Identifying Risk Areas to Prevent Crime Is an Important Issue

How should a balance be struck between realizing universities that are open to all and ensuring campus safety? Universities across the nation need to inspect their campuses for potential risk areas and take necessary measures.

At Tokyo Metropolitan University’s campus in Hachioji late last November, Shinji Miyadai, a sociologist and professor, was seriously injured when a man with a knife attacked him from behind, slashing his head and back.

Miyadai has reportedly said he is unacquainted with the man. The Metropolitan Police Department has been seeking information by releasing images of the man taken from surveillance cameras in a residential area near the university. Even nearly two months after the incident, the suspect has yet to be arrested.

Many universities open their campuses to the public as a base for learning and exchanges. Tokyo Metropolitan University does not require visitors to show identification, so anyone can freely come and go. The university’s vast premises also are said to make it difficult to identify a perpetrator once such an incident occurs.

Other universities must have been shocked by this knife attack that occurred on a university campus open to the public.

Incidents in which faculty members have been assaulted on university campuses have occurred before.

In 1991, an assistant professor at the University of Tsukuba who translated the British novel “The Satanic Verses” was knifed to death at a research building. A suspect has not been identified and the case was closed in 2006 when the statute of limitations was reached. In 2009, a Chuo University professor was fatally stabbed by a former student in a bathroom at the university.

Universities where many people come and go can also be prone to incidents such as theft and voyeurism. Firstly, it is important to identify where and what kind of dangers exist at each university.

In response to the attack on Miyadai, Tokyo Metropolitan University has announced the introduction of measures such as improving the precision of surveillance cameras and installing more cameras, as well as strengthening patrols by security guards. These measures are likely to be effective in reducing blind spots.

It is particularly significant to install surveillance cameras at entrances and exits through which visitors pass. If incidents occur, such cameras are likely to help identify the perpetrators and may also serve as a psychological deterrent against crime.

Keiichi Yamamoto, a professor at Hokuriku University and an expert on community crime prevention, pointed to the importance of improving the visibility of campus premises, by taking such measures as trimming overgrown trees. In addition to surveillance cameras, security can be further enhanced by making it easier for people to see what is going on.

Consideration should also be given to such matters as keeping lecture schedules closed to people other than students to prevent outside parties from knowing when and in which classrooms faculty members are present. It is hoped that each university will consider effective measures in accordance with its circumstances, such as location, size and financial situation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 23, 2023)