Survey: Safety no sure thing

The image of Japan as a nation of safe streets and low crime rates may be a thing of the past.

Responses to a survey of 3,000 eligible voters conducted Dec. 9-10 found that just 47 percent of the 2,104 people who responded regard Japan as a safe place to live, and 46 percent said it is not.

Ninety percent of those responding expressed some concern about crime or traffic safety in daily life.

While the majority of men answering said they feel Japan is safe, more than 50 percent of women had the opposite opinion.

The responses were in sharp contrast to a June 1995 survey. Although the survey then was framed differently, and came just three months after the Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system, about 56 percent of respondents said they regarded Japan as a safe and easy place to live, and 38 percent disagreed.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, about 60 percent of respondents said that incident had changed their thinking about public safety.

They also lack confidence in government protection, with just 43 percent agreeing that the state could assure a safe life, and 47 percent saying it could not.

Moreover, the outlook for the future was also bleak with about 60 percent of respondents saying Japan