Japan Issues Emergency Measures to Fight Crime Tied to ‘Dark’ Side Jobs

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during the 36th Ministerial Meeting Concerning Measures Against Crime at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo on Friday.

The government decided on emergency measures Friday in the wake of a string of robberies across the nation that were allegedly committed mainly by young people who responded to want ads on social media seeking participants in criminal activities.

“For the people to live with security and peace of mind, and to protect this to the end, we will create policies that cross barriers between ministries and agencies,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said during the 36th Ministerial Meeting Concerning Measures Against Crime.

Since the summer of 2021, there have been more than 50 robberies in 14 prefectures, from Tokyo to Osaka and Fukuoka. The perpetrators were allegedly solicited by so-called dark side jobs listed on social media.

There are four emergency measures to reduce related robbery and fraud: 1) prevent perpetrators from emerging; 2) eradicate tools that make it easy to commit crime; 3) create an environment in which people will not be victimized; and 4) arrest ringleaders and other suspects as soon as possible.

As for some specific actions to prevent perpetrators from emerging, the National Police Agency and other organizations will, for example, conduct automated social media searches using artificial intelligence for the early detection of illegal job postings. With cases of such want ads having been posted on job listing sites, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will have business associations take measures to prevent such abuse. The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry will strengthen public awareness campaigns and education for students and other young people so they don’t respond to such dark side jobs.

Regarding the tools used for crime, ministries and agencies will work to prevent information relating to personal assets from leaking out. Criminal groups are suspected of collecting personal asset information to create a list of targets. Strengthening surveillance and cracking down on the compilers of these lists will be among the measures.

For the creation of an environment to prevent victimization, measures will be taken to improve the safety of residences. The Land, Infrastructure Transport and Tourism Ministry will lead the promotion of doors and windows that make break-ins difficult, as well as security cameras. Contactless delivery, such as when packages are left outside the front door, is also expected to be promoted to prevent intruders who pose as delivery workers.

As for the fourth measure, the police are expected to step up investigations to uncover the ringleaders of criminal groups. In the case of ringleaders who use encrypted messaging apps, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry will consult with telecommunications carriers and other parties to facilitate, when necessary, the seizure of the communication history of devices such as smartphones.

How effective each measure can be is the question. Say in the case of want ads that claim to be for a delivery job offering high pay, private operators of the website may be reluctant to remove such postings based solely on the wording.

It remains to be seen to what extent it will be possible to prevent lists of personal data created for criminal purposes. For example, members of criminal organizations pretending to be bank employees may call people’s homes to collect information for their lists.

“We will reduce crimes related to these dark side jobs as a whole by doing what each ministry and agency can, such as by providing detailed explanations to the private sector and asking for their cooperation,” a government official said.