Monday, February 18, 2013

Japan is One of the Best Places to Live in the World Reason #4: You Call This Crime? Man Steals $6 Chocolate, Hits National News!


You read that headline correctly.

In Japan, last night on the headlines of the world's biggest newspaper, the Yomiuri Shimbun; a newspaper that was established in 1874 - that has over 13.5 million newspapers delivered daily, ran a Headline News story read about a 44-year-old man who stole some Valentine's Day chocolate because, "He wanted some."

Saints preserve us! Is this the beginning of some kind of out-of-control criminal crime wave sweeping the nation?


Yes. They have Hershey Kisses in Japan! 
(And on Valentine's Day in Japan, 
the girls give the guys the chocolate - NOT the other way around!)

Now, this isn't just a story about why Japan blows away most of the rest of the world when it comes to a lack of crime, it also is a story about the general psyche of people in this country. 

But first, here's a quick and simple translation of the story:

The Yomiuri Shimbun headlines read; 

"Man claims, after stealing chocolate, 'I wanted some.'"

On the 16th of this month, police in Sendai in Miyagi prefecture arrested a 44-year-old unemployed man on suspicion of theft.

According to the police statement, at about 2:40 am on that day, the suspect was in Miyagino City in the vicinity of an apartment where a 31-year-old civil servant lived and saw some Valentine's Day chocolate and other items in a vinyl bag hanging from the handlebars of the bicycle owned by that civil servant. The chocolate had a value of ¥550 (about $5.93 USD). When the suspect took the chocolate, the 31-year-old civil servant gave chase and subdued the suspect.

Upon being asked why he stole the chocolate, the suspect was quoted as saying (testifying), "I wanted some chocolate!"

Feb. 17, 2013, Yomiuri Shimbun


The online edition of this story

Now, people are often asking why Japan I think is a much better place to live than, say, the United States and it's often difficult to point out specifics as to why. But when it comes to crime, Japan is miles away safer than just about any western country in the world. I never have to worry about my wife or daughters going out at night. 

But this little anecdote about the chocolate also shows us a glimpse of something very important about the Japanese psyche that is difficult to put a finger on.

This story shows what the level of crime is in this country and what people think about crime in general. From my westerner perspective, that this sort of story could even hit the newspapers is amazing; and we're not talking about some local newspaper here! We are talking about a national newspaper in a country of 130 million people that has a circulation of 13.5 million copies daily! 

This sort of crime would never make any major newspaper in the USA... I think even local newspapers wouldn't run this!

Also, one more thing about the Japanese... And this too is an intangible, but this article points to it. The Japanese are generally shy and humble people... Where I come from, Los Angeles, I hear it is a badge of honor for head bangers to get arrested and have a criminal record. Not in Japan. In Japan, a criminal record is a shameful thing. Shameful for that person and very shameful for the family.

I think when most Japanese hear this story they think, "Stealing is a crime and that's bad! He should never do that!" The Japanese pretty much have a zero-tolerance for this sort of thing... Of course that 31-year-old guy wouldn't let the old thief slide. Theft is theft in this country and a shameful act; it must be dealt with properly.

I think, "Poor guy." Heck, if that were my chocolate and he stole it (and I chased him - which I probably wouldn't do) and caught him and he meekly said, "I just wanted some chocolate..." I probably would have felt sorry for the guy and gave him the chocolate... Heck, I probably would have bought him some cigarettes and a beer too... After that? Who knows? If he were even luckier, maybe I would even have given him a Valentine's Day wink and a kiss too!

Poor guy indeed.



18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I entirely agree with the basic point in this post, but are you not implicitly suggesting that shoplifting isn't prevalent in Japan? No question the crime situation in the US is out of control, but I heard shoplifting in Japan happens quite a bit, but just isn't reported.

Also, as you are someone who is generally skeptical of the mass media, I'm surprised you are not more skeptical about the intent behind this type of article.

mikeintokyorogers said...

Sorry, Anonymous,
This article nor my comments have nothing at all to do with shoplifting. This was about a theft. You wrote a huge contradiction that surprises me that you don't even realize it: "I heard shoplifting happens quite a bit but just isn't reported"?! How the Jezebel would you have heard about it if it weren't reported? This story is a minor theft of $6 worth of crap and IT WAS reported! See the contradiction in what you wrote? Obviously your sources are way off. Not the topic here, but shoplifting is a widely reported news story and problem in Japan. It is a BIG problem... It is so well reported and publicized that the Japanese government even has set up a national association to stop shoplifting....

Anonymous said...

Mike I suggest you look up theft and shoplifting side by side. Compare and contrast both. Only a stupid person would claim no relationship between the two from a definitional perspective. Shoplifting is theft.

Anonymous said...

I guess in your personal dictionary shoplifting is not a form of theft. - Anonymous

(This comment was reposted due to some glitch).

mikeintokyorogers said...

Jesus. Here I am giving English lessons to people again....

shop·lift·ing /ˈSHäpˌliftiNG/ Noun: The criminal action of stealing goods from a shop while pretending to be a customer.

Shoplift - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster ... www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shoplift - to steal displayed goods from a store. transitive verb. : to steal (displayed goods) from a store. See shoplift defined for English-language learners

Like I said, this article has nothing to do with shoplifting nor did I ever mention it. It is obvious that Anonymous needs to go back to school and get an education on the definitions of third grade level English language.

mikeintokyorogers said...

Unless, of course, Anonymous is, as the Merriam Webster dictionary says, an "English-language learner"... ....By the way, you wrote, "I'm surprised you are not more skeptical about the intent behind this type of article." Nope. I'm not. I'm more skeptical of the poor command today's American has over grammar and basic vocabulary.

Anonymous said...

No, Mike, words have no meaning. Didn't they teach you that in skool? - Dane

(This comment was reposted due to some glitch).

mikeintokyorogers said...

Anonymous you are really grasping for straws now. No, I never said that shoplifting wasn't a form of theft. I never mentioned shoplifting at all, neither did the article. You, on the other hand did.

No one here claims that shoplifting isn't a form of theft. But what you fail miserably in realizing is that your entire point is built on spurious and faulty logic in that YOU HAVE IT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.

All shoplifting is theft. Yes.

BUT NOT ALL THEFT IS SHOPLIFTING. AND THIS ARTICLE WAS ABOUT A PETTY THEFT (larceny).

Shoplifting is stealing something from a store (get out your dictionary, if you've ever bothered to do so) it is not the same as pickpocketing or, as in this case, and act of larceny.

I suppose your tortured logic would have us a believe that grand larceny, armed robbery or car jacking (all forms of theft) can also be referred to as shoplifting.

You, Anonymous, are another example of the miserable failure of US public education. Words do have meaning. Keep writing this idiotic nonsense, please.

mikeintokyorogers said...

The fall of the United States will be caused mostly by a precipitous decline in education. Anonymous, here, is guilty of at least two huge errors.

One; he has a poor grasp of vocabulary. Words do have meaning. Even the law recognizes categories for types of theft. As there are types of, say, alcohol, there are types of theft and they are NOT the same nor are they interchangeable in the vast majority of cases (that's why there is a different vocabulary for different types of acts)>

Two; he is guilty of false Syllogism (faulty reasoning or logic). For example, in this case; All "A" is "B". But not all "B" is "A"., "All shoplifting is theft but not all theft is shoplifting" He fails to see this simple error in his logic. Another, "All McDonald's products are food. But not all food are McDonald's products. Anonymous would have us believe that, "Shoplifting is theft. Therefore all theft is shoplifting." WRONG!

In this case, say this article were about a pickpocket instead of larceny (both forms of theft) he would then go on to claim some nonsense about "Japan not reporting shoplifting" As he has done here.

It's simply absurd.

(Whereas, I destroyed that argument too by showing that Japan does report shoplifting and even has a government agency to tackle the problem - does the USA have a government agency to tackle shoplifting? No. But this is beside the point)

I tell you what, Anonymous, you go ask a third grade teacher who is right here... I'll be waiting for you to come back with your tail between your legs.

Anonymous said...

I guess I needed to spell out my original argument explicitly for those with a less agile and flexible mind.

My innocuous statement was simply to point out that one should not extrapolate from a page 1 article on a $6 theft that petty theft is exceedingly rare, when in fact it is, as in the case of shoplifting.

So funny to see you go nuclear / doubling-down your arguments when you are so clearly a fool with no ability to see the forest from the trees.

Instead you try to insult my grasp of language, grammar, and logic, with predictable digs at the US thrown in for extra measure.

What a fool!

mikeintokyorogers said...

Now, Anonymous is guilty of two more faults (at least): Lying, vanity, and being unable to construct a simple sentence.

He writes, "My innocuous statement was simply to point out that one should not extrapolate from a page 1 article on a $6 theft that petty theft is exceedingly rare, when in fact it is, as in the case of shoplifting."

Anonymous, laughable. If that was what you wanted to say, then why didn't you write that? You clearly wrote, "I entirely agree with the basic point in this post, but are you not implicitly suggesting that shoplifting isn't prevalent in Japan?"

If, what you now claim you meant (which is a fib) your sentence should have read, "I entirely agree with the basic point in this post, but are you not implicitly suggesting that theft isn't prevalent in Japan?" Had you written this, I would have written nothing. But that's not what you wrote.

Like I said, words have meaning. Not only do I know your grasp of the language is poor, now I have no respect for you because you are dishonest.

Thanks anyway, I used your comments to show my 9 year old son a lesson in logic and how foolish and scatological some people are. Makes a great blog post too!

Anonymous said...

Mike,
That guy is pretty bad. Here, this is for you: "Moving the goalposts, also known as raising the bar, is an informal logically fallacious argument in which evidence presented in response to a specific claim is dismissed and some other (often greater) evidence is demanded. In other words, after an attempt has been made to score a goal, the goalposts are moved to exclude the attempt.[2] The problem with changing the rules of the game is that the meaning of the end result is changed too. It counts for less.[3]" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moving_the_goalposts
-Interested Observer

Anonymous said...

Another PS-

Most reasonable people would highly doubt my original comment was to quibble on the differences between terms (theft, shoplifting, etc) . Most reasonable people would highly doubt I was lying about this:

Clearly you were writing about crime in general, illustrating it with the $6 example. Any sane person can judge for themselves and see that my original comment on bringing up shoplifting was to bring up a seeming contradiction between the reporting of a single $6 theft (which implicitly showcases it as something unusual), and the fact that shoplifting is common, although perhaps under-reported (although I guess it is in fact well reported).

There was a discrepancy there that was worthy of discussion. I still think it is interesting. Is theft from an individual viewed as a greater sin that from a faceless organization (I.e. Lawson, etc)? Or as I suggested were there political/propagandistic reasons to demonstrate that "Japan is a safe country; see even a $6 theft makes it to the national news"?

Instead you launched a rant on the differences between theft, shoplifting, larceny, etc, and how I am another dumb American, replete with insults and oozing with condescension...once again proving that any hint of criticism of Japan is met with nationalistic rebuke.

mikeintokyorogers said...

Anonymous,
My you are lame. You wrote, "Instead you launched a rant on the differences between theft, shoplifting, larceny, etc, and how I am another dumb American, replete with insults and oozing with condescension...once again proving that any hint of criticism of Japan is met with nationalistic rebuke."
1) the first person to write any insult was you (I am already aware that you have a problem with rational thought.
2) And you also wrote, "and how I am another dumb American" Hey. you said it. I didn't.
I chuckle whenever I get this "Nationalistic" nonsense from Americans... Duh! I am an American born and raised. The difference? I don't watch TV, have traveled all over the world and read books (as well as speak more than one language)...Again you obfuscate and try to ignore that you explicitly wrote about "Shoplifting" and not "theft" in general. As I said, if you had written about theft, I would have said nothing. Nowhere in my initial response (February 20, 2013 at 10:37 PM) did I insult you or was I condescending... Your next comments included the insult "Only a stupid person." After that, with you, the gloves are off. You are a quite dishonest person and vain as hell. Can't you admit that you misread the story? It wasn't about shoplifting. It had nothing to do with shoplifting. Any sane person can see that. Only a stupid person can't.

mikeintokyorogers said...

Anonymous, don't bother writing again, Nothing from you will be posted again. You are banned. I welcome discussion with intelligent and honest people only.

Anonymous said...

well, I, for one, think that anonymous is making shit up as he goes along. I gather the point of the article is, lack of crime in japan, japanese attitudes towards crime, and how much a better place japan is to live in than the usa - which it is...I read that anonymous is talking shoplifting too... and seems to change the subject......... for what it is worth... ;(

mikeintokyorogers said...

Here's more: "Is theft from an individual viewed as a greater sin that from a faceless organization (I.e. Lawson, etc)?"

Painful. Sounds like a communist, "theft from a faceless organization"? How in the hell do we go from an article about a petty larceny to some philosophical discussion about societal norms? (I know, someone is doing obfuscation again). Listen Anony, if you want this sort of deep philosophical discussion, go write your own blog. I write for the majority readers and am not interested in discussing your questions that can only have subjective answers anyway.

"Or as I suggested were there political/propagandistic reasons to demonstrate that "Japan is a safe country; see even a $6 theft makes it to the national news"? The story made the national news not because of the theft, it make news because of what the thief said.."I wanted chocolate." It was, after all, at Valentines Day.

I did mention that the guy was jobless and that I felt sorry for him. It was anonymous' bizarre projections (paranoia?) that this article (in Japanese by the way) was in any way shape or form some sort of propaganda directed at the Japanese.

Really... Laughable when you stop to think about it... Well, it would be funny excepting Anonymous is so obstinate about this....

mikeintokyorogers said...

I will be on an US East Coast TV news program being interviewed about issues concerning the differences between Japan and the USA dealing with gun control, expatriation, immigration, the economy and the view of the United States from here across the Pacific on Sat. 2/23 6 pm & 11 pm EST. (Japan time 8 am & 1pm Sunday, 2/24.) The interview starts at about the half way mark of the show and continues for a good 15 minutes.

http://usmediavault.com/stream.php?s=whdt