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Migrants as a Crime Problem: The Construction of Foreign Criminality Discourse in Contemporary Japan

NCJ Number
International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice Volume: 34 Issue: 2 Dated: Fall 2010 Pages: 301-330
Ryoko Yamamoto
Date Published
30 pages
This article examines how Japanese law enforcement has associated migrants and immigration with criminal conduct.
The way in which society responds to crime does not directly correspond to the extent of actual crime conduct. Intergroup perspective, resource expansion perspective and symbolic politics perspective suggest demographic structure and administrative and political interests shape the societal response to crime. Japan's recent policies on foreigner-perpetrated crime present an interesting case from non-Western society. The Japanese police began active involvement with immigration control at the turn of the century, claiming that migrants were a new criminal threat to the country. This paper argues that the law enforcers' occupational logic links immigration with criminality by interpreting characteristics of migrants as signs of high propensity to crime. It further suggests that institutional changes in the Japanese police and heightened social anxiety during this period gave political leverage to police discourse that associated immigration with crime. Figures, notes, and references (Published Abstract)