Immigrants and Crime in Japan

by Saki Hirama

There is a general perception that immigrants are likely to commit crime more than Japanese in Japan. However, is that right realization? It seems that the mass media in Japan deal with crimes by foreigners or immigrants excessively, and it brings people a kind of prejudice.

Mass media in Japan often shows how foreigners or immigrants are dangerous with daily news, newspaper, or magazine. This phenomenon can be analyzed by closed society in Japan. Still in today, Japan is said that it has little variety of nationalities, ethnicities, cultures, and language, while the world comes to be more global. Compared with other countries like America, Japanese’s attitude of accepting immigrants is by far less flexible. People tend to have uncomfortable feeling against immigrants and it helps Japanese to have negative perception against them like committing crime. However, according to the data by National Police Agency, many cases of the crimes by immigrants have Japanese accomplices. It means that Japanese accomplices have been hidden because of the emphasized report of the crime by immigrants. Through this, I think it’s not necessarily appropriate to suggest that only immigrants tend to have high possibility to commit crime, and Japanese and they are standing in equal field.

However, it is also true that there are crimes committed by immigrant in Japan. The immigrants should have some reasons, because I think nobody commits crime without reason, Conceivable factors are that the lack of the opportunities for work, or the uncomfortable environment at working place or community. In Japan, it seems that most of immigrants have non-regular employment, and it means that they are in an insecure situation and also the payment is lower than the average. On a daily level, it is difficult for them to integrate into Japanese community, because of differences in language, culture, religion, and character of people. They might be isolated by community. I think these factors bring immigrants negative feelings, and sometimes it drives them to commit crime.

Although there is prejudice against immigrants in Japan, the problem of the crime committed by immigrants actually exists. We have to think how we can deal with it. I think the most important thing is that Japanese and immigrants should have good relationship by participation in communities. If they make connection, they will pay attention to each other, and it might help them when they are in trouble. Moreover, it might help them to understand their differences. The crimes committed by immigrants will decrease when the future that Japanese and immigrants can live together without prejudice or discrimination comes.


the status of arrest against the foreign crimes 来日外国人犯罪の検挙状況. (2011).  Retrieved Nov 10, 2012, from National Police Agency:


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