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Urbanization and Rural Depletion in Modern Japan: An Analysis of Crime and Suicide Patterns

NCJ Number
International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice Volume: 24 Issue: 1 Dated: Spring 2000 Pages: 1-18
Daishiro Nomiya; Alan S. Miller; John P. Hoffmann
Mahesh K. Nalla
Date Published
18 pages
This article looks into urbanization and its influence on deviant behavior in present day Japan.
As a result of urbanization, modern Japan has experienced a rapid depopulation and depression in rural areas. The population shift has linked urban life to crime and suicide in Japan. Specific attention is given to suicide and crime with a re-evaluation of their relationship to urbanization. In this article, a newly emerging pattern of relationships between trends in urbanization and rural depletion, and deviant behavior in modern Japanese society are examined. Several implications are offered: First, the modern urban settings, in Japan, likely differ significantly from urban settings described by early social disorganization theorists. Second, the different forms of social deviance, in particular suicide and crime, might be better dealt with conceptually by exploring different causal mechanisms. Third, rural depopulation, rather than urban disorganization, provides a better conceptual framework for understanding patterns of suicide in at least some modern industrialized countries. Also, it may not be the theory urban disorganization that accounts for crime in modern Japanese society, but rather the nature of urban areas with large populations and increased opportunities to commit crimes. The article suggests that to the extent that suicide is related to a breakdown in social support networks, it should be associated with rural depletion rather than urban social disorganization. It further suggests that to the extent that crime was still an urban problem, it would be related to increased criminal opportunities rather than social disorganization. The study implies that Japan has done much to minimize the negative effects of urban life. The cost, however, has been borne primarily by rural areas in the form of elevated suicide rates. Notes and references


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