As societies, Japan and The United States has so many opposite characteristics. The right to own guns is one of these difference.
A couple of days ago, journeyman wrote this diary about the recent car rampage guy in Nagoya. There were many discussion about it and I wanted to add a Japanese perspective on this.
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On February 23rd, another crazy guy drove his car into the crowd deliberately in Japan. I say “another” because this crime is not too uncommon in Japan. Besides a car, kitchen knife is also very popular weapon. We have many impressive knife here in Japan, more like swords, that we use to cut apart really big fish like tuna. But of course regular kitchen knife is also dangerous. A couple of years ago a mentally disturb man ran around Akihabara in Tokyo and killed a few people.
In the recent car rampage, 13 are injured, none dead yet. He could have easily killed many more people, our pedestrian roads are so crowded and many occasion those crowds are full of children. There were cases involved lot of dead children in the past. You may say, it was a good thing he didn’t use the gun. I don’t support NRA, I am definitely glad this guy didn’t get hold of the gun.
But I think banning guns is the wrong way to go about it. We need to have stronger regulation instead. Once it exists, you cannot un-exist them. Somebody is going to use the guns, and those are likely bad people.
In Japan, pistols are not legal, most Japanese have never seen an unholstered real hand gun for their entire life. Rifles and shotguns are legal, but you only see them out in the country. There, people use them to hunt and to control the pest which destroy crops (usually wild boar, also sometimes monkey). Owning a rifle or shotgun in Japan has very strict regulation, though, and they are difficult to get.
But yet, some people own the handguns in Japan. Unfortunately, they are usually the wrong people. In fact, just one week ago, a crazy man stalked his ex-girlfriend and shot her in her head. I have no idea how, but he obviously knew how to get the pistol.
We also have the yakuza, of course, and they are known to own a lot of guns.
Japanese police carry guns, too, and they don’t have a very clean record neither.
So in Japan, only criminal and authority are allowed to have a gun.
If you look through Japanese history, the reason why we are not allowed to have weapons makes a more important point.
In 1588, Hideyoshi took away all farmer's swords. He did this so farmers could never get a chance to rebel against authority. This was important, since the farmers are not allowed to keep one grain of rice for their own. Many farmers grew rice but never ate it (the low class must eat millet), and everything they work for went to feed samurai. Can you understand the resentment? The samurai were trained fighter, but 10,000 to 1 odds were not good for them. Even though there were no sword allowed for farmers, when they were starving they still had uprising using farm tools many times and killed many samurai.
Today, swords are still illegal in Japan. Even pocket knife of a certain size is banned. If you try to come into Japan with a sword, even fake one, they cut into two at the airport. The only people allowed to have the sword are families descent from samurai, who can keep their family weapon. However, it is illegal to attach to a handle. You must keep and display only the blade and keep the handle separate.
I believe, gun should be fully regulated. Criminals and mental patients should not be allowed to anywhere near the guns, and whoever violates this law should be severely punished.
That is the most important part for the safety of the society. We should watch out for the crazy people, not the tool crazy people may use.
Several years ago, in Osaka, one crazy guy broke in the kindergarten and stabbed a bunch of children. He only used a knife, and not any special martial artist or anything. but nobody could stop him. Of course, you cannot blame people in those kind of panicking situation. But no one knew what to do, and by the time someone act and police came many children were dead.
The aftermath response was pitiful. The Sandy Hook massacre did not change gun law in America, and here in Japan the Osaka school killing and incident like the Akihabara stabbing spree didn’t engage discussions of the mental health, nor training for unusual situations and creative thinking.
Nowadays, my husband (Kossack Hatrax) notice that all school has a man catcher installed in the hall. Big aluminum pole with C-curve on the end design to trap an enemy, but only a few per school and I'm sure no one know how to really use it. Hatrax also says some rooms have small can of pepper spray, but again, not convenient location and no one trains how to use it. I doubt these tool can be any good against attackers in an out of control situation.
We don’t have very good mental health program in Japan. There is little recognition of disorder that are well known in the West, and many disorder are not treated with the modern technique. Most of them are just drugged up and told to try harder. It inevitably lead to the vicious cycle, since drug's main function is calming them down. This make them lethargic, all energy gone, causing them to lose job. So they get depressed further, and the mental health service just give them more drugs...
It’s our best interest to help those people stay functional. And it’s our best interest to support all people who are desperate. In Japan, once you are mental health patient, your chance of getting the good job or marrying are almost zero. We cannot throw these people away.
In America, there is good mental health understanding and care, and crazy gun law. In Japan, there is good gun restriction and regulation and crazy mental health care. We need to learn from each other to have the best of both world.