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Customs officials say pens need weapons import license

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© 2012 AFP

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Good God Almighty! I thought the headline was surely a typo (of what I couldn't imagine) or Japlish (ditto). I guess I was lucky with my calligraphy pens. Holy Smokes!!! Please tell me who helped make up the international regulations and what other country is being anal about this.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

this is news?

-10 ( +2 / -12 )

The pen is mightier than the sword.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Corkscrews are the real worry...

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Stupid justs gets more stupid. Yes stupid knows no limits!

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Typical. In the past Japan's Customs Agency was equally clueless when classifying exotic foreign items like Apple Butter (a fruit jam they treated as a diary product) and Root Beer (a soft drink that got charged at a higher duty, since its name resembled that of an alcoholic beverage).

3 ( +7 / -4 )

I imported an electric shaving device for resale here in Japan and one day a $10,000 shipment was held because they claimed I needed a license to import "medical devices" I eventually was able to get the shipment released but wow what a bunch of absolute idiots.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

What kind of idiot would buy one of these? "Hey look at my cool pen everyone. It's shaped like a bullet!"

Grow up.

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

It's just a fountain pen,it doesn't look like a bullet to me it's a fountain pen.I don't get all the hype.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

DenTok: The headline's not a typo, it's just written as is to be sensationalist. I clicked on it for the same reason you did -- expecting to read about how we're all going to have to check in pens or something from now on.

Utrack: "It's just a fountain pen,it doesn't look like a bullet to me it's a fountain pen.I don't get all the hype."

It said in the article that the none writing end was shaped 'like' a bullet (I think they're reading too much into it, personally, and looking at the manufacturers more than the pens), but you can't really tell from this pic (probably just photo stock). In any case, it is indeed just a lot of hype.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Japanese IDIOCRACY knows no limits!

5 ( +9 / -4 )

One time at Heathrow I had my scissors confiscated. These were used for trimming facial hair and had tiny blades about a quarter of an inch long. Seriously, I couldn't even cut my finger with it if I tried. I joked to my friend that my pen is more dangerous. Well ...

4 ( +6 / -2 )

What are they (customs officials), stupid?

2 ( +6 / -4 )

One could very easily kill another with a pen. A few years ago I had my 3cm nail clippers confiscated at Heneda, which yo me, are totally harmless, but they didn't even flinch at my stainless steel ball point pen, which could quite easily be used as a deadly weapon. However, this particular case does seem somewhat absurd, even by Japanese standards.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The headline reminded me of Joe Pesci in Casino where he stabbed the guy to death in the eye with a ballpoint pen.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

My morning started with a big laugh.

Though I am still laughing but thinking what if I want to buy from overseas(online) Key chain/Key holder resemble to hand grenade/bullet/sword etc. do I need a weapons import license?

"When common sense is not so common" is perfect for this news.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A few years back, I ordered a pair of snakeskin shoes from the States via Amazon.com. A couple of days later, I got a call from a Customs agent saying Japan doesn't allow the import of certain types of snakes and he asked me what kind of snake it was. I almost couldn't contain my disdain and asked if they checked everyone's shoes when they arrive at Narita. Then I told him to check with the manufacturer. He grudginly said OK to sending me the shoes but I paid a serious amount of money in duty.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Just looked at Yamahide Cutlery's website. It has a nice selection, and if people can't buy the pens as their weapon of choice, they could always buy the Rambo knives. The Rambo knives are harder to write with, however.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Wait, So if you leave Japan via the airport, carrying a fountain pen in your briefcase. When you re-enter the country you need a weapons license? I still don't get it.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Looks more like an attempt at generating revenue to me.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Idiots..so can we now .look forward to see some Japanese bigwig politician or businessman being held up at Narita for carrying a ballpoint weapon? Just stupid ...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

MoBass4u - has the right idea

Looks more like an attempt at generating revenue

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Heck, I've lost several pair of those neat little pocket scissors that are useful for cutting out newspaper articles but not for killing people to airport security.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Interesting isn't it, how much importance the Japanese place on outward appearance, ignoring function.

It's not just pens.

I just got back from Tokyo and had to laugh at the poor chaps in suits, neckties and shoes, dripping in the humidity.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

An interesting variation on "This is a pen."

Seriously, I'm a pen enthusiast but I can somewhat sympathize with Customs officials getting bent when seeing pens that look like bullets. But requiring a weapons import license for them when they turn out to be pens and not bullet is really daffy.

There could be serious problems with that. Suppose those pens go to the SDF or to hunters? A bear is coming at you, you shoot and ink comes out.

Again seriously, since these pens can cause confusion they ought to labeled in such a way as to clearly indicate they are pens and not bullets. Maybe they should also be disassembled in their packages.

I saw one of those pens for sale at my favorite pen shop but was not interested. I'd rather spend my yen on an antique Eversharp fountain pen. Which is not shaped like a sword.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You all do not understand the mind of a terrorists or of a sick psychopath, just remember that one movie from the God Father, hey I got a secret...dude pulls out a pen, stabs the other mafiosi in the EAR, goes right to his brains, kills him instantly, etc..so for all the amai folk here, keep on dreaming that you can not kill or seriously injure somebody with a PEN. Try giving a pen as a gift to a buddy in jail, see how quickly it will be confiscated.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

“How could you kill someone with a pen?” asked company president Toshio Yamada. “It is hard to understand.”

if a person stabs you straight through the eye into your brain with a pencil, most probably you'll die. how can you kill someone with a necktie? most probably you know the answer to this one.

i think the point was, those items were made by "U.S. firearms and knife manufacturers, including Smith and Wesson" in prison, pens and toothbrushes with long handles are also forbidden, because they can be shaped into something lethal. if these pens were shaped like bullets on it's non-writing side and made of a mixture of metals, most probably in the wrong hands, these can be cut, shaped and fashioned to fit bullet cases. get it?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

"Japanese Customs Inspection" is a phrase that has gained notoriety around the world through the creative use of laws, regulation and rules in order to discourage importers in Japan and exporters around the world from doing business in Japan. Make trade difficult through lengthy delays and petty bureaucratic requirements, all the while maintaining innocence without actually breaking international agreements on trade that would invite retaliation. Most commonly used on the importation of agricultural products by leaving the container or shipment for inspection for sufficient weeks or months until it is rotted and the results to say, "look at this putrid mess we knew there was something wrong with it". It is a willfuly dishonest practice the has the people of Japan paying exorbitant prices for food and other imported goods in favour of the elite few benefiting monetarily from such nefarious protection.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I believe they were 007 special weapons that squirt lethal ink.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"The Pen is Mightier than the Sword"

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Pens dont kill people , crazy people staving with knives DO!!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I think because knives and swords are the weapon of choice in Japan, they may view pens and peckers as threatening.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Be thankful the custom agents may not be aware of the scene in one of the Godfather ( or is it James Bond )movies, they may ask you to have weapon license if you wear glasses.......................

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Whoever said the pen is mightier then the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapon

-Douglas MacArthur, US general and ruler of Japan-

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Reminds me of a good book I read not too long ago: Why is the pen*s shaped like that and other reflections on being human.

Interesting read.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Those are pen-bullets. Can be fired off teachers' hands from the blackboard to the back of the classroom at a rate of 600 ppm (pupils per minute) at faster than the speed of "Batsu!"

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have had a look at the Smith & Wesson site for pens. The non-writing end had a very sharp metal end (not a soft end like a bullet). Held dagger-like, it would be a very effective dagger-like weapon.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@smithinjapan Thanks. @Elbuda Mexicano Actually there was a career criminal who was in court for sentencing and he grabbed a ballpoint pen and stabbed a security guard in the eye with it. The pen pierced the eye and went into the brain. CC went for the gun and bullets went flying. The man was determined to take people down. This was in a court in Georgia. Real life. People, things don't need to be bullet shaped to be a weapon. Chopsticks aren't bullet shaped. Paper isn't a metal yet it can cut. Amazing how sharp paper can be!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

“How could you kill someone with a pen?”

I would surely figure out a way if custom officers bullying over my pens...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They have already confiscated me make-up (the shea butter lip balm is lethal), bottles of mineral water (you can drown people in water, even with a 260 ml Evian...) and all sort of weapons I usually use as clothes. One more, one less.

a ballpoint pen and stabbed a security guard in the eye with it.

A kid in my town lost an eye due to a pencil. They were not even fighting. Anything can kill, surely. And a human being is naturally equip : hands, feet, nails, teeth... I understand they try to bar products that can make explode, but for the small objects that's really a loss of time.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

thumbs up, Cos! (your 10:39pm post) hee, hee! oh! I remember when I was a child hearing about a boy in another school got his eye poked when his classmate threw a pencil his way.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It would be even harder for the pens to get in if they were shaped like refugees applying for asylum.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A sharpened 9H pencil is more deadly than any fountain pen. I've never been pulled by any airport security for carrying one in my hand luggage!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Its not really that surprising. Japan has a lot of pen manufacturers so they are just protecting their market and using an excuse to push through the paperwork. Every country does this, you can write 10 pages on what the US does

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Not to downplay the apparent absurdity of the way in which custom regulations can and all too often do play out, but the instant case here does afford the opportunity to distinguish between the more free market nations such as the US, on the one hand, and the more market controlled nations such as Japan and Germany.

Namely, whereas in the US, all is legal until proscribed, in Japan, all is illegal until allowed.

Its just a different approach to managing trade. In cases such as this, it looks pretty stupid.

In cases such as lead bullets, is seems much less so...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have had a look at the Smith & Wesson site for pens. The non-writing end had a very sharp metal end (not a soft end like a bullet). Held dagger-like, it would be a very effective dagger-like weapon.

This is the way media operates. They "accidentally" omit a vital piece of information.

If this is true, it makes complete sense to require a special license to import them.

It also makes nonsense of the article and most of the comments.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

i think they should throw them all in the garbage box, promoting guns like this is so american. and who will use these 'fun' pens? school kids. not cool man!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Stupidity is a global Universal condition. The Government Schools in the USA are rife with examples like this one. Hold your hand out with the index finger pointing and bring the thumb down? Three day Suspension (if you're lucky) and that infamous note in your Permanent Record. Draw a picture of what your Mom or Dad does in Iraq or Afghanistan? Expelled! Wear anything with NRA, etc. and the instruction is to wear it inside out. Now, this weirdness is being expanded upon at the UN which is going to stick it to Japan's own manufacturers if the sell arms to other countries. It's called the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and our President has a delegation at the UN working on the details. Hopefully, like Law of the Sea (LOST) and the Kyoto climate protocol, it will die in the Senate. But, like LOST, it will have the Presidential Imprimatur and will nag us forever like LOST and some viruses. Forrest had it right: Stupid Is as Stupid Does.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

It also makes nonsense of the article and most of the comments.

Shimagaicha - thanks for actually reading my post! These pens appear to be designed as weapons - a sharpened 6" piece of metal, that also happens to have a pen at one end. Perfect for close quarters combat.

It is funny how the whole "point" of this article is the non-writing end, yet the photo is of the writing end of a pen, and for all I know, may just be a library picture of a fountain pen.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

chopsticks,,,,mmmm...very interesting concept!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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