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Wednesday, 28th January 2015
In General Japan News,

Kyoto 'midnight defender' scheme cuts robberies

Japan might be renowned for having an exceptionally low crime rate, but this hasn't stopped its cities coming up with new and innovative ways of cutting what little crime there is.

Throughout 2014, the Kyoto Prefectural Police have been trialling an initiative that sees the city's fleet of taxi drivers take up a midnight warden position at convenience stores around the city and prefecture.

Many convenience stores in Japan are open on a 24-hour basis and are particularly vulnerable to robberies during the hours between 10pm and 7am.

The scheme, nicknamed the Midnight Defender Strategy, therefore encouraged taxi drivers to take their late-night breaks in the car parks of convenience stores, providing an extra pair of eyes and a deterrent to would-be robbers.

Since the programme was announced in September 2013, the number of armed robberies at participating stores has dropped to four compared to 18 in 2012. By contrast, shops not participating in the scheme saw robberies rise over the same period as the thieves looked elsewhere. 

One manager commented: "Having the drivers around for any amount of time leads to a sense of security. Our midnight staff especially thanks them."

Taxi drivers are also pleased with the arrangement, telling Yahoo! Japan News: "It really helps to have a guaranteed spot to park for breaks, and I’m happy to contribute to crime prevention too."

Overall, convenience store robberies across the prefecture have halved since the scheme came into play.

The 500 shops participating in the scheme are able to let drivers know that they have an available space by putting a poster up in the window, alerting them to the fact they can stay there for as long as they like.

If the scheme continues to put off criminals, it might not be long before it's implemented across the entirety of Japan.

Related news stories:
Koike: Japan's first female PM? (3rd September 2008)
Mayor of Kyoto outlines plans for tourism (22nd September 2014)
Kyoto named world's best city by Travel + Leisure for second consecutive year (8th July 2015)
Kyoto acclaimed as best travel destination (8th July 2014)
New drive to save Kyoto's historic narrow homes (8th December 2014)