World, Asia - Pacific

With strict gun control laws, Japan has lowest gun violence in world

Anadolu Agency takes a look at island nation's strict gun license procedures in the backdrop of shooting of Japan's former prime minister

Iftikhar Gilani  | 08.07.2022 - Update : 12.07.2022
With strict gun control laws, Japan has lowest gun violence in world


Although former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot twice at an election campaign event in the Nara region, statistics show that Japan has one of the lowest rates of gun violence in the world.

It is believed that Japan owes its strict gun laws largely to the US because, after World War II, Americans shaped the gun policy and forced a firearm ban legislation in the East Asian nation.

According to the Small Arms Survey -- a global organization that keeps tabs on arms transfers -- only 0.6 persons per 100 people owned guns in Japan, compared to 6.2 in the UK and 88.8 in the US. Therefore, police also rarely use guns and banks upon martial arts as a means to control unruly crowds.

The Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN have made it mandatory for all countries to significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates by 2030. But it looks like the conflicts across the world, as well as recent increases in homicides in some countries, may not allow the countries to keep the deadline.

The procedure for the gun license is cumbersome, where a candidate undergoes a thorough mental health evaluation at a hospital and has to pass a written exam and complete a shooting-range test with 95% accuracy. Police also undertake a comprehensive background check.

Due to strict gun control procedures, the country which boasts a population of more than 127 million people, reported just three deaths due to guns in 2019, making it 0.02 per 100,000 people.

Here are some other features related to gun violence in Japan:

Number of privately owned firearms: 310,400

Rate of civilian firearm possession per 100 people: 0.256

Number of handguns in civilian possession: 777

The percentage of households with one or more guns is reported to be 0.8%

Number of licensed firearm owners: 196,518

Licensed firearm owners per 100 people: 0.16

Annual deaths resulting from firearms:

2019: 3

2018: 9

2017: 23

2016: 25

Comparative figures 2019 (deaths by firearms)

US: 37,038

India: 14,710

Regulation of firearms

The manufacture of small arms, ammunition, and/or their components is permitted only if the maker holds a valid license.

Also, civilians are not allowed to possess handguns, military rifles, machine guns, large-caliber guns, imitation firearms, as well as hunting guns, and certain air guns without specific approval. The maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm is 15 years in prison.


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