Japan murders fall to record low

The number of murders and attempted murders in Japan last year fell to a post-World War II low, police figures showed Friday, dropping under 1,000 for the first time.

The National Police Agency recognised 939 unlawful deliberate killings or attempts to kill in 2013, down more than eight percent on a year earlier.

An AFP tally shows that equates to around 0.74 per 100,000 people in Japan's 127 million-strong population, making it one of the lowest in the world, according to figures produced by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

In contrast, Venezuela, where a former Miss Venezuela and her British-born partner were shot to death this week, had 79 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2013, according to the country's non-profit Violence Monitor. The government says the rate is lower.

According to a UNODC report, the United States' 2010 rate of intentional homicide was 4.8 per 100,000; China's was 1.0.

Japan's most recent police statistics show overall crime dropped more than four percent on-year, with a little over 1.3 million violations of the penal code. Nearly 75% of which were thefts.

The country's relative safety in comparison with other big industrialised nations is something Japanese people are proud of.

Critics object that the very low murder rate is skewed by what they say is a police tendency to categorise an unusual number of deaths as suicide or accident, a tendency they claim is exacerbated by a very low rate of autopsies.

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