A Japanese Gun Culture

Prime Minister John Howard recently said he would do anything it took to prevent Australia from acquiring an American “gun culture”.

One wonders whether he thinks a Japanese gun culture is acceptable. Guns have been strictly controlled there for many years, with handguns virtually banned. Yet Japan is experiencing a burgeoning black market in handguns with some estimates suggesting the country has up to 50,000 illegal guns.

A report in the newspaper Asahi Shimbun claims the police are befuddled:

Illegal guns flourish, say befuddled police


THE ASAHI SHIMBUN Two fatal street shootings by gangsters within a week–one in Nagasaki and the other in the Tokyo area–have shattered the illusion that Japan is a country largely free of gun-related crime.

One estimate says there are 50,000 illegal guns in Japan.

The problem, police say, is that it is getting harder to know where to find the weapons.

Almost all are believed to be in the possession of crime syndicates, which have smuggled them from abroad in violation of the gun-control law.

Although police continue their attempts to crack down on illegal firearms, the number they confiscate has fallen markedly in recent years.

In 2006, police seized just 458 guns. In 1995, they recovered 1,880–nearly four times as many.

Officials at the National Police Agency say it is getting tougher for police to gather intelligence on illegal guns because many gangs are strictly prohibiting their members from talking with investigators.

The ban was spurred after the 1992 introduction of the anti-gangster law. The law allows police to crack down on organized crime syndicates when the percentage of their members with criminal records surpasses a specified amount.

Another factor, they say, is a revision of the firearm control law in 1993 that made gun possession a serious crime. That prompted crime syndicates to begin using people without apparent links to their activities to hide their guns.

In January, police searched an apartment in Osaka’s Yodogawa Ward to investigate a resident who had been using electricity without paying for it. They were stunned at what they found.

Stashed inside the apartment were a .38-caliber revolver sitting on a shoebox near the front door, as well as a .32-caliber automatic pistol and 21 bullets.

In another example illustrating the proliferation of firearms, police unexpectedly found four guns and 44 bullets in a desk drawer during their search of a real estate business in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward in November. Police had been investigating insurance fraud by gangsters who had supposedly been involved in a traffic accident, but had no reason to suspect they would find guns.

“Guns are being hidden in places that we would not previously have expected,” an investigator acknowledges.

An apartment in Tokyo has turned into an “armory” for an organized crime group, according to sources close to the organization. One gangster, who has visited the apartment, says, “It looks like a regular one-room apartment at first glance, but when I opened a door that was structurally altered, I found a concealed door behind which dozens of pistols and some machine guns were stored.”

While police are finding fewer illegal guns, members of gangs say that the demand for them is growing.

“We are seeing an increase in the demand for guns and are prepared to supply,” says a senior member of a gang in the Kansai region with a chuckle. “The fall in the seizures only points to police incompetence.”

A Smith & Wesson, a U.S. pistol used in the shooting of Nagasaki Mayor Iccho Itoh, is typically sold for around 700,000 yen with five to 10 bullets.

The figure typically jumps to 1 million to 1.2 million yen when a conflict erupts between organized crime groups.

Behind the growing demand for guns is the push by the Yamaguchi-gumi, the country’s largest crime syndicate, based in Kobe, into Tokyo in search of more money.

The move triggered a clash between the Yamaguchi-gumi and its main rival, the Sumiyoshi-kai, based in Tokyo. As a result, the leaders of the latter group have made it a requirement that all of their members carry a gun, gangsters say.

The Yamaguchi-gumi, with 39,700 members, accounts for almost half of the Japan’s gangster population.


11 Responses to A Japanese Gun Culture

  1. fishfinger says:

    I’m always sadly amused that anti-gun nuts say they don’t want to have the “American gun culture” in Australia. But they don’t mind having the “American car culture” in this country. We gun owners know, but they ignore, that cars kill many more people each year than guns ever do.
    They always stay far away from quoting the firearm-owning situation in, say, Israel and Switzerland which have a low, almost insignificant, gun “problem” despite the civilian ownership of firearms and weapons.
    And they never quote the example of the UK in the banning of privately-owned handguns where death by handguns, and other crimes of violence, has been increasing since the implementation of the ban.

  2. Belle Star says:

    Yeah well look what happened when there was a ban on booze in USA when it is banned it becomes popular with the crooks. The guns are the same as pointed out by this post and what has happened in Britain and Japan

  3. uicandy21 says:

    All gun control does, is make it harder for responsible citizens to protect themselves while criminals will get guns whether there are laws or not. Argue with me all you want critics…

  4. Rumplestiltskin says:

    I totally agree. Any one who strongly opposes guns and thinks that gun laws are to soft really needs to get their heads out of the sand, go to your local range, have a few shots and talk to some of the guys there. Most people who form such opinions have no practical experience or any idea about the shooting culture and what shooting and gun ownership is all about.
    All these rediculous gun “control” laws are doing is striping away freedoms and the safety of hard working, tax paying, responsible citizens.
    I believe the statistic for firearms used by registered and licenced owners in crimes, in particular murder and armed robbery is something like less than 3%! The rest are all commited using illegal, unregistered firearms by criminals who dont even have a firearms licence.
    Instances like Pt. Authur are nothing more than an excuse the government uses to tighten the noose on our civil libertys, just another method to better control the masses.
    They will not be happy until ALL civilian gun ownership is banned.
    Little by little these gun laws and restrictions are sadly just another example of our invisible prison we call society get smaller and smaller. What, if any freedoms, will our future generations have?

    If all this ranting has you confused, ill break it into one simple concept:

    PEOPLE kill people, guns are simply inanimate objects.

  5. Darren says:

    Its all the bleeding hearth of city foke, that scream to, The Greens, that have no idea how country life is and how hard it is to obtain a firearm, they also say that it should only be farmers’ that should be able to obtain a firearm. Well the last farmer i spoke to was to busy to go out and shoot that fox that killed half a dozen lambs the night before. He (the farmer) has got dozen of jobs to do on his station at anyone time, they dont have time to hunt a fox for 3-5 hours when that time could be better spent. Also semi-auto shotgun should be placed back to category B to help cull the fox population and to save the DSE of Vic, money by not having a bounty because people would actually enjoy shooting foxes, and having a better strike rate of killing them, i dont care if you are a AA shooter, foxes are as cunning as a shit house rat and they want to live. So dont forget the plight we should be fighting to get the old five shot back and not waiting to defend or rights as law abiding citizen, happy hunting and be safe. cheers Darren

  6. J. DeHart says:

    I’m a writer in the US and I’m writing a mystery/suspense novel where the gun used belonged to an Australian who moved to Atlanta, Georgia. Can you recommend a gun I can use? I’ve done a little bit of research and have found a lot of information about the gun ban. Perhaps you can recommend a gun that is now banned? Also, can you tell me how you feel about the ban? From the sound of the comments I’ve read, you have the same feelings about this as gun owners here.

    Forgive me if I sound ignorant. I don’t know a lot about guns or Austalian life. I’m American (no, I didn’t vote for Bush) and I’ve never fired a gun in my life.

  7. pete2whelan says:

    J. DeHart of USA. Welcome to “gun free zone” Australia where only crims and police have guns! Assuming your enquiry is genuine, why not have your Aussie crim armed with a Norinco model 1911 in .45 ACP. (now banned). The Chinese-made Norinco is quite readily available on the black market here and has been used in quite a few crimes. The .45cal ammo would be easily available in US, for your story line. Australia, like US, has large imports of most house-hold goods coming from China, and since only around 7% of containers coming through our ports are physically checked, it is relatively easy to bring in a crate of handguns. Other well known makes, such as Beretta or Ruger, would be imported via legit methods, would be owned by licenced target shooters, kept locked away, etc.,so would be less likely to be available to a crim. The Police here use Glock 9mm (some 40cal) and since some of those have on occassions gone missing, that may be an alternative, should it suit the plot.
    Drop in anytime.

  8. Seb says:

    J. DeHart,

    This is not attack on yourself, but why did you feel the need to specifically mention, somewhat proudly I might add, that you did not vote for Bush?

    My assumption is that you do not support the gun laws in Australia, yet the only two democratic alternatives to Bush were devout gun control advocates. Al Gore based his campaign on gun control, to which many attributed his loss, and John Kerry was a liar who’s voting record spoke volumes on his position on gun control. I mean seriously, the man posed in a campaign add hunting with a semi-auto shotgun while co-sponsoring legislation to ban THAT VERY GUN! How intellectually dishonest is that?!

    So may I ask, who did you vote for? Please don’t say Kucinich…

    …..sorry by the way. I do truly mean no offence, I’m just tired of that cliche “I didn’t vote for Bush”.

  9. Kira says:

    Guns are the future, this is bullshit.

  10. Randy Roberts says:

    Kira, the only way Guns will be our future is if we gun owners stand up and make it so. I am an American so I am backed by the 2nd amendment of our Constitution.I really do feel for you all in Australia, I have read a lot about the gun laws forced on you by your liberal government.I have it made as an american, but I still stay active in the fight against gun control. I thank God every day for the fact I live in the only truly free country in the world, but I will never let my guard down, staying vigilante to make sure those freedoms are not taken away.
    Good luck, God bless

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