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Armed violence prevention, gun control laws and the small arms trade:

Japan — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law

StockpilesGun Numbers

Civilian Guns

Number of Privately Owned Firearms

The estimated total number of guns (both licit and illicit) held by civilians in Japan is 710,0001

Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population

The estimated rate of private gun ownership (both licit and illicit) in Japan is 0.61 firearms per 100 people

Number of Privately Owned Rifles

In Japan, the number of rifles in civilian possession is reported to be 40,5392

Number of Privately Owned Shotguns

In Japan, the number of shotguns in civilian possession is reported to be 325,1362

Number of Privately Owned Handguns

There are reportedly 773 handguns in civilian possession in Japan

Number of Privately Owned Firearms - World Ranking

In a comparison of the number of privately owned guns in 178 countries, Japan ranked at No. 644

Rate of Privately Owned Firearms per 100 Population - World Ranking

In a comparison of the rate of private gun ownership in 178 countries, Japan ranked at No. 1641

Number of Licensed Firearm Owners

The number of licensed gun owners in Japan is reported to be 320,0005

Rate of Licensed Firearm Owners per 100 Population

The rate of licensed firearm owners per 100 people in Japan is 0.256

Number of Registered Firearms

The number of registered guns in Japan is reported to be 413,0961

Rate of Registered Firearms per 100 Population

The rate of registered guns per 100 people in Japan is 0.326

Government Guns

Number of Military Firearms

The defence forces of Japan are reported to have 737,5007 firearms

Number of Law Enforcement Firearms

Police in Japan are reported to have 250,0008 firearms

ImpactsDeath and Injury

Homicides (any method)

ChartIn Japan, annual homicides by any means total

2012: 1,0209
2011: 44210
2010: 465
2009: 506
2008: 646
2007: 574
2006: 619
2005: 643
2004: 699
2003: 697
2002: 609
2001: 645
2000: 637
1999: 674
1998: 716
1997: 677
1996: 616
1995: 677

Rate of Homicide per 100,000 People (any method)

ChartIn Japan, the annual rate of homicide by any means per 100,000 population is

2012: 0.89
2011: 0.310
2010: 0.4
2009: 0.4
2008: 0.510 11
2007: 0.5
2006: 0.5
2005: 0.5
2004: 0.6
2003: 0.6
2002: 0.5
2001: 0.5
2000: 0.510
1999: 0.5
1998: 0.6
1997: 0.5
1996: 0.5
1995: 0.5
1994: 0.6212

Gun Homicides

ChartIn Japan, annual firearm homicides total

2008: 1110
2002: 4713
2001: 56
1997: 3414
1996: 36
1995: 42

Rate of Gun Homicide per 100,000 People

ChartIn Japan, the annual rate of firearm homicide per 100,000 population is

2008: 0.010
2002: 0.0413
2001: 0.04
1997: 0.0314
1996: 0.03
1995: 0.03
1994: 0.0215

Proportion of Homicides Committed With a Gun

In Japan, the percentage of homicides committed with a firearm is reported to be 2012: 2%9

Suicides (any method)

In Japan, annual suicides by any means total 1997: 23,50216

Rate of Suicide per 100,000 People (any method)

ChartIn Japan, the annual rate of suicide by any means per 100,000 population is

1997: 18.4116
1994: 16.7217

Gun Suicides

In Japan, annual firearm suicides total 1999: 4716

Rate of Gun Suicide per 100,000 People

ChartIn Japan, the annual rate of firearm suicide per 100,000 population is

1999: 0.0416
1994: 0.0418

Unintentional Gun Deaths

In Japan, annual unintentional shooting deaths total 1999: 716

Rate of Unintentional Gun Death per 100,000 People

ChartIn Japan, the annual rate of unintentional shooting death per 100,000 population is

1999: 0.0116
1994: 0.0019

Gun Deaths from Undetermined Cause

In Japan, annual shooting deaths in which the cause remains undecided total 1999: 716

Rate of Gun Death from Undetermined Cause per 100,000 People

ChartIn Japan, the annual rate of unknown-cause shooting deaths per 100,000 population is

1999: 0.0116
1994: 0.0020

ProductionGun Industry

Regulation of Firearm Makers

In Japan, the manufacture of small arms, ammunition and/or their components is permitted only if the maker holds a valid licence21

Small Arms Manufacture - World Ranking

In a classification of the world's small, medium and major firearm manufacturers, Japan is ranked 'small'22

TransfersGun Trade and Trafficking

Regulation of Firearm Exports

In Japan, firearm and ammunition exports are limited by transfer control law23

Small Arms Exports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition exports from Japan is reported by Customs to be US$73,272,05424 (2011)25

Small Arms Exports - World Ranking

In a comparison of the world's major/mid-level/minor/unknown small arms exporters, Japan is categorized as 'minor'26

Regulation of Firearm Imports

In Japan, firearm and ammunition imports are limited by transfer control law27 28

Small Arms Imports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition imports to Japan is reported by Customs to be US$27,896,88824 (2011)29

Smuggling Guns and Ammunition

Reports suggest that the level of firearm and ammunition smuggling in Japan is moderate30 3

Regulation of Arms Brokers

In Japan, the activities of arms brokers and transfer intermediaries are specifically regulated by law31 32

End User Certificates

Customs regulations in Japan do not include33 certification of the intended end user of any small arms or ammunition transfer, and/or a written declaration of its intended end use

Transparency of Small Arms Transfers

In the most recent survey of state transparency in declaring firearm and ammunition exports among major small arms exporting nations, Japan was ranked at No. 4234

MeasuresGun Regulation

Firearm Regulation - Guiding Policy

The regulation of guns in Japan is categorised as restrictive35

Firearm Law

Guiding gun control legislation in Japan includes the Firearms and Swords Control Law,36 28 the Ordnance Manufacturing Law,21 the Explosives Control Law,37 38 and the Customs Law27

Firearm Regulation Authority

Guns in Japan are regulated by the Prefectural Public Safety Commission39

Right to Possess Firearms

In Japan, the right to private gun ownership is not guaranteed by law40 33

Restricted Firearms and Ammunition

In Japan, civilians are not allowed to possess handguns, hunting guns without specific approval,2 military rifles, machine guns, any gunpowder charged firearm, certain air guns28 and imitation firearms41

Regulation of Automatic Weapons

In Japan, private possession of fully automatic weapons is prohibited28 42 9

Regulation of Semiautomatic Assault Weapons

In Japan, private possession of semi-automatic assault weapons is prohibited28 42

Regulation of Handguns

In Japan, private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is prohibited, with the exception of accomplished sports shooters43 28 42 9

Law Regulates Long Guns

In Japan, civilian possession of rifles and shotguns is regulated by law28 9

Gun Ownership and Possession

In Japan, only licensed gun owners2 44 45 9 may lawfully acquire, possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition

Genuine Reason Required for Firearm Possession

Applicants for a gun owner’s licence in Japan are required to establish a genuine reason to possess a firearm, for example hunting, target shooting (with special permission)2 45

Minimum Age for Firearm Possession

The minimum age for gun ownership in Japan is 18 years44 45

Gun Owner Background Checks

An applicant for a firearm licence in Japan must pass a background check which considers criminal and mental2 44 45 9 records

Reference Required for Firearm Licence

In Japan, third party character references for each gun licence applicant are not required3

Domestic Violence and Firearms

Where a past history, or apprehended likelihood of family violence exists, the law in Japan does not stipulate3 that a gun licence should be denied or revoked

Firearm Safety Training

In Japan, an understanding of firearm safety and the law, tested in a theoretical and/or practical training course is required2 44 for a firearm licence

Gun Owner Licensing Period

In Japan, gun owners must re-apply and re-qualify for their firearm licence every three years44 46

Limit on Number of Guns

Licensed firearm owners in Japan are permitted to possess any number of firearms47

Limit on Quantity, Type of Ammunition

Licensed firearm owners in Japan are permitted to possess any quantity of ammunition33

Firearm Registration

Civilian Gun Registration

In Japan, the law requires48 49 that a record of the acquisition, possession and transfer of each privately held firearm be retained in an official register

Gun Dealer Record Keeping

In Japan, licensed firearm dealers are required48 49 to keep a record of each firearm or ammunition purchase, sale or transfer on behalf of a regulating authority

Gun Manufacturer Record Keeping

In Japan, licensed gun makers are required48 49 to keep a record of each firearm produced, for inspection by a regulating authority

State-Owned Firearm Records

In Japan, State agencies are required49 to maintain records of the storage and movement of all firearms and ammunition under their control

Gun Sales and Transfers

Regulation of Private Gun Sales

In Japan, the private sale and transfer of firearms is prohibited50

Regulation of Dealer Gun Sales

In Japan, dealing in firearms by way of business without a valid gun dealer’s licence is unlawful50

Waiting Period for Gun Possession

In Japan, the minimum wait for a lawful firearm purchase to be completed is undetermined33

Regulation of Gun Shows

In Japan, gun shows and temporary firearm dealing events are not regulated33 in law

Storage and Transport of Guns and Ammunition

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Private

Firearm regulations in Japan include51 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of private firearms and ammunition by licensed gun owners

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Dealer

Firearm regulations in Japan do not include33 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition by licensed arms dealers

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Government

Government regulations in Japan include51 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition by state entities

Firearm and Ammunition Transport Regulations

Regulations in Japan do not include33 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition while in transit

Marking and Tracing Guns and Ammunition

Firearm Marking

In Japan, a unique identifying mark on each firearm is required by law49 48

Firearm Tracing

In Japan, state authorities carry out49 48 recognised arms tracing and tracking procedures

Ballistic Record of Firearms and Ammunition

In Japan, the ballistic characteristics of each civilian firearm and its ammunition are not33 recorded in a register

Carrying Guns

Carrying Guns Openly in Public

In Japan, carrying a firearm in plain view in a public place is prohibited46 9

Carrying Hidden Handguns in Public

In Japan, carrying a concealed firearm in a public place is allowed, subject to a valid permit46 9

Penalty for Illicit Firearm Possession

In Japan, the maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm52 is 15 years prison28

Collection, Amnesty and Destruction Programmes

Destruction and Disposal Policy

In Japan, it is state policy53 to destroy surplus, collected and seized firearms rather than return them to the secondary arms market

MeasuresInternational Controls

Regional Agreements

United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

The UNCCPCJ, a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council mandated to promote action to prevent national and transnational crime, lists54 Japan as an elected member

Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development

The Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development, a diplomatic initiative aimed at addressing the interrelations between armed violence and development, was signed in 200655 by Japan.

United Nations Arms Trade Treaty

The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty has been signed and ratified56 by Japan

United Nations Firearms Protocol

The United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition has been signed, but not yet ratified57 by Japan

United Nations Small Arms Programme of Action UNPoA

UNPoA Commitment

On 21 July 2001, Japan committed to a consensus decision of the United Nations to adopt, support and implement the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects58

UNPoA Implementation Monitor Score

In its UN small arms Programme of Action Implementation Monitor (PoAIM Phase 1), the Small Arms Survey scored Japan against its commitments to the PoA, then ranked it at No. 4159 60 61 62 among 159 Member States

UNPoA National Reporting

Under the terms of its 2001 commitment to the United Nations small arms Programme of Action, Japan has submitted one or more national reports63 32 on its implementation of the UNPoA

UNPoA National Point of Contact

In Japan, a National Point of Contact to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has been designated64 32

UNPoA National Coordinating Body

In Japan, a National Coordinating Body to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has not been designated64 32

UNPoA Civil Society Involvement and Support

In National Reports of Japan submitted to the UN, a history of substantive cooperation with civil society in support of UNPoA activities is apparent32 65

UNPoA International Assistance – Donor

Funds for UNPoA implementation have been donated32 66 by Japan to other UN Member States

United Nations Small Arms Register

According to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, Japan has not declared67 its small arms exports in one or more annual National Reports on Arms Exports.

United Nations Membership

In the UN List of Member States, Japan has been a Member State of the United Nations since 195668

Wassenaar Arrangement

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls and Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies lists69 Japan as a Participating State

BackgroundCountry Profile

Global Peace Index

To see where Japan ranks, select the Link icon to open an external web page at the Global Peace Index


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