US Federal Bureau of Prisons findings reveal that atheists are far less prone to crimes and globally the least religious countries have in fact the lowest crime rates. We have counties like Singapore, Luxemburg, Japan, Iceland, and Denmark with a comparatively low record of crimes.
Recently, I had an opportunity to visit the Netherlands which is liberally open to drugs (they even celebrate a narcotic festival) and about half of the population, there have no religious ties. Yet there is much less crime when you compare them with the US, India, etc. So we cannot say crime would be lower if we have a strong faith or if you can control drug traffic.
Lower crime is, in fact, a result of a number of factors like cultural heritage, society, upbringing within a caring family, strong policing etcetera. Faith alone can make humans better is a theory hard to prove. It could at the most be an influencing factor for righteousness and lawfulness. Even in the absence of faith, one may still be having an ethical backbone and certain guiding moral principles.
Japan is a very apt example of our understanding of crime and its influencing factors. In some of the countries we mentioned in the beginning, the size of the population is very manageable for administration and effective police control. But Japan, as we know, has a larger population. It is an atheist country with its people having only a scant influence of Buddhism and Shintoism. Well over 75 percent of Japanese accept evolution and the truly religious are only a small percentage. It has a vast population and yet it is holding the flag for least crime rate and gun holding. It is almost a gun less country with very small drug abuse records.
Hardly anyone in Japan owns a gun. With onerous restrictions on buying and maintaining guns, even the country’s notorious mafia Yakuza have no guns to boast. Just imagine a mafia in any other country without gun power.
Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal said, Albert Einstein. However ever since World War Two, Japan steadily maintains its low crime rates and is acclaimed as a safe and peaceful country to live with the lowest homicide rates in the world.
Studies suggest that several factors are involved in Japan’s low crime rate. Affluence, abundant job opportunities and lack of drug culture etcetera are very comforting factors. Underpinning everything is a strong cultural affinity for passivity, peace, and non-violence -thanks to the Buddhist culture they inherited. Anger, violence, aggression, and bloodshed are considered filthy, detestable and abhorrent in society. Imprisonment is an utter shame, disgrace and it attracts unimaginable social stigma and they get boycotted and avoided from society. Society expects you to love thy neighbour and be a decent and good person.
Empathy and righteousness are a part of your personality, tradition and family honour. Some of these feelings were further strengthened and accepted after World War II, in the aftermath of sufferings during the atomic attacks of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Crime rates are also kept low by an astonishingly efficient and effective policing. Japanese criminal justice records say police solves well over 90 percent of homicide cases and convict almost all suspects brought to justice. Japanese prisons are to some extent notorious for their strict enforcement of discipline and cruelties.
It is often believed that police put enormous pressure, torture, and coercion on culprits sometimes even on innocents caught in the web, to cooperate with the investigators and to admit guilt. Japanese believe that a culprit needs to repent for what he has done. In the fear of torture or with a view to ending the stressful nightmare of interrogations, sometimes even innocent people accept having done a crime.
Punch holes on the tall claims
Attitudes towards women in Japan are something which needs improvement. As per media reports, sexual assaults are said to be widespread, but they are always hushed up. The society is male-dominated many give a blind-eye to atrocities against women. We read in newspapers that sexual maniacs groping women in public is a common occurrence in Japan.
Japanese police are not very keen to publicize or investigate such crimes. Authorities are consoled to have solved the problem by introducing reserved carriages for ladies.
Police are obsessed with the idea of deliberately keeping crime statistics low and they sometimes go to any extent to achieve this fete. Many suspicious deaths are promptly written off as suicides without inquiries and performing autopsies. As a corollary to this theory, we have one of the highest suicide rates in Japan.
The well acclaimed criminal justice system may proudly spread lots of impressive statistics, but in reality, these may not be revealing entirely the true picture. But still, discounting for all these Japan can hold their head high for having the most peaceful system.
Once upon a time Buddhism and Shintoism were very popular in Japan. The value base is inculcated among the average Japanese through this inherited influence.
Buddhism teaches the origin of suffering is an attachment to worldly desires and transient things. The reasons for suffering are desire, passion, ardour, pursuance of wealth, prestige, striving for fame and popularity. We know many crimes are committed to the fulfillment of these desires.
Daily practice of meditation is popular among Japanese. This helps them to develop a sense of awareness, to grow, and develop compassion and loving-kindness. Following the laws of Karma and right speech are also integral to Buddhism.
To what extent these values are helping the Japanese to maintain crime rate low is a matter open to discussions, cross arguments and debate. It is also uncertain whether we ought to regard a most peaceful country as to which in all aspects possessing the highest standard of civilization.
Let us any way pick up few tips beforehand that an efficient policing, curbing of drug abuse, and inculcating a sound value system among our youth etcetera can bring wonderful results in bringing down the crime rates in any country. Napoleon Bonaparte once said that the infectiousness of crime is like that of the plague. Efforts of these nations in containing crime are worth emulating and commendable indeed.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jose Vazhuthanapilly, Bsc., LLB, DBM, CAIIB retired in 2008 as AGM from State Bank of India. He had worked as a visiting faculty in the Bank’s Staff Training Centers for 5 years. He is a writer with 20 books to his credit including books on self-help/ psychology. He resides in Ernakulam, Kochi. He is active also in social service. He can be contacted at Josevazhuthanapilly@gmail.com
Prasangakarkkulla Kadhakal- St.Paul’s Books, Eranakulam
EQ-Vyakti Jeevitham Mikavuttathakkam-Sophia Books, Calicut
Atma Viswasathinte Karuthu Nedam-Sophia Books, Calicut
Mano Sankharshangale Keezhadakkan Chila Prayogika Margangal-Media House, Calicut.
Vijayam Ningalude Ullil Thanneyanu-Vimala Books
Jose Vazhuthanapilly, BSc., LLB, DBM, CAIIB Retired in 2008 as AGM from State Bank of India. He had worked as a visiting faculty in the Bank’s Staff Training Centers for 5 years. He is a writer with 22 books to his credit including books on self-help/ psychology. He resides in Ernakulam, Kochi. He is active also in social service. He can be contacted at email@example.com
- Prasangakarkkulla Kadhakal (St. Paul’s Books, Ernakulam)
- EQ – Vyakti Jeevitham Mikavuttathakkam (Sophia Books, Calicut)
- Atma Viswasathinte Karuthu Nedam (Sophia Books, Calicut)
- Mano Sankharshangale Keezhadakkan Chila Prayogika Margangal (Media House, Calicut)
- Vijayam Ningalude Ullil Thanneyanu (Vimala Books)
- Fulton Sheeninte Jeevitham (Carmel International Publishing House)
- Matti Varakkam Jeevitham ( Jeevan Books)
- Vivaham Kootti Vilakkam (Media House)
Titles in English
- Torrential Bliss-Practical Wisdom for Happy Living-Kindle Books.
- (Articles originally published in Daily Brunch)
- Know your e-kid-A parenting Guide-Kindle Books
- (Articles originally published in Daily Brunch)