Crime prevention in Japan orchestration, representation and impact of a volunteering boom

In the past 13 years, Japan has been experiencing a boom in volunteering activities aimed at crime prevention; as close to 3,000,000 Japanese citizens have involved themselves in volunteering activities with this aim. This article firstly examines how such a boom has come about. It secondly addresse...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:International journal of law, crime and justice
Main Author: Herber, Erik (Author)
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
Published: 2018
In:International journal of law, crime and justice
Year: 2018, Volume: 54, Pages: 102-110
Online Access: Resolving-System
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Summary:In the past 13 years, Japan has been experiencing a boom in volunteering activities aimed at crime prevention; as close to 3,000,000 Japanese citizens have involved themselves in volunteering activities with this aim. This article firstly examines how such a boom has come about. It secondly addresses the ways in which volunteers represent their own activities and their reasons for engaging in and continuing with these activities. The article finally addresses the impact of volunteering activities on the neighborhoods in which they are undertaken, as well as implications of article findings for discussions on neighborhood watch programs in non-Japanese contexts. This article is based on participant observation, interviews with and material produced by members of three volunteering groups as well as members of local governments and the police. The crime prevention volunteering boom has been largely conceptualized and orchestrated by the Japanese police in close cooperation with the local government and neighborhood associations. Volunteers' activities are as a result informed and influenced by criminological theories, concepts and research, while also embedded in more general (local) government "town building" efforts aimed at creating a living environment in which people can lead healthy lives while feeling safe and secure. Volunteers phrased their motivation in terms of both such town building idea(l)s and the threat of crime. They represented crime as existing outside of the neighborhood, and as both effectively impacted by volunteering activities and immutably threatening. While the impact of volunteering activities on crime rates is difficult to assess, these activities in any case provide opportunities for increased social interaction and physical activity, while also resulting in spaces in which the neighborhood's eyes are always watching.
DOI:10.1016/j.ijlcj.2018.03.005