Rising number of Criminal Offenses: Abuse of Social Media Increasing Public Anxiety

As the COVID-19 pandemic has passed and the flow of people has returned, the number of crimes has also increased. Cases where people are abusing social media with a high degree of anonymity are becoming more conspicuous. The deterioration of public safety must be halted by further strengthening crimes detection.

According to the National Police Agency, the number of offenses in violation of the Penal Code that occurred last year increased 17% from the previous year to about 700,000. The number of such criminal offenses had been declining for the last 20 years, but the figure began to increase in 2022 and also rose by 100,000 cases last year.

This was due to a large increase in street crimes such as purse snatchings. In addition, the number of special fraud cases, such as bank transfer scams, reached 19,000, the highest number in the last 10 years.

Reflecting this situation, the public’s feeling of public safety has also deteriorated. A survey found that 70% of respondents felt that public safety has worsened compared to the past.

In addition to the shocking attacks on the prime minister and a former prime minister in front of members of the public, a series of robberies committed by “dark part-time job” workers may have influenced public sentiment.

In dark part-time jobs, crime groups recruit people through social media and have them commit crimes. It is difficult to grasp the actual circumstances of the organizations and not easy to crack down on such groups. It is not surprising that the public is worried.

We cannot turn a blind eye to a situation in which safe daily life is threatened. How to stop these crimes is the key question.

To prevent similar offenses, the suspects should surely be caught. It is important to improve digital analysis techniques, such as restoring deleted messages on social media services used to communicate about carrying out the crimes.

There are many conspicuous cases of criminal groups locating their bases overseas. The Japanese authorities should cooperate with overseas investigative authorities to lead to the arrest of criminal group ringleaders.

Young people are applying for dark part-time jobs because they are looking for quick, lucrative remuneration. This indicates the selfishness of these people, who do not hesitate to harm others for money.

Many of these people who participated in the crimes in dark part-time jobs were arrested without receiving remuneration. They are nothing more than sacrificial pawns for criminal groups.

Due partly to the COVID-19 pandemic, personal relationships are getting shallower. It is necessary for people to teach these people around them that there is no easy way to make a lot of money and that it is important to work hard.

This might naturally be the role of the family. But if this is not possible, administrative bodies and schools are the only authorities that should take on this role. Places should be established where people of the same age group can casually talk, and services should be provided where young people can seek advice when they are in trouble, among other measures.

It is also essential to address poverty among young people and improve the treatment of those who work in non-regular employment. It is important to create an environment in which the younger generation can live with peace of mind.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 25, 2024)