Introduction: Japan as a 'low crime culture' Although English language criminology has tended to neglect Asia, Japan has proved to be the focal point for a significant body of comparative criminological research. The main impetus for this research has been the perceived uniqueness of Japan. Japan achieved the transition from the feudal dictatorship of the Tokugawa family to a highly affluent, secularised, post-industrial society in a little over a century without thekind of rapid increase in crime rates found in other countries. As such, Japan is one of the rare examples (often mentioned alongside Switzerland) of a society that has avoided the modernisation-crime nexus that has often been identified bycriminologists (Shelly 1981). Accounting for this 'anomaly' (Archer and Gartner 1981) - examining the reasons why Japan has enjoyed such low levels of officially recorded crime in spite of undergoing a period of profound and rapid social change - has interested criminologists in search of a better understanding of the causes of crime and more effective formsof crime control.
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