Arts, Culture & Media

Gun Violence: Virtually a Thing of the Past in Japan


Tadakazu Shimoyama, chief mechanician at the Ennis gun shop, displays a rifle in Tokyo April 17, 2007. Gun ownership in Japan is extremely limited because of the country's strict licensing regulations for firearms and ammunition sales. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao(JAPAN)



Authorities in Japan have made it very difficult for most of the country's citizens to own guns. As a result, shooting deaths are rareMax Fisher, an associate editor at The Atlantic, says the differences between the gun cultures in the US and Japan are rooted in history. He says after World War II, the American occupation authority in Japan insisted that Japanese police wear firearms.

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"Gen. MacArthur was famously dismayed because none of the police carried guns," Fisher says. "And he had to specifically order them to carry handguns or they just wouldn't do it."

Fisher says that attitude is reflected in popular culture today.

"In a Japanese action movie, if a handgun comes out, that's considered this kind of very serious grave thing," Fisher notes. "Whereas in an American action movie, unless there are 40 guns going off at once it's kind of a boring scene."