Ratios of Arrests and Rates of Crime


In the last essay, I addressed the rates of arrested persons, not the crime rate. This was significant.

Police, as well as common citizens, tend to believe that poor areas such as Buraku and slums are nests of crimes. Since modernization, Japanese society has consistently reconstructed this idea. It is a simple idea, but malignant with prejudice. When a murder occurs, police head to the Buraku on no evidence, but mere presumption. Citizens do not protest because of their own prejudice. The media never stands with the poor.

The media is sometimes good for basic information, by which I have learned that Dr. Ramseyer, who says that yakuza members come from Buraku, is a sociologist at Harvard University. (His paper used Harvard’s name, at least.) If true, Dr. Ramseyer may have known Dr. Robert K. Merton, a great sociologist famous for his studies on functionalism. In his Social Theory and Social Structure, we find the following passage.

These crime “data” (organized in terms of a particular operational concept or measure of crime) have set to a series of hypothesis which view poverty, slum conditions, feeble mindedness and other characteristics held to be highly associated with low-class status as the “cause” of criminal behavior. Once the concept of crime is clarified to refer to the violation of criminal law and is thus extended to include “white collar criminality” in business and professions-violations which are less often reflected in official crime statistics than are lower-class violations—the presumptive high association between law social status and crime may no longer obtain.

In short, crime statistics do not include, say, entertainment scandals caused by executive bureaucrats. These scandals are tips of icebergs. We should halt the absurd poverty-crime discourse at least until police add these crimes to their statistics.

Finally, I will explain something about this yakuza issue. In a local city, in 1948, an act of mass violence left one man dead, and many injured. The assailants were a dozen yakuza. Dozens of the victims were Burakumin. Many citizens saw the dozen yakuza, armed with swords and other weapons, headed to the Buraku. Despite the advance warning and literal ringing alarm bells, the police sent over no officers. This incident raised doubt as to the true democratization of Japan. Seventy years later, that doubt remains valid...as does Dr. Merton’s sad wisdom.

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