Why is Japan such a safe country? Is it because they, the Japanese, are more moral than the rest of us?
No, I wouldn't think so
I majored in economics so every so often I try to think with my economist brain
I think that there are simple economic forces here at play as well as simple geography
There is such thing called the economics of crime
The would-be criminals rationally weigh up the costs against the expected benefits of breaking the law
On one side are the costs, the probability of being caught or the level of punishment and on the other side is the expected payoff, the benefits.
If the benefits outweigh the costs, crime does pay and crime can be rational
So for the would-be criminals out there:
1. Japan is an island and it is very hard to get things in and out of the country. By things I mean stolen goods, things like cars, TV sets and rare bugs.
It is possible, but much harder and costly. Cost goes up.
2. Japan is a developed, rich country and the second hand market is not that big. Lower demand lower expected benefit.
I mean there are what Japanese call recycle shops, basically second-hand shops. There are second-hand shops here in Japan but I don’t think they are that popular.
3. Plus, there is a general lack of space, people just don’t have enough space to put more stuff so most people don’t buy a lot and usually buy new.
So they buy 1 TV, they have the money to buy a second one but don’t have the space to put it.
Most people buy new. Here you pay to dispose of your old TV. You can't just leave it out on the street and expect somebody to take it. You gotta pay to get rid of your old stuff
Demand for used products is not that high, especially those that can be stolen like TV sets, car stereos, laptop computers
4. And about the level of punishment in Japan
In Japan it is not just the punishment administered by the state that acts as a deterrent it’s the punishment meted out by the society which could be much more severe and it’s where the risk
outweighs the benefit by great margin
Losing your reputation is quite costly in a closed society like the Japanese one It doesn’t affect only the person committing the crime but also his or her family (famous TV host)
In countries like the US an ex-con might move to another state and might get a second chance at second life. Might. Japan being an island and a very densely populated country second chances are not that easy.
There is social stigma associated with crime everywhere in the world but it seems to me here in Japan there is a lot more of it
5. Being a very densely populated country, there are people everywhere, there is always somebody around, it's hard to remain unnoticed. There is a higher probability of getting caught
6. here are surveillance cameras everywhere, everywhere. Cameras and metal doors with big locks.
So yeah, this is my take on why Japan is one of the safest countries in the world
Foreigners living in Japan might disagree on many things about Japan, but I have never met a person, non-Japanese or Japanese, who things Japan is unsafe every person I’ve spoken to in the last 15 years thinks Japan is safe.
So whatever the reasons, I’m glad I live in this safe country