Why is juvenile crime declining in Japan and in the other western countries?

Prof. Koichi Hamai1
1Ryukoku University, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan

Contrary to the popular belief that juvenile crime is increasing and becoming more violent, the number of juvenile offenders arrested by the police in Japan has decreased significantly since 2003. This is true in almost all types of crimes. Juvenile correctional facilities including training schools and a juvenile prison have been closed in recent years due to lack of young offenders. In addition, the sudden decrease of juvenile crime can be seen also in many other western countries since 2007. In order to explore reasons of the sudden decrease of juvenile crime in Japan, there is one question to be answered. Is there any police policy change in arresting juvenile offenders or in recording juvenile crime? If not, we should ask the next questions, why juvenile crime has been decreasing and where juvenile offenders have gone. There would be several reasons to be explored, declining birthrate, less use of alcohol and drugs, more commitment to schooling and activities, more satisfaction with living conditions, more surveillance by technology, and more extensive dissemination of smartphone. There is one more question should be answered, why the decrease of juvenile crime in Japan has begun some years earlier than in other countries.


Koichi Hamai graduated from Waseda University in 1984. He had worked in the Ministry of Justice until 2003. He was an editor of the White Paper on Crime between 1995 and 1999. He was responsible for an international victimization survey of Japan in 2000. He has been the author of about 100 national and international publications. He was the editor in chief of the Japanese Journal of Sociological Criminology between 2005 and 2011. He currently holds a position as professor of the Faculty of Law at Ryukoku University in Kyoto, Japan.



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