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Gun control in Japan, combined with the prevailing respect for authority, has led to a more harmonious relationship between civilians and the police than in the U.S. The Japanese police, in choosing to use sub-lethal force on people, generate less widespread fear among the public that they'll be shot. In turn, people feel less of a need to arm themselves. The U.S., meanwhile, has a more militarized police force that uses automatic weapons. There is also less widespread trust between people (and between people and institutions). The factors combine to produce a much fearful culture that can seem to be always on edge.

21 Comments

Business Insider writer Chris Weller, on why Japan has such a low rate of gun deaths.

© Business Insider

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I don’t know about “trust.” Most people here I know including me avoid having anything to do with the police. Anyway, street cops here have pistols on their belts. In Britain they don’t, and trust there seems a lot deeper than in Japan. That's what he should have written about.

Although, in the UK, recent, um, “trends” have necessitated the deployment of special armed police units who are nearly paramilitary in nature.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The police are the biggest gang in Japan. As JeffLee says, the vast majority of people keep as far away from them as possible.

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The people here feel zero need to arm themselves. There are no enemies around and it is not even an option anyway. Those few who are interested in touching or shooting a gun will go visit a shooting range on a trip abroad. The police out in the countryside everywhere are pretty benign, if you can even find one, but in the larger cities they can be bureaucratic and tiresome, and as Alfie says above, people tend to have little contact with them.

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Yeah, I agree with Jeff, Alfie, and nandakandamanda. But Alfie's post pretty much hit the nail on the head. Nuff said

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This quote is confusing different issues. The fact that the protest movement is called "Black Lives Matter" and that it's only black athletes kneeling to the flag should tell you that the trust issue with the police is a racially based. Do whites in the US fear being shot by the police? Is that why they buy guns?

Japan has extensive gun control and no significant issues with racial profiling or police violence directed at racial minorities. The societies are too different to cherry pick one issue for comparison like this.

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As a foreigner I go out of my way to have absolutely nothing to do with the J-cops. Do not trust one bit.

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I don't know about you guys but I've heard foreigners get stopped regularly by the police just to ask for ID etc. I haven't had the experience once... in fact... I think most cops here go out of their way to avoid me... but when I have had to deal with police they have always been very friendly.

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How many wrongful convictions have come to late recently? Fewer than they'd care to admit. Their gestapo style guilty until proven innocent schtick needs an update.

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come to light

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The content and sweeping conclusions in virtually every comment up this point are complete rubbish. Omawarisan are not feared by Japanese and in over 25 years, I have never known a single Japanese person who avoided the police.

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That's a very confusing statement right there. All valid points yet spurious correlations.

The Japanese police, in choosing to use sub-lethal force on people, generate less widespread fear among the public that they'll be shot.

J police 'chooses' to use little force cause they can. In all fairness to us police, the criminals they're facing everyday are of a different calibre i.e being armed/tough/firm isn't an option. US cops would have a field day in japan & most other countries.

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J police 'chooses' to use little force cause they can. In all fairness to us police, the criminals they're facing everyday are of a different calibre i.e being armed/tough/firm isn't an option. US cops would have a field day in japan & most other countries

Exactly. The opinion in the article is completely backwards. The reason police don't need to use lethal force here is because they are not at risk of getting shot themselves.

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In Britain they don’t, and trust there seems a lot deeper than in Japan.

There is very limited carrying of firearms in the UK, although there is debate about increasing this.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/23/police-chiefs-to-discuss-offering-guns-to-all-frontline-officers

As for trust in the police? It varies. Ask veterans of the miner's strike - the police brutality against these communities was akin to the violence you saw recently against Catalonians. Then there was the RUC's shoot to kill policy in NI which did not inspire much confidence from nationalists in the 6 counties. The deaths in police custody. The heavy handedness in dealing with riots. Even peaceful anti-war protesters have been attacked by Met officers. There have been many wrongful shootings - Jean Charles de Menezes, for example.

That said; many young men and women join up in hoping to change institutional racism from within. Some of them become disillusioned and become part of the problem, others quit or are hounded out.

The Brutish Police, to misquote Stokely Carmichael.

I don't know about respect for the Japanese police. I'd say it's more fear; especially when one hears of how confessions are allegedly obtained in certain cases.

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Interesting, because Americans are much more prone to involve the police in every little dispute, even calling them to discipline kids at home or at school. They willingly give the police broad powers to involve themselves in every little affair, and then can't understand why the police overreach.

While the Japanese don't usually fear the police, they sure as heck would rather not get them involved unless it's absolutely necessary. Police in Japan are generally more polite and less prone to violence than American police, though (as others have pointed out) that may be for cultural reasons. But I think once the J-cops arrest you, all that changes.

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The Japanese police, in choosing to use sub-lethal force on people, generate less widespread fear among the public that they'll be shot. In turn, people feel less of a need to arm themselves. 

Illogical.

US or Japanese citizens don't arm themselves for fear of being shot by the police. Furthermore, what, exactly could a Japanese citizen arm themselves with? This "need" he speaks of is a misnomer because the can't arm themselves. Legally, anyway

The U.S., meanwhile, has a more militarized police force that uses automatic weapons.

Just wondering if this was submitted by a High School student.

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US police rarely, if ever, carry or use automatic weapons. I suspect this guy, Weller, doesn't know what an automatic weapon is.

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The J police (and prison officers) spend years training in martial arts, such as Judo. For maximum protection, it is better to be an invisible citizen.

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The gun culture in the US is not the problem. It is the symptom of the problem. The problem is the serious deterioration of US culture and social order over the past several decades. Guns can be prohibited in Japan.

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The comparison of this subject isn't even on a level of apples to oranges but apples to spaghetti. In other words, it's so far off that it is quite funny. Every citizens of a country are shaped by their unique cultural history and social traits. The US has a very interesting gun laws due to the 2nd amendment. Thus, comparing it to countries without such an amendment is pointless as this quote is attempting.

J police 'chooses' to use little force cause they can. In all fairness to us police, the criminals they're facing everyday are of a different calibre i.e being armed/tough/firm isn't an option. US cops would have a field day in japan & most other countries.

BINGO. I think this nails it. Although academic research indicates that racial inequality is a strong contributing factor among other things as well.

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 I've heard foreigners get stopped regularly by the police just to ask for ID 

I've lived here longer probably than most posters have been alive, and I have never been stopped for ID, except a couple of times entering Narita airport back in the day, when everyone was being stopped and car boots searched.

Seems to me the biggest difference between the US and Japan when it comes to the police is that in Japan, the police are seen as being there to help you when you have a problem (run-in with the bad guys, trouble finding an address, etc); in the US, the cops see every member of the public as a potential lethally-armed bad guy.

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Cleo, I have heard that foreigners in Tokyo (that busy little anthill out along the east coast) do get stopped frequently and asked for passport or ID. You get some bad-tempered taxi drivers there too. I do agree that in general the police in Japan would never expect a driver to pull a gun.

On the other hand I was advised when calling for help with a Yakuza type to not mention that, but just to say there is 'a strange person' hanging around. "Otherwise they might be reluctant to come and help".

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