Associated Press Perpetuating Common Myth About Japan

March 24, 2008

I’ve mentioned this before in other articles about what I call pop-Japanology in the media.

People saying something about Japan which is completely unsubstantiated, never fact checked, but people who don’t know better believe it.

The example this time may be found this article found on CNN.

Man Wanted For Murder Goes on Stabbing Spree

The article itself is fine until the inevitable over-generalized and completely inaccurate assertion made about some aspect of Japanese culture.

I’ll quote it here,

“Violent crimes are relatively rare in Japan, where most shootings and stabbings are committed by the nation’s “yakuza” crime syndicates. “

I’ll give them that most SHOOTINGS are by yakuza right now. (The shootings in a fitness club in Sasebo is a big example of one that wasn’t. )

However I think including stabbings as crimes mostly committed by the yakuza is completely inaccurate. I’m sure no research was done by the AP writer involved before writing this comment (which, by the way, is completely unnecessary to the article – so why include it at all?).

I will try to find some resources for crime statistics when I get a few days off to research because I am looking forward to having some data to throw at the pop-Japanologists at CNN, AP, and on the net in general. I wish they’d do their jobs and fact check though because they can actually get paid to do it!

Lastly, the quote mentions the rarity of violent crimes in Japan. I will give them that it seems that there are actually fewer violent crimes per capita in Japan than the US, but I’d hardly call them rare… I mean, heck, read this blog.

One of the main things I hope to accomplish with this blog is showing people that Japan is a great place, but it’s not the land of safety that people think it is, and also, most importantly, it’s not as simple as the pop-Japanologists and lazy journalists want to portray it.