Japanese take sublime approach to theft

Japanese shops are snapping up new compact discs that play subliminal warnings about the dangers of shop-lifting. The CDs play sound-tracks of popular music or of ocean waves. But encoded on the tracks are voices in seven languages, including Japanese, English, Chinese and Thai, that anyone caught shop-lifting will be reported to the police. Punctuated with the wailof police sirens, the subliminal message is recorded at 20,000 Hertz, the highest frequency audible to humans but well beyond the limit where sounds register on the conscious mind.

The maker, Victor Entertainment, part of JVC, claims the message goes straight to the subconscious, so that the CDs change the behaviour of shoppers without their knowing. According to a report in Yomiuri Shimbun, 12,000 copies of the CDs were bought by book, music and department stores in Japan in the first month following their release last year.

A Victor Entertainment spokesman was quoted as saying that a bookshop in Kawasaki, an industrial suburb south of Tokyo, formerly had about two cases of shop-lifting a week but that the problem disappeared after the subliminal messages were played over the shop loudspeakers. The spokesman added that the subconscious warnings would only dissuade "impulse" shop-lifters rather than habitual thieves.

Subliminal advertising is banned as unethical in the US and other countries, including Japan. This has not stopped research from proceeding.

In 1986, according to Victor Entertainment, the warning, "If I steal, I shall go to prison" was embedded in background music played in an experiment in two New Orleans supermarkets. It is claimed that shop-lifting fell by 40 per cent and that the amount of money missing from cash registers fell from about $25 (£16) to $10 a week.

HMV Japan, a subsidiary of the British music company, has sent copies of the CDs for market testing. One sent to the large HMV shop in the Ginza, Tokyo's best-known shopping district, was entitled "Prevent Shop-lifting" with the added description "Mind-Control Music". Some tracks, including one entitled "Yeah! Bargain", are supposed to stimulate sales.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum