When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have saws

No, not this.

No, not this.

In Japan, where guns really are outlawed, pop stars Anna Iriyama and Rina Kawaei are recovering — fortunately — from wounds inflicted by a nut job with a saw on Sunday. The two young singers are members of a Japanese singing/dancing pop group that contains dozens of members, and stages regular events where the girls meet and shake hands with their fans, as part of a fan-participation model that also lets fans vote on new members annually. (Originally the group came from Akihabara (a district in Tokyo) and had 48 members; it currently has 140, and spinoff groups are located in other Japanese cities).

Japan’s hugely popular pop group AKB48 cancelled fan events Monday after a saw-wielding man attacked two members and a staffer, shocking the country and raising questions over their security.

The two women and the male staffer who tried to stop the attack Sunday at a fan event in northern Japan suffered hand and head injuries, but are recovering, police and the group’s blog say.

The attack on a group whose members are dubbed “idols that you can meet” because of their approachable fan services has rattled people in a nation known for its safety levels. The news topped TV entertainment shows and even the two nationwide newspapers Yomiuri and Mainichi.

On Sunday, the group gave a mini-concert for hundreds of fans and then followed with a handshaking event — in which fans who buy special CDs can shake hands and chat briefly with their favourite member. As soon as the handshaking event in Takizawa city started, a man suddenly took out a saw from his jacket and went toward the two women standing at the entrance.

Police arrested Satoru Umeda, 24 and unemployed, immediately.

Dozens of AKB48 handshaking events are held in Japan a year. Bouncers — called “peelers” here — are assigned to these events to remove fans who linger, but no major attacks had been previously reported.

via Members of Japanese girl group AKB48 injured after saw-wielding man attacks pop stars at event | National Post.

The strict Japanese weapons law applies not only to firearms, but also to swords. As law professor Dave Kopel noted in 1993 in the Asian Pacific Law Review:

The weapons law begins by stating ‘No-one shall possess a fire-arm or fire-arms or a sword or swords’, and very few exceptions are allowed.

The only type of firearm which a Japanese citizen may even contemplate acquiring is a shotgun. Sportsmen are permitted to possess shotguns for hunting and for skeet and trap shooting, but only after submitting to a lengthy licensing procedure. Without a license, a person may not even hold a gun in his or her hands.

Civilians can never own handguns. Small calibre rifles were once legal, but in 1971, the Government forbade all transfers of rifles. Current rifle license holders may continue to own them, but their heirs must turn them into the police when the license-holder dies. Total remaining rifle licenses are 27,000.

Kopel attributes Japan’s low weapons-possession rates to the fact that weapons were always, in Japan, restricted to the use of the government and the ruling classes. This policy began with Hideyoshi, the unifier of modern Japan in the 16th Century:

Having conquered the Japanese, Hidéyoshi meant to keep them under control. On 29 August 1588, Hidéyoshi announced ‘the Sword Hunt’ (taiko no katanagari) and banned possession of swords and firearms by the non-noble classes. He decreed:

The people in the various provinces are strictly forbidden to have in their possession any swords, short swords, bows, spears, firearms or other arms. The possession of unnecessary implements makes difficult the collection of taxes and tends to foment uprisings… Therefore the heads of provinces, official agents and deputies are ordered to collect all the weapons mentioned above and turn them over to the Government.

Although the intent of Hidéyoshi’s decree was plain, the Sword Hunt was presented to the masses under the pretext that all the swords would be melted down to supply nails and bolts for a temple containing a huge statue of the Buddha. The statue would have been twice the size of the Statue of Liberty…. Once the swords and guns were collected, Hidéyoshi had them melted into a statue of himself.

Don’t give our politicians any ideas….

The historian Stephen Turnbull writes:

Hidéyoshi’s resources were such that the edict was carried out to the letter. The growing social mobility of peasants was thus flung suddenly into reverse. The ikki, the warrior-monks, became figures of the past…Hidéyoshi had deprived the peasants of their weapons. Iéyasu [the next ruler] now began to deprive them of their self respect. If a peasant offended a samurai he might be cut down on the spot by the samurai’s sword.

The inferior status of the peasantry having been affirmed by civil disarmament, the Samurai enjoyed kiri-sute gomen, permission to kill and depart. Any disrespectful member of the lower class could be executed by a Samurai’s sword.

In time the samurai, too, lost the right to arms. But Japan is, overall, much more law-abiding than any European or American state. Kopel notes that:

America’s non-gun robbery rate is over 70 times Japan’s, an indication that something more significant than gun policy is involved in the differing crime rates between the two nations. Neither Japanese nor American prisoners have guns, but homicide by prisoners and attacks on guards occur frequently in American prisons, and almost never in Japanese prisons. Another indication that social standards matter more than gun laws is that Japanese-Americans, who have access to firearms, have a lower violent crime rate than do Japanese in Japan.

Japan is an ethnical and racial uniculture that places tremendous emphasis on group identity, conformity and obedience to lawful authority, and these values are internalized by Japanese from childhood, just as Americans are acculturated to independence, individuality and even rebellion from childhood. But “social scientists” say the guns are the difference. Who are we to deny (social) science?

Few details on Umeda’s “saw” were available, but police characterized it as “50 cm long” — about 20 inches. It is fortunate, perhaps, that he chose a saw in place of a kitchen knife. He might have killed those poor girls. As it is, they’ll recover.

But violent mental insanity is a uniquely American problem, caused by the ready availability of assault weapons. All the best papers say so.

11 thoughts on “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have saws

  1. Jay

    Before any aspiring gun grabber gets any ideas, violent crime in Japan is much worse than published numbers. Bureaucrats do this by classifying obvious homicides as suicides. Another game they play is if the body can be kept on life support for 30 days, the subsequent death is attributed to natural causes. I understand Mayor Rahm is learning these games as well.

    1. Daniel E. Watters

      I seem to remember reading that if a Japanese father kills his wife and kids, and then offs himself, all of the deaths will be listed as suicides. After all, the murdered family members would not have wanted to live with the guilt and shame that drove the patriarch to suicide. He merely saved them the trouble of killing themselves on their own.

      1. Hognose Post author

        Here’s an interesting read on Japanese suicide stats. The particular problem the article mentions is murders being passed off as suicides. But also there are suicides reported as natural deaths.

        The mystery of Japan’s suicide culture endures. Here’s another view that winds up asking a lot of questions and getting no answers.

        There are several references to uniquely Japanese murder-suicide practices online. This 1985 article describes an attempted murder-suicide by a Japanese lady in SoCal. She walked into the ocean near the Santa Monica pier with her two small kids. They were all hypothermic when rescued but the kids didn’t make it. Allegedly such a crime would not be charged in Japan:

        Japanese has several words for suicide. The word for suicide-pacts (shinju) has come to encompass murder-suicides, too:

        The word shinju in Japanese, originally meant a mutual suicide agreement by lovers in order to prove the genuineness of their love to each other. According to the strict and original definition described by Ohara (1985), shinju is an act where more than two people commit suicide voluntarily at the same place, at the same time, and for the same purpose. The definition has become looser and now also includes murder-suicides where some of those involved are killed against their will (Fukushima, 1984). The definition of shinju now includes both a genuine suicide pact, extended suicide (assisted suicide followed by suicide), and murder-suicide in which the killer and the victim(s) have a strong emotional tie with each other before the act. The feeling of “oneness” of those involved in shinju is important.

        The Japanese view of suicide is very foreign to the Western (or indeed, other Eastern) cultural concept of the same act. Interesting.

  2. Samuel Leoon Suggs

    “Hidéyoshi had them melted into a statue of himself.” How delightfully subtle of him.

    1. Bill K

      I wonder who the first dictator was who decided to have a statue made of himself. The first guy that comes to my mind is Saddam’s old mentor, Nebuchadnezzar, circa 586 BC or so, but I doubt even he was really the first.

      1. Samuel Leoon Suggs

        Their was a ruler in the same basic geographic area that far pre-dates Nebuchadnezzar who went by the name of Gudea who had a unique enthusiasm for having statues of himself constructed. He seems to have been an early example of monarchy as we think of it today as the statues are inscribed with dedication to a variety of gods and divine beings.

        1. Y.

          Those weren’t actually statues to Gudea, but rather statues to a God residing in him.

          You see, before cca 500 BC, most people in the area weren’t conscious as we are, but they were rather behaving as if hypnotically obeying commands of a ‘personality’ in their head.

          That’s why in the Illiad, for example, people don’t make any decision, but instead Gods make all of them. Almost every time there’s a need to decide, a God does it.
          There’s little in the way of lying or deception in there, except for Odysseus, whose journey is indeed full of it.

          Gradually though, for reasons of deception and greater flexibility, this has been bred out of the population, but still survives in various niches. ( Voodoo rituals, for example)

          It’s also evident from the Old Testament, where the textually oldest book contains numerous references to elohim. Which are very scant in the older books, with people bemoaning their absence. Analogous situations were found elsewhere, in Mesopotamia and so on.

  3. StukaPilot

    of course all this cultural repression of normal, healthy human violence has awesome consequences when, from time to time, the Nips bust loose; cf. Rape of Nanking (and many similar escapades) during the Slant-Slant War

    1. Samuel Leoon Suggs

      Can you at least make your racist statements constructive? I mean we can discuss the influence of race on violent crime and other cultural issues as part of a open and rational dialogue but please don’t just throw slurs into an otherwise nonsensical statement and call it an opinion.

  4. Stefan van der Borght

    Stuka, you give us a bad name. Are you a provocateur? Please be a little more kindly to your siblings (fellow descendants of Adam, and also Noah), or at the least, the folks that slave to make so much of what you buy. We long pigs are none too popular in their culture either, and have plenty of dirty history of our own to back it up. Shall we prove the exception to the rule, or justify being called gaijin and gwailoh? Dew neh lo moh.

  5. RobRoySimmons

    Stationed there for a year on the Rock, if you ask me as a whole I would say they are a bit childish. Since the common courtesy of PC is to say something negative about whites in general we have plenty of lunkheads who treat guns as magic totem firesticks of mega-power but if you dumped guns on the Japanese society I would imagine they would make them into religious items for the perpetually needing authority types.

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