How often do you get a neighborhood stabbing?? I do not have much of opinion since I've never been to Japan, but what I can say that I'll take crazy picture takers and panty thieves over what we have here at the states any day. Of course you never had to run home back in NYC, perhaps it was because the streets are wider that you can spot a guy with a knife miles away.
I mean, have you gone to your local 7/11 with a stun gun at night?? I did. :P Driving through the projects, I rather run a red light (deal with cops) than stop. I mean there are probably bad neighborhood and heinous crimes in Japan too, but probably not as bad as the states.