Taiwan 2nd Safest Country in the World

According to the website lifestyle9.com Taiwan is the world’s 2nd safest country. The ranking was based on figures from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and it took into account mainly two criteria: crime rate and natural disasters. 

The first four safest countries are all in Asia: 1) Japan, 2) Taiwan, 3) Hong Kong, 4) South Korea. 

Other countries that made it to the top ten are the United Arab Emirates (5th), Malta (6th), Luxembourg (7th), Georgia (8th), Bahrain (9th) and Singapore (10th). 

The news seems important enough to have been featured on Taiwan’s biggest newspaper, Apple Daily

However, I have my own doubts about the list. First of all, the explanations given by the team of lifestyle9 about why these countries are safe seem questionable, to say the least. For instance, the website writes about Japan: 

Culture becomes one of the main reason [sic!] that attribute such an honor to the country. Japanese never involve in activities that brings [sic!] shame to their country, hence desist from disorderly conduct. The firm gun control and wealthy Japanese economy also attributes [sic!] the feeling of safety among the people.

Apart from the style of the article and the frequent mistakes (which I’m inclined to overlook, since the journalist may not be a native speaker), I think the logic here is entirely flawed. It is an idealisation of Japanese culture based on a generalisation. While the statistics may be correct, it is not possible to jump to such conclusions, which are not more than entirely subjective opinions. We know all the things Japanese people did in the past, so I don’t think that “never involving in activities that bring shame to the country” is part of a traditional and inherently good Japanese national character. Moreover, if one looks at people’s behaviour in every day life (in the family, business, politics etc.) one can see that not bringing shame to the country is not quite the main motive behind people’s actions. While it is true that Japan has low crime rates I think patriotism isn’t a scientific explanation for this.

In the section about Taiwan we read:

People are more friendly and tender hearted, so there is no need to worry about violent crimes and robbery. Generally people of Taiwan are more honest. It is the country where you can find people who help you before you approach.

Once again, I don’t think that the low crime rate can be explained by such generalisations. It is not possible to bestow upon each one (or even just the majority, for that matter) of the 23 million people who inhabit this island a certificate of ‘tender-heartedness’, ‘honesty’, and ‘friendliness’, and conclude that low crime rates are a consequence of the gentle nature of a country’s inhabitants.

However, the main reason why I’m sceptical about this list is that it is so different from other similar rankings. For example, the 2014 Global Peace Index, which measures “security in society, the extent of conflict and the degree of militarisation” ranks the United Arab Emirates 40th, Bahrain and Georgia both 111th. The first 10 countries on the list are Iceland, Denmark, Austria, New Zealand, Switzerland, Finland, Canada, Japan, Belgium and Norway. Singapore is only 25th and Taiwan 28th. Of course I am not an expert, but it seems strange that out of the 10 most peaceful countries of the GPI only Japan has been included by lifestyle9 in its list. 

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and Taipei 101 (source: Wikipedia)


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