Sat, Nov 17, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Number of elderly criminals in Japan soaring: ministry

AFP, Tokyo

The number of elderly criminals being caught by Japanese police has rocketed, the Japanese Justice Ministry said yesterday, with pensioners committing almost 50 times more assaults than two decades ago.

The number of criminals aged 65 or older booked by police last year increased by 475 from the previous year to 48,637, more than six times as many as 20 years ago, the ministry said in its latest white paper on crime.

Most crimes committed by elderly people were shoplifting or other thefts, but violent crimes were also on the rise, the ministry said.

A significant increase was seen in the rates of violent crime committed by elderly people, with 49.5 times more assaults than in 1992 and 8.7 times more bookings for bodily injury, the white paper said.

In a more extreme example, local media reported in April that a 97-year-old man with a walking aid was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after he allegedly attacked an 84-year-old woman with a Japanese sword in central Japan.

However, the trend of rising crime among the elderly goes against that of society at large, where the overall number of crimes in Japan fell 5.8 percent year-on-year to 2.14 million last year, its ninth straight year of decline.

Japan’s population is aging rapidly, but, says the paper, not quickly enough to account for all these crimes.

“The speed of the increase of the number of elderly criminals overwhelms the increase of the population group,” the white paper said.

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