26,870

MEL­BOURNE (4,400,000 RES­I­DENTS) CRIMES PER 100,000 RES­I­DENTS

World of Knowledge (Australia) - - World Events -

Imag­ine a city one-sixth the size of Syd­ney, but so crowded that it’s home to the equiv­a­lent of 50% of Aus­tralia’s pop­u­la­tion. A city con­tain­ing a sea of peo­ple, hemmed in be­tween the ocean and high moun­tains. A city with sky­scrapers up to 634 me­tres high, most of which are shaken by tremors at least once a month. A city with streets so packed it can take three hours to drive from one side to the other. A city that’s reg­u­larly flooded by ty­phoons in the sum­mer. A city that stands where four seis­mic plates meet. Where the ocean can un­leash a tsunami at any mo­ment. The res­i­dents of Tokyo have plenty of things to worry about – but crime isn’t one of them. How is this pos­si­ble?

WHY DOES A CITY REFUSE TO LOOT?

Tokyo holds three no­table records: with a pop­u­la­tion of 40 mil­lion, there’s no big­ger met­ro­pol­i­tan area on Earth. At the same time no ur­ban sprawl is safer: there are just 0.4 mur­ders per 100,000 in­hab­i­tants each year – and that num­ber is de­creas­ing. Syd­ney’s mur­der rate is one per 100,000; St Louis, the most dan­ger­ous city in the USA, clocks in at 7.3 and Cara­cas in Venezuela, with its po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic chaos, a fright­en­ing 122. On the other hand, ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates from in­sur­ers Swiss Re, no other ma­jor city has a greater risk of fall­ing vic­tim to a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter than Tokyo: the amount of time be­tween

an un­der­wa­ter earth­quake and pow­er­ful, 15-me­tre high waves strik­ing land could be as lit­tle as 15 min­utes, while for a more lo­calised earth­quake res­i­dents would get just 80 sec­onds’ warn­ing.

Mil­lions of peo­ple live here in the face of to­tal dis­as­ter – and yet no one pan­icked when three nu­clear re­ac­tors ex­ploded just 150 kilo­me­tres away in Fukushima fol­low­ing the 2011 tsunami. In con­trast to cities like New Or­leans, where Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina trig­gered mass civil dis­obe­di­ence and loot­ings in 2005, the peo­ple of Tokyo con­tin­ued calmly about their busi­ness, tak­ing their morn­ing com­mute to work after dis­as­ter struck. “Loot­ing sim­ply does not take place in Ja­pan. I’m not even sure if they have a word for it,” ex­plains Gre­gory Pflugfelder, a pro­fes­sor of Ja­panese his­tory at Columbia Univer­sity in New York.

WHAT MAKES JA­PANESE SO­CI­ETY SO OR­DERED?

Be­hind this lies a fun­da­men­tal dif­fer­ence be­tween Ja­pan and the West: “You do every­thing you can to pro­tect your own in­ter­ests with the un­der­stand­ing that, in a rather free-mar­ket way, ev­ery­body else is go­ing to do the same. And that or­der will come out of this sort of in­vis­i­ble hand,” says Pflugfelder. “The Ja­panese don’t func­tion that way. Or­der is seen as com­ing from the group and from the com­mu­nity as a sort of evening out of var­i­ous in­di­vid­ual needs.” Dis­ci­pline, co­he­sion and com­mu­nity val­ues have been the sur­vival strate­gies of the Ja­panese for mil­len­nia – there’s no room for out­siders, in the most lit­eral sense: around a fifth of the coun­try’s land area is too moun­tain­ous to be built on. For cen­turies, Ja­pan’s 130 mil­lion res­i­dents have lived cheek by jowl be­hind pa­per-thin walls, par­tic­u­larly in Tokyo. This breeds cour­tesy and con­sid­er­a­tion from a young age. Ev­ery­one knows the rules of so­ci­ety. There are no ghet­tos and only 1% of the pop­u­la­tion has an im­mi­grant back­ground.

What there are, of course, are nat­u­ral dis­as­ters. Tokyo’s cit­i­zens live with the ever-present threat of earth­quakes or erup­tions from 60 ac­tive vol­ca­noes. In these sit­u­a­tions the sup­port of the fam­ily unit is vi­tal. Fam­i­lies also help dis­ci­pline the big­gest city on Earth in times of peace, too, far more ef­fec­tively than the po­lice would ever be able to. But what hap­pens when dis­ci­pline breaks down? Does so­ci­ety fall apart? Quite the op­po­site…

WHY ARE THERE VIR­TU­ALLY NO WEAPONS IN TOKYO?

Loot­ing Tokyo would be ex­tremely dif­fi­cult. The rea­son: there’s hardly any means of de­mand­ing re­spect by bran­dish­ing a weapon. With the

THE SAFEST CITIES IN THE WORLD

Ac­cord­ing to the EIU Safe Cities In­dex 2015 (based on as­pects of safety) ex­cep­tion of shot­guns and air ri­fles, both of which are strictly reg­u­lated, civil­ians are for­bid­den from own­ing firearms. Statis­tics show only one in 175 house­holds owns a gun – un­like in Amer­ica, where there are more guns than peo­ple (see the US mili­tias fea­ture on page 48). The last mass shoot­ing in Tokyo took place in 1923, al­most 100 years ago. Through­out Ja­pan only a dozen mur­ders are com­mit­ted us­ing a firearm each year. In Aus­tralia the num­ber is closer to 230; in the US it’s more like 12,000.

“Some shoot­ings in the US claim more vic­tims than all the shoot­ing vic­tims in Ja­pan in a whole year,” ex­plains Amer­i­can weapons ex­pert David Kopel. Weapons are frowned upon in Ja­pan – be­ing caught with a knife in pub­lic can land you in prison. And if that weren’t enough…

DOES EV­ERY FAM­ILY HAVE A PO­LICE OF­FI­CER?

On al­most ev­ery third street cor­ner you’ll find a koban – there are over 800 in Tokyo’s in­ner city alone. Ba­si­cally a small neigh­bour­hood po­lice sta­tion, kobans are as in­trin­sic a part of city life as trams are in Mel­bourne. They’re staffed by a small num­ber of com­mu­nity po­lice­men whose job it is to over­see their lo­cal patch. As of­fi­cials are of­ten sta­tioned there for their en­tire ser­vice life, they know their beat in­side out.

Such is the re­spect for law and or­der, they also have help from thou­sands of other un­paid pa­trolling res­i­dents. To them the po­lice are not snoop­ers, they’re

trusted pil­lars of the com­mu­nity who will even of­fer ad­vice about per­sonal prob­lems. “We look out for peo­ple. No street is ever dark here,” says the mayor of Tokyo, Yoichi Ma­su­zoe.

The po­lice don’t shy away from in­volv­ing them­selves in pri­vate mat­ters, and reg­u­larly visit known weapons own­ers at home to check that they are ‘emo­tion­ally sta­ble’. This ex­ten­sive mon­i­tor­ing net­work has led to one of the world’s most im­pres­sive crime de­tec­tion rates – 97.7% of mur­ders are solved. A third of all mur­ders in the USA re­main un­solved.

WILL THE OLYMPIC GAMES CHANGE TOKYO?

The in­di­vid­ual is noth­ing, the com­mu­nity is every­thing: that’s how things work in Ja­pan, and nowhere ex­em­pli­fies this bet­ter than Tokyo. There’s lit­tle so­cial de­pri­va­tion: the coun­try di­vides its wealth as the fourth largest na­tional econ­omy on Earth rel­a­tively equally among its in­hab­i­tants. The most well-paid com­pany CEO only earns a tenth of what his or her coun­ter­part in the US would bank. “It’s this un­shake­able trust in sci­ence, em­ployer and gov­ern­ment that al­lows the Ja­panese to keep their cool in times of cri­sis. It is bet­ter when ev­ery­body acts to­gether,” says Misaki Ha­tori about her com­pa­tri­ots who, at 84, have the high­est life ex­pectancy in the world.

This at­ti­tude is also re­flected in ev­ery­day life: in stark con­trast to most places on the planet, Tokyo has hardly any garbage bins – yet there’s no lit­ter ly­ing around. Peo­ple take their trash home with them. Ja­panese peo­ple ac­cord lit­tle trust to those out­side their own cul­tural cir­cle, rea­son­ing that they could raise the crime rate on the 421 in­hab­ited is­lands that make up the coun­try. Of the 5,000 asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions it re­ceived last year, Ja­pan ap­proved just 11. It’s not another tsunami, then, that could prove to be the real test of Tokyo’s safety, but a wave of visi­tors. Ten mil­lion are ex­pected to visit the city when it hosts the Olympic Games in 2020.

“CRIMES TAR­NISH THE FAM­ILY NAME. ANY­ONE COM­MIT­TING A CRIME WILL BE THROWN OUT OF THE FAM­ILY – FOR­EVER. FEW PEO­PLE WANT THAT.” KENJI OHNO, TOKYO MET­RO­POL­I­TAN PO­LICE

Mel­bourne’s pretty laneways be­lie a soar­ing crime rate that amounts to one crime for ev­ery four res­i­dents. Rob­bery, as­sault and theft are the most com­mon mis­de­meanours, with Mel­bourne’s as­sault rate of 344 per 100,000 res­i­dents be­ing six times the state av­er­age.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.