Along with passionate baseball fans and tasty octopus meat fritters, Osaka residents now have another reason for civic pride. Police statistics are projecting that in 2010 Osaka was not Japan’s top purse-snatching prefecture for the first time in 35 years.

“I am simply overjoyed. This is the result of measures taken by the prefectural police and heightened awareness among citizens,” a beaming Governor Toru Hashimoto told the press on January 6. Hashimoto was only 7 years old the last time his city was not Japan’s Mecca for purse pinchers.

The number of bags grabbed on the streets of Osaka in 2010 will likely be down more than 30% from the 3,168 reported cases in 2009 due to more surveillance cameras and an aggressive public awareness campaign.

The Osaka Prefectural government declared the 11th of each month “Purse Snatching Prevention Day” and created a lumbering green mascot with a crook-tempting shoulder bag to instruct residents on how to secure their belongs when out for a stroll.

Meanwhile, tourists visiting Tokyo Disney Land in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture may want to keep an eye on their hand bags. Osaka’s title of worst purse-snatching prefecture has been ceded to this prefecture east of Tokyo.

“Did a bunch of people from Osaka move to Chiba,” quipped one local resident.

Jim Hawe

Jim Hawe

I am a freelance writer and journalist based in Tokyo. In my free time I like to play the drums and read manga until they kick me out of the convenience store. I am also on a quest to find the best cup of ice coffee in Tokyo (any suggestions?).