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Post-Pandemic Japan Sees First-in-a-Generation Crime Spike


The National Police Agency (NPA) of Japan published statistics on Thursday showing that the country experienced an increase in criminal activity in 2022 for the first time in 20 years.
The report tracked the number of police reports on documented crimes in addition to arrests. Among the crimes identified as seeing a significant rise in frequency were rape, child abuse, and street crimes, such as muggings and bicycle thefts. The rates of domestic violence and child abuse hit “all-time highs,” according to a report by the Indian news site First Post. Police also referred a record number of children to consultation centers after finding evidence of abuse.
The increase follows a dramatic drop in crime following the eruption of the coronavirus pandemic originating in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. Japan shut its schools in February 2020 and sternly encouraged mask usage and “social distancing.” Relatively lax, compared to other parts of the world, government coronavirus restrictions caused more severe disruption as “virus vigilantes” threatened violence against businesses seeking to operate or simply people suspected of planning to participate in gatherings, such as people carrying guitars on the street.
Crime joins growing concerns surrounding schoolchildren suicides and a catastrophic fertility rate in problems previously facing Japan that have been significantly exacerbated in the wake of the pandemic.
“Japan is facing a bleak situation in regard to crime,” Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun quoted police as saying in a statement following the release of 2022 crime statistics on Thursday. According to the newspaper, police expressed particular concern about what it called street crimes, documenting a 20.9-percent increase in bicycle theft and an over 30-percent increase in thieves robbing pedestrians on the street. Documented cases of rape reportedly increased by nearly 20 percent.

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