Law Library Stacks

To view PDFs Acrobat Reader

Back to Firearms-Control Legislation and Policy

Summary

Guns have been controlled in Japan since the late sixteenth century.  After the Second World War, gun control became very strict.  Many civilians have never seen a gun in their lives.  In order for a person to own hunting guns and to hunt animals and birds with a gun, he or she must pay a hunting tax and obtain a gun-possession permit, hunting license, and hunting registration.  The process for obtaining a gun-possession permit is cumbersome and time-consuming.  The number of people who possess guns has been declining as a result of the very strict regulations.

The relationship between gun possession and crimes or suicides has not been studied in great detail.  There are very few deaths by gunshot in Japan, which has a low homicide rate overall.  The suicide rate, on the other hand, is very high, and many speculate that if Japanese people were able to possess guns more freely, the suicide rate would rise sharply.  However, no scientific research has been conducted on that question.

Back to Top

History of Gun Control in Japan

Gun control was instituted in Japan soon after guns were introduced there, and the country has a long history of policies that restrict gun possession by members of the general public.

Guns were introduced to Japan through wakō[1] and Europeans in the mid-sixteenth century.[2]  In 1588, the ruler of Japan, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, announced the Sword Hunt, which banned possession of swords and firearms by people who were not soldiers.  “The measure had the double advantage from the ruler’s point of view of preventing riots and distinguishing the peasant from the soldier.”[3]

During the Tokugawa period (1603–1867),[4] gun control was expanded.  The Tokugawa Shogunate issued the following regulations and decrees:

Year Regulation/Decree
1629: 

The use of guns for the control of pests was permitted upon submission of a written declaration that the gun would be used properly.

1645: 

The use of guns in Edo (Tokyo) was prohibited except by gun officials.

1662: 

The possession of guns other than by hunters was prohibited.  Hunters were registered and prohibited from renting out guns to others.

1676: 

Crackdowns on illegal gun possessors would be conducted

1685: 

Persons who turned in or reported shooters of illegal guns would be rewarded.

1687: 

Villages without hunters were allowed to rent guns.

1717: 

Even hunters were prohibited from possessing guns in Edo and its outskirts.  Guns could be rented for pest control for limited periods.

1729: 

The rental conditions imposed in 1717 were tightened: the gun rental period would be for one year, a rental document would have to be submitted annually, and the number of boars and deer taken in the previous year had to be reported.[5]

The Meiji emperor was restored as head of Japan in 1868, and Japan was transformed from a feudal society into a modern country.[6]  In 1872, the Meiji Government promulgated the Gun Control Regulation.[7]  Under this regulation, only licensed merchants were allowed to sell guns (excluding military guns).  Men who had formerly belonged to the soldier class and had owned military guns were required to report them to the authorities.  These guns had to have newly carved numbers.  The use of guns was thereafter basically limited to hunters.[8]  The regulation, aimed at controlling guns and ammunition and disarming civilians, was intended to prevent “bad people from playing with guns.”[9]

In 1899, gun and explosives regulations were integrated into one law, the Firearms and Explosives Control Law.  In 1910, this law was completely revised.  It contained the following provisions, among others:

  • the manufacture and sale of guns and explosives were subject to government license;
  • the sale of guns and explosives door-to-door or in outdoor markets was banned;
  • when it was deemed necessary for maintaining public security, the government could control the transfer, transport, and possession of guns and explosives;
  • the transfer of guns for military use was to be done only under government license; and
  • the transfer, transport, and possession of handguns, shotguns, rifles, and swords were authorized only with the approval of the chief of the appropriate police station.[10]

Though the possession of guns by civilians were heavily regulated, it was possible for civilians to own guns, including handguns.  This changed after the Second World War.  Under the Allied Occupation, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) disarmed Japanese servicemen and issued several arms control directives in 1945 in order to safeguard against any possible danger that might arise from arms possessed by civilians.[11]  In 1946, the Japanese government issued the Imperial Ordinance Concerning the Prohibition of the Possession of Guns and Other Arms, which banned the possession of firearms and swords by private citizens in principle, though the possession of hunting guns and artistic swords was allowed under license.[12

When most of the arms had been collected from the general public and the post-war social disorder had settled, the SCAP arms control directives were rescinded,[13] and the Japanese government issued a new regulation in 1950.  The 1950 Order Concerning Firearms and Swords broadened the exceptions to the general ban on the possession of guns and swords.[14]  Thereafter, in addition for use in hunting, the possession of guns was permitted for the purpose of killing harmful animals and livestock, for emergency rescue activities, and for fisheries.[15]  In 1955, the use of air guns and nail guns was added to the uses permitted in the regulation.[16]  (Many accidents and crimes involving air guns had occurred in the late 1920s, and several youth organizations demanded air gun regulations because many of the accidents had involved youth.[17]

Back to Top

1958 Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords

The 1950 Order was replaced by the Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords in 1958.[18]  There were some changes made to the regulations in the 1950 Order, but the general prohibition of possession of guns by civilians was not changed.  One of the changes implemented in the 1958 Law was the prohibition in principle of carrying guns and swords, regardless of whether the carrier was licensed to own the gun or sword.  Previous years had seen notable gang fights in which guns and swords were used.  A National Police Agency officer estimated that half of the guns and swords used in such gang fights were licensed and the other half were not.[19]  With this amendment the government tried to prevent or reduce the use of guns and swords by gangs.[20]

The 1958 Law has frequently been amended following a public outcry after crimes or incidents involving guns, each amendment making the restrictions tighter.  For example, when the police determined that most illegal guns were imported from abroad, a provision making the unauthorized importing of guns a crime was added to the law in 1965.[21]  After an eighteen-year-old licensed to own two hunting rifles killed a police officer and went on a shooting spree against police officers in 1965, the age for owning a hunting rifle was raised from eighteen to twenty years old.[22]  After replica guns were used for crimes in the 1960s, including airplane hijacking, the possession of replica handguns that appear real was also prohibited.[23]  More recently, airsoft guns of more than a certain power began to be regulated by a 2006 amendment.[24]  After five murders involving shotguns, a 2008 amendment further restricted the possession of such guns.[25]

Back to Top

Possession and Use of Guns and Ammunition under the Current Law

The first article of the 1958 Law states that its aim is to provide control measures necessary to prevent danger and injury arising from shoji (possession) of guns, swords, etc.[26Shoji means that an object is under the control of a person.[27]  It includes storing and carrying.[28]  The possession of guns and their parts is strictly limited to law enforcement officials, members of the Self-Defense Force, other public officials, and persons who have obtained permission from the government to use them for a specific purpose, such as hunters, target shooters, athletes who compete in national or international competitions, firearms dealers, manufacturers, firearm exporters, and antique-gun collectors.[29]  The transfer, loan, and borrowing of guns and their parts are also restricted.[30]  The term “guns” in this law means pistols, rifles, machine guns, hunting guns, other powder-charging firearms that have a mechanism for shooting metal bullets, and air guns with power specified by a Cabinet Office Ordinance.[31]

To obtain permission to possess a gun, a person must file an application with the Public Safety Commission of the prefecture where he or she lives specifying the gun to be in his or her possession and the purpose of its use.[32]  The kind of gun permitted to be possessed is limited, depending on the purpose of the possession.  Among the guns included are

  • hunting guns (rifles and shotguns) or air guns, excluding air pistols, to be used for target shooting, hunting, or extermination of harmful birds and animals;
  • special guns used in specific businesses, such as lifesaving, slaughterhouses, fisheries, and construction;
  • guns for testing or research; and
  • pistols and air pistols to be used in international athletic competitions when recommended by a person designated by Cabinet order.[33]

Possession of handguns by civilians is not allowed except for researchers using them for testing or research.

As of 2011, the total number of guns permitted to be possessed by civilians in Japan was 271,100.[34]  The numbers have shown an annual decline: 839,086 in 1980,[35] 533,251 in 1990,[36] and 444,210 in 2000.[37]  Details of the numbers for five recent years are as follows:[38]

 

Year

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

 

Total

361,402

339,560

319,289

292,766

271,100

For Hunting

Rifles

41,193

39,862

38,772

36,818

35,006

Others

253,437

237,046

221,640

201,633

185,165

Air Guns

 

33,331

31,759

30,527

28,198

26,612

For Construction

 

28,362

25,898

23,439

21,022

19,170

Other Guns

 

5,079

4,994

4,911

5,095

5,147

Those disqualified from possessing a gun according to Article 5 of the Law include

(1)    a person less than 18 years of age (a talented athlete of age 14 years or over may be excepted);

(2)    a person who has declared bankruptcy and the restrictions have not been removed;

(3)    a person who has lost or may lose full mental ability through mental illness or specified health problems, or who has dementia;

(4)    a person addicted to alcohol, narcotics, cannabis, opium, or stimulant drugs;

(5)    a feebleminded person;

(6)   a person without a fixed abode;

(7–11)  a person whose license was revoked and a specified period has not elapsed;

(12) any person who has been sentenced to imprisonment and five years have not elapsed since his or her sentence was completed or remitted;

(13–14)  a person who violated this Law or a related law and a specified period has not elapsed;

(15)  a person who stalked another person and received a warning or restraining order;

(16)  a person who behaved violently and received a restraining order under the Domestic Violence Prevention Law;

(17)  a person who is recognized by the [Public Safety] Commission as one who has  committed violent acts as a member of a group or repeatedly; and

(18)  a person who can be reasonably expected to harm another’s life, body, or property, [be a threat to] public safety, or commit suicide.[39]

In addition, if a relative, including a de facto spouse, living with an applicant can be reasonably expected to pose a threat to the life or property of other persons or to public safety by using a gun or sword, the prefecture’s Public Safety Commission may not permit the possession of a gun or sword.[40]  There are exceptions and additional restrictions.

In order to possess a hunting gun or air gun, one must attend classes, held by the prefecture’s Public Safety Commission, concerning the laws and regulations on possession of hunting or air guns and the methods of their use and safe storage.[41]  In addition, in order to prevent a person without the skills to handle a gun from obtaining one,[42] the law requires an applicant for a gun-possession permit to take a skills test or complete shooting classes.[43]  In the case of a rifle, permission for possession is not granted unless the person is a professional hunter; will use it to exterminate harmful animals and birds for the protection of his business; or has had a permit to possess a hunting gun for more than ten years.[44]

According to gun-shop websites, although obtaining a gun-possession permit the first time is cumbersome, it is not difficult if one follows the requisite steps.[45]  The applicant for the permit must submit thirteen attachments, including photos, a medical certificate, a copy of his or her family register, certificates of completion of classes, etc., to the prefecture’s Public Safety Commission.[46]  The Public Safety Commission then gives an eligible person a permit certificate to possess a firearm,[47] which is valid for three years[48] and can be renewed every three years.[49]  The permit becomes invalid, among other cases, when the person has been unable to take possession of the firearm within three months from the day the permit was granted or the person has lost possession of the firearm.[50]

Once the permit has been obtained, there are other provisions to be followed.  Discharging a gun other than for the permitted purpose is prohibited.[51]  The carrying or transporting of a gun is, in principle, prohibited unless the possessor does so for the permitted use of the gun or other legitimate reason.[52]  When it is permitted, the possessor must cover the gun or put it in a case, and must not have bullets inside the gun.[53]  When the possessor carries or transports the gun, he or she must carry the permit with him or her, which is subject to police inspection upon request.[54]

The person who has been authorized to possess a firearm must himself store it in a gun locker installed in accordance with the standards determined by the ordinance.[55]  A young person aged fourteen years or older but younger than eighteen who is involved in competitive sport-shooting must store guns with a licensed person who has a gun-storage facility that meets the standards.[56]  The Prefecture’s Public Safety Commission may ask a person who stores guns about the storage situation at any time.[57]  When the Commission recognizes the need to inspect the storage situation of hunting guns, such as to inquire about the possibility of their being stolen, it has the local police conduct an on-site inspection, with prior notice to the person storing the gun(s).[58]  Further, under the authority of the Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords, the police may, with prior notice to gun owners, conduct nationwide inspections of gun owners’ weapons and storage facilities.[59]

According to the Law, ammunition must be kept in a separate locked safe.[60]  To buy ammunition, a separate permit from the Public Safety Commission is required under the Gunpowder and Explosives Control Law[61] unless the transaction is for three hundred (fifty in the case of rifle bullets) or fewer bullets.[62]  Hunters cannot store more than eight hundred bullets.[63]  The procedure for obtaining ammunition-purchase permits was tightened after the 2007 Sasebo shooting.[64]  The applicant for a bullet-purchase permit is currently required to submit a “plan for bullet use.”[65]

The Police have broad authority to supervise gun possession.  When there is reasonable suspicion that a person is carrying or transporting a gun and he or she may be a threat to the life or property of other persons or to the public peace, judging from unusual behavior or the attendant circumstances, a police official may compel the person to produce the gun for inspection.[66]  When the police deem it necessary, they may withhold the gun.[67]  The gun will be returned to the original possessor within five days from the time of its surrender to the police unless the police find it was illegally possessed.[68]

At the time of a disaster or an incident that disturbs the public peace, a Public Safety Commission may prohibit or limit the delivery, transport, or carrying of firearms for which a permit has been obtained, for a limited area and period, by issuing a notice.  The Commission may even order gun holders in the area to submit their guns provisionally and may keep them until the notice expires.  The notice must be approved by the prefecture parliament within seven days from the day of notice.[69]

Quasi guns and gun-related accessories are also regulated.  As briefly mentioned above, possession of airsoft guns are prohibited, except by certain public officials, if the bullet kinetic energy of the gun exceeds 3.4/cm2.[70]  Even certain imitation models are banned.  Except for manufacturers or exporters, possession of a metal imitation pistol that has a shape bearing a marked resemblance to a real pistol is prohibited.[71]  The possession of certain gun silencers, magazines, and barrels is also prohibited even when a person has permission to possess a gun.[72]

Back to Top

Hunting

To hunt animals with a gun, a person must obtain a hunting license from the prefecture governor, along with a permit to possess a gun.  Hunting licenses are prescribed under the Wildlife Protection and Hunting Law and are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Environment.[73] A hunting license may not be issued to a person who

(1) is younger than twenty years of age;

(2)  may lose or has lost full mental ability through mental illness or specified health problems;

(3) is addicted to narcotics, cannabis, opium, or stimulant drugs;

(4) is feebleminded; or

(5)  has violated the Hunting Law and has received and completed a certain penalty within the previous three years.[74]

A person must also pass a test to be licensed.[75]  A hunting license expires after three years, and is renewable upon passing the suitability test.[76]

In addition to obtaining a hunting license, hunters must register themselves with the prefectures where they hunt, and pay a registration fee and hunting tax.[77]  To be registered, proof of accident insurance that covers hunting accidents is also required.  The Greater Japan Hunters’ Association provides such insurance.[78]

The numbers of licensed hunters in Japan, including those using snares and guns, is generally decreasing, while their average age is increasing.  As of 2010, there were approximately 190,000 registered hunters, approximately 65% of whom were sixty years old or older.[79]  In 1980, approximately 450,000 hunting licenses were issued.  Most of them were for hunting with guns.  Recently, the number has been below 300,000, approximately 40% of whom hunt with snares.[80]

The declining number of hunters has become an issue as damage to farms and fisheries caused by wild animals has increased.  The Special Measures Law to Prevent Damage by Birds and Animals to Agriculture and Fisheries[81] was enacted in 2007, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF).  One of the measures to prevent damage caused by wild animals was to support hunters.[82]  After the 2008 amendment of the Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords was implemented, many licensed hunters complained that they were obligated by the amendment to take skills classes that include a shooting test.[83]  Many of them, who were elderly and experienced, did not like the newly added test and threatened not to renew their licenses.  Meanwhile, the damage caused to farms by birds and animals increased in 2010.[84]  Accordingly, the Diet in 2012 amended the Special Measures Law to Prevent Damage by Birds and Animals to Agriculture and Fisheries,[85] so that hunters who renew their gun possession permits by December 2014 are exempted from the skills classes.[86]

Back to Top

Control of Gun Manufacturers and Dealers

The manufacture and sale of guns are regulated by the Weapons Manufacture Law and are under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry.[87]  The term “weapons” in this law includes explosives and firearms, such as pistols, rifles, hunting guns, bullets, and cartridges.[88]  Any person intending to engage in the business of manufacturing weapons must obtain a permit from the METI for each factory or workplace.[89]  To qualify, an applicant must meet, among other things, the standards for facilities for the manufacture and safe storage of weapons as set forth in ministerial ordinances.[90]

            Permits may be denied to

(1) a person who has been fined or given a more severe punishment on account of violating the Weapons Manufacture Law, where three years have not elapsed since his or her sentence was completed or remitted;

(2) a person with respect to whom three years have not elapsed since the day his or her permission to manufacture weapons was revoked;

(3) any person deemed unqualified to be a manufacturer because of a fine or more severe punishment imposed on him or her for violating other laws and regulations within the last three years;

(4) an incompetent person; and

(5) a business that has one of the aforementioned persons among its executive members.[91]

A person who intends to engage in the business of manufacturing hunting guns is also required to obtain a permit from the prefectural governor having jurisdiction over the factory or the workplace.[92]  Any person who intends to operate a business to sell hunting guns must obtain a permit from the prefectural governor.[93]  Bullets, cartridges, and blank cartridges are also subject to the Gunpowder and Explosives Control Law,[94] which includes regulations on storage and transportation.

Back to Top

Offenses and Penalties

There are a number of offenses relating to guns that are prescribed in the Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords and that are separate from offenses committed using a gun, such as murder.  The most severe penalty under the Gun Control Law is for the act of discharging a gun in a train, on a bus, or at a place used by large numbers of “unspecified” people.  Such an act is punishable by penal servitude for a definite term of three years or more or for an indefinite term.[95]  This punishment was established in 1995 to protect the general public by severely punishing gun fights in public places by gang members.[96]  After the mayor of Nagasaki City was shot to death by a gang member,[97] provisions were added to make the punishment even more severe.  If the discharging of a gun is part of an activity of a group or organization, or is done to keep or gain advantage or profit for a group, the act is punishable by penal servitude for a definite term of five years or more or for an indefinite term and a fine not to exceed 30 million yen (about US$340,000).[98]

Any person who illegally possesses a gun is subject to a punishment of penal servitude for one year or more, but not to exceed ten years.  If a person illegally possesses more than one gun, the penalty goes up to a maximum punishment of penal servitude for fifteen years.  If any violator of the above provisions also carries, transports, or stores live cartridges, metal bullets, or explosives, the penalty is increased to penal servitude for three years or more.[99]  If the discharging of a gun is part of an activity of a group or organization, or is done to keep or gain advantage or profit for a group, the penalty is increased.[100]

Any person who illegally imports firearms is punishable by penal servitude for not less than three years.  Any person who imports firearms in order to make a profit is subject to penal servitude for a term ranging from not less than five years to life and a fine not to exceed 30 million yen (about US$340,000).[101]  Any person who transfers, lends, or borrows handguns is subject to penal servitude for one year or more, but not to exceed ten years.  Any person who commits these crimes in order to make a profit is punishable by penal servitude for not less than three years and a fine not to exceed 10 million yen (about US$113,000).[102]

Under the Weapons Manufacture Law, any person who illegally manufactures firearms is subject to penal servitude for three years or more.  Any person who commits this crime in order to make a profit is subject to penal servitude for five years or more and a fine not to exceed 30 million yen (about US$340,000).[103]

Back to Top

Crime Statistics

The total number of criminal cases involving the shooting of guns has declined over the last ten years.  In 2001, the number was more than two hundred, but in 2010 the number was less than fifty.[104]

The number of criminal cases involving handguns has also declined over the last ten years.  In 2001, the number was eighty, but by 2010 the number was down to twenty.  The number of criminal cases involving guns other than handguns has not changed.  In 2010, the number was twenty-six.[105]

The following table shows the number of victims who were shot to death in recent years:[106]

Year

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

No.

31

21

30

38

34

17

22

19

28

23


2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

39

24

35

17

10

2

21

10

4

11

8

The crime rate in Japan is low compared with other countries.  For example, according to Japan’s 2011 White Paper on Crime, murder ratios in 2010 were 0.9 per 100,000 people in Japan, 2.8 in France, 2.7 in Germany, 2.1 in the United Kingdom, and 4.8 in the United States.  The numbers of murders in 2010 were 1,103 in Japan, 1,746 in France, 2,218 in Germany, 1,167 in the UK, and 14,748 in the U.S.[107]

Back to Top

Suicides

Japan’s suicide mortality rate is very high among OECD countries.[108]  However, the rate of suicides by gun is quite low in Japan because guns are not easily accessible.  Guns are not among the six major methods of committing suicide in Japan, which include hanging, leaping to one’s death, and inhaling carbon monoxide.[109] Among police officers, there were fifty-four suicides committed using handguns between 1997 and 2007.[110]  Many people who participate in online discussions on the issue of suicides have claimed that there might be more suicides if Japanese were able to possess handguns more freely.  However, no credible research or studies have been done on this point.

Back to Top

Perception

Many civilians in Japan have never seen a gun in their lives.  They are not familiar with guns.[111]  It appears there is no demand among Japanese to relax gun control.  Textbooks on the Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords simply state that the reason for the restrictions on guns is that they are inherently dangerous to people; therefore, to protect the safety of people, the possession and use of guns must be restricted.[112]  There is no further discussion of why guns must be controlled.  Even minor gun-related incidents that do not actually endanger other people can make the national news.  For example, a national newspaper reported that a senior policeman forgot to remove one of the five bullets in his handgun and accidently discharged a bullet while examining the gun in a gun storage room before returning it.  The bullet hit the wall of the room; no one was hurt, but the policeman will be punished for violating an internal regulation.[113]

Prepared by Sayuri Umeda
Foreign Law Specialist
February 2013

 

  1. Wakō are “any of the groups of marauders who raided the Korean and Chinese coasts between the 13th and 16th centuries.”  Wakō, Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition (2013), http://www.britannica.com/ EBchecked/topic/634306/wako. [Back to Text]
  2. Takehisa Udagawa, Teppō denrai no nihonshi [Japanese History of the Introduction of Guns] 26 (2006).  It was widely believed in the past that guns were first introduced in Tanegashima, Japan by the Portuguese in 1543, but further studies concluded that guns were introduced by various foreigners. [Back to Text]
  3. 2 George Bailey Sansom, A History of Japan: 1334–1615 at 331 (1961). [Back to Text]
  4. Tokugawa period, Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition (2013), http://www.britannica. com/EBchecked/topic/598326/Tokugawa-period. [Back to Text]
  5. Haruyasu Nakashima, Jūhō tōken rui tō no torishimari [Control of Firearms and Swords] 15–16 (1979). [Back to Text]
  6. The Meiji Restoration and Modernization, Asia for Educators (Columbia University, 2009), http://afe. easia.columbia.edu/special/japan_1750_meiji.htm. [Back to Text]
  7. Jūhō torishimari kisoku, Dajōkan fukoku No. 28 (Jan. 29, 1872). [Back to Text]
  8. Yoshinobu Endo, 1872 nen jūhō torishimari kisoku no seitei katei [Legislative Process of 1872 Gun Control Regulation], 62(2)J. Hokkaido U. Educ. (Human. & Soc. Sci.), 1, 4 (Feb. 2012), http://s-ir.sap.hokkyodai.ac.jp/ dspace/bitstream/123456789/2858/1/62-2-zinbun-01.pdf. [Back to Text]
  9. Id. at 2. [Back to Text]
  10. Nakashima, supra note 5, at 16–17. [Back to Text]
  11. Id. at 17–18. [Back to Text]
  12. Imperial Ordinance Concerning the Prohibition of the Possession of Guns and Other Arms, Imperial Ordinance No. 300 of 1946 (June 3, 1946). [Back to Text]
  13. SCAPIN-2099: Instructions on the Surrender of Arms by Japanese Civilians (May 29, 1950).  Information on the directive is available on the website of Japan’s National Diet Library, at http://iss.ndl.go.jp/books/R100000002-I000006849593-00 (last visited Jan. 2, 2013). [Back to Text]
  14. Order Concerning Firearms and Swords, Cabinet Order No. 334 of 1950 (Nov. 15, 1950).  This Order prevailed after the Peace Treaty came into force on April 28, 1952, by legislation (Law No. 13 of 1952). [Back to Text]
  15. Id. art. 3.  See Nakashima, supra note 5, at 21. [Back to Text]
  16. Law No. 51 of 1955 (July 4, 1955). [Back to Text]
  17. Nakashima, supra note 5, at 22. [Back to Text]
  18. Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords, Law No. 6 of 1958 (Mar. 10, 1958). [Back to Text]
  19. Statement of Kunji Nakagawa, Minutes of Local Administration Committee, House of Councillors, No. 3, 28th Diet Session (Feb. 11, 1958), at 3. [Back to Text]
  20. Id. at 2. [Back to Text]
  21. Law No. 47 of 1965 (Apr. 15, 1965).  Statement of Hideo Ohtsu, Minutes of Local Administration Committee, House of Councillors, No. 4, 48th Diet Session (Feb. 9, 1965), at 4. [Back to Text]
  22. Law No. 80 of 1966 (June 7, 1966).  Statement of Yoshikazu Imatake, Minutes of Local Administration Committee, House of Councillors, No. 16, 51st Diet Session (Apr. 12, 1966), at 8. [Back to Text]
  23. Law No. 48 of 1971 (Apr. 20, 1971).  Statement of Takiichiro Hatsumura, Minutes of Local Administration Committee, House of Councillors, No. 7, 65th Diet Session (Mar. 2, 1971), at 8. [Back to Text]
  24. Law No. 41 of 2006 (May 24, 2006).  See Jigyō hyōkasho [Business Evaluation], National Safety Commission and National Police Agency (Mar. 2012), http://www.npa.go.jp/seisaku_hyoka/soumu/24juutouhou-hyoukasyo.pdf. [Back to Text]
  25. Law No. 86 of 2008.  See Hōmu sōgō kenkyūsho, Kaitei juhō tōken rui shoji tō torishimari hō [Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords, Second Edition] 11–12 (2012). [Back to Text]
  26. Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords, Law No. 6 of 1958 (Mar. 10, 1958), last amended by Law No. 72 of 2011 (June 22, 2011), art. 1. [Back to Text]
  27. Sup. Ct. Nov. 29, 1977, Case No. 1977 (a) 1069, 31-6 Saikoō saibansho keiji hanreishū [Keishū] 1030. [Back to Text]
  28. Tochigi Tsutomu and Nishida Masaki, Jūhō tōken rui shoji tō torishimari hō ihan jiken no shori ni kansuru jitsumu jō no shomondai [Practical Issues Dealing with Cases of Law Controlling Guns and Swords] 46 (2000). [Back to Text]
  29. Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords arts. 3 & 4. [Back to Text]
  30. Id. arts. 3-4, 3-7, & 3-10. [Back to Text]
  31. Id. art. 2, para. 1.  Enforcement Ordinance of Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords, Prime Minister’s Office Ordinance No. 16 of 1958 (Mar. 22, 1958), last amended by Cabinet Office Ordinance No. 58 of 2012 (Sept. 14, 2012), art. 3. [Back to Text]
  32. Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords art. 4-2. [Back to Text]
  33. Id. art. 4, para. 1. [Back to Text]
  34. National Police Agency, Keisatsu hakusho [Police White Paper] 2012, Statistic 2-37, http://www. npa.go.jp/hakusyo/h24/toukei/01/2-37.xls. [Back to Text]
  35. National Police Agency, Keisatsu hakusho [Police White Paper] 1981, Statistic 6-2, http://www. npa.go.jp/hakusyo/s56/s56s0602.html. [Back to Text]
  36. National Police Agency, Keisatsu hakusho [Police White Paper] 1991, Statistic 5-5, http://www. npa.go.jp/hakusyo/h03/h03s0505.html. [Back to Text]
  37. National Police Agency, Keisatsu hakusho [Police White Paper] 2001, Statistic 2-14, at 292, http:// www.npa.go.jp/hakusyo/h13/h130910.pdf. [Back to Text]
  38. Police White Paper 2012, supra note 34, Statistic 2-37. [Back to Text]
  39. Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords, Law No. 6 of 1958 (Mar. 10, 1958), last amended by Law No. 72 of 2011 (June 22, 2011), art. 5, para 1, items 1–18. [Back to Text]
  40. Id. art. 5, para. 5. [Back to Text]
  41. Id. art. 5-2, para. 1; art. 5-3, paras. 1 & 2. [Back to Text]
  42. Ginō kōshū no jisshi ni tsuite [Regarding the Skills Class], National Police Agency, Public Safety Dept., Choho No. 152 (Nov. 18, 2009), at 1, http://www.npa.go.jp/jutoho/hoan20091118-04.pdf. [Back to Text]
  43. Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords, art. 5-2, para. 3, items 3 & 4; art. 5-4; art. 9-5.  The details of the test are prescribed in the Regulation on Skills Test, Skills Class and Shooting Class, Public Safety Commission Regulation No. 8 of 1978, last amended by Regulation No. 10 of 2009. [Back to Text]
  44. Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords art. 5-2, para. 4, item 1. [Back to Text]
  45. Jūhō shoji ni tsuite [Regarding Possession of a Gun], Gun Shop Miyako, http://miyako-gun.com/初め ての方-1/ (last visited Jan. 17, 2013); Jūhō shoji no hōhō [How to Possess a Gun], Gunsmith Takida Hiroshi, http:// www.gunsmith.jp/kyoka.html (last visited Jan. 17, 2013). [Back to Text]
  46. Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords art. 4-2; Enforcement Ordinance of Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords, Prime Minister’s Office Ordinance No. 16 of 1958 (Mar. 22, 1958), last amended by Cabinet Office Ordinance No. 58 of 2012 (Sept. 14, 2012), arts. 9–11.  See also, Ryōjū kūkiū no shoji kyoka tetuduki [Procedure for [Obtaining] Permission to Possess Hunting Guns and Air Guns], Metropolitan Police Dept., http://www.keishicho.metro.tokyo.jp/tetuzuki/gun/gun.htm (last visited Jan. 17, 2013). [Back to Text]
  47. Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords art. 7. [Back to Text]
  48. Id. art. 7-2. [Back to Text]
  49. Id. art. 7-3. [Back to Text]
  50. Id. art. 8, para. 1. [Back to Text]
  51. Id. arts. 3-13, 10, para. 2. [Back to Text]
  52. Id. art. 10, para. 1. [Back to Text]
  53. Id. art. 10, paras. 4 & 5. [Back to Text]
  54. Id. art. 24. [Back to Text]
  55. Id. art. 10-4; Enforcement Ordinance of Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords, Prime Minister’s Office Ordinance No. 16 of 1958 (Mar. 22, 1958), last amended by Cabinet Office Ordinance No. 58 of 2012 (Sept. 14, 2012), art. 84. [Back to Text]
  56. Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords art. 10-5; Enforcement Ordinance of Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords art. 84. [Back to Text]
  57. Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords art. 10-6, para. 1. [Back to Text]
  58. Id. art. 10-6, para. 2. [Back to Text]
  59. Id. art. 13.  See “17 man nin/30 man chō sōtenken” hōkokusho [Report on “The Comprehensive Inspection of “170,000 people/300,000 Guns”], “Comprehensive Inspection on Gun Administration” Project Team, National Police Agency (Apr. 3, 2008), http://www.npa.go.jp/safetylife/seikan48/siryou.pdf. [Back to Text]
  60. Id. art. 10-4, paras. 3 & 4. [Back to Text]
  61. Gunpowder and Explosives Control Law, Law No. 149, May 4, 1950, last amended by Law No. 121 of 1999, art. 17, para. 1 & art. 50-2. [Back to Text]
  62. Id. art. 17, para 1, item 3; Ordinance on the Transfer, Import, and Sales of Bullets for Hunting Guns, Prime Minister’s Office Ordinance No. 46 of 1966, last amended by Cabinet Office Ordinance No. 68 of 2009, art. 4. [Back to Text]
  63. Gunpowder and Explosives Control Law art. 11, para. 1; Enforcement Regulation of Gunpowder and Explosives Control Law, Ministry of International Trade and Industry Ordinance No. 88 of 1950, last amended by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Ordinance No. 39 of 2012, art. 15, para. 1(8). [Back to Text]
  64. Philip Brasor, Japan Faces Up to a World of Gun Crime, The Japan Times (Dec. 23, 2007), http://www. japantimes.co.jp/text/fd20071223pb.html. [Back to Text]
  65. Jitsudan no kōnyū hōkoku genkakuka e [Report on the Stricter Purchase of Bullets], Yomiuri Newspaper (Mar. 28, 2008) (on file with author). [Back to Text]
  66. Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords art. 24-2, para. 1. [Back to Text]
  67. Id. art. 24-2, para. 2. [Back to Text]
  68. Id. art. 24-2, paras. 6–8. [Back to Text]
  69. Id. art. 26. [Back to Text]
  70. Id. art. 21-3; Enforcement Ordinance of Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords art. 100. [Back to Text]
  71. Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords art. 22-2. [Back to Text]
  72. Id. art. 10-7. [Back to Text]
  73. Chōjū no hogo oyobi shuryō no tekiseika ni kansuru hōritsu [Wildlife Protection and Hunting Law], Law No. 88 of 2002, last amended by Law No. 67 of 2006. [Back to Text]
  74. Id. art. 40. [Back to Text]
  75. Id. art. 41. [Back to Text]
  76. Id. arts. 44 & 51. [Back to Text]
  77. See Hunter Registration Information, Fukuoka Prefecture, http://www.pref.fukuoka.lg.jp/d05/ syuryousya-touroku.html (in Japanese; last visited Jan. 22, 2013). [Back to Text]
  78. 2012 nen, kyōsai jigyōkara kyōsai hoken e [From Mutual Aid Program to Mutual Aid Insurance], Dai nihon ryōyūkai [Greater Japan Hunters’ Association], http://www.moriniikou.jp/index.php?itemid=694& catid=8&catid=8. [Back to Text]
  79. Nenrei betsu shuryo menkyo shojisha sū [Numbers of Licensed Hunters by Age Group], Ministry of the Environment, http://www.env.go.jp/nature/choju/docs/docs4/menkyo.pdf (last visited Jan. 17, 2013). [Back to Text]
  80. III Hokaku ni kansuru tōkei shiryō shūkei [Statistics on Hunting], Ministry of the Environment, at 84, http:// www.env.go.jp/nature/choju/capture/pdf/d1.pdf (last visited Jan. 22, 2013). [Back to Text]
  81. Special Measures Law to Prevent Damage by Birds and Animals to Agriculture and Fisheries, Law No. 134 of 2007. [Back to Text]
  82. Id. arts. 9 & 16. [Back to Text]
  83. Ryōjū tō o shoji shite iru minasan e [For People Who Possess Hunting Guns], Police Headquarters of Kyoto Prefecture, http://www.pref.kyoto.jp/fukei/site/seiki_j/jutoho/img/minasanhe.pdf (last visited Jan. 22, 2013). [Back to Text]
  84. Sankō shiryō [Reference], MAFF, http://www.maff.go.jp/j/seisan/tyozyu/higai/pdf/sankou.pdf (last visited Jan. 22, 2013). [Back to Text]
  85. Law No. 10 of 2012. [Back to Text]
  86. Provisions attached to Special Measures Law to Prevent Damage by Birds and Animals to Agriculture and Fisheries, Law No. 134 of 2007, art. 3, amended by Law No. 10 of 2012. [Back to Text]
  87. Buki tō seizō hō [Weapons Manufacture Law], Law No. 145, Aug. 1, 1953, last amended by Law No. 120 of 2007. [Back to Text]
  88. Id. art. 2. [Back to Text]
  89. Id. art. 3.[Back to Text]
  90. Id. art. 5. [Back to Text]
  91. Id. [Back to Text]
  92. Id. art. 17. [Back to Text]
  93. Id. art. 19. [Back to Text]
  94. Gunpowder and Explosives Control Law, Law No. 149, May 4, 1950, last amended by Law No. 121 of 1999. [Back to Text]
  95. Id. art. 31, para. 1. [Back to Text]
  96. Nishi, Hasshazai towa [What Is the Crime of Discharging (a Firearm)], Yomiuri Online (Aug. 30, 1995), http://plus. yomiuri.co.jp/article/words/%E7%99%BA%E5%B0%84%E7%BD%AA. [Back to Text]
  97. Martin Fackler, Killer of Nagasaki Mayor Linked to Japanese Gang, The New York Times (Apr. 18, 2007), http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/18/world/asia/18iht-japan.4.5340098.html?_r=0. [Back to Text]
  98. Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords art. 31, paras. 2 & 3. [Back to Text]
  99. Id. art. 31-3, paras. 1 & 2. [Back to Text]
  100. Id. art. 31-3, paras. 3 & 4. [Back to Text]
  101. Id. art 31-2, paras. 1 & 2. [Back to Text]
  102. Id. art. 31-4, paras. 1 & 2. [Back to Text]
  103. Weapons Manufacture Law, Law No. 145, Aug. 1, 1953, last amended by Law No. 120 of 2007, art. 31. [Back to Text]
  104. Ministry of Justice, Whitepaper on Crime 2011, Chart 4-2-2-4, http://hakusyo1.moj.go.jp/jp/58/ nfm/n_ 58_2_4_2_2_2.html. [Back to Text]
  105. Id., Chart 4-2-2-5. [Back to Text]
  106. Numbers were taken from each year’s White Paper on Crime, available at http://hakusyo1.moj.go.jp/ jp/nendo_nfm.html. [Back to Text]
  107. Whitepaper on Crime 2011, supra note 104, Chart 1-4-2-1, http://hakusyo1.moj.go.jp/jp/59/ nfm/n_59_2_ 1_4_2_0.html. [Back to Text]
  108. “Suicide,” in OECD, Health at a Glance 2011: OECD Indicators 35, http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/ social-issues-migration-health/health-at-a-glance-2011/suicide_health_glance-2011-9-en. [Back to Text]
  109. Jisatsu shibō tōkei no gaikyō [Summary of Suicide Statistics], Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, § 7, http://www.mhlw.go.jp/toukei/saikin/hw/jinkou/tokusyu/suicide04/ (last visited Jan. 22, 2013). [Back to Text]
  110. Kenji Ogata, Keikan no kenjū jisatsu, Kotoshi sudeni 9nin [Police Officer Suicides by Handguns, Already 9 Cases This Year], Asahi Newspaper (Nov. 15, 2008) (on file with author). [Back to Text]
  111. There are many private websites and blogs that state that people in Japan are not familiar with guns or have never seen or touched a gun.  For example, one blogger on Yahoo Japan’s Q&A website asked how he could touch a real gun for once, http://detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q1228937752 (in Japanese; last visited Jan. 29, 2012).  Many recommended going to a shooting range abroad.  Id. [Back to Text]
  112. E.g., Hōmu sōgō Kenkyūsho, supra note 25, at 1. [Back to Text]
  113. Jitsudan nukiwasureta ... [Forgot to Take Out a Bullet ...], Yomiuri Newspaper, Jan. 22, 2013 (on file with author). [Back to Text]

Back to Top

 

Last Updated: 09/16/2014