Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – Japan is known as one of the safest countries in the world. However, analysts say that persistently rising inflation rates coupled with stagnant wages mean that many supermarkets have to fight against shoplifting.
Local newspaper Manichi reported shoplifting cases increased especially after many supermarkets in Japan used technology self check out aka self-payment to overcome labor shortages. This new phenomenon is certainly surprising considering that Japan is known as a country with a low crime rate.
Mainichi reports that self-payment systems were first implemented in Japan in 2003. By 2022, an estimated 30 percent of all supermarkets operate such systems, especially as supermarkets seek new ways to limit interactions between staff and customers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The National Supermarket Association has been reluctant to open up about shoplifting data, but estimates that around 80 percent of shoplifting occurs when customers fail to scan their purchases at a supermarket checkout. This new phenomenon has made a number of supermarkets record an increase in losses of up to 30 percent.
In one case last June, a woman at a supermarket in Nakagawa, Fukuoka Prefecture, tried to shoplift 48 items worth 21,745 yen (about Rp.2.2 million), including cosmetics, meat and daily necessities. The woman was caught when a plainclothes security guard noticed her moving suspiciously at the checkout.
Makoto Watanabe, professor of media and communications at Hokkaido Bunkyo University in Sapporo, says fundamental changes in Japanese society are pushing people to steal.
“The economy has been weak for 30 years and it has gotten much worse since the coronavirus outbreak. Now we are seeing the prices of everyday goods going up, wages not changing, and there is no sign that the situation will change any time soon,” he told South China Morning Post.
“A lot of people don’t have enough money to spend, and for those who are having a hard time, (stealing) is an easy opportunity.”
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