Japan is One of the Best Places to Live in the World Reason #4: You Call This Crime? Man Steals $6 Chocolate, Hits National News!

You read that headline correctly.

In Japan, last night on the headlines of the world’s biggest newspaper, the Yomiuri Shimbun; a newspaper that was established in 1874 – that has over 13.5 million newspapers delivered daily, ran a Headline News story read about a 44-year-old man who stole some Valentine’s Day chocolate because, “He wanted some.”

Yes. They have Hershey Kisses in Japan!
(And on Valentine’s Day, the girls give guys the chocolate!)

Now, this isn’t just a story about why Japan blows away most of the rest of the world when it comes to a lack of crime, it also is a story about the general psyche of people in this country.

But first, here’s a quick and simple translation of the story:

The Yomiuri Shimbun headlines read;

“Man claims, after stealing chocolate, ‘I wanted some.’”

On the 16th of this month, police in Sendai in Miyagi prefecture arrested a 44-year-old unemployed man on suspicion of theft.

According to the police statement, at about 2:40 am on that day, the suspect was in Miyagino City in the vicinity of an apartment where a 31-year-old civil servant lived and saw some Valentine’s Day chocolate and other items in a vinyl bag hanging from the handlebars of a bicycle owned by the civil servant. The chocolate had a value of ¥550 (about $5.93 USD). When the suspect took the chocolate, the 31-year-old civil servant gave chase and subdued the suspect.

Upon being asked why he stole the chocolate, the suspect was quoted as saying (testifying), “I wanted some chocolate!”

Feb. 17, 2013, Yomiuri Shimbun

Now, people are often asking why Japan is a better place to live than, say, the United States and it’s often difficult to point out specifics as to why. When it comes to crime, Japan is miles away safer than just about any western country in the world. But this little anecdote shows us a glimpse of something very important that is difficult to put a finger on:

What the level of crime is in this country that this sort of story could even hit the newspapers. And we’re not talking about some local newspaper here. We are talking about a national newspaper that has a circulation of 13.5 million copies daily.

This sort of crime would never make any major newspaper in the USA…

Also, one more thing about the Japanese… And this too is an intangible, but they are generally shy and humble people… Where I come from, Los Angeles, I hear it is a badge of honor for head bangers to get arrested and have a criminal record. Not in Japan. In Japan, a criminal record is a shameful thing. Shameful for that person and very shameful for the family.

I think when most Japanese hear this story they think, “Stealing is a crime! He should never do that!”

I think, “Poor guy.” Heck, if that were my chocolate, he stole it and I chased him and caught him and he meekly said, “I just wanted some chocolate…” I probably would have felt sorry for the guy and gave him some….”

Poor guy indeed.