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Foreign students caught in 1,137 theft cases in 1998.

TOKYO, July 16 Kyodo

Police arrested or questioned foreign students and trainees in connection with 1,137 cases of theft during last year, a Japanese daily reported Friday. The Asahi Shimbun, quoting National Police Agency officials, said more than half the cases in 1998 involved Chinese nationals.

In most of the cases, the students and trainees became involved in crime after leaving their schools or companies due to difficulties in making ends meet, the Asahi Shimbun said in its Friday evening edition.

Nearly all the foreigners involved in the cases were motivated by money, the report says.

For example, two arrested Chinese nationals belonging to a criminal gang turned out to be students enrolled at universities in Aichi and Shizuoka prefectures. They were among 17 Chinese accused of stealing about 500 million yen from pawnshops in Tokyo, Osaka and Aichi prefectures in a yearlong crime spree.

The Asahi said Chinese students are accustomed to having their educational costs subsidized. But in Japan, they are usually forced to do part-time work to pay for high tuition fees and living expenses. Some eventually become involved with criminal gangs at their places of work, it said.

As for the trainees, many believed their allowances were inadequate and dropped out of their training programs to look for work. The ones who became involved in criminal activities often did so at their workplaces, the daily said.

To address the problem, the agency has urged local governments, companies and private groups to take better care of foreign students and trainees. It has also instructed local police to issue notices when the foreigners are reported missing, the paper said.

The agency said 335 foreign students and trainees were reported missing in 1997, up from 199 in 1995. Last year, the figure dipped slightly to 244.

According to the Justice Ministry, the number of foreign nationals entering Japan last year on student visas to enroll in universities and colleges totaled 13,478. Those who came to study Japanese numbered 14,540. Trainees totaled 49,797.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Jul 19, 1999
Words:337
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