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42 Criminology 179 (2004)
Explaining Japan's Postwar Violent Crime Trends

handle is hein.journals/crim42 and id is 191 raw text is: EXPLAINING JAPAN'S POSTWAR VIOLENT
CRIME TRENDS*
AKI ROBERTS
University of New Mexico
GARY LAFREE
University of Maryland
KEYWORDS: Japan, crime trend, pooled time-series analysis
Japan has long been recognized for its low rates of violent crime,
rates that usually seem to be declining. The most common explanation
for postwar rates links unique cultural characteristics to a system of
exceptionally effective informal social controls that, at the macro level,
suggest low   levels  of  social disorganization. Other  common
explanations include low levels of economic stress, a small proportion
of young males and a criminal justice system that delivers a high
certainty of punishment. In this paper we test these four explanations
for Japanese trends using both an annual time-series national analysis
(1951 to 2000) and a pooled cross-sectional time-series analysis of the
47 Japanese prefectures from 1955 to 2000 (at 5-year intervals). The
results from the two analyses are largely congruent. They show that
measures of economic stress, certainty of punishment and age structure
are-compared to common social disorganization measures-more
consistent predictors of Japanese postwar violent crime trends. Our
results suggest that the remarkable strength of the postwar Japanese
economy may play a larger role in explaining Japanese violent crime
rates than is usually recognized.
Japan's low rates of violent crime began to attract the attention of
researchers and policy makers as early as the mid-1970s (Clifford, 1976;
This study was funded by a grant to the first author from the Harry Frank
Guggenheim Foundation. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the
annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology, November, 2002, Chicago.
We would like to thank Lisa Broidy, Koichi Hamai, John M. Roberts Jr., Bert
Useem, the editor and several anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and
Akihoko Itoh, Rio Takeuchi and Yoh Takeuchi for assistance in data collection.

CRIMINOLOGY VOLUME 42 NUMBER 1 2004

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