Juvenile Delinquency in Japan: Reconsidering the "Crisis"

Juvenile Delinquency in Japan: Reconsidering the "Crisis"

Juvenile Delinquency in Japan: Reconsidering the "Crisis"

Juvenile Delinquency in Japan: Reconsidering the "Crisis"


How to explain juvenile delinquent behaviour in the Japan of the nineties? Are its reasons really fundamentally different from those in other societies? Juvenile Delinquency in Japan, written by leading Japanese and German scholars, for the first time looks comprehensively into the phenomenon. It does so from a variety of disciplines; law, sociology, education, and Japanese studies. Thus it explores the legal provisions, conditions of schooling, family life, and social change in society as a framework for understanding delinquent behaviour in Japanese high school students. It becomes clear that reasons for delinquency are the same in Japan as in other societies. Fundamentally different, however, are the high sensitivity to delinquent behaviour and the tremendous efforts to prevent nonconformist behaviour.


Gesine Foljanty-Jost

Juvenile violence was one of the most urgent problems in many countries during the nineties. While in Germany it was violence against people of a non-German cultural background that caused deep concern in society, in the US the public became alarmed by news about weapons at schools. In Great Britain the appearance of hooligans during football games was an issue of public debate and even in Japan, which is known for its well-integrated youth, an increase in bullying and violence at schools was reported.

This volume presents an inside view of the Japanese debate carried out by prominent Japanese social scientists on issues involving sociology, psychology, and education. Articles written by experts from Germany and Switzerland supplement this debate, offering an outside perspective. All the articles present research results on the causes of juvenile delinquency in Japan during the nineties and discuss aspects of how Japanese society deals with the problem behavior of its youth.

The introductory article by Gesine FOLJANTY-JOST and Manuel METZLER demonstrates that, especially in comparison to Germany, the problem of violence in Japanese schools seems to be highly overestimated within Japanese public opinion. They stress that, contrary to what the mass media suggests, problem behavior among young people is not a new phenomenon; that young Japanese junior high schools have not become more brutal and that the number of violent cases is about 10 times lower than in Germany.

Chisaki TOYAMA-BIALKE offers an explanation for the low deviancy rate in Japan, suggesting that the low crime rate is linked with Japanese behavior towards children. According to her, education and socialization in Japan is characterized by emotional bonds in human relations in which adult norms and values are transmitted to youngsters. Young people strive to conform to adult norms and values so intensely that they are acutely sensitive to any kind of deviancy.

The next article, [Public Perceptions and Discourse on Deviance and Juvenile Problem Behavior] by Annette ERBE, shares this view. Erbe's analysis supports the view of FOLJANTY-JOST and METZLER

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