This paper investigates the attitudes and beliefs that the public hold about criminal behaviour in Japanese and Australian society, with a view to uncovering sources of resistance to, and support for, restorative justice. The study draws on a survey of 1,544 respondents from Japan and 1,967 respondents from Australia. In both societies, restorative justice met with greater acceptance among those who were (1) strong in social capital, (2) believed in offender reintegration and rehabilitation, (3) saw benefits for victims in forgiveness, and (4) were advocates for victims' voices being heard and amends made. The alternative 'just deserts' and deterrence models for dealing with crime were grounded in attitudes of punitiveness and fear of moral decay, and reservations about the value of reintegrating and rehabilitating offenders. Like restorative justice supporters, 'just deserts' and deterrence supporters expressed concern that victims' voices be heard and amends made. Winning public support for competing institutional arrangements may depend on who does best in meeting expectations for meeting the needs of victims.