The Two Faces of Japan: Murder

japan-two-face

Ah, Japan, the peace-loving people–the land of hospitality and poise. Or so you’ve been taught… The truth is Japan has a dark history of bloodshed that continues to this day.

While many would argue that Japan is a peaceful nation and there certainly are peaceful people living throughout the country, the violent, murderous side to Japan is actually much more prominent than you might think. It’s not a coincidence that your everyday citizen in Japan is not allowed to own a gun. Domestic violence in Japan is a huge issue  (can you imagine if they had access to guns?); a whopping 20% of pornographic videos in 2003 had rape as a main theme; and recently, yet another police officer was arrested on murder charges (of his own family!). Violence abounds and yet Japan has somehow managed to blind the rest of the world to its social problems:

…Japan’s comparatively communal culture—which places a strong emphasis on “preserving honor,” “avoiding shame,” and generally being honest—may reduce petty crime as well as keep murder rates low.

(Quartz, 2016)

Japan is known for honesty? Japan has a low murder rate? And all of the East raises their hands in the air in bewilderment at this reputation that Japan manages to sell with little to no arguments against it. An article praising Japan for such qualities would never make it to the printing presses of the Korean Peninsula, China, the Philippines, or any other place that remembers the massive bloodshed of Japan’s colonial aspirations during World War II. They have not forgotten and for the sake of the memory of the countless victims neither should we.

It should never be forgotten that before modernization came along there was the Feudal Era of Japan, which is a fancy way of saying “slaughterhouse.” Japanese people were constantly killing each other. Imagine civil war on a daily basis: that was Japan. This constant warring continued even after the Feudal Era ended. Then came modernization, but peace didn’t last long, because soon hundreds of years of warfare was taken to an international level. Anyone who picks up a Japanese history book and reads for a bit can tell you that Japan has a serious problem with violence and bloodshed.

To cover up this fact, Japan has become notorious for underreporting crimes. Any reporter with an ounce of integrity would never accept the official statistics from the Japanese government. I remember after the earthquake in Kumamoto many people were sexually assaulted in the shelters, but Japan at its best, “[could not] say how many attacks, if any, [had] taken place…”  An AFP article written last year blasted Japan for its low autopsy rate, which allows many people to get away with murder because the police never bother to investigate the cause of death. If it makes the country look bad, just don’t report it.

Another reason why we know for sure the homicide rate in Japan is sketchy at best is the suicide rate, which remains alarmingly high. Self-murder is still celebrated and has a long history in Japan. The famous act of harakiri–a form of ritual suicide–is known around the world and is still in use today. Group suicide, which surely includes murder, is incredibly popular among Japanese youth, and if included in the homicide numbers, would surely take Japan out of the “peace and safety” zone.

The last point that needs to be mentioned is abortion, which is without question murder. I have written in more detail about the horrors of abortion in Japan in another blog post, but to summarize, it is very possible that Japan murders significantly more babies than are born every year. If this is true, Japan could be number one in the world for abortions–a sobering thought. A country that is not safe for the unborn is no safe country at all.

While there certainly are people in Japan who are genuinely peaceful, we need to keep our eyes open to the truth at all times. I believe that at some point or another the real statistics on social issues in Japan must come out in the open and I am proud to be a part of that group of people who say, “Let’s take a closer look and not just take what Japan says at face value.”


This is the first in a multi-part series of a closer look at the dark side of Japan. To see the top page of this series click here.

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