The National Police Agency 2012 Edition of the annual White Paper on Crime hit bookstores last week with details of Japan’s shocking plan to raise the number of women in the police force from 6.8% to a stunning 10% by 2023. The winds of change are blowing like a typhoon here in this insular island country.
In a special section of the report, Concerning the hiring and use of female police officers (女性警察官の採用・登用の拡大), for the first time in the history of the report, the National Police Agency laid out concrete plans for integrating more police officers into the overwhelmingly male police force. The report was even nice enough to add, “For maintaining public order and the vigor of the organization, highly skilled female police officers are indispensable.” Currently female police officers constitute roughly 7% of the 250,000 police officers nationwide.
Traditionally, Japanese police women have been relegated to the traffic section but increasingly are being made detectives and handling consultations about domestic violence and stalking. Stalking cases are reportedly growing in number every year. One reason that may exist for the growth in stalking cases is that police departments which were reluctant to take such cases have become much more pro-active. The reasons for this involve several very public cases of police officers failing to act on stalking complaints and people getting killed as a result. For example, in March it became apparent that Chiba police officers postponed investigating a suspected case of assault and stalking and instead took a three-day fun-filled trip to Hokkaido. The suspect in the case killed the mother and grandmother of the 27 year old woman he had been stalking. There were outcries for increased enforcement and revision of the stalking laws.
And of course, recent cases of police officers acting lewdly toward teenage girls and sexually harassing their own police woman co-worker haven’t been good for the image of the Japanese police either. It may be that 1% of the future female 10% of the force will be devoted to policing fellow police officers. Let’s hope conduct improves and there are better things for lady cops to do by then.