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It is not often that you read of homicides in Japan that involve firearms. Guns there are tightly controlled; the Japanese are some of the most law abiding people on the planet and firearms have never been widely available. So it’s not surprising that when such a homicide occurs, it involves foreigners. In this case, a Chinese man appears to be the perpetrator and a Chinese woman the victim . . .

The article assumes that the victim was married to the man, but the police had not identified her. From

The pair reportedly started to quarrel after entering the cafe together. At around 10:40 p.m., the man produced a handgun from his bag, stood up and shot the woman twice, in the jaw and the chest. She was rushed to a hospital but was pronounced dead.

There was one other atypical aspect to this case.

The suspect remained silent during police questioning, according to investigators.

This is very unusual in Japan, where suspects tend to confess immediately. The police in Japan aren’t constrained by anything like the U.S. Constitution and have numerous ways to obtain confessions.

Another aspect of the story, though, is similar to many shootings in the US — possible gang involvement by the perp. From

The suspect was not apparently employed and it is very unusual for a person to be carrying a gun, which are rare in Japan. The Ikebukuro district of Tokyo also has a reputation for gang activities and has a relatively high proportion of gambling and sex businesses.

In Japan, only the police and criminals have handguns. Apparrently.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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        • It kinds of shoots the whole anti gun platform for Chicago that “Chicago only has guns due to surrounding areas having guns” out of the water, huh?

          The gun used in this crime either came from Japan or OUT OF COUNTRY… to an island nation.


        • Actually, almost all guns in criminal hands in Japan are smuggled in by boat from China, North Korea, Thailand, or other places on the mainland. Of course only government entities are allowed by law to possess firearms in any of those countries in the first place.

      • Did you see him mention anything about them being Japanese??? He didn’t say anything about that, he commented about this happening in JAPAN.

  1. It’s hard to believe the Japanese are such a well disciplined and lawful people, after the terrible things that many of them did in world war II, Nanking comes to mind.

    • This response is the Japanese corollary to Godwin’s law – whenever Japanese are involved, invoke Nanking, Unit 731, etc. etc. It’s the end-all, be-all against all things Japanese, apparently.The atrocities from WW2 have a tenuous connection to the topic of discussion at best.

      Nevermind the fact that this was a Chinese victim by the hands of a Chinese perpetrator.

      If there was any appreciation for the cultural norms of modern-day Japan, it would be understood that minority races such as Koreans and Chinese are very much segregated from the native Japanese – notwithstanding the fact that this occurred on Japanese soil, culturally speaking, it might as well have happened in Shanghai or Beijing.

      • The race doesn’t matter at all in this discussion because the two involved people supposedly lived in Japan. They could have been australian for all that matters.

        • I can assure you that we Americans are about the only ones who would think this has anything to do with Japan.

          Go to the Japanese version of the Yomiuri ( or Asahi ( , and despite how unusual the presence of firearms may be in Japan, this story is going to be (and will continue to be) ignored as an incident that happened far outside the realm of conventional Japanese society.

        • You can live in Japan all you want, if you are a foreigner you will always be a foreigner. I have an American friend who grew up in my state, and moved to Japan after college. He is an interpreter at a bank. He has lived there for many years and had 2 Japanese wives. His boss still calls him Gaijin (derogatory term for foreigner) to his face. He says he cannot understand how I can live in a country where people can own guns. I told him, I don’t understand how you can live in a country where your boss can insult you daily for where you came from.
          There is no such thing as racism in Japan. I have been several times. You are Japanese or Gaijin. That’s it. The fact that the 2 involved in this story are Chinese is of paramount importance. Besides a Japanese man would never shoot his wife, even if he had a gun. He would beat his wife and leave her at home alone while he slept with his girlfriend. Japan is a very equal rights oriented society.

      • Actually, I was not referring to the incident, but to the first paragraph in the story. “Japanese people are some of the most law abiding people on the planet”
        I should have made myself more clear.

        • I still fail to see how that sentence warrants mention of Japanese atrocities during WWII. It’s like mentioning how U.S. was the only country that dropped the atomic bomb whenever discussing the gun violence afflicting inner-city Chicago. One just doesn’t have anything to do with the other, and frankly, so what?

          That the Japanese are currently one of the most law-abiding people on the planet is a fact supported by crime statistics over the last several decades.

        • GLS45,
          If you cannot see my point after my explanation, there’s no point in trying to explain it to you any further. Nuff said.

          I detect that maybe you are trying to make an excuse for the terrible things many of the Japanese soldiers did to innocent civilians. To a point, I agree that some of it may have been caused by pressure from their superior officers, however, many of the acts of violence were caused simply because most of the invading armies were drunk on success and power!

    • Up till the 1930s, Germany was one of the most liberal, tolerant, and philo-semitic countries on the planet. You would find more Jew hatred in America, Canada, or the UK than Germany. But look what happened. People change, and times change. The problem is that, unlike Germany, Japan scrubbed its history, and there are too many people born after WW II who are ignorant of Imperial Japan’s atrocities.

  2. This is horrible! The Japanese people need to register all of their assault weapons and enact stricter gun regulations and ban high-capacity magazines to prevent stuff like this from happening again in the future! It’s for the children! If this guy only had a 2 round magazine she may have lived!

    • Ummmmmm. I’m not sure if you know this but they did.
      Gun ownership is completely restricted except for smooth bores and you have to get a license to show you need them for hunting. Actually you have to have a license to own a Katana in Japan. Its very painful. When I go to a Tai Kai (swordsmanship competition) I have carry my passport and my newly issued sword license where ever I take my sword, because the police can stop you at any time to see your license. Its so bad that the last time I was there, when I tried to leave, because I didn’t have just the right form signed, by the local police chief, stating that my swords were mine and cleared to leave the country, the Customs Dept. tried to keep MY swords.You know to prevent sword trafficking.

  3. Having been married and survived to tell the tale, I’d vote to acquit any man who shot his wife just on general principles.

  4. Yeah gunr, that’s war. There is a reason they are called “The dogs of War”.

    That, combined with a number of attempts in the past by mongol controlled China to invade Japan. (There was a storm called a Kamikaze (Divine Wind) that sank the Chinese fleet that was intent on conquering Japan. Hence; The origin of the name for the Kamikaze pilots.)There was a lot of hatred by the Japanese towards the Chinese. Still is. And vice a versa.

  5. The irony of two notoriously anti-gun cultures clashing by way of a domestic violence shooting. This only proves when there’s a will there’s a way and no amount of gun laws nor control on the planet will ever prevent gun violence, no matter where in the world you are.

  6. In Japan, only the police and criminals have handguns. Apparrently

    While shooting are rare, they do happen and the above is true.

    • Most definitely true. Even getting a shotgun (the only firearm a civilian is allowed to own) is an EXTREMELY difficult and time consuming process reserved for Japanese citizens, and the police can reject a shotgun permit application for ANY reason.

  7. “The police in Japan aren’t constrained by anything like the U.S. Constitution and have numerous ways to obtain confessions.”

    Never forget how precious the civil rights we have in North America and Western Europe are. We are losing them–all of them–day by day.

    As with illegal drugs, illegal guns arrive in places where they are not allowed by the containerload. China (COSCO and Norinco, which makes superb firearms) are major sources.

    • While it is true that the Japanese police are not bound by as many prisoner rights programs as we are, the main reason Japanese confess so rapidly is that the sooner you confess and the harder you apologize, the lighter your sentence will typically be.

  8. Firstly Japanese people ARE more civilised than Americans. Murder rate 0.3 to 4.8, respectively. This has nothing to do with guns, some countries with lots of guns have low murder rates and vice versa. Secondly, people do fucked up shit in war, that’s how it is, and we’re lucky we had A-bombs at the end of WWII or things might have gone differently. Also, Japan is not ‘segregated’ and they do not have gang, sex industry or gambling problems. This is coming from someone who lives in Tokyo.

    • “Also, Japan is not ‘segregated’ and they do not have gang, sex industry or gambling problems. This is coming from someone who lives in Tokyo.”

      If your trying to be sarcastic, it’s not working.
      Or maybe you just mean that even though Japan is segregated, has gangs, a sex industry, and gambling, It does not usually spill over to effect those who are not involved, so its not a problem.
      Japan is definitely segregated, the mafia is alive and well (but they keep a low profile so the police don’t bother them), the sex industry is typically a ‘no foreigners allowed’ area, and you can’t walk two blocks without passing one or more pachinko parlors.

  9. In general China has tighter gun laws than Japan. Only military and select police in (Red) China can possess firearms, except in Hong Kong, which was allowed to keep the UK’s gun laws from when they were a British territory. In Japan you can own shotguns for hunting and sport shooting and keep them at home (locked up at all times, with ammo locked in a separate safe of course), but handguns that you “own” have to be kept at a police station and can only be taken out when you are going to a target range (there are like 50 active pistol permits in Japan, iirc), and no new rifle permits have been issued since the 1960s or 70s iirc. All blades 5.9″ or more (excluding kitchenware) have to be registered with the police as well, and you cannot use weapons for home- or self-defense. Taiwan and South Korea have similar laws to Japan afaik, but at least in South Korea there are easily-accessible ranges where you can rent guns that are chained to the stall.

    • Thanks, I didn’t know the details of gun ownership in Japan. Honestly it sounds a lot like renting. I just know, from swordsmanship competitions, that the permitting of blades causes huge heartache. For me at least. We have to apply for permits for our swords 6 months in advance. Each sword has to be permitted before we come (they mail them too us) and then when we leave we have to get letters from the police to “un-permit” them. Then you have to deal with Japanese Customs who either try to keep you swords or charge you taxes on them. And everywhere you go when you have your swords you have to have a passport and the swords’ permits. AND you can’t carry another guy’s swords around for him…. Getting your swords to the tournament is often more troubling then the tournament itself.

      • Jeez. I think I’ll stick with regular kendo, and just generally stay in my (sort of) free state as much as possible.

  10. The real reason Japan is so ‘safe?’

    Conviction rate for violent crimes is near 100%, because judges have the final say for guilt and sentencing, and they’re under a lot of pressure to produce guilty verdicts. As a result those accused rarely contest their guilt (and get a lighter sentence) and most arrests don’t go to trial. they can hold an accused individual for over 3 weeks of continual interrogation without a lawyer present, and are often able to produce a confession in that time frame. It’s only been since 2009 that they have used anything resembling a jury system. (6 ‘lay-judges’ along with 3 trial judges to render a final decision on certain serious crimes)

  11. “… and firearms have never been widely available”

    That’s a myth. Japan actually had a huge number of guns in the latter half of the sixteenth century. Then the Warring Provinces era (a very long multi-sided civil war) was ended by the warlords known as the Three Unifiers, who did so by using guns much more heavily in their armies than any of their rivals. Once the last of them, Tokugawa Ieyasu, had succeeded in uniting the country (by shooting anyone who resisted), he promptly banned guns nationwide to keep anyone else from doing what he had done.

    • Early matchlocks were widely used in Japanese armies from about 1560 to 1588. By 1588 a warlord, Hideyoshi, (that was his name before he adopted the name Tokugawa) who had used armies with considerable numbers of firearms, had conquered all of Japan. As you say,he then proceeded to disarm the peasantry. Guns had been widely used by the warlord armies, but only for a period of 28 years. They were far from “widely available”.

      In 1607, the government started on the road to rid Japan of most guns. Gun and gun powder manufacture was required to take place in one city, Nagahama. Some gunsmiths left, because they could not get orders and were starving. The government solved that problem by bribing them. They had to move back to Nagahama, but were given a pension whether they produced anything or not. Most converted their expertise to sword manufacture. The government gradually reduced orders and the number of gunsmiths.

      I believe it is accurate to say the guns were never widely available in Japan. I would agree that they were “widely available in Japanese armies” for 30 years.

  12. Nassion, I didn’t say these things don’t happen, I said they’re not problems. The only one I can see that bothers Japanese people is the Yakuza, and they are far more civilised and less violent than Americans gangs. As for the segregation, I have rarely seen no-gaijin signs, and I have never been denied entry anywhere. There are many facets to Japanese culture that might seem troublesome to a foreigner, but crime is indisputably the least of them.

    • Thanks for the clarification. I think the main reason the yaks are less violent in Japan is because of their unspoken agreement with the police. As long as the common people don’t complain, the police leave the yaks alone, and the yaks put pressure on the petty criminals to help keep the common people from complaining. I must admit, while it goes against our American sense of justice, it does work. I have never felt in physical danger, day or night, even in neighborhoods classified as ‘bad’.
      While its true the no-gaijin signs are becoming a thing of the past, the kinds of places you were talking about exist as part of the underground and would not have obvious signs. For example, I know the neighborhood where the shooting occurred and the only reason I knew it was a red light district was because of Japanese friends telling me about it. Walking through it, I couldn’t tell it from any other run down, slightly shady, business area.

  13. My point in all this is that it is really irresponsible journalism to make it seem as if a country suffers because of policy thathe we might not agree with. Not having guns really doesn’t adversely effect Japanese society, and with or without guns, they would still be far less violent than Americans. If the point of this article was to show that gun crimes happen in places where guns are banned, I feel that there are plenty of better examples of that fact. The UK is a really good one. Not a gun to be found and yet those Britts are just as murderous as Americans.


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