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Thread: How Japan has almost eradicated gun crime

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    How Japan has almost eradicated gun crime

    Japan has one of the lowest rates of gun crime in the world. In 2014 there were just six gun deaths, compared to 33,599 in the US. What is the secret?

    If you want to buy a gun in Japan you need patience and determination. You have to attend an all-day class, take a written exam and pass a shooting-range test with a mark of at least 95%.

    There are also mental health and drugs tests. Your criminal record is checked and police look for links to extremist groups. Then they check your relatives too - and even your work colleagues. And as well as having the power to deny gun licences, police also have sweeping powers to search and seize weapons.

    That's not all. Handguns are banned outright. Only shotguns and air rifles are allowed.

    The law restricts the number of gun shops. In most of Japan's 40 or so prefectures there can be no more than three, and you can only buy fresh cartridges by returning the spent cartridges you bought on your last visit.

    "If you have too many police pulling out guns at the first instance of crime, you lead to a miniature arms race between police and criminals," he says.

    To underline the taboo attached to inappropriate use of weapons, an officer who used his gun to kill himself was charged posthumously with a criminal offence. He carried out the act while on duty - policemen never carry weapons off-duty, leaving them at the station when they finish their shift.

    The care police take with firearms is mirrored in the self-defence forces.

    Journalist Jake Adelstein once attended a shooting practice, which ended with the gathering up of the bullet casings - and there was great concern when one turned out to be missing.

    "One bullet shell was unaccounted for - one shell had fallen behind one of the targets - and nobody was allowed to leave the facilities until they found the shell," he says.

    There is no clamour in Japan for gun regulations to be relaxed, says Berteaux. "A lot of it stems from this post-war sentiment of pacifism that the war was horrible and we can never have that again," he explains.

    "People assume that peace is always going to exist and when you have a culture like that you don't really feel the need to arm yourself or have an object that disrupts that peace."
    In fact, moves to expand the role of Japan's self-defence forces in foreign peacekeeping operations have caused concern in some quarters.

    "It is unknown territory," says political science professor Kouchi Nokano. "Maybe the government will try to normalise occasional death in the self-defence force and perhaps even try to glorify the exercise of weapons?"

    According to Iain Overton, the "almost taboo level of rejection" of guns in Japan means that the country is "edging towards a perfect place" - though he points out that Iceland also achieves a very low rate of gun crime, despite a much higher level of gun ownership.

    Henrietta Moore of the Institute for Global Prosperity at University College London applauds the Japanese for not viewing gun ownership as "a civil liberty", and rejecting the idea of firearms as "something you use to defend your property against others".

    But for Japanese gangsters the tight gun control laws are a problem. Yakuza gun crime has sharply declined in the last 15 years, but those who continue to carry firearms have to find ingenious ways of smuggling them into the country.

    "The criminals pack the guns inside of a tuna so it looks like a frozen tuna," says retired police officer Tahei Ogawa. "But we have discovered cases where they have actually hidden a gun inside."
    http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-38365729

    This isn't a thread I set up for a discussion on american gun laws, there isn't a shortage of virtual real estate for that. It's interesting to reflect on different histories and cultural relationships with guns and to consider them in isolation of each other.

    I find the stats from Japan remarkable for a country of its size. I always felt that attempts at complete control, for example of drugs, inevitably exasperates the problem, so I am surprised to see gun deaths so low, and that criminal gangs in Japan are finding it not to be worthwhile to not commit assassinations with guns. Has anyone any take on this and if Japan possesses unique scenarios that allow them to succeed on this matter?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tantalus View Post
    criminal gangs in Japan are finding it not to be worthwhile to not commit assassinations with guns
    You do not need a gun to kill a person; this is rather evident in those countries where gun-related deaths are extremely low.

    The USA - due to its policies - is rather exceptional in that the number of gun-related deaths (those 33,599 - including accidents and suicides) far outstrips the number of actual homicides, at a 2:1 ratio. In Japan the ratio between gun-related deaths and homicides is around 1:66. That said, Japan's homicide rate - 0.3 per 100,000 - is low. It's not exceptionally low, as in you'll find a dozen other countries where the homicide rate is within that and twice that number, including some notable surprises such as Indonesia (which after all is also halfway between Japan and the USA in population count).

    It gets somewhat interesting when looking at the overall number of crimes, because compared to the low crime rate as a whole homicide is actually overrepresented in Japan - in Japan broadly every 3,800th crime is a homicide, while by comparison every 7,700th crime in Germany (and similar in other European countries) is a homicide. It's just that the Japanese are not using guns in these homicides. This was somewhat different back in the 80s.

    Quote Originally Posted by tantalus View Post
    if Japan possesses unique scenarios that allow them to succeed on this matter?
    One third of the population is over 60, that's the driving factor in the low crime rate.

    Even the Yakuza have problems with recruitment nowadays - Yamaguchi-gumi actually started a professional advertising campaign in 2013 to recruit new members. Only about 20% of homicides in Japan are gang-related; this is the result of both a consolidation of gangs (there's only three large Yakuza clans in the country remaining) and a government breakdown on organized crime (although in other fields - primarily the real estate market that was a major cash source for Yakuza).

    On a side note the overwhelming majority of legal gun owners in Japan are in their 70s and 80s too. This is mostly because when the small-caliber rifle ban came about in 1971 previous legal owners were grandfathered in and are allowed to keep them; once inherited by others they have to be turned in. About 0.25% of households in the cities and about 1% of households in the countryside own firearms - and about 25% of those owning firearms in the countryside do so for licensed hunting btw.
    Last edited by kato; 06 Jan 17, at 16:51.

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    Some very interesting info thanks.
    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post

    It gets somewhat interesting when looking at the overall number of crimes, because compared to the low crime rate as a whole homicide is actually overrepresented in Japan - in Japan broadly every 3,800th crime is a homicide, while by comparison every 7,700th crime in Germany (and similar in other European countries) is a homicide. It's just that the Japanese are not using guns in these homicides. This was somewhat different back in the 80s.
    This doesnt exactly strike as convincing evidence of the idea that fewer guns equals fewer homicides. I understand raw data such as this has serious limitations, there are so many factors in play when comparing countries , one should be careful in trying to draw definitive conclusions if you can't control for other variables.

    I have seen some suggestive data that backs up the idea that fewer guns would reduce suicides rates (availability and ease in a present moment making suicide far more likely), trying to compare this across borders would be fraught with difficulty, for example high suicide rates in Japan alongside tight gun laws would suggest such a failure of an obvious correlation to indicate the absence of any causation, but there may be many other factors such as Japan's cultural relationship with honour and suicide that would misrepresent the true relationship between two factors such as suicide and gun control.

    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post
    One third of the population is over 60, that's the driving factor in the low crime rate.

    Even the Yakuza have problems with recruitment nowadays - Yamaguchi-gumi actually started a professional advertising campaign in 2013 to recruit new members. Only about 20% of homicides in Japan are gang-related; this is the result of both a consolidation of gangs (there's only three large Yakuza clans in the country remaining) and a government breakdown on organized crime (although in other fields - primarily the real estate market that was a major cash source for Yakuza).
    I hadn't considered the basic importance of demographics. Stable and consolidated gangs definitely gives seems to give Japan an advantage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tantalus View Post
    I have seen some suggestive data that backs up the idea that fewer guns would reduce suicides rates (availability and ease in a present moment making suicide far more likely)
    Japan is a bad example for that because it has a relatively high suicide rate. For comparison, France has only half the suicide rate of Japan - but the likelihood of someone killing themselves to opt for a gun is almost 90 times higher (while gun ownership rate in France is "only" 50 times higher than in Japan).

    In most European countries there is a similar disconnect; there is however a striking fact, and that is that generally 80-85% of all gun deaths in these otherwise peaceful countries are suicides. This is equally true for Japan.

    Quote Originally Posted by tantalus View Post
    Stable and consolidated gangs definitely gives seems to give Japan an advantage.
    At least when there are no gang wars, like there were last decade.

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    Boryokudan = yakuza/organized crime; 22 groups were designated as such by 2010. Yamaguchi-gumi is named specifically because they alone account for almost half of all 80,000 gang members in Japan. Yamaguchi-gumi also tends to be singled out in Japan because they allow non-ethnic-japanese in their organizations.
    About half of all arrests made in connection with drugs in Japan are gangsters, for scale. The "guns smuggled in tuna by gangsters" thing from the original article is largely urban myth, at least as far as their breadth is concerned; arrests made for gun smuggling are only around 3-4 per year, with usually around one gun found.

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    Demographics surely affects crime rate in Japan, but since Indonesia popped in the mix, their population is relatively young, aaand also very densely populated on the Java island.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post
    Japan is a bad example for that because it has a relatively high suicide rate.
    Exactly, but it may also be true that the rate would be even higher if Japan had a high gun ownership, and that other very influential factors are responsible for Japan's high suicide rates despite the absence of guns. Or to say the same thing it a different way, Japan's high suicide rates would be even higher with guns. That's purely speculative by me, you need to control for various factors that influence the statistics.

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    There are a couple of other things to consider about Japan. The population is homogeneous, not a big melting pot the U.S. is. That means they dont have a dozen cultures, sometimes violent cultures, competing. Secondly, The Japanese population is rather submissive...not at all like the U.S. Also the histories of the two nations is decidedly different. However, in the end comparing "gun deaths" is nothing short of idiotic as there are no true apples to apples comparisons. We need to look at over all crime/violent crime rates and look further into the populations mostly involved in doing those crimes.
    Removing a single turd from the cesspool doesn't make any difference.

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    bonehead,

    The population is homogeneous, not a big melting pot the U.S. is. That means they dont have a dozen cultures, sometimes violent cultures, competing. Secondly, The Japanese population is rather submissive...not at all like the U.S.
    one word answer: Australia.

    the idea of "competing cultures" is ridiculous because the US isn't the Balkans, it's not like gun violence here is driven by Cuban-Americans fighting for their ethnic enclave against the encroaching Chinese-Americans. nor is gun violence driven by people defending their homes against bandits.

    you're right in that any solution to go violence needs to be nation-specific, but using the "culture" canard effectively means zero action of any sort.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    Cuban-Americans fighting for their ethnic enclave against the encroaching Chinese-Americans. nor is gun violence driven by people defending their homes against bandits.
    I remotely remember Asian-Americans using firearms on African-Americans in some riots in California on that base. Wasn't that far ago, maybe 25 years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post
    I remotely remember Asian-Americans using firearms on African-Americans in some riots in California on that base. Wasn't that far ago, maybe 25 years.
    This?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1992_L...ring_the_riots
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    Quote Originally Posted by bonehead View Post
    There are a couple of other things to consider about Japan. The population is homogeneous, not a big melting pot the U.S. is. That means they dont have a dozen cultures, sometimes violent cultures, competing. Secondly, The Japanese population is rather submissive...not at all like the U.S. Also the histories of the two nations is decidedly different. However, in the end comparing "gun deaths" is nothing short of idiotic as there are no true apples to apples comparisons. We need to look at over all crime/violent crime rates and look further into the populations mostly involved in doing those crimes.
    Some fair points but I think america's approach to drugs is far more critical that ethnic diversity. Direct national comparisons have limited value for sure but Japan's rate is crazy low.

    Given the fact that guns major influence on deaths may be on suicide rates, that may make for the more potentially interesting analysis if you can acquire useful data. Again, comparing nations on this has limited value.

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    bonehead,



    one word answer: Australia.

    the idea of "competing cultures" is ridiculous because the US isn't the Balkans, it's not like gun violence here is driven by Cuban-Americans fighting for their ethnic enclave against the encroaching Chinese-Americans. nor is gun violence driven by people defending their homes against bandits.

    you're right in that any solution to go violence needs to be nation-specific, but using the "culture" canard effectively means zero action of any sort.
    I think there is something too it in terms of ethnic groups and the relationship with gang formation, and also the size of america and its geographical diversity.

    edit. Still its not like individuals in the same ethnic groups but different gangs aren't killing each other.

    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post
    (there's only three large Yakuza clans in the country remaining)
    Surely this gives Japan a distinct advantage.
    Last edited by tantalus; 09 Jan 17, at 18:20.

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    bonehead,



    one word answer: Australia.

    the idea of "competing cultures" is ridiculous because the US isn't the Balkans, it's not like gun violence here is driven by Cuban-Americans fighting for their ethnic enclave against the encroaching Chinese-Americans. nor is gun violence driven by people defending their homes against bandits.

    you're right in that any solution to go violence needs to be nation-specific, but using the "culture" canard effectively means zero action of any sort.


    First of all we are comparing the U.S. to Japan. Now for the U.S., take out suicides, which are erronously included in "gun violence", then what remains, at a minimum, 70% of the "gun violence" is from gang warfare and gang crimes. [FBI UCR] Does Japan have Chinese, hispanic and black gangs competing? The U.S. has also had "gun violence" incidences that are religious based. The U.S. also has a culture of criminals which in and of itself drives violence. We also have racial warfare that Japan doesnt really have. We have had "honor killings" by parents on their children, both products of recent immigrantion, ie adhering to cusoms from their old country. This is all because of cultures, not guns. The truth is that the U.S. for many reasons is a violent country. If you could wave a magic wand and alll guns could dissapear...... the rates of violence would stay the same and in some cases get worse.
    Removing a single turd from the cesspool doesn't make any difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bonehead View Post
    Does Japan have Chinese, hispanic and black gangs competing?
    The answer to that is surprisingly actually yes. "Black gangs" would be Brazilian-Japanese, "Hispanic gangs" Filipino-Japanese (whose youth has adopted a localized version of Chicano culture). Both, along with Chinese, Koreans and Thais, run the "foreign" component of the drug crime scene in Japan.

    Among the Yakuza, Yamaguchi-gumi is also considered notable because it gained its size by absorbing other gangs and recruiting beyond ethnic lines, even elevating non-Japanese (mostly Chinese and Koreans i think) to leading positions.

    There's an interesting Time article from the late 90s that gives some background on Brazilians in Japan and an indication on why Brazilian-Japanese youths may join gangs. Most Brazilian-Japanese (not all, hence the Blacks) are ethnic Japanese from the emigration in the first half of the 20th century, but culturally they form a completely separate group that is largely ostracized in Japan and not integrated or assimilated at all. What the article doesn't say is that there is a considerable Brazilian-Japanese lower class where the kids drop out or don't even go to school in the first place because the parents can't pay the school fees or because of bullying, at best attending segregated language classes where they only meet similar-minded non-integrated kids; since the parents work (and in Japan that means till nightfall) the kids tend to hang out in the streets and hence quite easily fall into criminal behaviour. Brazilian-Japanese can be mostly found in smaller industrial towns, not the big cities, hence gangs forming still having some separation from the large yakuza-run empires.
    Last edited by kato; 11 Jan 17, at 21:19.

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    haha, bonehead, dude...you make it sound like the US is just extraordinarily filled with violent criminals, the mentally ill, race violence, "religious warfare", gang violence, and nasty barbaric immigrants. the US isn't the only nation with the issues you name.

    If you could wave a magic wand and alll guns could dissapear...... the rates of violence would stay the same and in some cases get worse.
    that's why I brought up Australia. there's an immigrant nation that's fairly similar to the US, and they essentially got your magic wand right there. mass shootings completely stopped. -gun- violence went down sharply, overall violence also went down (but less so). suicides also went down.

    but in deference to this thread, i think we can end the debate here-- plenty of other threads to re-tread this topic, lol.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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