Country Listing

Japan Table of Contents




Figure 15. Organization of the National Police Agency, 1989

Source: Based on information from Japan, National Police Agency, The Police of Japan, 1989, Tokyo, 1989, 10-11.


Policewoman directing traffic in Tokyo
Courtesy Asahi Shimbun

Conditions of public order compare favorably with those in other industrialized countries. The overall crime rate is low by North American and West European standards and has shown a general decline since the mid-1960s. The incidence of violent crime is especially low, owing in part to effective enforcement of stringent firearms control laws. Problems of particular concern are those associated with a modern industralized nation, including juvenile delinquency, traffic control, and white-collar crime.

Civil disorders occurred beginning in the early 1950s, chiefly in Tokyo, but did not seriously threaten the internal security of the state. Far less frequent after the early 1970s, they were in all cases effectively countered by efficient and well-trained police units employing the most sophisticated techniques of riot control.

Japan's the police are an apolitical body under the general supervision of independent agencies, free of direct central government executive control. They are checked by an independent judiciary and monitored by a free and active press. The police are generally well respected and can rely on considerable public cooperation in their work.

Officials involved in the criminal justice system are usually highly trained professionals interested in preventing crime and rehabilitating offenders. They are allowed considerable discretion in dealing with legal infractions and appear to deserve the trust and respect accorded to them by the general public. Constitutionally guaranteed rights of habeas corpus, protection against self-incrimination, and the inadmissability of confessions obtained under duress are enforced by criminal procedures.

The prison system is generally modern and conducted from the viewpoint of resocialization. Prisoners are treated on an individualized basis, and education is emphasized. Special attention is given to juvenile offenders, who are normally housed separately from adult prisoners. A well-organized parole and probation program employs numerous citizen volunteers.

Data as of January 1994