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EDITORIAL | For Public Safety, Urgent Measures are Needed to Halt Rise in Teenage Crime

Police uncover a concerning trend — young offenders are readily succumbing to the allure of dark part-time jobs, creating urgent public safety concerns.



Sayaka Uemura (second from right), head of the Seijo police station for the day, talks about the dangers of dark part-time jobs at Seijo Gakuen-mae Station on the afternoon of July 7 in Tokyo. (©Sankei by Reina Kikkawa)

According to the latest report from the National Police Agency, police recorded 333,003 criminal incidents for January to June 2023. This represents a significant 21.1% increase (58,123 cases) compared to the same period in 2022. Notably, this is the first time in 21 years that crime rates have surged during the initial six months of the year. However, the issue is also affecting perceptions of public safety.

This goes beyond mere statistical fluctuations.

Screenshot from a video of college students calling attention to dark part-time jobs (from the official YouTube channel of the Nara Prefectural Police)

Declining Perceptions of Public Safety

In June, Yasuhiro Tsuyuki, Commissioner General of the National Police Agency, addressed the directors of criminal affairs from prefectural police departments nationwide. He expressed deep concern about the decline in perceived public safety.

The term "perceived public safety" refers to the subjective sense of security felt by individuals in society. It can be influenced by the prevalence of serious crimes.

One significant factor contributing to this decline is the increasing severity of crimes. For example, cases of consecutive robberies and "apoden" (appointment phone) scams are occurring over widespread areas. 

robbery ring
Two of the "Luffy" robbery ring suspects deported from the Philippines arrivie in Japan on February 7 at Narita Airport in Japan on their way to processing by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department.. (© Sankei by Kanata Iwasaki)

'Luffy' Crime Gangs

Tragically, in January such an incident occurred in Komae City, Tokyo. A 90-year-old woman was violently assaulted and killed in that robbery-homicide case.

This crime, like other incidents, is attributed to specialized fraud schemes or communications fraud carried out by criminal groups. The perpetrators are recruited through social media and illicit websites, and become involved in what is known as "yami baito" or "dark part-time jobs." Then these part-time workers are told to carry out ruthless attacks on victims under the orders of their leaders. 

The selection of victims is facilitated by underground lists traded on the internet and other platforms. Undeniably, these illicit platforms are significantly contributing to the public's perception of declining public safety.

A police officer from the Metropolitan Police Department's Juvenile Development Division talks about dark part-time jobs at a volunteer probation officer training session on June 23 in Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda Ward (©Sankei by Reina Kikkawa)

Japan National Police Agency Report

The National Police Agency's report also revealed that robberies increased by 24.4%, or 683 cases, during the first half of 2023. These statistics include crimes associated with these dark part-time jobs.

Of the 703 individuals apprehended for robbery, more than half (368) were below the age of 20 at the time of the crime. Significantly, there was a 56% rise in the involvement of teenagers. In fact, 156 individual teenagers were implicated. 

These findings highlight a concerning trend. It seems young offenders are readily succumbing to the allure of these dark part-time jobs.

Junior and senior high school students discussing the theme of "dark part-time jobs" = July 7 at Kawasaki Rinko Station (©Kyodo)

Preventing Crimes is More Than Arrests

In a case of consecutive large-scale robberies, the Metropolitan Police Department apprehended a communications fraud group operating from the Philippines under the name "Luffy." However, similar crimes continue to persist. This indicates the prevalence of second and third "Luffy" groups is rampant.

We hope police authorities will intensify their investigations and eradicate these dark part-time job crimes. There is a common saying, "There is no crime prevention better than apprehension." On the other hand, police need to reach out to the public and extend their efforts to deter crime, not just arrest criminals.

This disturbing reality became clear during investigations of robberies over widespread areas. The ringleaders manipulate the executors. They manipulate by holding their personal information and turning their involvement into an opportunity for further coercion. 

Threats to these perpetrators and their families keep them from finding a way to break free from the group. Meanwhile, they are forced to escalate their criminal activities. 

A widespread publicity campaign by the police is needed. Police must raise awareness of the negative cycle that ensnares individuals who are lured by enticing promises of high rewards. That is the most effective way to deter and prevent the emergence of new offenders. 



(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

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