Photo: Pakutaso

Police ask owners to turn in their crossbows as new ban goes into effect

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

In the middle of this month, crossbows, as well as pistol-type bow guns, will become illegal to possess.

This revision to Japan’s Firearm and Sword Control Law was announced last June, giving owners one last summer, autumn, and winter to spend with their bolt-slinging weaponry and to make any necessary preparations for the shift to a crossbow-less lifestyle.

Come March 15, though, they’ll have to turn their crossbows in, unless they apply for and are granted a license to continue owning one. License applicants must be at least 18 years old, not have served jail time within the past five years, and undergo a background check. The revised regulations also specify that licenses can only be granted to those seeking authorization for target/sport shooting or commercial/industrial use, such as licensed animal control, and that permits will not be issued for display or collection purposes. While it may sound odd to essentially say “You can only have a crossbow if you’re planning on shooting it a lot,” the reason for this is likely to prevent any single individual from stockpiling crossbows, and to make sure that they’re only in the hands of people with a legitimate need for them. Owners not applying for a license can turn in their crossbow to their local police station, with no fees involved.

The ban was prompted by an increase in crossbow-related violence, the authorities say. Under the revised law, unauthorized possession of a crossbow will result in penalties of up to 500,000 yen in fines and up to three years in prison. There is a six-month grace period for owners waiting for their license application to be processed, but Japan’s National Police Agency says that firing the crossbow without a permit during this period is “obviously” prohibited. Even loading a crossbow without a license is illegal during the grace period, and will incur a fine of up to 200,000 yen.

There is an exemption for crossbows that fire arrows with a force of under 6 joules. The National Police Agency has set up a special “crossbow power” page on its website that shows how to estimate the weapon’s level of kinetic energy based on its size, draw weight, and arrow speed, but it really seems like the sort of thing you should double check in person with your local police station, especially if it’s been a while since your last physics class.

The crossbow ban goes into effect on March 15 dramatically at the stroke of midnight. 

Source: National Police Agency via IT Media

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© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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People are not gonna surrender them voluntarily. Offer them some cash for their crossbows and they’ll be beating down the doors.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

In the middle of this month, crossbows, as well as pistol-type bow guns, will become illegal to possess.

This may prove to be unfortunate when Japan gets overrun by feral pigs and rampaging monkeys.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

This may prove to be unfortunate when Japan gets overrun by feral pigs and rampaging monkeys.

And deer.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Keeping mine for the zombie apocalypse

13 ( +14 / -1 )

A Japanese friend of mine owns one. Its was very expensive. I doubt he's just going to turn it in without some compensation.

This may prove to be unfortunate when Japan gets overrun by feral pigs and rampaging monkeys.

And deer.

Instead of making them illegal, make them a simpler and easier hunting solution than guns.

The revised regulations also specify that licenses can only be granted to those seeking authorization for target/sport shooting or commercial/industrial use, such as licensed animal control, and that permits will not be issued for display or collection purposes. 

While that is indeed good news, it may be VERY difficult to obtain the license anyway. There is a tremendous amount of fine print, and I doubt that many owners will be able to retain their bows even if they can meet the requirements. I would not be surprised if a quota is introduced as to how many licenses can be given in a year.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

I’m pretty sure hunting with them has always been illegal, as with bows.

The amount of clubs where you can use them is also limited, expensive and have extensive rules on how you can use them at the club. Try finding a secluded spot in the Forrest and then get caught, that’s a world of trouble. Could use it in your house I guess but shooting it 4m would loose it’s enjoyment quickly. As for zombies might have to use a rake.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I’d like to see the cops try to take these crossbow and other weapons from people without compensation

Should be unintentional comedy at it’s fullest.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I always thought it was ridiculous for Japan not to regulate crossbows. Especially when regular longbows/compound bows are not permitted for a lawful purpose like hunting. Still, good for working towards getting crossbows off the city streets. Also think a buy-back program with amnesty will be far more effective than just "hand it in". Even in Japan.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

if I owned one of those, would rather destroy it and discard in the trash than go turn it in to the very reasonable gaijin-friendly police

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Up until 2006 there was no power limitation for modified airsoft guns. After a bunch of Osaka punks on scooters started firing 6mm steel ball bearings at cars, from modified airsoft guns that fired at power ratings equal to normal CO2 pellet air guns, they changed the law (to 0.98 joule). It was estimated there were 800,000 overpowered customized airsoft guns. After the law only 1/8th of those were powered down, almost none were handed in as requested, and 700,000 remain unaccounted for. Without a buyback scheme and no way to know who owns what, the honesty voluntary give up something you spent a lot of money for, didn’t work for airsoft. Will it work for crossbows?

3 ( +3 / -0 )


1 ( +1 / -0 )


You / they may NEED them, when the Russians invade...I mean chinese.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

As a relevant aside the arrows are classified as weapons for both bows and crossbow. Under the firearms and swords law. There are strict rules on transportation as they are deemed to be stabbing weapons even without having a bow. They must be in a closed container. A quiver won’t cut it. Broad headed arrows are banned.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I noticed just a couple of years ago that japan selling cross bows as toys was a mistake. After a few murders they back tracked and had a knee jerk reaction

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Part of the reason is that possession of a soon-to-be 'illegal' crossbow will give the police something else to charge people with in the event of a (contemplated) crime.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I agree with WA4TKG. Soon they will see and understand the need to equip every household with a sniper rifle and a heavy machine gun and give all the capable civilians shooting, self defense and survival lessons. Do those stubborn guys really rely only on a few fentanyl based precarious Latino and US forces , but keeping the own population completely unarmed? Refer to the daily news how that somewhere else soon turns out even with a few available armor.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Deer are very smart and have a firm distaste for Humans. I have witness many a stag standing on top of steep snow covered cliffs. These stag start rearing and stomping the snow covered ground when they perceive humans are on the road below causing a snow avalanche hoping to take out a few humans. I have only notice this act in The north of Honshu. Strange animals behavior.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think they should be allowed to keep them. To defend themselves when a certain communist country tries something funny. There are a lot of forests in Japan that the Japanese may use to ambush filthy communist cowards.

It is also a deterrence should anyone try to steal a farmer's crops and ship it back to their own countries.

Not to mention dangerous bears, boars, etc.

Perhaps those who live in countryside should be allowed to keep them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So silly. It is not like there was crossbow murder wave, and there are all sorts of objects that can serve as murder weapons. If you want to ban them all, I dont know what kind of world we want to live in..... a giant nursery school?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Will they be compensating these crossbow owners to turn in their goods because the last time I checked, crossbows don't come cheap. What a ridiculous reaction to a couple of crossbow related incidents. There's been a slew of stabbings in Japan - should we draw up a document to ban all sharp, pointy things too?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Good opportunity/excuse to get rid of those finally.

Some husbands can finally relax and sleep better

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I thought they were banned here in the UK, but...

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 effectively bans hunting with crossbows, and the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 prohibits carrying offensive weapons (including crossbows) in public, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse.

I suppose apart from secret agents, assassins, William Tell and LARPers, who actually needs one?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

To Hunt even with a compound bow in Japan is very difficult but not impossible but with a firearm is nearly impossible.

Hunting is a thing in Japan, even with guns. But as you can imagine, it's much more tightly controlled than it is in the US.

First, prospective hunters over 18 must apply for a license (administered by each prefecture) before they are allowed to hunt. There are three types of hunting licenses: nets, traps and firearms, the latter of which covers both air guns and projectiles (rifles and shotguns), although hunters younger than 20 may only use air-powered guns like BB guns. Applicants must supply a medical professional's statement that they don't suffer from mental illness or substance addiction. Vision, hearing, and general fitness is tested. Criminal background checks are also conducted. Finally, a written test is conducted covering hunting laws, different types of game, and various hunting equipment. If you pass the test, you get a hunting license that's good for three years.

However, if you want to hunt with a gun, there's even more to it than that. You would need a separate gun permit, which is issued by the National Police Agency. Getting a gun permit is very difficult -- you need to attend a lecture, pass a written test, and practice gun use under police supervision. Background checks are conducted, and are considerable: not only are you interviewed, but your employers, family, neighbors, and others in your neighborhood.

You then have to apply to purchase a specific kind of gun, buy it from a licensed dealer, and then take the gun back to the police to show you bought the right one. Shotguns are the "entry level" gun -- anyone asking for a rifle would have needed to have a shotgun in good standing for a decade before they'd be considered for a rifle (and they'd have to apply and take more tests and such). Pistols and anything else not obviously used for hunting are completely banned for civilians.

As you can imagine, all of the mandatory training, applications, tests and safety gear (you are required to buy a gun locker) do not come cheap. This Japan Times article estimates starting costs to be around ¥115,000, plus local fees for actually hunting in that area. Including taxes, that could run you another ¥20,000 or more. To say nothing of how much time and effort it takes to pass all of these tests and get through the red tape. Annual maintenance and supplies can add up to another ¥40,000.

As younger Japanese tend to be more urbanized than their parents, hunting as a sport is in steep decline in Japan. In 2010 it was estimated that 190,000 people with valid hunting licenses were in Japan (a drop of 2/3 in the last 35 years), and the vast majority of them were issued to senior citizens. As a result, deer and boar populations have been exploding, and causing major damage to agriculture and forest land. The deer are a bigger problem (a smaller local breed known as the sika deer), now numbering over 2.6 million. They have no natural predators left in the wild, with both species of indigenous wolf having gone extinct well over 100 years ago.

Facing such challenges, local governments have been trying to get more young people interested in hunting, holding sponsored events and such. Some social media campaigns have specifically been targeting female prospective hunters. Kentarō Okamoto's Sanzoku Diarymanga has also been popular enough to cause some interest in hunting. However, with such a high barrier to entry, these efforts are facing an uphill battle.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Came here to research hunting and found John-San’s thorough comments on the topic. Thank you.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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