crime

Japanese pro boxer condemns law for classifying him as a dangerous weapon

36 Comments
By Rachel Tackett

On Sept 9, Hozumi Hasegawa, a second-division professional boxer competing successfully at a world level, made a very angry post to his blog condemning the nation’s laws for preventing him from raising his hand against anyone outside of work, regardless of the circumstances.

We’ve probably all heard the story in unspecific terms: rumor states that a trained fighter must register his own fists as lethal weapons. It would then stand to reason that any scuffle involving that person would put him on the receiving end of severe charges for battery and assault with a dangerous weapon.

Hasegawa opened his recent blog post with the admission that he “was writing out of irrational anger.” According to his personal understanding of the subject, the law states that because he is a pro boxer, his own body is classified as a dangerous weapon and thus he cannot exchange blows with anyone on the streets, even if the circumstances would normally classify fighting as a justifiable response.

Hasegawa gives two examples in his angry rant. “Even if a large number of young punks were to come and pick a fight with me, because I’m a pro, I’d have to endure their beating without fighting back. […] So, even if I’m squarely and purposefully hit, I cannot retaliate simply because I’m a pro?”

Hasegawa goes on to question all of the inconsistencies that this rule creates. “Would it be better for a pro martial artist?” he writes. “Is it because I’m a pro boxer? Would it still be forbidden if it was me against ten armed assailants? Or, what if two pro boxers have a fight in the streets? This law is strange!” he laments.

Of course, Hasegawa’s outcry is not for his inability to start a rumble in the streets, the professional fighter assures his readers. What he wants is to retain the right to protect himself, his friends, and those important to him as an act of legitimate self-defense. “There’s a difference between hitting someone out of frustration and hitting them to protect yourself. I don’t understand this law that says I can’t hit anyone just because I’m a pro.”

Now, I’m no lawyer, but I worked a little Google to see what I could dig up about this peculiar law. While I wasn’t able to find anything specifically targeting boxers, I did come across an interesting fact on 3Yen, a legal FAQ for Japan. According to this site, residents of Japan do not have a right to self-defense! It is only a mitigating option. What this means is that any attempt to use violence as a form of defense leaves one liable to battery charges which will only be dropped if a number of mitigating circumstances can be proved.

In other countries, such as America and Australia, fighting back in the face of an assault is legally permissible within “necessary measure,” even for a trained fighter. This usually matters most in the courtroom, long after a fight, as the victim of the initial assault must be able to prove that the amount of force that they used in their retaliation was necessary given the circumstances. In such cases, a trained fighter acting instinctively upon a perceived threat can be at a disadvantage when placed before a jury. If the fighting specialist suffers no injuries, while their assailant suffers many it can be hard to prove that the measures taken were not excessive, but in fact necessary.

So, I want to believe that Hasegawa’s legal advisory to refrain from all fighting on the streets was more to avoid the high likelihood of battery claims against him in the event of injury to his assailant, rather than the existence of a law specifically targeting professional boxers. After all, it would be difficult to defend the mitigating circumstances when the assailant is the one suffering a broken jaw.

As an extra little follow-up to Hasegawa’s angry blog rant, the pro boxer posted a written apology for his outburst over the unfair law. After discussing the issue with his boss and his trainer, he has calmed down considerably and regrets specifically that he showed any willingness whatsoever to strike a person. He is rethinking the matter very deeply and apologizes sincerely for lashing out in a public forum.

Source: Oricon Style

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36 Comments
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I'm with him, it is a silly law.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

Many laws in Japan are simply ridiculous. Like this one on self-defense. My ex-wife attacked me with a hammer and I only held her arms to stop her from hitting me. She claimed DV against me! The stupid judge asked me if I knew for sure that she would hit me with the hammer if I did not stop her by taking her arms! I looked at him in surprise! In Japan, you wait for a a person with a hammer in her hand to make her move so that you know you should have stopped her?! Crazy people, crazy laws ...

15 ( +22 / -7 )

So if I had him in the passenger seat of my car, can I get busted for being in posession of a dangerous weopon too?

6 ( +11 / -5 )

how many boxers together do you need to make a WMD?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

who cares about his opinion???? He is a boxer. His brain is all bruised, can't think straight. For him the streets are like "Double Dragon" or "Final Fight" (the video game)

-32 ( +1 / -33 )

This guy has been hit in the head too many times.

-23 ( +1 / -24 )

I recall that sumo grand champion Asashoryu was forced to resign after an altercation in which he reportedly did quite a bit of damage to his victim's face. (If he had used anything close to full force, that man would probably be dead or in a coma.) It's too bad this topic hasn't been explored by a person with firsthand knowledge of the law.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

nedinjapanSep. 16, 2013 - 09:44AM JST In Japan, you wait for a a person with a hammer in her hand to make her move so that you know you should have stopped her?! Crazy people, crazy laws ...

When I first arrived in Japan I had the same reaction, so I checked with a lawyer, who told me that if someone leaped onto my back in the street and started hitting me around the head, then the correct LEGAL action was to walk down to the nearest koban (police box) while the person continued to beat me around the head, and point out the individual to the police and ask them to please remove him.

Crazy? Yes.

19 ( +22 / -3 )

The legal ramifications of 正当防衛(せいとうぼうえい)seito-boei or justifiable self-defense, are well explained in Japanese Wiki. In the Japanese Criminal Code, Article 36 (Blakemore's 1954 translation) reads: Proper Self Defense: An act unavoidably occurring in the protection of one's own rights of another person against imminent and unjust infringement is not punishable. Punishment for an act which exceeds the limits of defense may be reduced or remitted according to the circumstances.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

In a country where there is so much fuss when police officers fire their weapons.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

My ex-wife attacked me with a hammer and I only held her arms to stop her from hitting me. She claimed DV against me! The stupid judge asked me if I knew for sure that she would hit me with the hammer if I did not stop her by taking her arms!

At that point, assuming that she was Japanese, I would have pointed to her Japanese honesty and integrity as evidence that if she threatened it, then she would have done it. This is seriously crazy. With people getting stabbed everyday, I don't want to take a chance.****

0 ( +2 / -2 )

As far as I can tell, Japan does have a law regarding "Justified Defence" (正当防衛) in article 36 clause 1 of its criminal code (and there is a similar law in the civic code) which says "In response to an urgent and unjust intrusion, to protect ones own or others, actions that can not be helped will not be punished." There is a similar clause in civil law which indemnifies against civil litigation.

The wikipedia article is quite long and detailed explaining the meaning of each phrase (e.g. "urgent").

The wikipedia article notes however that the keeping and use of weapons for self-defence is not allowed (and I am not sure whether this applies to fists). I have heard it said that having and using pepper spray upon intruders in the home (and possibly on the street - I have heard conflicting viewpoints) is legal, but, I am not a lawyer.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"When I first arrived in Japan I had the same reaction, so I checked with a lawyer, who told me that if someone leaped onto my back in the street and started hitting me around the head, then the correct LEGAL action was to walk down to the nearest koban (police box) while the person continued to beat me around the head, and point out the individual to the police and ask them to please remove him.

Crazy? Yes."

"The legal ramifications of 正当防衛(せいとうぼうえい)seito-boei or justifiable self-defense, are well explained in Japanese Wiki. In the Japanese Criminal Code, Article 36 (Blakemore's 1954 translation) reads: Proper Self Defense: An act unavoidably occurring in the protection of one's own rights of another person against imminent and unjust infringement is not punishable. Punishment for an act which exceeds the limits of defense may be reduced or remitted according to the circumstances"

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

I have to say that my experience is different. A few years ago there was a drunk outside my kids' school causing no end of difficulties to the mothers waiting to pick up their kids.

I told him in no uncertain terms to head on down the road at which point he head-butted me. In an automatic reaction I open handed him up side the head and he did "The Nestea Plunge" into the street.

When the police came, I told them what happened and cooperated and was sent on my merry way even though I was open about being a fairly high rank in a well-known martial art.

The police said, "he hit you first. He's not critically injured. You were defending yourself."

Full Disclosure: I had many Japanese witnesses that could verify my story. It helped that the drunk tried to slug the police as well....

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Hozumi Hasegawa in mistaken. In fact, this is a common misconception not only in Japan, but in other countries as well. Japanese law does not classify him or martial artists for that matter (black belt holders, etc) as dangerous or lethal weapons. The law does attempt to objectively take into account the strength of the people involved and determine if the use of force and the amount of force used was appropriate. However, there are boxers/ martial artists of various ages, sizes, weights and strengths and that is a factor that is taken into consideration.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I came into this article thinking that the guy might be wrong, and that the law was not, but hearing that you cannot even fight back in self-defense I have to say the law sounds pretty stupid, and I am with the guy.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

A second division boxer lol....

Hozumi Hasegawa is a professional boxer and a former WBC world bantamweight champion and former WBC world Featherweight champion, and is the first Japanese boxer to have defended a world bantamweight title over four times.

Actually he is a great boxer, and former world pro.

And I agree that you should have a law that guarantees you a right to hit a bad guy. Otherwise it gives the authorities too much power as they get to decide whether they like you or not and thus whether you defending yourself is now a crime or you being a god guy. Power to the people, not the state.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

but hearing that you cannot even fight back in self-defense I have to say the law sounds pretty stupid, and I am with the guy.

Hasegawa is mistaken and so it seems are you. As shown by several people and by the law itself, you are legally allowed to defend yourself. However, you have to prove self-defense. Japanese law is not all that unique in this regard.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I dunno man, that guy's got it all wrong...

Personally, I've been here for 17 years, the first 5 spending most of my nights in Roppongi or Shinjuku and I never had to face "a large group of young punks" that wanted to beat me up. The key is to keep out of trouble and be cool. And I guess it is much easier in Japan than anywhere in the world.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This law is unnecessary, all over the world, the professional boxers and similar sports persons have their own moral traditions, when ever they get in to a difficult situation with ordinary people they just defend themselves and never hurt other people with their sport skill because as a sportsman this is their norm.

another point there are many people in the masses who can overpower his or her opponent, should they be treated with the same law? ridiculous

only professional training is sufficient for such sports-persons.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

This law is unnecessary

I am surprised I have to repeat this: It is not a law in Japan. There is no such law here. This boxer is mistaken. He is imagining there is a law, complaining about it and all the while is unaware that no such law exists. Then, other people are discussing it, as if it did exist. It does not.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I understand the man's complaint, but his post displays his immaturity. Everyone knows that a professional fighter never offer offers his services for free, no matter what the cause. There is always liability involved when it comes to something like that.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Frungy if some one try to burn your house, should you wait for the police to come or should you stop the person? or if some one try to kidnap your child what should you do? calling the police and let the kidnap done? in either case you are sure to stop the person and can defend

In many countries, there is laws about self-defense and then the court verify through the evidence that actually it was a self-defense or otherwise

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

It's a silly law but it's not an unusual one. In most European countries you're not technically allowed to defend yourself either. It's mostly in place to avoid having people go to texas on others over nothing and charges will usually fall quite easily if you had good reasons.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Having had several physical encounters in which I was attacked first , my response of course was self defense. I dare to say that most people would respond likewise not thinking about any such laws.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Ali KhanSep. 16, 2013 - 07:38PM JST Frungy if some one try to burn your house, should you wait for the police to come or should you stop the person? or if some one try to kidnap your child what should you do? calling the police and let the kidnap done? in either case you are sure to stop the person and can defend

Given that the nearest koban is about 300 meters from my house? I'd probably just shout loudly and the police would be there in under a minute. And the criminal would know this and would probably bolt. No need to get violent, not when simply yelling for the police at the top of my voice would get the job done.

In many countries, there is laws about self-defense and then the court verify through the evidence that actually it was a self-defense or otherwise

The problem with laws is that they're subject to interpretation, and that interpretation is rooted in certain cultural values that, as a non-Japanese person, I don't fully understand.

In the U.S. if someone pulls a knife "self-defense" covers everything from pulling a gun and blowing them away to breaking half the bones in their body. In Japan my understanding is that you're expected to back away, and only AFTER they take a swing at you are you entitled to use minimum force required to defend yourself and others around you. This basically means you're covered if you break his knife arm accidentally while disarming him, but you're looking at criminal charges if, for example, you also break a couple of his ribs and give him a bloody nose in the process. You'll get less time than if you started the fight, but its a gamble.

The cultural paradigm is critical in the idea of what constitutes "self-defense" and what constitutes "excessive force".

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Perhaps the next time this boxer decides to rant about legal issues, he should consult his lawyer rather than "his boss and his trainer"? As has been posted by others, his belief that there was such a law is entirely mistaken.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Frungy i think you got it wrong, what i was trying to say that if you have the option to get the police on time this is the best one, in case if you are not able to call the police or the police will take more time to come, so naturally you use all of the options available in your mind at that particular time. some times the people are just shouting and calling for help some times the people are calling their neighbors and the people in surroundings.

if somebody beat you and you can just runaway this is also a self-defense or you just put the hands on your head to avoid serious injuries or just blocking heavy punches.

and of course torturing some one in the name of self-defense is also unlawful. as for as other countries and cultures are concerned, so only the developed world, a few countries in the world have a strong policing system where the police can arrive quickly and with strong response, in many developing or poor countries the police take hours to get to the spot which is too late. lol, by the way American self-defense concept is very different, the Attack on Iraq was self-defense and you have many others examples. on the serious note, I think this issue needs more debate and awareness in the public.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Fortunately most of us will never have to figure this out first hand.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow....that is pretty pathetic if I may say. Because he a is a pro boxer makes him a dangerous weapon? What if the YAKUZA were to attack him? All he can do is stand there and do nothing and get beat up continuously until the offender is satisfied?

Where is the right to defend yourself in this situation? Japan your laws are pretty dumb to a point.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Fortunately most of us will never have to figure this out first hand.

you would hope so but not something to rely on...

in the case that someone takes a swing at you and you take a swing back, its not necessarily self defense but more a case of mutual combatants, i.e. both parties are guilty of battery and technically both could go to jail if they pressed charges but what usually happens in such case is that neither party wants to go to jail and the police don't want to fill out the paperwork so, if there are no serious injuries, they will tell you so advise both parties to let it drop.

if you want to make a case for self defense, you should know the elements necessary so you can tick all the boxes for the police. it would be good if you have witnesses (unlike zimmerman) who can back your story that you were not the aggressor and you told the other guy back off and you don't want to fight before you clean his clock. also once the threat is over, you have to stop otherwise you go beyond self defense.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nobody should be called dangerous because it's strong and only rapists can be called dangerous weapons and regulated by law.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Box is not a sport. it a crude and brutal activity and should be banned everywhere. I am very glad Japan realzes the danger of it.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

If his body is a dangerous weapon, then don't use your body. "Did you hit him with your fist?" "No with a table, ladder and chairs" " Oh, then it's ok" :P

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You can throw people no problem at all. You just aren't allowed to hit/punch them. When the average Japanese guy is 160cm and 60 odd kg, throwing them to the ground is no problem at all. If you are a punchy type, look forward to a quick deportation - unless you punch another foreigner...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So one example would be for a groper.

If a man wants to grope a woman, he can. SO long as there are no police around? If the woman fights back in a physical manner, will the woman be in jail instead of the groper?

if that is the case, then there is something wrong with Japan's law lol

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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