For decades they have done battle with violent Yakuza gangsters and crafty Sokaiya racketeers, but the police have seen the alarming new face of crime in Japan - and it's wrinkled.

From theft to arson to murder, figures by the National Police Agency tell a sorry tale of soaring "neo-geriatric" crime during 2005. In a year when youth crime fell, the over-65s accounted for more than one in ten of all Japanese arrests -- a dramatic leap from the one-in-50 level recorded in 1990.

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