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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 126727 Find in a Library
Title: Gun Control and People Control in Japan: Is Japan's Effective Gun Control System a Candidate for Export?
Author(s): D B Kopel
Date Published: Unknown
Page Count: 48
Type: Survey (Cross-Cultural)
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Japan's gun control legislation is the strictest among the Western democracies; gun ownership and gun crimes are almost nonexistent. In fact, many Americans advocate the import of Japan's stringent gun controls as a means of stemming America's violent crime problems.
Abstract: The small number of Japanese civilians allowed to own guns must meet rigorous licensing procedures; civilians can never own handguns. Gun crimes, as well as other violent crimes, are a minute proportion of those committed in the U.S. The rules governing law and order, and police rights and duties, differ between the US and Japan; in Japan neighborhood police are abundant and surveil many daily activities of the residents. Likewise, Japanese police exercise more influence over the criminal justice process than their US counterparts. An examination of the history of weapons in Japan reveals that there was never a cultural foundation for widespread gun ownership; weapons have always belonged only to the rulers. The Japanese emphasis on communalism, rather than individualism, also make strict gun control laws publicly acceptable. The promotion by the Japanese government of a social climate for gun control and the homogenity of the Japanese population also contribute to the low crime rate and disinterest in gun possession. The author concludes that, while the US firearms policy leaves room for improvement, the adoption of the Japanese system to America is unrealistic because of the different social contexts. As part of a total system of social control, gun limitations may contribute to low crime rates; but it is the system and the Japanese tradition of submission to authority and trust in the government which is the real answer to the differences between Japan and the US. 223 notes
Main Term(s): Gun Control; US/foreign comparisons
Index Term(s): Foreign criminal justice systems; Foreign police/community relations; Japan; Social control
Note: Paper presented at the 42nd annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology, Baltimore, Maryland, November 7, 1990
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