Japan is one of those rare countries where worrying about your safety comes as an afterthought rather than a priority when traveling. Whilst that’s not to say that it’s completely crime-free, there are many aspects of Japanese society that contribute to a welcoming, safe, and burden-free travel experience for anyone visiting.
But why is it so safe, you wonder? It’s any leadership’s dream to govern a low-crime or even crime-free country, and Japan has developed into one that, relative to almost every other country around the world, holds an immaculate record.
There are many, many reasons why this is the case, with most of them having layers of cultural and social nuance. However, one main resounding reason that most agree on is that Japan heavily emphasizes crime prevention. Their mentality is pretty much this: fix it before it becomes a problem!
On that note, let’s explore some of the reasons why Japan is so safe!
1. Strict Gun Laws
The Japanese government has zero tolerance for firearms. You will almost never see firearms being used even by police authorities, much less citizens. If you happen to be caught in the possession of a firearm or similar offensive item, you will likely be arrested. This, along with strict intolerance for knife crimes, makes it relatively safer than most countries around the world.
2. Intolerance for Drug Use
Drug-related offenses are not taken lightly in Japan; in fact, even celebrities who are embroiled in past drug scandals are persecuted by the public and many are even denied entry into Japan.
3. Moral Sense of Duty & Respect
From a young age, Japanese people are taught right from wrong in a clear, almost black and white, manner. This upbringing ingrains in their minds what is morally right and wrong. From then, it is easy to see why most people don’t deviate towards a life of crime.
They’re also taught to be polite from a young age, look out for those around them, and to take care when in the presence of people so as to not ‘burden’ them. This is the reason why, for example, people won’t blow their noses in public, or eat on the train.
The aforementioned may not be crimes, but you have to admit, when everyone follows the same rules, it makes for a much more pleasant atmosphere.
4. Collectivist Society
Japanese society is extraordinarily collective, with strong family values and deeply entrenched traditions. What one individual does reflects on their family; thus, if one were to be sentenced for a crime, this will bring immense embarrassment onto themselves as well as shame onto their families.
5. Convenience Store Staffing System
Konbini stores in Japan mostly operate on a 24-hour basis. In many other countries, the quiet AM window could be seen as a ripe opportunity to commit burglary.
However, to counter that, every convenience store is staffed with two employees at any one time. It may cost the business more to have two employees in the dead of the night, but it makes for a much safer environment for everyone, including shoppers.
6. High Level of Security Personnel
In most businesses and buildings, you’ll encounter a security guard or similar. It may seem over the top in some situations, but this is effective in minimizing the number of crimes committed. Crime is less likely to be committed if there is security around.
7. Koban (Small Police Stations)
Given the number of hubs and neighborhoods across the country, you’ll be surprised to know that from the largest city to the smallest town, there will be a Koban.
These small police stations are often small enough just for one or two policemen, with minimal furniture and even less space. Whilst they’re not where people would turn to for major crimes, having these sprinkled across the country provides a haven for people to feel safe around and intended to handle small disturbances or suspicious activity reports.
8. Parking Lot Attendants
This is a wonderful aspect of Japan that really should be integrated in other societies but unfortunately is not. You’ll come across parking lot attendants in Japan where you would least expect to see them. They exist in major city lots as well as countryside parking lots. Most of the time, they simply greet you and direct you to a spot. Some might even walk you to it!
The mere presence of these attendants deters criminals from lurking around and breaking into cars or even mugging people, a crime that is prominent in many other countries.
As you can see, Japanese people take many preventative measures to ensure the crime rate is kept low in the country.
In saying that, it always pays to keep vigilant and your wits about you!
Basic personal safety measures such as making sure you carry your items with you in a safe manner, staying alert while walking alone in a quiet area, and trusting your gut instinct about unsafe situations will always be your best defense, no matter where you are!