Do foreign immigrants threaten public security?

by Chika Yamamoto

When we are talking about foreign immigrants, the discussion always goes to the anxiety of increasing crime by foreigners somehow. In this case, I don’t know why but criminals are always foreigners and therefore victims are Japanese. So, my question is why. Why do people assume that crime will increase if foreign immigrants increase? Is it really true?

As for my first question, I think people don’t worry about just foreigners in Japan. In other words, people don’t care or feel anxious about, for example, lots of foreign tourists coming to Japan. Rather, mostly Japanese people welcome foreigners to come to Japan. Also, if a foreign couple becomes our neighbor, we would be nice to them, help them if necessary, and we wouldn’t feel afraid of them. But when it comes to foreigners accounting for the majority in our neighborhood, the situation and people’s reaction would be different. People don’t know how to communicate with them if they don’t speak fluent Japanese. People feel worried about being minority and replaced by them. The foreigners get visible and influential by the growth of number. I think that just comes from people’s mind. It is easier for them to label foreigners as unknown and uncanny people because people mostly don’t try to know them and decide the impossibility of communication with them. Also, people can put emphasis on Japanese safety by associating foreigners to crime even though Japanese of course commit crimes mostly in Japan. I think this idea is just for escaping and hiding the fact of crimes by Japanese.

My next question is whether this relation between foreign immigrants and crimes is true or not. According to Shakai Jitsujyo Deta Zuroku, the rate of crime by foreigners has not really increased since 1992. Of course comparing to 1980, the rate increases from 0.2% to 2.4% in 1992. As of 2010, it even decreases to 2.0% according to this statistic although number of foreign people is increasing day by day. So, from this result, I think the increasing number of immigrants doesn’t correspond with increasing number of crime. In addition, Omae says that this idea that crime will increase because of increasing number of foreigners is very one-sided. He criticizes the opinion Ishihara, mayor of Tokyo, saying all over Japan would be like Shinokubo if we accept huge number of immigrants. Shinokubo is one of the diverse cities in Tokyo and even called as ethnic town. Foreigners living in Shinokubo account for almost 40%. However, Omae says this is biased by showing the example of immigration in Singapore. Singapore accepted huge number of immigrants for the economic demand and population increases from about 3,000,000 to 5,000,000. But, nothing changed in public order. They maintain the security in Singapore because they put requirements for immigrants such as their academic career and job qualification. Thus, the increasing number of immigrants and foreign crime are not really corresponded.

In this aging society, Japan needs huge number of labor to maintain Japanese economic. Immigration from foreign countries is probably significant to make up this labor shortage. But if people believe that crimes will increase and society will not be safe by having foreign immigrants, it would be very difficult to have foreign immigrants. There will be serious problem such as the problem in America that we learnt in the class. Therefore, as Omae points out, I think people should know that this view is one-sided and there is another way to have immigrants and maintain the security in Japan. That will be at least first step for being immigrant-friendly country.

Reference

Shakai Jitsujyo Deta Zuroku. “Transition diagram of crime by foreigners in Japan” (Dec 28,2011) http://www2.ttcn.ne.jp/honkawa/2794.html

Omae Kenichi. News Post Seven (Nov 14, 2011) http://www.news-postseven.com/archives/20111114_67639.html

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