear juvenile crime in Japan (Ayukawa 2011).

The Task Force for Juvenile Justice (under the Office of the Prime Minister) surveys “Overall Research on the Cause of Juvenile Offenders” every 10 years, with the last survey(the 4th Report) being conducted in 2009. Juvenile offenders are influenced by elements related to seven categories: (1) family relationships; (2) friend relationships; (3) everyday lives; (4) schooling and study; (5) experience of offenders; (6) juveniles’ characters; and (7) local activities. This survey examined the differences between normal juveniles and juvenile offenders in detail. It is difficult to explain the reasons for juvenile crime because these reasons are an intricate mix of economic, social, and personal factors. Even though many scholars and law enforcement authorities point out that the most important cause of juvenile offending is the juvenile’s relationship with his or her family, the rate was highest at 53.0 % for juveniles who consider that their delinquency was “their own fault,” followed by those who consider that their delinquency was caused by “their friends and peers (32.7 %),” and those who consider that their delinquency was caused by “their family or parents (8.4 %).” The juvenile offenders’ parents also have a similar stance on this question.

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