Crime prevention volunteering in Japan


Crime prevention volunteering in Japan

Japanese crime rates are, and have been for decades, among the lowest in the industrialized world. Nevertheless, in the past 10 years the number of volunteers involved in crime prevention has risen from around 200,000 to almost 3,000,000. Close to 3,000,000 people regularly patrol their neighborhoods, accompany children going to and coming back from school, and spread information about crime prevention.

Besides the volunteers who keep themselves busy with such activities, there are about 48,000 citizens who help probationers and parolees to reintegrate, while there are another 5,000 volunteers who as members of so-called Big Brother and Sister Movements provide juvenile delinquents with various kinds of support in daily life.

This website aims to be a repository for information and insights on the activities on the phenomenon of “crime prevention volunteering”. While information is widely available in Japanese, it is only to a very limited extent available in other languages. The site is part of a bigger project on crime prevention volunteering in Japan. While its focus is obviously on Japan, the aim is to ultimately also contribute to discussions on neighborhood watch as well as reintegration programs and the role that citizens could play in such programs.The website is part of the Leiden Asia Centre project Crime prevention as a pastime: Japanese Citizens’ contribution to low crime rates.This project is aimed at an improved understanding of crime prevention volunteering in Japan and its implications for crime prevention volunteering in other (non-Japanese) contexts.

The phenomenon of crime prevention volunteering is approached from three perspectives: (1) the governance perspective of those involved in its organization; (2) the practitioners’ perspective of those participating, as well as the academic perspective of (3) those conducting academic research on these crime prevention volunteering activities.

As part of the project two workshops devoted to this theme have been organized under the umbrella of the Annual Conference of the Asian Criminological Society that took place in Beijing from 17 to 19 June. Presenters consisted of academics, crime prevention volunteers, probations officers and civil servants affiliated to, among others, the universities of TokyoChiba and Leiden as well as the United Nations Asia and Far East Institute (UNAFEI). These presentations were based on both original academic research as well as the experiences of those directly involved in organizing and participating in crime prevention volunteering.A selection of these presentations are currently being converted into articles that will be published in a special issue of the International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice.

This project is funded by the Vaes-Elias Fund / Leiden Asia Centre. It is led by Erik Herber (Leiden University).