Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, 67, was fatally shot while giving a campaign speech on Friday. It was stunning in that it happened in a country where firearms are strictly regulated and political violence is extremely rare.
Japan has some of the most stringent laws on buying and owning firearms. Japan’s gun-ownership restrictions do not allow private citizens to have handguns, and licensed hunters may own only rifles. Gun owners must attend classes, pass a written test, and undergo a mental health evaluation and a background check.
Interestingly, the shooter used a homemade firearm to assassinate Abe. Police raided his home and seized multiple weapons that also appeared to be homemade. The gun used to kill Abe consisted of two metal barrels attached to a wooden board and was more than a foot long.
Any form of violence is unusual in Japan, but gun violence is almost unheard of. There were only ten shootings in Japan in 2021, and, remarkably only one firearm-related death in the whole year. Since 2017, there have been 14 gun-related deaths in Japan, a country of 125 million people.
Compare that — 14 gun-related deaths in four years — to the U.S., which had, according to a recent report from the Center for Gun Violence Solutions, an average of 124 deaths from gun violence every day in 2020. That’s 110 mote deaths per day in the U.S. than in four years in Japan.
Hmm. I wonder why that is. Anyone care to hazard a guess?