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Hong Kong, Tokyo, Peking - Three Police Systems Observed

NCJ Number
Police Studies Volume: 3 Issue: 4 Dated: (Winter 1981) Pages: 3-13
J C Alderson
Date Published
11 pages
The police systems of Hong Kong, Japan, and Peking are compared and the cultural implications of crime control discussed on the basis of personal observations.
While the crime rate has risen in Hong Kong and Western countries over the last 25 years, crime and antisocial behavior have been contained and even reduced in China and Japan. The reasons for these trends lie in the political, economic, and sociocultural differences among the countries. In a classic totalitarian communist state such as the People's Republic of China, crime control and prevention is in the hands of public security committees located throughout the country. Both adult and juvenile delinquents are dealt with through political reeducation and reformation in a strict military environment structured by work and cultural training. The control of human behavior through the committee system and ideology is almost total. Egalitarianism prevails in everything from clothing to work-norms. Disgrace falls on those who offend the people, and freedom is restricted to preserve order. In the capitalist democratic state of Japan, the local neighborhood police organization rather than a centralized police system is the key element of crime control. Local police maintain records on all citizens and residents, and the population cooperates fully with the police because of the emphasis in East Asian tradition on human obligations rather than individual fulfillment. In Hong Kong, as in Western countries, extremes of affluence and deprivation, as well as social fragmentation are pronounced. The most successful efforts at crime control have followed the Japanese and Chinese examples in encouraging community involvement, service, and cooperation, as well as the tradition of family and group loyalty. It is concluded that much crime and social disorder in Western countries stems from an exaggeration of individualism, the devaluation of the family, and the disintegration of communities, leading to a degeneration of informal control overburdening the formal control system. Pursuit of law and order primarily through police systems is not feasible and should instead be the concern of the entire body politic. To this end, Western democracies should attempt to strengthen the institution of the family, nurture the community concept, teach social and moral responsibility, and highlight cooperative effort as a virtue. Appendixes contain descriptions of the Chinese Public Security system, and the Japanese police system, as well as a sample Japanese high-rise policing task sheet.